Invincible Iron Man #11, page 10What’s going on in Invincible Iron Man in the current “World’s Most Wanted” arc is a pretty…different. Given all that Tony Stark has done in his life, up to and including traveling in time back to Camelot while fighting Doctor Doom – that’s saying something.
The quick version – in the post Secret Invasion Marvel Universe, Tony Stark, who’s been the world’s top cop since Civil War was knocked off his perch by Norman Osborn. And the fall is a long one.
But Osborn isn’t satisfied with removing Tony Stark from power. He wants everything Stark had – designs, files, Superhero Registration Act data (including the secret identities of Registered and some un-Registered heroes), and more. Thing is, all that information is inside Tony’s head.
Invincible Iron Man #11 hits this week (preview here), and we spoke with writer Matt Fraction for more on what’s been going on, and what’s coming up.
Newsarama: Just so we're on the same page here, "World's Most Wanted" is about Tony being on the run from Norman who literally wants what's inside Tony's head, right?
Matt Fraction: Yeah. Not just the whole of the super hero registration database but... well, all of Tony's head is desirable. Osborn isn't Stark and Oztech isn't Stark Industries and there are mysteries to the Iron Man that only Tony has the answers to. In his way, Tony is the ultimate weapon and Osborn wants to get his hand on him.
Invincible Iron Man #11, page 11NRAMA: What exactly is Tony doing to himself to make sure Norman doesn't get his hands on the information?
MF: He's engaging in a repulsor-drive powered deletion process of his mind. A kind of zeroing out of his data, if you will, that requires a tremendous expenditure of energy because of the modifications that Extremis made to his biology. So he's running from secret base to secret base and hooking himself up to these big repulsor-powered machines that are wiping out all of the data stored in his brain because it's the only power source large enough to handle such a job.
NRAMA: The "hard drive" that the information is on - it's due in part to Extremis, but still...in your view, what form does it take? Is it a physical thing, or just a re-wired section of Tony's brain due to the Extremis?
MF: It's his brain. Tony is post-human; his biology is different than ours. The whole of it is more than the organ we have in our skulls. Extremis rewrote him, rebuilt him, recreated him.
NRAMA: The question was asked in the story, but still - why can't Tony find a way to make this happen...quicker? He's Tony Stark, and he can't figure out a way to 100% destroy his head so there's nothing left? Or is he making it go slow on purpose?
MF: As answered in the story: this is the only way to be sure. The only other person that this has happened to died violently. There are no maps for the territory Tony finds himself in. Someone in the second half asks him why he didn't just jump into a volcano or something and the answer, he realizes, is that he was hoping for some kind of Hail Mary miracle. He didn't dive into a volcano because he was hoping something somewhere somehow would change.
The second half of the story also asks: what happens when the Hail Mary miracle doesn't come?
NRAMA: Ah. Got it. So is this a Charley thing for Tony, now that he's activated it? Is he going to be losing more and more function as time goes on - unless he stops it?
Invincible Iron Man #11, page 12MF: Yes. And there's no stopping it. This is a one-way ticket for Tony and it just gets worse. You'll notice we're going in reverse chronological order from suit to suit-- he's moving from complex to difficult because he's intellectually incapable of operating such complex machinery.
NRAMA: There’s no off switch? If the President removes Osborn tomorrow, is Tony just as screwed?
MF: That wouldn't stop Osborn. Or the Cabal or anyone else that knows what's going on with Tony. The data in his skull is the most valuable dozen yottabytes on earth (Or however big a mind like his is) - if Osborn didn't have H.A.M.M.E.R. he'd still go after Tony. Everyone would still be after Tony. He's got all the keys to all the locks.
NRAMA: As we’re seeing, Tony’s not stopping with his head - all his holdings are being destroyed, as is his armor. Bigger picture in terms of large-scale character arcs, is this what has to happen in a sense? Tony has to go through this for redemption?
MF: Tony's not doing this for redemption; redemption isn't in anybody's control. You don't get to decide to do something so as to be redeemed; that's not actually noble, it's just calculated. Tony's doing this because he's a hero, and heroes do all they can to stand up to evils both great and banal no matter the price.
As a writer, I wanted to see what was left of Tony when you stripped all of his trappings away, and then attacked the root of his greatness, the root of his powers - his intellect.
NRAMA: Okay – on to Tony's love life. He kisses Pepper, and had been expressing feelings for her earlier in the series, and sleeps with Maria Hill. Is his decision making ability that screwed up, or is he just running down his own Bucket List?
MF: A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B, and a little bit of... of "it's the end of the world as we know it," I suppose. He's never had tremendous self-control with the women in his life and now, faced with its inevitable end, maybe the idea of being alone just terrifies him more. The world-- his world-- is ending. Love the one you're with, right?
Invincible Iron Man #11, page 14NRAMA: In issue #10, you put Pepper in the suit - you can’t call her Iron Maiden, can you? Don’t you want to though? Just a little?
MF: Of course. Of course, of course, of course. I wanted Pepper to get a suit and become Iron Maiden ever since I started The Order.
We can't call her that not because of the band, but rather, because of another comic. Oh well.
NRAMA: How long has Tony had the suit ready and waiting for Pepper? This connects directly to Tony putting the repulsor into Pepp, but still...was he always ready for this?
Well, like I said, I was working on this ever since The Order. And I like it as an extension of the way we've already seen Tony operate-- he's always been training his friends, in his way. Rhodey and Pepper and Happy and now Hill are always folded into his plans, his contingencies... it made sense to me, historically, and it made sense to me, with regards to where we're going. She's been augmented for a few years now and has been a vital cog in the Iron Man machine, as it were...
And I needed some way to show the future of the Iron Man. An extreme search and rescue suit not made to blow up tanks and terrorists but to catch falling airplanes and to keep breaching levees in place and all that. An Iron Man not conceived of as a weapon but as a tool. It's where he's always been going, even when the world got in his way. Pepper's the one that is given Tony's ultimate gift-- she's his vision for the future.
Also, we need more women heroes, period.
NRAMA: Won’t argue with you there. Wrapping things up, this week sees issue #11 hit, and…War Machine? Pepper in the suit...tease us man, tease us...
MF: Tony hits a meeting. Lots of goodbyes. Henry Hellrung. Pepper ascendant. Iron Man vs. War Machine while Osborn watches. AND! Osborn goes to the bullpen and calls somebody up...