There’s A New Iron Man In Town In Tony Stark: Iron Man #5

by Tony Thornley

One of the most interesting additions to Tony Stark’s supporting cast in the last decade was a young man with a familiar name. In Tony Stark: Iron Man #5, this character comes back in a very big way.

If you’ve been following the character, you probably guessed that I’m talking about Arno Stark, the biological son of Howard and Maria Stark, and Tony’s adoptive brother. Dan Slott is joined this issue by line artists Max Dunbar & Gang Hyuk Lim, color artist Dono Sanchez-Almara and letterer Joe Caramagna in a story that doesn’t actually feature its title character.
Arno Stark travels the world as the head of the Maria Stark Foundation, the charitable organization founded by his brother to fund the Avengers. Now though, it’s meant to use technology help better mankind- drought resistant crops, perfect limb replacements, cruelty free meat, and so on. One particular encounter weighs on Arno, to the point that he reveals that he isn’t the altruistic presence that we thought, and that could come back to haunt his brother…

I’m going to get this out of the way first–I don’t know what’s behind Arno’s heel turn. Last time I read a story featuring him, he was significantly more heroic, with no hint of the antagonistic character we see here. Here, he’s clearly an antagonist, with his actions bordering on villainy that actually reminded me of Victor Von Doom.
However, beyond that, the story Slott tells is REALLY good. It mirrors the journey we’ve seen Tony on the previous handful of issues, with a Black Mirror-style cruel irony attached. He takes Arno–who was previously “Tony but MORE!”–and instead makes him a cruel, immoral version of Stark who might just be the most interesting evil Iron Man the franchise has ever had. It’s all clearly building to the fact that the first Arno Stark was “Iron Man 2020” a year that’s in spitting distance for the franchise.

Dunbar and Lim step in for regular penciller Valero Schitti very well. Their style is similar to his, with more of a manga influence. It really makes the horrific elements that filled the last half of the issue come across stronger.
Slott is continuing to tell one of the better Iron Man stories we’ve seen a long time. Though this issue isn’t the best in the run, it’s still strong.
Tony Stark Iron Man #5 is available now from Marvel Comics.

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