Marvel’s Dark Ages just gave Tony Stark a whole new low-tech suit, but there’s no doubt that steampunk Iron Man armor is a recipe for disaster.
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Dark Ages # 1, available now from Marvel.
Tony Stark has never been one to hold back with his elaborate inventions, especially not when they come in the form of new armor. Whether it’s something for Iron Man, War Machine, or anyone else, Tony Stark is always ready to organize any occasion. And although the lights have gone out for good in the Marvel Universe of Dark times, Tony managed to build a suit capable of making his way through the Dark times.
After The Unmaker’s old threat resurfaced and threatened to destroy the world from within, Doctor Strange led a select team of heroes to deal with the threat. While they were able to defeat the Unmaker by unleashing the power of a reality where electricity could not work, it led to this same electromagnetic pulse emanating from all over the planet. Within moments all the machines stopped working, including the ones in the Iron Man costume. At that time, Tony Stark was flying over New York, the aftermath of the explosion ripped his leg off by a crashing plane that he blindly collided with. Although this is a far cry from the end of the story as well as Tony Stark’s role in it, although the situation forced him to become a different kind of Iron Man.
As revealed at the end of Dark times # 1 by Tom Taylor, Iban Coello, Brian Reber and Joe Sabino of VC, the former Avenger miraculously survived his injuries. Not only that, but he even managed to craft a working Iron Man suit without any cutting edge technology at his disposal. This new armor has already been glimpsed, although how it works remains to be seen. One can only assume that this combination is a combination of steam power and rocket propulsion, since anything that looks remotely like an arc reactor is excluded. As impressive as it may be, it has disturbing implications.
Aside from the fact that Tony wears either a giant boiler, an engine, or both, the armor itself could only have been made from anything Tony could put together by hand. Without the means to do something as simple as plating one of its armor, it would have to be constructed from steel, iron, or brass. It all adds up to some extremely heavy and incredibly fragile Iron Man armor that is at best a slightly better version of his very first suit and at worst, a flying time bomb. And, to top it off, there’s not even a hope that this is all part of a bigger effort to turn the world around, as Tony is now working alongside a particularly ominous Apocalypse.
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Steampunk and Iron Man aren’t two diametrically opposed concepts, but they work much better together in theory than in practice. Considering the state of affairs in Dark times, it’s understandable that Tony Stark will do his best with what little is available to maintain his own killer advantage on this Endless Night. Then again, the obvious risks of donning this armor would involve a level of desperation the Ironclad Avenger would not have seen in some time. At the very least, it gives readers one more reason to look forward to following the events of this latest darker alternate version of the Marvel Universe.
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