- Apologies, Tony. You're a good man. But my disciples and I have a higher purpose. I'm sure you recognize them. They seemed the most adept at dealing with my small Iron Man problem. With the power I'll pull from this planet, I'll become a demigod. But being a demigod is just a means to an end. I plan to be God. Your money was useful, but as Iron Man, you also found me once before. That just can't happen again.
- -- Korvac
Appearing in "The Land Wherein Thou Art a Stranger"
- Hellcat (Patsy Walker) (Apparent death)
- Unicorn (Milos Masaryk)
- Demolisher (Cameo)
- Gladiator (Melvin Potter) (Cameo)
- Night Phantom (Travis Hoyt) (Cameo)
- Madame Masque (Giuletta Nefaria) (Cameo)
- "Fuller Tielhard" (Michael Korvac)
- Controller (Basil Sandhurst)
- Blizzard (Donnie Gill)
Races and Species:
- Tony Stark's 1978 Dodge Aspen (Destroyed)
Synopsis for "The Land Wherein Thou Art a Stranger"
Unicorn runs through the rainy fields of Oklahoma, announcing his desire to serve when he is struck by a pink lightning. In a voice-over, Tony Stark questions his place in society, whether people want him as a savior or a pariah. This is placed over a montage of Stark's day-to-day life, fighting villains, namely the Demolisher, the Gladiator, the Night Phantom, and Madame Masque while the public berates him during many of these encounters and outside of them. At one point, Iron Man tries to mingle with the kids of a school, but the teachers drive him away. When Tony returns beaten up to his his brownstone, he finds the Melter having destroyed his car. Iron Man knocks him out and almost kills the villain, tossing him from a high altitude, only catching him moments before he hits the ground. In his voice-over, Tony mulls over the fact that he doesn't really have to play by the rules and could do whatever he wanted.
It is revealed that Tony was telling this to a bewildered cashier at a fast food restaurant on his way to the airport. Tony flies coach with Patsy Walker to visit Fuller Tielhard, Korvac's secret alter-ego, in Oklahoma after Tony invested in his lightning harvest project. On the plane, Patsy confronts Tony about his need to be famous, berating him and opening up to her mental problems and the suicide from which she once returned to life, claiming that Tony has no idea what she feels like. At the Tielhard Lightning Site I in Canaan, Oklahoma, Tony wears the Iron Man Armor to inspect Tielhard's lightning rods installation. He is shot down from the sky by a pink lightning bolt, and Korvac reveals himself to Tony alongside Unicorn, the Controller, and Blizzard, whom he has enlisted specifically to kill Iron Man. Hellcat arrives to help, but she and Tony are struck by a lightning bolt from Korvac and left for dead. Tony manages to wake up after his armor defibrillates him, but Patsy lays dead by his side.
In New York City, Iron Man hovers high above Manhattan. In a voice-over, he mulls over what do people want from him; whether they want to see him as a savior or ostracize him. A montage shows Tony's recent activities. As Iron Man, he is tearing apart the Demolisher at an art gallery while a guard begs him to stop. On the streets, while looking dejectedly, Tony is pestered by a bystander for his support of A.I. rights. After being shown falling off the Brooklyn Bridge in battle against the Gladiator, Iron Man is in the middle of the street restraining the Night Phantom on a choke-hold surrounded by police officers telling them to stop fighting. Tony is subsequently confronting Madame Masque, who shoots him point-blank on his faceplate. Still on his beat-up armor, Tony walks down the street. Meanwhile, in his voice-over, Tony continues pondering, and begins to wonder if people expect his thanks for letting him be Iron Man. Tony admits that even if he were to thank them, it would be out of politeness, and questions if he is even one of them. At some other point in time in an elementary school yard, Iron Man flies down and greets the kids to their delight. When the ring bells, two teachers approach the circle of kids formed around Iron Man to take them back to class. Stark tries to ask for five more minutes, but the teachers begin to berate him for his unexpected visit, prompting him to abruptly fly away.
