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Quote1 It's very hard for me to make friends. And even when I do, sooner or later, I turn them into an enemy. I can't explain it...But honestly...It's easier for me to make an enemy than a friend. Quote2
Tony Stark

Appearing in "Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend"

Featured Characters:

  • Tony Stark (Main story and flashback) (As Iron Man in recaps and flashbacks)

Supporting Characters:

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Synopsis for "Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend"

Brief Synopsis[]

Tony Stark kneels in shock in front of the corpses of his allies. Hellcat uses her psychic powers to bring him into a mindscape. Stark admits that every friend he turns into an enemy due to his father's upbringing. Tony likens himself to Dr. Henry Jekyll from Jekyll and Hyde. He states that Jekyll was a good but flawed person who tried to rid himself of his vices using a potion that allowed him to become the paragon he always wanted to be, comparing this potion to the Iron Man Armor. Like Jekyll, he relegated his uglier side to a separate self. Recalling his failures and his history of abuse, Tony explains that Jekyll was misguided, and continued doing bad things and his transformation process eventually failed him. Tony then brings everybody back and returns everything to normal before forfeiting the Power Cosmic. At Patsy's request, he makes it so his allies remember their deaths so that Tony doesn't forget either. Tony apologizes profusely, and everybody leaves.

Later, in the middle of the night, Tony walks alone through Central Park. He is mugged, but gives the robber his wallet without any issue. Afterward, he goes into morphine withdrawal and falls to the ground. Korvac suddenly appears in front of Tony, stating that he broke free from captivity. He gloats that his new vision for universal harmony is through universal annihilation, and he wants Tony to be the recipient of the first death for his new cause. However, Korvac is taken aback when he notices that Tony is completely unresponsive.

Detailed Synopsis[]

As his allies lay dead around him, Tony Stark reminisces about a lesson his father Howard taught him at a young age; that there is a thin line between a friend and an enemy, so one should always be ready to strike first if things change. Howard said that, in the end, every person is the same, in the sense that they all want more than they have, and that even the most powerful have this anger, even gods. As he is powered down, Tony is kneeling in front of War Machine's corpse. Hellcat calls out to him several times, but he's locked in an unresponsive stupor. She presses her hands against Tony's head, stating that they need to talk, and they fade away.

Both are transported to a mental landscape in the form of a field of wheat. Tony wonders where is his mind pulling this place from, but when he recognizes the wheat, he recalls that his great-great-grandfather, Isaac Stark, used to work on these fields as a boy, so he designed a better harvesting machine. Stark shares that his parents used to ship him off to these fields in the summer when he was little, and that the wheat was mostly for show, since Tony had servants and all the amenities he could need. Tony closes off, saying that Isaac built what he did in order to get out of the work he had to do. Patsy calls out to Stark, and Tony expresses that he's aware he killed his friends. He turns to Patsy, telling her that he can easily use his cosmic powers to bring them back and even make it so they don't remember. Patsy interjects, pointing out that what he did still happened. She tells Tony that his biggest problem is that he operates as if there are no consequences to his actions. Tony states that he just wanted to make things better, and Patsy tells him that is what everybody who does what they do wants. As mirages of his friends appear behind him and Patsy, Tony explains that he doesn't make friends easily; that there has always been conflict and confrontation because he makes them into an enemy. He states that this is because they get in his way, and that all the time it feels like they're stopping him from doing what he needs to do. Patsy asks him what is that, and Tony states it's being a hero and a friend. She sees through Tony and tells him that's not it. As he looks up to the sky, Stark admits what his friends are stopping him is from being something other than worthless. As a mirage of Howard appears, Tony recalls that if he wasn't actively achieving things and being the absolute best, he was invisible to his father. Patsy confides that her mother Dorothy also preferred an idealized version of herself as well, writing stories about Patsy where she was charming and had perfect grades. Two scarecrows with an Iron Man and a Hellcat mask appear behind Tony and Patsy, as Tony tells her that she became a hero because of that. She wonders what he means, and Stark explains that Patsy became a hero because she believed she needed to be something better. Patsy admits she still doesn't know why she chose to do it.

