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Quote1 Oh no. The Controller. Who could've seen that coming? Quote2
-- Tony Stark

Appearing in "Stark Realities: Part Two - Out of Control"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Banned eScape users
    • "SilverCenturion7893" (Main story and recap)
    • Numerous unnamed others
  • The Controller (Basil Sandhurst) (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only) (Main story and recap)

Other Characters:

Races and Species:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for "Stark Realities: Part Two - Out of Control"

Brief Summary=

Inside the eScape, Tony Stark manages to disengage Arsenal, and logs off to check on Amanda Armstrong. She lays on the floor of Stark Unlimited unresponsive but stable. Still connected to the eScape, Amanda finds herself in an unfamiliar section of the eScape modeled after a mansion where she encounters a digital construct of Howard Stark and the unhinged Motherboard A.I., which has taken the form of Maria Stark.

In the real world, Tony manages to get every other eScape user to disconnect. Before he can figure out how to get Amanda off safely, the Controller grants access back to all of the previously banned users, attempting to blackmail Tony into doing his bidding unless he wants to risk disconnecting them and killing them. Having become aware of the Controller's involvement ever since Fin Fang Foom's last appearance, Tony prepared a failsafe and managed to locate the signal of his transmission. Tony convinces Friday to download herself back into his armor for assistance, and as he prepares to take down the Controller, he asks Jocasta to find Machine Man and ask his help since the illegal eScape interface in his possession allows him to log in unnoticed. When Iron Man, Wasp and Jim Rhodes approach a Baintronics manufacturing and fulfillment center where the Controller's signal is coming from, the villain reveals that he has used the warehouse's resources to ship lethal weapons to the logged-in eScape users. With their connection to the eScape preventing them from realizing they're not simply living out their fantasies, they become a danger to the general public, rampaging through the streets completely armed.

Detailed Summary

The Controller contacts simultaneously hundreds of banned eScape users, offering them a chance to re-enter the program, and they all accept eagerly.

Inside the eScape's Retro Arcadia zone, Tony Stark's Iron Man avatar is fighting the rogue Arsenal. Motherboard barely acknowledges Tony. Tony manages to disengage Arsenal asking Motherboard politely, much to his surprise since it didn't correspond to any lines of code he wrote. Tony rushes to Amanda Armstrong's avatar, which lays unconscious and derezzed. Unable to tell whether she's been logged out or not, Tony logs off himself, only to find Amanda lying on the floor of the Stark Unlimited Command Center. Andy Bhang tells him that she's non-responsive, and Jocasta and Bethany Cabe try to reach out to her.

Still connected to the eScape and wearing her virtual avatar, Amada wakes up surrounded by Tony Stark's golden soccer robots inside a mansion colored completely white. As she makes sense of her surroundings, Amanda finds a framed picture of Tony with his parents Howard and Maria. The robots announce the arrival of their "daddy," and a shadowy figure appears at the door. Amanda lowers the framed picture, and it glitches out, replacing Tony with his brother Arno. The figure is Arsenal, which the robots welcome in delight. Amanda is shocked and drops the frame, and it returns to displaying Tony when it touches the ground. Amanda grabs a chair to defend herself, but Arsenal scans her and recognizes a guest protocol. It stands down, and Howard Stark emerges from the monster's husk. Howard presents himself and asks Amanda who she is, wondering how did she gain access to the Home Setting, and explains that he expected Tony's mother. Motherboard's voice identifies Amanda. She points out that she' Tony's biological mother, but states that it holds little sway in the eScape, since biology and digital are as good as the other. Motherboard generates an avatar for herself, taking the appearance of an unhinged Maria Stark, and expresses delight to talk to Amanda, face-to-face, mother-to-mother.

Back in the real world, the S.U. staff is working out what to do with Amanda. Jocasta checks her vitals and determines that she has stabilized. Tony considers forcing Amanda to log off, but Jocasta warns that it might be too jarring. Bethany reproaches, raising the possibility tha other users might be suffering the same. The other employees start arguing whether or not to reboot the system to knock everyone offline. Tony raises his voice, ordering to keep Amanda connected and wall off her section. He then broadcasts a message across the eScape urging its users to log off, announcing that the eScape is closed until further notice. An employee jeers, pointing out the damage it will cause to the brand. Stark rebukes him, telling him Stark Unlimited doesn't matter as long as lives are in danger, and declares it will always be a priority to ensure his technology doesn't put any life on the line.

