Readers have known for monthts that Victor Von Doom would go full on hero as part of "Marvel NOW!," taking over the role of Iron Man for Infamous Iron Man alongside Tony Stark’s young protégé Riri Williams's Invincible Iron Man. What we didn’t know is where Tony Stark would be through all of this – and now it seems we have an answer.
Spoilers ahead for this week's Infamous Iron Man #1.
Tony Stark’s absence is directly addressed in Infamous Iron Man #1, and though the details aren’t exactly spelled out, Brian Michael Bendis (who remember, is also writing Civil War II) has various characters inferring that Stark died in the still-to-come climax of Civil War II (and boy, did we ever call that one). In the lead-in text even, "dire consequences" are said to befall Stark.
”It was televised. It is true,” Doom says when asked by Amara Perera whether Stark could have faked his death. Adding to this is the presence of a Stark A.I. in the lab where Tony’s Iron Man suits are housed – an A.I. Doom believes is based on Stark’s downloaded brain patterns, created in case his “bodily functions failed him.”
Remember, when Marvel announced that Riri Williams would become the lead star in a relaunched Invincible Iron Man, it was said that Tony would guide her - but the cover showed a hologram of him, but a flesh-and-blood character.
So while it’s not 100% confirmed that Tony Stark is dead – Perera’s question raises the possibility that not all is as it seems in Tony’s still unseen death – the original Iron Man seems to be gone leaving behind a holographic version of himself to dispense snark – and presumably guidance for Riri Williams and maybe even Doom – in his stead.
So why would Marvel spoil a major "death" from Civil War II like this ahead of time? Civil War II was originally scheduled to end this week, coinciding with Infamous Iron Man #1 - that was before, however, the event series was hit by delays and then an unplanned extra issue of the series.