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Quote1 You're the same person you've always been, Tony Stark...a self-made man. Quote2
-- Janet Van Dyne

Appearing in "Stark Realities: Part Six - End of Service"

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Synopsis for "Stark Realities: Part Six - End of Service"

Brief Summary

Across the globe, all eScape users have logged off, but the Controller still poses a threat, having retained his enormous size. Arno Stark locates Iron Man stranded in orbit, and sends him back to Earth before he runs out of oxygen. After Jim Rhodes uses the Manticore to catch him, Tony hacks into Baintronics' facility and uses its 3D printers to manufacture the ghastly Godkiller Armor. The armor's design is already fading from his memory since only the eScape allowed his mind to conceive a creation like it. After using the armor to knock out the Controller, Tony flies it into Baintronics' factory and makes it self-destruct, having decided it was too powerful for the real world.

Stark Unlimited reels from the eScape fiasco, and Jocasta quits after Tony suggests using a back-up of Friday to restore her to life, arguing that's a completely different entity and the original Friday is still dead. Baintronics benefits from the chaos, and Arno manages to retrieve some data from the destroyed factory, but he turns his attention to a project involving Howard and Maria Stark. Shook by the events inside eScape and the realization that Tony is technically a different person whom she's not genetically related to, Amanda Armstrong prepares to leave. Still reeling from the discovery that he's a copy of Tony Stark, Tony finds that his experience inside eScape made him fall of the wagon. Rhodey intercepts him while Tony is about to go into a bar, and offers his support.

Detailed Summary

Bethany Cabe steps into the Stark Unlimited HQ Command Center accompanied by Andy Bhang and Amanda Armstrong, asking Jocasta about the status of the rogue eScape users. Jocasta directs her to the screens all over the room, with countless reports coming from all over the world about users removing their interfaces. Eventually every user is reported offline, prompting celebration from the Stark Unlimited personnel. Jocasta wonders how did it happen, to which Machine Man, still plugged into the eScape, replies that it was Tony Stark defeating Motherboard what gave S.U. access to the eScape, though Tony's avatar has vanished. Determining that there's nothing else for him to do, Aaron logs out. Via comms, the Wasp tells Jocasta that the Controller has stopped growing, but he's still fighting, and they could use Iron Man's presence. Jocasta explains her worry because their GPS shows Tony at their location. The Champions arrive, spearheaded by Ironheart, assuring that they're going to help until Tony arrives.

At Sunset Bain's lair, she checks up on the status of Arno Stark's data theft of the Stark network. After telling her that it's complete, Arno wonders why none of Stark's allies checked his elevation since the reason why Tony appears to be in the same location as his allies despite not being there is because his armor was left stranded above in orbit. Sunset expects Arno will let Tony die since he's running out of oxygen, but he accesses Tony's armor and flies him back to Earth, explaining that he wouldn't leave him to die because they are brothers. With the lack of visual communication concealing her revulsion, Sunset informs S.U. that they have located Tony Stark, and he's on his way back, but unresponsive. Rhodey blasts off on the Manticore. Setting his sight on Tony, Rhodey extends robotic pinchers from underneath the vehicle's legs, hoping it has enough power left. Rhodey manages to catch Tony's armor from the arm, causing him to wake up disoriented. Rhodey quips that, as usual, Tony fell and he caught him. As they return to the Baintronics manufacturing and fulfillment center, Tony observes that they didn't shut down the eScape fast enough. Through the comms, Bethany notices that Tony is pensive. He recalls the Baintronics access codes in Bethany's possession from when she hacked into their systems, and she sends them over. Tony explains that he wants to use Bain's bleeding edge 3D printers to build something special while it's still fresh in his mind. The machines inside the factory begin working on recreating the Godkiller Armor while Tony and Rhodey continue heading forward. Outside Bain's complex, the heroes continue fighting the Controller. The Wasp leaves to the factory as she notices the Manticore approaching it. Once inside, she questions the machines building the gigantic armor. Tony explains that inside the eScape, his mind was unfettered and could conceive such creations, but now in the real world the memories of it are fading away. Janet asks about Tony's experience inside the virtual world, and he tells her that the incident confirmed his fear that he is merely a genetic copy of the real Tony Stark. Janet is confused, and Tony promises to explain in detail after defeating the Controller, asking for her help to suit up.

Outside the factory, the Controller swats away the Champions and Gauntlet, boasting his power. He notices Tony approaching him from afar, clad in the ghastly Godkiller, with Tony stating the villain made him pull all the stops. Expecting the suit to resort to his typical repulsor weaponry, the Controller mocks Tony and proclaims himself a god. At an incredible speed, Iron Man effortlessly lifts the Controller off the ground. He retorts that his armor is the Godkiller and releases an energy discharge on the villain's face. The Champions react in awe, with Ironheart stating Iron Man's power levels are off the scale. At Bain's headquarters, Arno smirks, saying that Tony has built the ultimate weapon, while Sunset observes that he used her materials. The Controller falls on the ground. Iron Man stands on the debris, looming over Ironheart, clarifying that he isn't dead after she asks. Tony asks her to build something to siphon off the Controller's excess energy to return him to his normal size, to which Riri points out that Tony's armor is radiating a scary amount of power. Tony assures her he doesn't plan to hold on to this particular suit. After Rhodey confrims to Tony that he has finished evacuating Bain's complex, Iron Man flies back into the factory. Bain questions his course of action, and Stark clarifies that the suit is too powerful to remain in the real world. Back in his regular suit, Tony rushes outside the complex, explaining he has set the armor to self-destruct and take the building with it. Sunset objects, but the factory explodes, much to her chagrin. Tony rejoices on the victory, and stands victorious next to the rest of the heroes in front of the Controller's unconscious body.