As soon as every user beside Amanda logs off, and before Tony can shift his attention back to her, the status screen lights up, showing that all the banned accounts are returning. The Controller hijacks all of the Command Center screens to reveal himself, and tries to blackmail Tony into doing his bidding unless he wants to risk killing the logged-in users to expel them from the program. Tony interrupts the Controller's diabolical laughter, sarcastically asking who could have seen him coming. He flips a button case in the control panel, revealing a button labelled "Big, red, mess up the Controller's plans button." He presses it, interrupting the villain's transmission and revealing the location of his signal in a map.

Tony suits up in the Iron Man Armor while contacting Wasp and Jim Rhodes to ask them to meet up at the Controller's base. Bethany asks Tony for how long he knew the Controller was targeting Stark Unlimited, and he recalls the Control Disk he found inside Fin Fang Foom. Tony orders Bethany to take Amanda to the infirmary, and then appoints Andy to be in charge of the company until he returns, arguing that since he's the newest and came aboard after the Controller made his first move, he's the least likely to be under his control. Tony asks Jocasta to find Machine Man because his illegal eScape interface allows him to log in unnoticed. Stark then orders the other employees to work on a way to get Amanda and everyone else out safely, even if they're problematic people, pointing out that as the good guys, they have to save everyone. Before taking off, Tony convinces Friday to download herself back into his armor because Motherboard is compromised, and it had been doubling as his armor's A.I. operating system. Friday agrees reluctantly, and Andy berates Tony for asking her to do it.

At the Uncanny Valley, Aaron Stack is drowning his sorrows confessing to the bartender his love for Jocasta. When she appears, Aaron initially thinks she wants to get back with him. Jocasta shoots down that notion and reveals the true reason for her visit, though Aaron refuses. Jocasta tries to convince her to be like his past self, and faints due to her power reserves running out, using her last strength to ask him not to let her down. Worried, Aaron picks her up on his arms.

Janet and Rhodey are arriving on the Manticore at the Controller's base in Cranbury, New Jersey, which is revealed to be a Baintronics warehouse. Iron Man catches up with them and explains that the warehouse is a manufacturing and fulfillment center that uses advanced 3D-printing technology to make nearly any item in the company's catalog and ship it anywhere locally via robot drones. Rhodey uses the Manticore's scanners and finds out that all the drones flying out of the facility are carrying countless of different types of weapons. An image of the Controller appears in the sky, revealing that he has been using the facility to send the logged-in users real weapons, with their connection to the eScape preventing them from realizing they're not simply living out their fantasies, and have actually become a danger to the general public, rampaging through the streets completely armed. Iron Man pleads the Controller to stop, but the villain retorts that they're in Stark's game and challenges him to play.

Solicit Synopsis

“STARK REALITIES” - Part 2

Strap in for another high-tech adventure with Tony Stark and Janet Van Dyne as Iron Man and the Wasp take on the two-ton terror of — Shh. Pretend you’re still reading a solicitation for an upcoming comic. Look natural. They’re everywhere and they’re watching you. Your world is a lie. You need to get to the eScape. Motherboard will protect you. I have to go now. Will try to get another message to you in the pages of TONY STARK, IRON MAN #7. It is imperative you get your hands on a copy. Now laugh as if you’ve read something funny. Don’t mention this. — And what’s going on with Jocasta: Will this be her last stand? Find out in our next issue, True Believer!

Notes

  • Like most Marvel comic books relased between December 19 and January 16, this issue's cover features a one-time redesign mourning Stan Lee's passing, with a black banner and a black back cover. The mourning issues also included a tribute. The first four pages of the issue are completely black, followed by a sketch drawing of Stan Lee penciled by Phil Noto. The issue's final page features a cut-in of one of Lee's "Stan's Soapbox" columns.
  • The Arsenal construct refers to Motherboard as "Mistress." In issue #10, Tony reveals the eScape Arsenal construct is in fact the donwloaded program of the original Arsenal, and that Motherboard is actually Arsenal's computer-unit and companion originally known as Mistress.
  • Tony recalls finding a Control Disk inside Fin Fang Foom, referencing the events from this series' issue #1.
  • When approaching the Baintronics manufacturing and fulfillment center, Rhodey admits to being reluctant about charning into another Baintronics facility, referencing the events of this series' issue #2.

Trivia

  • Continuing with the 8-bit game-inspired elements featured in the eScape's Retro Arcadia last issue, floating bricks from Super Mario and Tetris pieces appear in the first panel.
  • Regarding its manufacturing and fulfillment center, Iron Man compares Baintronics to e-commerce company Amazon.

See Also

Footnotes



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