Earlier this week, Marvel announced a “Secret Origin” arc for Iron Man starting in May; written by series regular Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and apparently featuring a baby Tony Stark. The story was the subject of Marvel’s latest “Next Big Thing” on Friday, with Gillen detailing the story for the comic book press.
“The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” will encompass “about 11 or 12 issues,” according to Gillen, starting with May’s Iron Man #9. It focuses on both Iron Man in the present day — which is about 75 percent of the story — as well as flashbacks to Howard and Maria Stark, Tony’s parents, and their “Stark Seven” of both familiar characters (like Dum Dum Dugan) and new ones. Much of the arc is set in Nevada, due to it housing both Las Vegas and Area 51.
“This is big,” Gillen said. “By issue #10, Tony’s conception of everything will have changed. I saw what Dan Slott’s been up to these past few months, and I said, ‘I want a piece of that.’ This will be interesting in terms of response. It’s not going to be minor.”
A full report of the call follows after the jump.
Gillen on Howard Stark (Tony’s father)’s “secret” at the center of the story: “I wanted to do a big, meaningful story to hearken back to the beginning of Iron Man and all of that,” Gillen says, and that the structure alternates between the past and the present.
The writer says he wants to keep “most of his cards as close to the table as possible,” but he wanted to do a “caper,” and that most of the story is set in Nevada — for being the location of both Las Vegas and Area 51. The story involves a group called the “Stark Seven” gathered by Tony’s parents, involving both familiar faces like Dum Dum Dugan and new characters. “This is a period piece,” Gillen says. “With Marvel, the rolling timeline, you’ve got to be careful with the period pieces,” he continues, but the “eternal myth” of Las Vegas is well-suited to such a story.
“This is the fundamental nature of drama,” Gillen says of the story. “Drama is about what the character wants, and what they’re willing to do to get it. We put Maria and Howard into a really painful situation, and see what they do about it.”
Viscardi says this story has the “most badass” Iron Man armor in history. Gillen says it’s the most badass armor in history, period.
Gillen says the current “Godkiller” arc will have hints towards “Secret Origin.”
First press question, from Paul at iFanboy: “How do you think Tony views his father and his legacy now, before going into this storyline? What would Howard think of Tony?” “I think Howard would be incredibly proud,” Gillen says. “Tony’s hard on himself, and I’ve kind of been hard on him. But on any reasonable level, Tony should be proud.”
Next press question, from us: How much room was there to create with Howard and Maria’s backstory? “You’d be surprised,” Gillen replies. “Especially with Maria, you’ve got a lot of room. With Howard, you’ve got less room. But you’ve still got a lot of room. There’s this wonderful really short story that Matt did which was pretty much a ‘How I Met Your Mother’ story. I feel I have a lot of room, which is good.”
Next press question, from CBR, asks about the story’s artist, Dale Eaglesham: “This will feel like 30 years ago, no matter when you read it,” Gillen answers.
Next question, from iFanboy: What makes the armor so special? “I’ve been calling it the ‘Godkiller’ armor,” Gillen says. “This is a big story, the origin of Tony Stark. It’s about 11 or 12 issues. It’s a big story. And the Godkiller armor comes on strong by the second half. What makes it special? It’s big.”
Next question, from us: At any point, does the story actually show Tony Stark as a baby? “Yeah,” Gillen says. “It’s about how Tony Stark has changed.”
Next question, from CBR: How much does Iron Man’s established origin play into this story? “Not at all,” Gillen answers. “This is all completely stuff that people do not know. This is very much things you did not know but would be intrigued to learn.”
Next question, from Marvel.com: “How much of the story is flashback?” The majority of the story is what’s happening now, Gillen says. The most flashbacks are seen in #11 and #12, which are about 75 percent period piece. “Then we take that forward. It’s not like it’s purely a three-issue flashback.”
And another question from Marvel.com (they missed their shot first time around): Will this story affect Tony’s teammates in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers? “If he survives, sure,” Gillen says. “This is big. By issue #10, Tony’s conception of everything will have changed. I saw what Dan Slott’s been up to these past few months, and I said, ‘I want a piece of that.’ This will be interesting in terms of response. It’s not going to be minor.”
Viscardi adds that fans will begin to be able to connect the dots and see where Gillen is going with this, and it’s “definitely going to turn the Iron Man mythos on its head.”
Gillen says the story will examine, “Why is Tony different? Why is Tony not Reed Richards? In the largest metaphorical sense, it’s how Tony came to be.”
To recap: Iron Man #9, the start of “Secret Origin,” is out in May, and Viscardi calls it “just the beginning of the drum beating for this story.”