Returning to his brownstone in his beat-up armor, Tony opens the door of his garage, which has "Eat the Rich" spray-painted on it, only to find the Melter standing next to his now-molten Dodge Aspen. When the villain sneeringly points out that he melted Tony's car and taunts him, Stark delivers a knocking blow without saying a word. Tony picks up the unconscious villain, takes flight until they reach the sky, and tosses him away. In his voice-over, Tony states that he could just do whatever he wanted and see how the people handle themselves. Iron Man looks at the Melter as his body plunges into Columbus Circle, but then flies down, catches him and lands on the street below, to the irritation of the bystanders. In his voice-over, Tony is wondering if people are aware of what he is capable of when he is interrupted by a cashier telling him that he is at a Burger Hut. Stark snaps back to reality and excuses his aloofness. When he makes his order, he asks for the time. When the cashier tells him that it's 3:45 in the morning, Tony brings up that he needs to get to the airport and asks for a to-go bag.
Aboard a plane, Tony is sitting in the coach section with Patsy Walker, showing bewilderment at the restrictions of flying in the economic class, much to Patsy's amusement. When she shows concern at Tony almost killing the Melter two days prior, Tony brushes it off saying that he is tired, and asks her about the Unicorn. She tells Tony that she lost him as soon as he jumped into the East River and no traces of him have surfaced since then. Tony tries to recline his seat, but Patsy tells him he can't until the captain says. When Tony continues expressing his bewilderment, Patsy asks him why is he even flying coach. Tony explains that he is trying to understand actual life, which doesn't sit well with Patsy, but Tony asks her to ease off on him. Patsy thanks Tony for inviting her, expressing surprise that he has decided to invest on Fuller Tielhard's lightning harvesting project. Tony vouches for Tielhard's science, but worries people will still find a way to make him look bad. When Patsy wonders if that matters, Tony tells her that she doesn't see it that way since she isn't as famous as him. Patsy tells him off, and elaborates that she doesn't feel the need to be famous since she figured out her priorities ever since returning from the dead. When Tony points out that she has been dead too, Patsy interjects that not by choice, and tells Tony that she was once in a mental place when she thought the best option was to kill herself. Tony fumbles to apologize, and Patsy keeps berating him, arguing that she struggles every day, and claiming that Tony has no idea what it feels like. Patsy tells Tony that she isn't his life coach, but a friend with her own problems. She puts on her headphones and reclines her seat, leaving Tony dumbfounded.
Hours later, the scene switches to the Tielhard Lightning Site I in Canaan, Oklahoma, a field with countless lightning rods lined up far and wide into the horizon. "Fuller Tielhard," Korvac's alter-ego, walks out of a cabin to welcome Tony, who is clad in his Iron Man Armor. As he makes a soft landing, Tony explains that he is wearing the armor for protection to take a closer look at his investment. When Tony notices the amount of rods, Korvac reveals they are spread out over ten thousand acres, and that they are in one of fifty-eight sites across the world. Tony asks how much energy he is capturing, and Korvac tells him they are off the charts. When Korvac recalls that Tony was coming with Patsy Walker, Tony tells him that she is back at the hotel not feeling good. As Iron Man flies through the field of rods, Korvac explains the way they work. When Tony notices that all the pieces are white-labeled, Korvac announces he is severing his ties with Stark and doesn't want the work traced back to him. Tony is suddenly hit by a pink lightning bolt from behind, and he crashes into the ground. Korvac approaches Tony, with the Unicorn, the Controller and Blizzard by his side. Korvac apologizes to Tony and tells him that he is a good man, and claims that he and his disciples have a higher purpose, expressing that he chose Stark's villains specifically to deal with him. He announces that with the power he will pull from the planet, he intends to become a demigod on his path to achieve godhood. The villain tells Tony that his money was useful, but since he found him once, he can't let that happen again.
Korvac and Unicorn are suddenly rammed from behind by Hellcat driving a jeep. She helps Tony get back up, telling him that she heard from a kid at a gas station about a man in a green mask with a third eye. Iron Man and Hellcat begin to fight the Controller and Blizzard, respectively. The Unicorn joins the fray, and all three villains start to ramble, with the Unicorn declaring that Korvac is "the Other." As Iron Man and Hellcat manage to fend off the villains, Korvac walks up to them and blasts both of them with lightning. He proclaims, "So says Korvac" in front of their bodies. Everything is dark and, a short moment later, Tony opens his eyes as B.O.S.S. announces that the armor's defibrillation was successful. However, Hellcat remains still. Iron Man cradles her body, blaming himself for what has happened.