Tony asks Patsy if she knows the story of Jekyll and Hyde. She recalls that it's about "the perfect guy" and his depraved shadow, but Tony tells her that is actually not the story. A montage sees Tony working on a microscope, then playing Craps with a girl by his side, then injured, and finally building the Iron Man Armor Model 1. Tony explains that Dr. Jekyll is a good and dutiful person, but he's flawed, like everyone else. He elaborates that Jekyll started to wonder if he should rid himself of his vices because he hates these weaker parts of himself, so he concocts a method to become the paragon he's always wanted to be. Clad in his original armor, Stark bursts through a wall. Another montage follows Tony at his workshop, working on his golden armor, then talking angrily on the phone, surrounded by his collection of cars. Finally dancing at a formal party, and later at his office telling off a man who is walking away. Tony continues, saying that Jekyll could be perfect then, with no distractions or errors, but the ugly and selfish things within him were still there, albeit relegated to a separate self; a self he doesn't care about anymore regardless of who he hurts in the process since he gets to be the saint he always secretly wanted. In his Model 2 Armor, Tony flies through the sky. A new montage shows Iron Man standing above the defeated Stingray, then accompanied by Wonder Man and Black Knight as he's firing repulsor blasts at the Supreme Intelligence, and finally standing in front of Captain America's dead body. In his monologue, Tony states that Jekyll is actually not a saint, but a misguided person who continues to do bad things, whose flaws remain, hurting people. A sequence shows Tony sitting on the floor drinking from a bottle while armored up, then administering himself morphine, and finally sitting on the streets curled up, during a snowstorm. Tony states that Jekyll's transformation process then starts to lose its effectiveness, so he tries drinking more of the potion, but it doesn't work, so his flaws become abscesses. As it flashes back to Tony's obtainment of the Power Cosmic, he states that Jekyll keeps reaching, even as perfect slips further and further away, and he goes for broke. It flashes to Tony's dead allies as he says it just gets worse. Tony tells Patsy that he's stuck in this cycle, but she interrupts him to demand he brings his allies back. He also asks he lets them remember what Tony did, so he won't forget it either. Tony concedes, and as they return to the real world, Tony uses the Power Cosmic to bring everybody back. He apologizes profusely, especially to Rhodey, and with a gesture of his hand, the Power Cosmic leaves his body, stating that he has restored everything to normal. As everybody else leaves, Patsy jokes that Tony could have fixed the damage to her courtyard too. Tony promises to fix it with his own to hands, but she suggests Tony not to come around for a while. Stark agrees, and apologizes again with his head down.

Later on, Tony is walking through Central Park in the middle of the night. In his internal monologue, he recalls Howard doing the same, albeit accompanied by armed security and keeping the whole park empty. He ponders that there is always something that they need to suit up with: money, iron, power, and he's tired of it. As he walks deeper into the park, a shadowed robber suddenly holds Tony at knifepoint. Tony hands over his wallet without issue, and the mugger runs away. He thinks to himself that he didn't even see the robber, and didn't try fixing, reaching or stopping the mugger, letting him see Tony as just another wallet to steal. Tony states that he doesn't know if it's right. Stark suddenly collapses in the floor, stating that he's gone into morphine withdrawal, a side effect of returning to his humanity. Stark curls in the floor as sweat drips from his forehead. He describes that the withdrawal hits him in waves, and no money or iron can stop it. He lies on his back as his eyes roll back, and contemplates that it's very hard for him to make friends, and even when he does, he eventually turns them into an enemy. Tony states that he can't explain it, but for him, it's easier to make an enemy than a friend. A giant-sized Korvac suddenly appears in front of Tony in a flash of light, crying out Stark's name. He declares that he had the most brilliant idea, and wanted to share it with Tony as soon as possible. With a grin on his face, Korvac claims that he was so elated he decimated his captors, the Living Tribunal and the In-Betweener, and reveals that his new vision is for universal harmony via universal annihilation, and reaching peace and serenity through the nothingness of death. He leans toward Tony, telling him that he's chosen Stark as the recipient of the first death for his new cause. Korvac is taken aback when he notices Tony completely unresponsive. In his internal monologue, Tony states that despite all the enemies he has made, his worst will always be himself.

Solicit Synopsis

Iron Man finally realizes that after all is said and done…he's become worse than Korvac. And perhaps it's time for Tony Stark to finally lay down his godlike powers and embrace his humanity. But if he does so, will he stand one shred of a chance against a cosmically enraged Korvac, or will he be destroyed like the small, armored bag of blood, flesh and bones he has once again become? David faces off against Goliath in this penultimate issue of the BOOKS OF KORVAC!

