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- It's my nearly unlimited intellect that tells me this universe is a landfill that is conflict-laden and war-torn by the greedy. It tells me that this is a reality that, while filled with those proclaiming to be gods, is ultimately godless and lost. And ultimately it tells me that I am but mere steps away from becoming the god that it needs.
- -- Korvac
Appearing in "Gods of Earth and Complexes"
- Michael Korvac / "Fuller Tielhard" (Identity revealed) (Only in flashback)
- Enclave (Only in flashback)
- Carlo Zota (Only in flashback)
- Masked Raider (Cameo) (Only in flashback)
- Titania (Mary McPherran) (Mentioned)
- Iron Man (Arno Stark) (Referenced)
- Stark Unlimited
- Stark Pharmaceutical (First appearance)
- Numerous unnamed scientists
- Stark Pharmaceutical (First appearance)
- God (Yahweh) (Invoked)
- "The Other" (Referenced)
Races and Species:
- Hell (Mentioned)
- Thirteenth Floor (Referenced)
- Eternity Mask (Cameo) (Only in flashback)
- Iron Man Armor Model 70
- A copy of the Daily Bugle
- Cat Suit
- Iron Man 2020 (Referenced)
Synopsis for "Gods of Earth and Complexes"
In a flashback, it is revealed that Fuller Tielhard is Michael Korvac, who was refurbished by the Enclave to help their mission to create a better Earth. He broke bad under the belief it was selfish to only seek a better Earth and not a better universe. In the present, Iron Man finds himself in a wrestling ring on Murderworld fighting the Absorbing Man to the amusement of Arcade for a televised broadcast in which public support favors Tony's opponent. After a severe beating, Tony manages to put an end to the fight when he unmasks the referee as Arcade.
Back at his brownstone, Patsy Walker tries to help Tony meditate to no avail. She eventually confronts him, deducing that Tony let himself be captured by Arcade and took part in the fight as a form of self-punishment. Tony admits he feels the need to prove that he is still a hero. Seconds later, a call alerts Tony that the medical vigilante Cardiac has kidnapped and intends to kill several Stark Pharmaceutical scientists. As he flies towards Cardiac, Tony muses about the meaning of Iron Man, and what he is after his recent incidents. When he reaches Cardiac, Iron Man discovers he has sealed the scientists inside a impenetrable sphere made comprised of Vibranium and Adamantium, minutes away from asphyxiation. While he and Hellcat manage to subdue Cardiac, Tony resorts to flying into the sphere at maximum speed, piercing the deadly trap with his arm, but mutilating it in the process. Tony watches the news of Cardiac's arrest from a hospital, perplexed by the vigilante being shown in a positive light. Hellcat accuses Tony of being unaware of his own privilege, and suggests he is "another white guy with a god complex." Their discussion is interrupted when Milos Masaryk, Unicorn, tries to escape from the hospital. Hellcat tries to intercept him, but the villain strikes her and runs away.
One year ago. A blond shirtless man, the previously-introduced Fuller Tielhard, stands in the middle of a laboratory, with cables stemming from his eyes. A scientist, Carlo Zota, asks him how does he likes his legs. The man expresses he has no opinion of them other than that they are functional. When Zota calls him Adam IV, the man interjects. As he removes the cords from his eye sockets, he tells the scientist to call him by his real name, Korvac. When Zota goes over with Korvac on his mission to serve the Enclave in creating a better Earth, Korvac calls that objective selfish, and wonders what makes humans so arrogant not to pursue a better universe, or a better reality. When Zota tries to make Korvac disregard that opinion, Korvac lifts him by the neck. Calling the universe conflict-laden and warn-torn, he expresses that is godless and lost, but points out that he is mere steps away from becoming the god it needs. Korvac releases Zota, and renounces the Enclave. He declares that he has bigger plans that must begin immediately, and takes Zota's glasses from him.
