The mystery of Tony Stark's birth parents has finally been solved, and the seemingly mundane reveal that he was parented by two heretofore unknown characters has received a twist that is very appropriate to the current climate of the Marvel Universe.
Spoilers ahead for International Iron Man #7.
While it was already revealed that Amanda Armstrong, Stark's birth mother, was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, International Iron Man #7 reveals that his father was also a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative named Jude, working alongside Armstrong. The pair fell in love on a mission in Germany, leading to Amanda's pregnancy - and a much deeper mystery.
Amanda's first mission was almost a bust, with an unnamed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent having blown her cover. After almost being killed and then getting pregnant, Amanda tells Jude that she wants out of the spy game. Echoing her feelings, he reveals that he's secured their future - and her safety - by becoming a double agent for Hydra.
Stunned, Amanda stabs Jude to death, giving her baby to S.H.I.E.L.D. After an agent there tells Howard Stark that the baby will be sent to an "orphanage somewhere in Europe," Howard Stark (whom you'll recall was a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative as well) takes young Anthony home to Maria Stark, and the pair raise him as their own.
What this means is that Tony Stark is the son of a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative and a Hydra agent, making Steve Rogers not the only Avenger with secret ties to Hydra. It's unclear, however, if Tony knows about his father's secret, or even who his father is, as the story is told through a flashback, rather than a narration, picking up at the previously-seen moment when Tony tells Amanda she is his mother.
International Iron Man #7 marks the title's final issue, with Bendis and Maleev segueing to Infamous Iron Man beginning in October. That will be published alongside a new volume of Invincible Iron Man by Bendis and Stefano Casseli.
Tony Stark isn't advertised as the lead character in either series, but he - or at least his "All-New All-Different Marvel"-era armor - are featured prominently on covers for Marvel books well into the new year.