WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Invincible Iron Man #35
After months in a coma, Tony Stark is finally alive and well in Marvel's Universe - but the return of Iron Man won't be so easy. Comic fans will recall the injuries that put Tony Stark out of action back in the Civil War II event, when Captain Marvel almost killed him. The damage was so extensive, the Iron Man armor was destroyed, and Tony Stark retreated into a suspended state no doctors or geniuses could understand. And there he has sat for months - until now.
The reason for Tony's recovery may not be what some fans were hoping, since it involves a significant retcon to his powers and biology. But if Marvel fans wanted Tony Stark back up and walking in the comic universe, they have their wish. Well, they almost do. Tony's back, and alive... but he's all by himself, and a long way away from being able to stand.
The mystery of Tony Stark's return has been unraveling in the pages of Invincible Iron Man, with previous issues seeing Tony's comatose body stolen right out from under his friends' noses. Without any context, that issue ended showing a hairless man stumble out of a steaming laboratory in obvious distress. Crawling his way to a nearby suit of early Iron Man armor and putting it on, he collapsed to the floor.
That's where he has stayed until Invincible Iron Man #595, when his hallucinations reveal that this really is Tony Stark. And thanks to some "upgrades" he made to his own body, he seems to be making a full recovery. It's just taken much longer than anyone expected.
The confirmation comes when Amanda, Tony's recently discovered biological mother finds him in his weakened state. Having spent every waking minute trying to find him, she's stunned to discover he's now missing all of his hair (signature goatee included). Tony had eased her fears at first, explaining how he had made some less than public tweaks to his body to endure the strain of his various Iron Man breakthroughs. But when Amanda points out the hair, Tony realizes that his body has completely "rebooted" itself.
That means the other boosts and benefits of the immortality he gifted himself with are over. Still, goatee or no, he is alive and still very much himself. The bad news? His mother's arrival, like the welcoming party of superheroes, including his dead friend Rhodey, are all in his head. He's as desperate to be found and helped as his mother is to come rescue him, but for now, his location must remain a mystery.
To the reader, that is. According to the A.I. Tony Stark helping Riri Williams, he know where Tony has been hiding, since he knows everything the real Tony does. But we doubt his excuse that "nobody asked" is going to go over well.
It's possible that a twist or two remain, and heartbreaking ones at that. But we wouldn't say it's most likely. With writer Brian Michael Bendis leaving Marvel for DC, the story for this Iron Man mystery has been written up to Issue #600. So either Bendis wrote the return of Tony for his successor to start fresh, or he's bringing back one of Marvel's poster boys - just to kill him after waking out of his coma. Here's hoping for the former.
Invincible Iron Man #595 is available now.