Notes

  • As per its corner box legacy numbering, this issue corresponds to Iron Man #643.
  • In this issue, Tony Stark is mistakenly portrayed with a goatee and disheveled short hair, when throughout this entire run, he has sported a pencil moustache and parted shaggy hair.
  • This issue establishes that Isaac Stark was Tony's great-great-grandfather. The character first appeared in Marvel Holiday Special #1996.
  • Patsy Walker recalls her mother Dorothy writing idealized stories about her. Patsy Walker originated as a teen-humor heroine from the 1940s to the early 1960s. In Defenders #89, all of these stories were retconned into being an in-universe work of fiction of Patsy's mother, and an idealized version of Patsy's youth.
  • Patsy quips that it's no wonder she married a demon due to her mother's upbringing. She's referencing the fact that she married Daimon Hellstrom. An editor's note cites Defenders #125, which is when they married.
  • The flashbacks portraying Tony's life as Iron Man take heavy inspiration from the character's counterpart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The scenes have Tony wearing an arc reactor in his chest, something that was never emulated in the comics until Invincible Iron Man (Vol. 2) #24. Tony's laboratory includes a collection of cars and a grided platform, as well as the presence of hydraulic robot arms similar to Dum-E and U.
  • The montage of the "bad things" that Tony has done reconstruct the following moments from other comics:
    • Iron Man standing above the defeated Stingray comes from Iron Man #226. During "Armor Wars", Stingray was targeted by Iron Man during the hero's crusade to disable all unauthorized uses of his technology. This was a mistake since Stingray's suit didn't actually have any Stark tech.
    • Iron Man blasting the Supreme Intelligence while accompanied by Wonder Man and Black Knight comes from Avengers #347. At the end of Operation Galactic Storm, the Avengers are split in half over the decision to murder the Kree's Supreme Intelligence. Iron Man leads the charge of the Avengers who don't consider the Supreme Intelligence to be a living being, so they think it's not inappropriate to destroy it.
    • Tony sitting in front of Captain America's dead body comes from Civil War: The Confession #1. After Civil War, Captain America is assassinated. Tony visits his body to lament that their conflict indirectly resulted in Steve's death.
    • Although the panel of Tony drinking a bottle portrays him wearing his current suit, the Model 70 Armor, it's presumably meant to recap Tony's fall off the wagon after Iron Man #167.
    • Tony injecting himself with morphine comes from Iron Man (Vol. 6) #10
    • Stark sitting on the streets curled up during a snowstorm corresponds to Iron Man #182, when Tony almost lets himself freeze to death after hitting rock bottom.
  • In the beginning of the issue, Patsy is wearing her Hellcat costume. She changes it to civilian clothes when she plunges Tony into the mindscape. When she and Tony return to the real world, she retains her civilian clothes instead of returning to her Hellcat uniform.
  • Writer Christopher Cantwell has disputed Korvac's claim of having decimated the Living Tribunal and the In-Betweener to escape their captivity. Cantwell has clarified that the Abstract Entities had an intuition of how this story's events would play out, so they let Korvac and Tony face off.[1]
  • The final page of this comic after the story ends includes a substance abuse PSA with contact information for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Trivia

  • The title of this issue's story, "Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend," comes from the first line of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The Sound of Silence".
  • This issue heavily references Jekyll and Hyde, likening Tony Stark's use of the Iron Man Armor to Dr. Henry Jekyll's use of a serum to turn himself into Mr. Hyde, an alter-ego that manifests his dark side. In the book, Mr. Hyde allows Jekyll to indulge his vices without fear of detection, and it's his alter-ego the degenerate of the two personalities rather than Jekyll himself. This issue implies the opposite by framing Iron Man as the paragon and Stark as the one that is his bad side. The comic also states that Jekyll's transformation process lost its effectiveness. Instead, what happens in the book is that Jekyll becomes capable of involuntarily turning into Mr. Hyde without the serum, prompting him to set out to cease his transformations and try to avoid permanently becoming Mr. Hyde.

See Also

Links and References

References

  1. Cantwell, Christopher (4 May 2022) Christopher Cantwell on Twitter: "@LudiysM They cosmic entities all... Twitter. Retrieved on 9 May 2022.
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