Invincible Iron Man (4th series) #9

Issue Date: 
October 2023
Story Title: 
The End of Iron Man

Gerry Duggan (writer), Juan Frigeri (artist), Bryan Valenza (color), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Norm del Re (design), Kael Ngu (cover artist), Kris Anka; Bob Layton & Paul Mounts; George Perez & Edgar Delgado; Junggeon Yoon (variant covers), VC’s), Darren Shan (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Iron Man created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Surrounded by Stark Sentinels, Tony Stark bluffs that, if Feilong has him killed, the Avengers will avenge him. His bluff seems to work, as Feilong recalls the Sentinels. Tony asks the Avenger to let him deal with this on his own. He finds Emma Frost in the Morlock Tunnels with the armor and asks her to give him some time while she hides. He talks with She-Hulk, who has visited Rhodes in jail and fears the warden is bought by Orchis. She releases Tony as a client to be able to work for Rhodes and tells him to return the Mark 70 armor to Feilong. After stripping it of everything important, he does so and warns Feilong not to hurt Rhodes. He joins up with Emma Frost and they agree to face their foes together. He decides he will have to create new armor based on a new technology to fight the Stark Sentinels and gives her a power dampener ring to hide her from the Sentinels. Using her Hazel Kendall identity, she takes him to the Hellfire Club, where she introduces him to another member of their conspiracy who currently owns the Krakoan assets: The Kingpin aka the new White King of the Hellfire Club!

Full Summary: 

Defenseless, without any armor, a defiant Tony Stark stands in an alleyway, at the mercy of Feilong’s Stark Sentinels. A moment ago, he warned Feilong that, if he killed an Avenger in the street, he’d be dead the next day. So what’s it going to be? he continues his bluff. Feilong laughs and orders the Sentinels to disengage and hunt the White Queen and all the missing Quiet Council members. And track the Mark 70 armor! He wants to put it with the other antiques in the lobby of the mothership,

The Sentinels fly off and Tony thinks to himself if he mentioned every time the Avengers saved his life in his biography, it would be longer than anything George R. R. Martin wrote.

Captain America comes in on his motorcycle and wants to take him to a hospital. Tony tells him to stay away. He doesn’t want to be seen with his friends. He wants Feilong to think that it’s over and he has beaten Tony. He has a new suit that will let him continue to be an Avenger, but he will be going dark. The less they know, the better. He promises to be in touch as he stumbles away down a subway shaft, trying to track the Mark 70 armor he sent away with Emma Frost on his phone.

After an hour, he finds the armor standing still in some tunnel. Don’t be mad? he asks preemptively before speaking the code phrase “Open Sesame” that releases Emma.

She immediately tears into him, demanding how dare he trap her in that sweatbox? But her rage changes to concern one moment later, when she realizes he is injured.

He agrees grimly and she asks how he escaped without his armor. He explains how it was a stay of execution rather. Feilong was smart enough to realize killing an Avenger on the street is bad for business. He probably has several plans for when he really wants Tony dead. If he turns up dead in a gutter from “alcohol poisoning,” the public probably won’t even think twice.

Emma asks if sending her down to the Morlock Tunnels was some sort of gallows humor or humiliation. He explains he didn’t even know about the tunnels, he just needed some place without signal reception. So they can’t get in here. He bookmarked some pages on his phone, there are several warrants out on her.

Emma makes it clear the human world doesn’t matter to her. It should, Tony replies and shows her his phone. There is an article showing that all humans at the Hellfire Gala were killed. He continues to explain that the Orchis claim that the Krakoan meds are laced with a drug that acts as a kill-switch is true. Vision found it, though not who placed it there.

Emma looks defeated. It’s the perfect frame, she mutters. Tony agrees, he is in a similar situation. His friend Rhodey is in jail for something Tony put him up to.

My girls!” Emma sobs. She can’t sense them. She doesn’t even know if they are alive! Tony tries to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, then thinks better of it. He suggests they don’t do despair yet. They have to regain the high ground. If the worst thing happened… the X-Men have a fix for that, right? She doesn’t know after tonight, Emma replies helplessly. He tells her he has to go above ground and orders her to stay. If he can’t come back… He corrects himself that he will come back, but it may take some time. There are a few things he has to do and check on. He puts on his armor. He might have an idea about how to hide her. Just give him a little time. What if they are all dead, Emma mutters. Then she avenges them, he replies and leaves.

In a Texas prison, lawyer Jennifer Walters aka She Hulk is talking to her client, a rather beaten-up James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. He assures her the Stark factory was empty. He didn’t kill anyone. He has been framed. She agrees and asks him to tell her about how he got beaten up in prison. Maybe she can get him into protective custody. He walked into a door, Rhodey insists and adds he doesn’t need more heat here.

