Posted - June 3, 2013 | Updated : August 22, 2015

Previous: Civil War Front Line

Civil War: Iron Man

What would Civil War be like without Iron Man? Let's see. No Iron Man, no rallying point for the other heroes. Mr. Fantastic, because of his elaborate calculations, would still side with the government. But Reed's not a charismatic leader so I doubt if he'll have a following. So no heroes except Mr. Fantastic on the government side. Reed would still be able to build that '42' prison in the negative zone and maybe even that Thor clone.

The government would still pass the Superhuman Registration Act with S.H.I.E.L.D. as primary enforcer. In order to help out, the Sentinels would probably be re-activated but this time to hunt down all superhumans, not just mutants. With the government as a common foe we would see an unprecedented though temporary alliance between heroes and villains.

The ending? A total withdrawal of heroic activity from the Continental United States. The villains will think they have the run of the place until they encounter S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Sentinels. Everything would seem to be ok until the government succumbs to the inevitable temptations of power and begin to oppress the very people they swore to protect. The cry would go up again for the return of the heroes, who do return and crush what has now become an authoritarian and power-mad government. Wow, that story doesn't sound half bad doesn't it?

It all just shows how central Tony Stark is to the Civil War storyline. This collection takes a closer look at Iron Man before, during, and after Civil War, and in doing so - because he is so central to the War - takes a look at the very nature of the War itself.

Before we get to Daniel and Charles Knauf's story though, I just have to showoff Patrick Zircher's gorgeous art. Check out this panel

iron man and the other avengers defeat the dreadknought

And the colors by GURU eFX just pops from the frame.

Shortly after the story begins, we happen upon a startling revelation :

it is revealed that a mind-controlled iron man killed a airliner full of people

Did you get that? That is a huge deal! Before Stamford ever happened, a mind-controled Iron Man killed hundreds of civilians in a commercial passenger airliner. No one knows about it because the government suppressed it. If the governent didn't keep it under wraps, Iron Man, not Speedball would be the cause of the Superhuman Registration Act being passed and Tony would be on the run if not in jail. This is huge and it speaks a lot for the truly unfair privileges of power. Could Tony have done this whole thing as a form of atonement for what happened to that airline flight? Wow.

I am very impressed by the many close ups Zircher does of Tony that have no words whatsoever but convey great emotion nonetheless. Like this one.

great closeup of tony stark

This shot is when Tony gets asked if he has the stamina to lead the superhuman registration.

I'm also loving this Zircher panel because of the view.

happy hogan and tony stark in a balcony

Not to mention the veranda looks real enough to walk on.

Happy Hogan gets into a fight with an assassin called the Spymaster.

happy hogan fights the spymaster

Happy takes out the villain but at great cost to himself.

happy hogan in the hospital

Here's the thing, Happy Hogan is pretty much just a living vegetable at this point. He has made known to Pepper long before this that this is not an acceptable fate for him. So Pepper approaches Tony about it.

pepper asks tony to do what happy wants - turn off the machines keeping happy a vegetable

Tony turns it down but later on the Invisible Woman confronts him about the issue.

sue richards confronts tony stark about happy hogan

At the last, Tony willfully ends the life of his friend Happy Hogan. He can do this because Extremis gave him the power to pretty much control machinery, including medical equipment, of course.

So did Tony do wrong or did he do right? I think he did the merciful thing, the right thing by his friend.

I also really like this part: So, Captain America has already gone underground. In order to evade detection, the Captain and his allies have gone low tech - analog technologies from before the 70s. So Tony Goes into a neighborhood hardware store, buys some stuff, cobbles it together while standing beside his car and manages to contact Captain America!

tony stark cobbles together a communicator
tony stark calls captain america

This is vintage Tony Stark and its great to see. I can still somewhat remember Jeff Bridges' (Obadiah Stane) line from the first Iron Man movie. Something about Tony Stark being able to build his suit in a cave with bunch of spare parts or something. I love that aspect of Tony Stark.

