Over the past few years, Tony Stark has turned from a lesser-known superhero in Marvel’s arsenal to a bonafide cultural phenomenon, with the iron Avenger’s storylines being brought to life on the page and on the big screen. Along the way, the Iron Man armor has had some unique and incredibly specific upgrades, ranging from the deadly to the hilarious. The most recent issue of Iron Man, which has provided a sort of back-to-basics take on Tony’s whole status quo, proved to have the latter in spades, bringing back one of the silliest elements he’s ever added to his costume. Spoilers for Iron Man #20 from Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unzueta, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna below! Only look if you want to know!
While the issue opened with Tony leaving rehab and proposing marriage to Patsy Walker / Hellcat, the events then turned to him attending an unveiling of the newest piece of Stark technology — a supercomputer that could hypothetically win a game of chess versus an incredibly smart gorilla. When the gorilla tried (and failed) to procure a job offer from Tony on the spot, they got angry and began fighting them through the city. Tony put on his Iron Man suit for protection, and at one point activated a set of skates on the boots that would allow him to escape faster. Tony then remarked that he should use them more.
Iron Man’s skates originate all the way back to a mention in the character’s second-ever appearance in Tales of Suspense #40, before being shown across comics in the 1960s and beyond. While they since have faded away as Tony’s armor has gotten a bit more practical, the essence of their origin definitely shines in Iron Man #20, but with a modern flair, as the story is even titled “Skate or Die.”
“#20 and issue #21 are kind of one-shot stories that harken back to the old heyday of one-and-done issue stories that I love, but there is scaffolding being laid in the background for a larger story,” Cantwell explained in a recent interview with Marvel.com. “The whole arc is called “Source Control,” and it’s grittier…more noir in feel. Very Denny O’Neil inspired. It’s also a more intimate story character-wise, focusing primarily on Tony and Rhodes, with just a few other folks. More tight-knit, and rooted in classic Iron Man themes of technology and weaponry. But there are still plenty of Bronze Age references that I can’t get enough of.”
Iron Man #20 is now available wherever comics are sold.