Afterwards, She-Hulk warns Warden Drummond, not another bruise on Rhodes’s head or he won’t believe the trouble she will cause him. Unimpressed, he replies they don’t do protective custody for murderers in Texas. Just doing her due diligence, she replies, takes her phone and leaves.

Stark, in the meantime, is working in the abandoned cabstand in Jersey City. He hollows out the Mark 70 armor and orders the BOSS system to delete itself after calling Jen.

She gives him the grim news that Rhodes is literally fighting for his life in prison. And the warden is playing for the other side. He did not bother to hide his enthusiasm for Feilong’s fascists or Orchis. Stark swears, realizing Feilong will kill Rhodey to hurt him. Jen informs him that is the last advice as his lawyer. She will have to drop him to continue being Rhodes’ counsel: return the armor to Feilong and get a new lawyer!

Stark Unlimited HQ, where Feilong is taking selfies with adoring fans. Suddenly, the Mark 70 armor (or what’s left of it) is thrown through the glass door. Stark shouts at Feilong to call off the attacks on Rhodes or suffer the consequences. Feilong grins claiming he has no idea what he is talking about. Is his friend experiencing discomfort in prison?

Stark storms out, swearing. He stops when he sees a bar. The urge to drink is always there, but he fights it. He will not give Feilong the honor of being his nemesis - that remains one of his own most important jobs!

By nightfall, Tony returns to the Morlock Tunnels with some groceries. Emma is still waiting to his surprise. She snarks about the Avengers being busy with more important things, like the Mole Man! Stark interrupts her angrily. All of this could have been avoided if she had listened to him at the previous party, when he said that Feilong was outmaneuvering them! Emma calls him a ghoul, explaining they never underestimated any of those ghouls, but the mutants made promise not to kill any of the small-minded humans. Reaching the end of his patience, he shouts he is not like Feilong! Feilong is going to kill his best friend… just to get to him!

Emma orders him to sit down, he is having a panic attack. He is also still concussed. She tells him to stay down and holds him till he calms down. It’s all his fault, he finally mutters and pleads for help.

Suddenly, they are both at Stark Industries, Emma dressed in her coat, he also very dapper. Emma explains she mentally took him to his happy place. She snarks that his idealistic self-image is oddly devoid of the gunrunners, tramps and non-union MI6 agents she’s long associated him with, so forgive her for her preconceptions. They are surrounded by different Iron Man armors, standing in two rows, as he admits these days at the hangars were the best days of his life. He’s been ruminating on his past a bit… writing a memoir.

She just read it, Emma informs him. It’s not that good. It’s just a bit daft, but that’s not what he should be working on. He needs a new armor, maybe two. Sounds expensive, Emma points out. He agrees, but this is war.

As the armors all fly upwards, he continues that he is willing to die for this and risk the Interpol warrant but he wants to do this right. He has a lot of engineering to do to overcome those Sentinels. It’s going to require a wholly new technology. That will take time.

Emma warns that time is not on their side. He insists they have to be smart. So, an alliance. To their foes’ deaths? To their deaths, Emma agrees.

Back in their bodies, Tony explains he did some tinkering and has something for her. He offers her a ring, then realizes what that looks like and suggests maybe she should do it herself. She didn’t think this hellish day could get any worse! she snaps. Evey day can get worse, Tony points out. Isn’t that the mutant motto or something?

He suggests she return to the Hazel Kendall alias. It fooled everyone and earned her some security clearances.

Emma puts on the power dampener ring, while uttering how much she hates this.

A little later, Tony and “Hazel” (complete with auburn wig and large glasses) walk toward the Manhattan Hellfire Club. Tony warns her that this will be the first place people will look for her. She retorts that they are not here on her behalf and, if he wants to help his incarcerated friend, this is the place. As she knocks on the door, she explains that, before her assets were seized, she transferred everything to a third party who shares their grievances.

The butler Reddick opens the door and “Hazel” quickly reminds him of her identity as Hazel Kendall, attaché to Mr. Stark. While Tony muses his father was a member, Reddick warns them the White King is preparing to meet with his new attorney. His wife is a mutant and cruelly missing, so avoid any talk on politics.

They enter the office to meet the new White King, Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime, who tells them they have much to discuss…

Characters Involved: 

Iron Man
Emma Frost
Captain America, She-Hulk (Avengers)
War Machine



Story Notes: 

Emma’s Hazel Kendall identity was first introduced in issue #6.

Emma gave the Krakoan assets to the Kingpin last issue. He is on the mutants’ side as his wife Typhoid Mary went missing at the Hellfire Gala (and is currently in Vanaheim, as seen in Realm of X)

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