Aside from the 'Invincible Iron Man' issues we also get something called 'Casualties of War'. This amounts to a final meeting between past allies and current adversaries : Iron Man and Captain America - the two sides of the Civil War. Fittingly, the meeting happens in the old site of the Avengers Mansion. The place is pretty rundown but the memories are as fresh as yesterday.

I like the old picture of the Avengers they find still hanging in a wall.

an old picture of the avengers

Just look at Beast, both Avenger and X-Man. And the old Vision - I miss that guy.

These three panels can pretty much stand for the whole meeting.

captain america recalling old times
iron man recalling old times

It's a discussion that references the entire Marvel Universe. Tony argues that if Spider-Man had been registered and trained he would have known how to catch Gwen Stacy without breaking her neck. Steve counters that the reason Gwen was endangered in the first place was because the Green Goblin knew who Spider-Man was - a situation that registration was going to create for all heroes. Iron Man reveals that he could have caused Stamford if he succumbed to his personal problem - alcoholism. He refers to a time when he went out of control and ended up in a skirmish with Machine Man and almost killed two civilians, where it not for Machine Man's timely intervention (I actually remember reading this Iron Man issue). References are made to Hank Pym, and Bucky and Galactic Storm. Long time Marvelites will find a lot of nostalgic moments here.

Well, it gets physical between the pair. It's not a real fight though - its really more of a tension reliever. During the course of this roughhousing, which is done with Tony sans armor, we learn that Steve actually taught Tony how to fight.

captain america teaching tony stark how to fight

Nothing is resolved here. It's just a final, sad, meeting between two legendary Avengers.

captain america and iron man pinup

The next part, the last part, of this collection is called 'The Confession'. If comics were coffee, 'The Confession' would be espresso. Strong, powerful, heady, stuff. No wonder, its Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. 'The Confession' looks at two timeframes. First, is right after the appointment of Tony Stark as head of S.H.I.E.L.D and the after the assassination of Captain America. The second timeframe is immediately after Captain America's arrest, when he was first incarcerated at Ryker's Island. The former contains a confession from Tony and the latter a dialogue between Tony and Steve.

Let's look at Tony's confession first and lets begin with the end of it.

tony stark makes a confession in front of steve rogers' corpse

Iron Man is saying : 'Not worth it', all his acts in Civil War not worth it. Spoken in front of the corpse of Steve Rogers.

Before this powerful panel, Tony proceeds to tell us why he did what he did. He references a story, obviously from some old Marvel comics, that I've never read. It was about a a time when he and Victor von Doom got thrown back to the days of King Arthur. I love these lines from Tony's narrative : " . . . and while I'm bonding with Arthur, Doctor Doom is out there somewhere bonding with Morgan Le Fey of the evil fucking Le Feys and they start a zombie war. Of course! Right? It's Doom.!! Why take this miracle of an opportunity to go sight-seeing or on some sort of sociological expedition in a time long lost when you can start a zombie war!!!". These line just made me smile.

For some reason this zombie war he saw made Tony sure that there would also be a superhero war. This is exactly like Reed supporting the Pro-Registration side because his calculations told him to do so. The superhero Civil War started the same way all wars do - with men thinking that what they know to be true is the ultimate truth for everybody else, and being so, worthy of bloodshed, death and chaos. And what's the ending? The ending is Tony Stark sitting in front of his dead friend and saying its not worth it.

Now lets move on to right after Steve Rogers' arrest.

So Cap is taken to Ryker's and we get this panel.

soldiers are confused on whether or not they should salute captain america

It shows perfectly how Cap is both felon and hero.

One of the oldest of Marvel's heroes - only one of a handful to survive from the Golden Age of comics - tells a young soldier that he's 85 years old. Makes you think doesn't it?

Tony visits Steve and they talk. I think its telling that all throughout Tony never takes off the iron mask. Steve tells him a lot of things, absolutely brilliant dialogue. Here are just two of the panels.

steve rogers asking tony stark if it was worth it

Now we know who's question Tony was answering when he said that "it's not worth it". Now we know. I particularly like : "Who made you the moral compass of us?" - that is just powerful stuff.

Next: Civil War Ms. Marvel