Tony Stark is getting tired of apologizing for being himself, especially when as Iron Man he’s more powerful than most any other human being on Earth. As he wears himself out trying to do everything he can to be a force of good in the world, he’s beginning to chafe at the idea that he really owes anybody anything. Is it too much to ask for a thank you? He’s trying to keep his head down and his ego in check, but when KORVAC reveals himself as the puppet master behind Stark’s latest investment, Tony will at least have somewhere to channel his anger and frustration… That is, if he survives the conflict at all.
- This issue's trade dress doesn't include the series' legacy numbering. The return of the legacy numbering in Iron Man (Vol. 6) #4 corresponding that issue to Iron Man #629 indicates that this issue corresponds to Iron Man #628.
- According to writer Christopher Cantwell, the montage in this issue can be used to place other stories that Iron Man took part of during this publication period: "Also what helped me is the story timelines of series events. Not every book is contemporaneous. A massive crossover might actually take place over a single week. Things like that. In Issue 3 of Iron Man, there is a kind of montage where Tony is just doing his thing as Iron Man. Well, that's where other things in 616 might've happened, things that Tony was even a part of in a big way, other stories that haven't even been fully told yet."
- The original Melter, Bruno Horgan, was killed by the Scourge of the Underworld in 1986's Avengers #263. It can be presumed that the Melter in this issue the nondescript Melter under the employ of the Hobgoblin, who has a business of facilitating small criminals the identities and equipment of minor super villains.
- Patsy Walker's mention that she was once in a mental place where she thought the best thing for herself to do was to commit suicide includes an editor's note citing Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #14 (misspelled "Hellstrom"). In this issue, Patsy is approached by the mercy-killing entity Deathurge after spending months in a bed-ridden, near-vegetative state, having been driven mad at the sight of her husband Daimon Hellstrom regaining his demonic nature in Hellstorm: Prince of Lies #3. Having sensed Patsy's desire to die, the Deathurge convinced Patsy to give in and let him kill her. Patsy would later return to life in Thunderbolts Annual #2000.
- Patsy also claims that Tony has no idea what her experiences feel. However, in Iron Man #182, Tony almost leaves himself to die of hypothermia in a snow storm during his fall from grace due to his alcoholism, and he has a history of struggling with his own personal demons.
- One of the villains assisting Korvac is Blizzard, who can be presumed to be the better known person to have assumed that mantle, Donnie Gill. However, he is wearing the classic outfit of his late predecessor, Gregor Shapanka. The following issue confirms Blizzard's identity as Donnie Gill.
- As his reasoning for killing Iron Man, Korvac points out that he had found him once before. An editor's note cites Avengers #176, an issue part of "The Korvac Saga" in which Iron Man spearheads the Avengers' efforts to locate a mysterious threat only known as "the Enemy," who turns out to be Korvac.
- The title of this story ("The Land Wherein Thou Art a Stranger") comes from the King James Version of the Biblical verse Genesis 17:8: "And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." In this verse, God is promising Abraham and his children possession of the land of Canaan, which was an ancient country in the Middle East.
- The montage sequence of Tony's day-to-day life features villains who come specifically from the early issues of Iron Man: the Demolisher (Iron Man #2), the Gladiator (Iron Man #7—8) and the Night Phantom (Iron Man #14), as well as Madame Masque, who was featured prominently throughout that era. This issue marks the Demolisher's second appearance ever, as well as one of the few appearances the Night Phantom has ever had.
- Tony Stark's exchange with the cashier at Burger Hut and the latter's remark, "Sir, this is a Burger Hut" is a reference to the Internet meme "Sir, This Is an Arby's", a phrase used as a punchline to a dialogue in which the setup involves a person giving a strange monologue only to be revealed they are delivering it to a fast food employee.
- Marston, George (10 August 2020). Tony Stark is "encumbered with legacy, baggage, triumph, defeat" going into new Iron Man series. Gamesradar. Retrieved on 10 April 2021.
- What does Genesis 17:8 mean?. BibleRef.com. Retrieved on 16 November 2020.
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