In the now, Iron Man finds himself leaned against the ropes of a wrestling ring. In his internal monologue, he expresses that he isn't quite sure how he got there, and vaguely reminisces about the villain Arcade trapping him in Murderworld for a pirate pay-per-view broadcast pitting him against the Absorbing Man. Creel lunges at Tony, absorbs his armor's properties, and slams him into the ground. He leans towards Tony and apologizes to him, explaining that he needs to take him out if it means getting back home to his wife Titania. Iron Man tries to suggest considering a different approach together, but is flung away by the Absorbing Man. Tony fires a repulsor blast at Creel and thrusts him into one of the corner posts. In his monologue, Tony remembers that the fight is being broadcast worldwide, and points out Creel is being heavily favored in the bets. Iron Man lifts the Absorbing Man up and hurls him, but Creel manages to grab him by the arm, land on his feet, and throw Tony into the ropes, and then fires repulsor blasts at Tony. Throughout this, Tony wonders in his monologue why does no one want the good guy to win anymore, and considers the possibility people no longer think he is the good guy anymore. As Tony gets back on his feet, the fight's referee starts counting down. Tony realizes that Arcade must be somewhere in the scene, enjoying the fight. He turns to the referee, pulls him into the ring, and removes what turns out to be a full-head mask, exposing Arcade underneath, prompting boos from the spectators.
At his brownstone, Tony is sitting on the floor facing Patsy Walker; his body is slightly bandaged. He is talking about the result of the fight being a controversy, but Patsy tries to convince him that it doesn't matter. She attempts to get Tony into doing Zen meditation, to focus on breathing and ignore thoughts. Tony finds himself incapable, constantly communicating that he is thinking, with Patsy telling him to let the thoughts to. Tony eventually give in and affirms that he could have beaten the Absorbing Man. When he turns to Patsy for validation, she tells him bluntly that he got his ass kicked. As Tony gets up, Patsy accuses Tony of knowing that Arcade was going to capture him, but allowing him to do it anyway. She tells Tony that he wanted to get beat up on live TV to punish himself, and when she inquires what for, Tony admits that he wants to prove that he is still a hero. Patsy asks Tony whom does he need to prove that to, leaving Tony to stare out of the window in silence. From the helmet of Tony's armor, B.O.S.S. announces that Tony has an incoming call. Tony puts on the helmet and quickly becomes concerned due to what he is being told. When Patsy asks, Tony tells her that several Stark Pharmaceutical scientists have been kidnapped by the medical vigilante Cardiac with the intention to kill them because of Tony Stark, and he asks Patsy for her help.
As Tony flies low over the water of East River, he talks to himself. He mulls over what is Iron Man, and even whether is it Tony Stark. Tony breaks down and wonders what is he; metal or flesh and blood, muscle instinct or thoughts, or memories. He asks himself if he's a consciousness once stored in a virtual reality, or cells grown in a genetic pod, or his injuries from fighting the Absorbing Man. Tony ponders what was he right after his brother Arno threw him off a building and killed him, and asks himself if Iron Man is simply a wish in some kid's game of pretend, going as far as to wonder where does the wish come from, or the game, and even the kid. As Tony was mused over this, a man is sitting on the promenade reading a Daily Bugle newspaper denigrating Iron Man. A mother walks his baby, who is holding an Iron Man toy. Patsy is dressed as Hellcat, perching on a flag and observing with binoculars. She interrupts Tony to ask who is he talking to, prompting him to apologize, and informs him that the situation doesn't look good.
Tony approaches Cardiac on a rocky shore, who is standing in front of a giant black sphere. The vigilante accuses Stark of profiting off the pharmaceutical industry while people die, and declares he will kill Stark's scientists as comeuppance. Iron Man knocks him down with a repulsor blast and approaches the sphere. B.O.S.S. informs him within the object are fifteen people who will die of asphyxia in four minutes. Tony informs Hellcat of this, and she heads his way. Iron Man shoots repulsors at the sphere with no effect as B.O.S.S. analyses it and determines it's comprised of Vibranium, Adamantium and iron. Cardiac attempts to stand up, declaring the scientists have to die to send a message. Hellcat swings from behind him and kicks him in the back. Tony has pulled back, and B.O.S.S. confirms him the distance allows for the suit to reach maximum velocity. Tony blasts off towards the sphere with his arm in front of him, and asks his A.I. to assess the damage he will receive. As B.O.S.S. lists the different bones Tony could rapture and rupture, Iron Man narrows the distance to the sphere. He impacts into the object with a bone-crushing sound. Inside the sphere, Tony's mangled arm hangs through a hole, and the scientists express relief. Hellcat approaches Tony as he hangs from his arm. B.O.S.S. informs him he has seventeen bone fractures, a punctured lung, and his heartbeat is irregular. Tony wonders if he is dying.
