Avengers #31 Comic Review
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Gerardo Zaffino, Geraldo Borges, Szymon Kudaranski, Bazaldua, Robert Gill & Mattia De Iulis
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg & Mattia De Iulis
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Gerardo Zaffino
Variant Covers: J. Scott Campbell; Tianqi Hu
The Temptation of Anthony Stark
“I Am…Ice Age Man”
What You Need to Know
We finally get to see what happened to Tony Stark and how Iron Man can survive in an era with no technology whatsoever. Tony Stark looked true evil in the face as a child and it haunted him every day since. Now, one million years in the future, that evil looks back and wants to consume Tony.
What Just Happened
The issue begins with Tony Stark flashing back to his childhood as he remembers feeling lonely while also thinking back to his father’s strange rituals and parties. Tony remembers seeing his father serving the will of the devil and seeing the devil face-to-face as a child.
Tony is trapped a million years in the past with his armor ruined and just enough power to last maybe a few nights. Tony explains he was transported from the cave he was investigating after the War of The Realms after he examined the fossilized Iron Man helmet in the cave. Before Tony could get his bearings, the Prehistoric Avengers attacked him. The Phoenix informs Tony that he was summoned to this time for a reason and it was not the Avengers that summoned him. The phoenix then warns Tony about the devil. The Phoenix then blasts him and damages his armor.
Tony takes a refuge in a cave and tries to fix his armor. Cavewomen approach him with offerings every night for a week. Cavemen then come to attack Tony for 3 weeks straight. The devil speaks to Tony through his helmet and asks him what he would take for his soul. The devil informs Tony that his father had to make sacrifices and he was one of them. The devil alludes that he is Tony’s real father.
Tony mocks the devil by killing every snake he can find, and the devil sends the power stone infused gorilla that the prehistoric Iron Fist battled to assault Tony. Tony builds a new armor out of ice and vibranium and dubs himself Ice Age Man. The devil comes to Tony in the form of his adoptive father, Howard Stark. Tony flashes back to his childhood again and remembers that he used x-ray glasses to see that his father was dressing up as the devil in disguise. Tony remembers that his father mocks him and says his soul has already been sold. Tony remembers that his father was the head of some kind of satanic millionaires club.
The devil reveals itself to be Mephisto, and Tony realizes that Mephisto is in possession of the Time Stone. Mephisto attacks Tony and demands him to serve him. The Avengers watch Tony battle Mephisto and state that he must win this battle alone and if he loses history will be changed completely. Tony uses the last of his armor’s power to blast the Time Stone. The stone shows Tony the future or at least different bleak timelines showing Marvel heroes in despair.
Black Panther finds Tony in the cave in the present screaming. Tony next heads to Las Vegas to confront Mephisto. Tony refuses Mephisto’s offer. Mephisto talks with someone about sowing doubt in Tony and the alternate Tony’s of the multiverse and there will be a time where he will have to battle all of them. The person is revealed to be Howard Stark who pledges his allegiance to Mephisto and states he knows how to break Tony Stark.
I’ve been waiting for Jason Aaron to finally show us what happened to Tony Stark, and boy did he not disappoint. Not only was this book an exciting page-turner, but also it was filled with a sense of dread that made you nervous to turn the page, for fear of what would happen to Tony. Aaron also revisits the controversial revelation of Howard Stark being Tony’s adoptive father. Many fans of Iron Man did not like this revelation and found it unnecessary, but Jason Aaron uses this to create a compelling tweak to Tony’s early life. Howard being the biggest antagonist in Tony’s life is an interesting change to Iron Man’s story, and there are a lot of stories to be told regarding this relationship. Tony has always felt that his father cast a long shadow over his life, but now it seems Howard has cast something much darker than a shadow upon Tony.
Jason Aaron ties all of his Prehistoric Avengers stories into this Iron Man story. We see appearances from the Avengers themselves, and appearances from Mephisto in his snake form, and the Power Stone infused Gorilla. Tony Stark is thrown through a gauntlet of punishment this issue while being disorientated by being one million years in the future. Aaron punishes Tony all issue, and never lets up. Tony being trapped in the prehistoric age seems like a fun science fiction story, but Aaron turns the horror up to 10, with a creeping and taunting Mephisto making its presence felt throughout the issue. Tony does have some fun with a terrifying situation as he builds a unique set of armor and blurts out some purposefully corny dialogue.
Mephisto is characterized as the one true devil in this issue, and I wonder if this is one of Aaron’s goals going forward as there are multiple Hell Lords in the Marvel Universe and it’s honestly very confusing. And if the solicitations tell us anything, maybe the Avengers adventure in Hell will connect back to Mephisto personal war with Tony Stark. Especially when Mephisto has a servant with a very personal connection to Tony.
I was surprised when I saw that there were multiple artists on this book, because for the most part, the many artists on this book compliment each other well. It was actually hard to notice when one artist’s work transitioned to another artist. I would like to give credit to the colorists Rochelle Rosenberg and Mattia De Iulis for keeping the colors consistent for each artist. Most of the artists were able to create a sense of dread with the depictions of the cavemen assaulting Tony, Mephisto in the form of a snake, and a giant infinity stone powered Gorilla. The face of bewilderment on Tony throughout this issue proved that the artists shared Jason Aaron’s vision of throwing Tony into the middle of his own personal horror movie.