Three hours later, Tony is walking down the HQ with Bethany, who informs him about the devastating effects of the Controller's plan and blames herself for being under his control, but Tony takes responsibility. Stark addresses a crowd of worried employees, assuring the company will survive, creating something bigger and better, and banters with the talking cat Dr. Shapiro.

Tony enters the Foundry, where Jocasta and Machine Man are embracing each other mourning the death of Friday, whose body lies on a table. Tony tries to cheer them, revealing he has found a backup of Friday's A.I. and plans to upload it into the body. Jocasta lashes out at Tony, pointing out that the backup constitutes an entirely different entity, meaning the Friday they knew is effectively dead. She walks away in disgust, and Aaron turns to Tony before leaving to tell him that Jocasta wouldn't have said that if she knew what Tony went through inside the virtual world.

Inside the Baintronics HQ, Sunset Bain informs her board of directors that the eScape incident helped show the world the quality of her instant production pipeline. The board members celebrate Baintronics' global expansion, and make a toast for her, announcing the following year will be theirs to the taking. Somewhere else inside the complex, Gauntlet leaves Arno Stark a briefcase containing which little data could be salvaged from the explosion. Gauntlet asks Arno if he will build his own Godkiller Armor, to which he replies maybe in the future. On his screen, Arno taps on the thumbnails of two files labelled "Maria" and "Howard," stating he has another project that requires his immediate attention.

At night, Tony observes the rain from his bedroom's window while Janet Van Dyne invites him to bed. Tony admits he doesn't want to close his eyes because everything seems unreal to him, especially himself. Recalling that his body is a physical copy and his mind a digital backup, Tony ponders who he is. Janet approaches him and tells him that he's the same person he has always been; a self-made man. Recalling their conversation that Tony's return is a second chance for him, Wasp asks Tony what does he want to do, and the two share a kiss as they lie down on bed.

In her apartment, Amanda yells that Tony is not her son. She is finishing packing up her belongings, and Andy tries to stop her from leaving. Amands explains that she had come to New York for her son, but ever since he died everything has been traumatic, and there's nothing of her left in him. She notes that there is nothing to keep her from leaving, which Andy repeats in question, heartbroken. Amada says that there is no place for her at Stark Unlimited or anywhere near the man who calls himself Tony Stark, and invites Andy to come with her.

Inside Aaron and Jocasta's apartment, Aaron expresses satisfaction for her quitting her job and returning to him. Jocasta explains that she had nowhere else to go, and recalls that when she lived at Stark Unlimited, she used to place her robot body in a locker and enter the eScape to sleep in the virtual world using a human avatar. Aaron tries to soothe Jocasta, but she laments that with the eScape gone, she feels she has lost a part of herself and worries she she'll never be able to sleep ever again.

Back in Stark's bedroom, Tony leaves the bed, dresses up, and walks down the street to a bar. When his hand reaches the entrance handle, Rhodey grabs hold of it, and reminds him that a lot of people depend on him and being at a bar won't help. Tony stutters, and Rhodey tells him to express himself. Tony explains that inside the eScape he saw the best and worst parts of himself mixed together and drank. And even though it wasn't real, it did feel real. Tony exclaims that it was unfair that he has fallen off the wagon. Rhodey wraps his arm around Tony's shoulder, assuring that they will get through it together, and that when Tony falls, he catches him.

Solicit Synopsis

“STARK REALITIES” CONCLUDES!

• Now that the secret of the eScape has been revealed... =its effects on the real world will be devastating!

• Who’s your favorite cast member? Tony, Jocasta, Andy, Rhodey, Bethany, Amanda, Machine Man, or the Wasp? Maybe you shouldn’t get too attached. Not everyone’s making it out of this story in one piece.

Notes

  • This issue includes a page reprinting a "Stan's Soapbox" column from ´July 1968 written by Stan Lee, continuing the mourning of his passing.
  • Twice in this issue Rhodey makes a callback to a remark made by Tony Stark in Tony Stark: Iron Man #2 about Rhodey being there to catch Tony when he falls.
  • In this issue, Tony's new suit is referred to as the Godkiller Armor, whereas last issue it was dubbed the Godbuster Armor.
  • In the scene at Tony's bedroom, Janet Van Dyne recalls a conversation with him from Tony Stark: Iron Man #4, telling him about his return from the coma being a second chance.

See Also

Footnotes



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