Some time later, Cardiac is on TV, being interviewed during his arrest, comparing himself to Stark and insinuating he has no soul. Tony watches from a hospital bed, with his arm on a cast and a cervical collar on his neck, and he is perplexed by the positive publicity Cardiac has gotten. Hellcat quickly calls to attention Tony's privilege, accusing him of having given himself more power than he already had, enjoying more legal leeway than most people, and having no accountability, and brands him as "another white guy with a god complex." When Tony wonders what if he died doing something heroic, Patsy accuses Tony of trying to kill himself to escape the complexities of his reputation. Tony retorts that Patsy is wearing a cat mask, and she expresses enjoyment out of being Tony's "new though love buddy," while Tony tells her that it's terrible. Sirens suddenly blast off, and the PA system alerts that Milos Masaryk, Unicorn, has escaped from the behavioral ward. Hellcat runs through the hallway, but is suddenly struck by the villain. He exclaims that he is a servant of the true god, who calls to him in the electricity. Unicorn runs away, leaving Hellcat in the floor reeling from the attack.
TONY HAS COMPANY...AND HIS NAME IS KORVAC!
Tony Stark continues to roughly dismantle the fancy, shiny and sophisticated ways of his past…but the world doesn't seem quite convinced that he's changed his rich guy tune. As Iron Man, he takes the fight to the streets, looking to sacrifice himself on the altar of super heroism again and again—first with Arcade and Absorbing Man then with medical vigilante Cardiac—all in hope of redemption in the eyes of the public. Only trouble is he might get himself killed in the process, and there are still plenty of people in line with an ax to grind. Old friends like HELLCAT try to help him find peace of mind and speak truth to his stubborn god complex, but lurking on the horizon is a threat Tony—and indeed the entire cosmos—hasn't seen in years…KORVAC…yet another guy who believes he's smarter than the rest of the universe.
- The opening scene of this issue is a direct follow-up to the final scene of Marvel Comics #1000, in which Carlo Zota and the Enclave are shown working on Michael Korvac.
- During the Murderworld wrestling scene, the Absorbing Man's reluctance to fight Iron Man reflects the character's reform throughout Immortal Hulk. He can also be seen wearing his uniform from Gamma Flight.
- Throughout this entire issue, the soles of the Iron Man Armor are colored red, when in the previous issue they were colored gold.
- When Tony ponders the meaning of Iron Man, he references being a consciousness that was stored in a virtual reality. This happened in Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #4, when Tony's mind was pulled into the Thirteenth Floor by Friday to cheat death. He also mentions being "a bunch of new cells grown in a genetic pod," which referes to Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #5, when Tony's body was restored to normalcy using a bio-pod to replace a portion of his cells that were artificial following a previous restoration of his body in Invincible Iron Man #593. Tony also wonders what was he right after his brother threw him off a building and killed him. He is referencing when his brother Arno blasted him down Bain Tower in Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #3, Tony seemingly died from the fall, but his mind was actually pulled into the Thirteenth Floor as previously mentioned.
- Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #6 ended with Tony deciding that Stark Unlimited was unviable, and seemingly rebranded the company to Bhang Robotics. After Iron Man Vol 6 #1 implied the company was still operating due to the mention of its board of directors, this issue confirms that Stark Unlimited still exists due to the presence of the company's logo in the labcoats of the Stark Pharmaceutical scientists.
- The Masked Raider, a vigilante who opposses the Enclave, can be seen in the far background of the Enclave's laboratory.
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