It’s easy for a non powered human to feel intimidated in a world where super strong Hulks crush tanks with their bare hands and Thunder Gods like Thor can call down lightning from the sky. Marvel Comics’ Iron Man AKA Tony Stark doesn’t possess any of the physical power of characters like the Hulk or Thor, but he wields something just as formidable, a highly intelligent and creative mind. Tony’s intellect was what allowed him to come up with his Iron Man armor that allows him to stand shoulder to shoulder with other Marvel heroes.
Designing the world’s most advanced weapon system can be dangerous, but after he did that Tony Stark chose to do something even more daunting; he chose to pilot it into battle. A number of writers have explored the reasons why the main Marvel Universe Tony Stark takes such risks, but the motivations of the Ultimate Universe Stark are less defined.
That will change this October when “Who is Jake Ellis?” and “Dancer” writer Nathan Edmondson teams up with “Daken: Dark Wolverine” artist Matteo Buffagni to kick off their four-issue “Ultimate Comics Iron Man” miniseries. CBR News spoke with Edmondson about the story, entitled “Demon In the Armor,” which was announced by Marvel yesterday at their “Ultimate Comics” panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
CBR News: Nathan, you’ve written other genres before but you’re known for your Image Comics work including “Who is Jake Ellis?,” “The Activity,” and “Dancer.” Those are all espionage and/or military style thrillers. What is it about these types of stories that you find so compelling? And are you interested in exploring the military and espionage facets of Ultimate Iron Man? Or were you drawn to this project for other reasons?
Nathan Edmondson: I often try to answer why I’m drawn to the military and espionage world, like I’m exploring in “The Activity.” The answer I most often give is that I’m awed by such people, people who really exist; I’m humbled by people whose actions so radically and directly influence the course of world events. Special soldiers and spies are the superheroes of the real world.
There is a bit of an espionage element to “Demon In the Armor,” but it’s not a spy story by any means. Nor is it a grounded military story. It’s an Ultimate Iron Man story. I’ve done my best to write according to the rules of the Ultimate Universe, and not make it into something — in regard to genre and tone — that it ought not to be.
We imagine one of the main draws of this series was the chance to play with a flawed character like the Ultimate Universe incarnation of Tony Stark. Which aspects of Tony’s personality do you find most interesting?
Absolutely, you’re right. The story pitch to me here was “no one has truly explored why Tony is like he is” and so I have the opportunity to do just that. Tony is a man with many flaws, but he’s a man of exceptional talents and accomplishments. He is, in other words, a very real character, a character with recognizable motivations and flaws.
Ultimate Tony Stark exists in a more gritty reality where actions can have dire consequences and super powered clashes can have geopolitical ramifications. What’s it like telling a story in that sort of world?
I feel much more at home storytelling in the Ultimate world, where everything is a bit more grounded (not in reality itself, but in the mechanics of reality). Mostly though, I’m enjoying telling the story that we’re telling. The world of the story is building itself around the characters and story we’ve crafted.
Since actions in the Ultimate Universe often have dire consequences setting is an important part of a story in the Ultimate line. Can you reveal some of the locales you’ll visit in “Ultimate Comics Iron Man?” And will this series be informed by some of the recent and upcoming big events in the Ultimate Universe like Reed Richard’s destruction of Europe and attack on the American government, or the “Divided We Fall” event?
This story will stand on its own more so than some other Ultimate Universe miniseries. This is a story about Tony, about his company, about why he is who he is. “Demon In the Armor” is not so much about the world, in other words, as it is about about Iron Man. That said, we will have some fun, interesting and exciting connections to stories past, present — and maybe even future.
The story you’re telling in “Ultimate Comics Iron Man” pits Tony Stark against the Ultimate Universe’s incarnation of the Mandarin, a character that makes his debut in this series. What was it like coming up with the Ultimate version of the Mandarin, a character whose Marvel Universe counterpart started off as essentially a “yellow peril” villain? How similar and how different is the Ultimate Mandarin to his past and current Marvel counterpart? Which aspects of the character did you want to keep and which aspects did you want to tweak?
I can’t give away the real surprise here. About all I can say is that I recommend readers come into this story with no presumptions. Dispense with preconceived notions on this one!
Is the central conflict of this story Iron Man versus the Mandarin? What else can you tell us about the plot and themes of “Ultimate Comics Iron Man?” Thematically what is this story about?
In fact the central conflict is a bit more personal to Tony, but the aggressor, is the Mandarin. This story will focus upon parts of Tony’s history — and the history of Stark Industries — never before explored.
Who are some of the supporting players in “Ultimate Comics Iron Man?” Will the story feature appearances by some of Tony’s teammates in the Ultimates? And if so, what was it like writing these characters?
Yes indeed, there will be a few supporting folks, but I don’t know yet that I can reveal whom, or in what capacity. There will indeed be a new character or two, as well. And a few of the appearances might be rather surprising.
Artist Matteo Buffagni will be brining all of your characters to life. What does he bring to this book as an artist?
Matteo is a superb talent, and his art flows like fine wine. I’m doing what I can to craft scripts that really work with his style, but as we move forward I’m excited to back-and-forth with him and find that right chemistry that makes for energetic, thrilling storytelling.
Finally, “Ultimate Comics Iron Man” is your second project for Marvel. Do you have any other Marvel work lined up for the immediate or near future? Are there any Marvel characters that you’d really like to try writing?
In September my debut project with Marvel, the one-shot “Untold Tales of Punisher MAX” #4, hits stores, and I’d like to play with Punisher more; I have a larger story I’d really like to tell with him if the timing worked.
I think I’d continue to enjoy anything in the “Ultimates” world, really, but my interest would be particularly oriented around opportunities to reinvent or re-imagine rather that re-tell.
I’ve been given great liberty with this story, and I think it will make for a new and compelling take on this character and this world. Oh, and the art? It’s going to knock you over. [“Untold Tales of Punisher MAX” artist] Frank Stockton is a genius, and Matteo is bringing his A-game!
“Ultimate Comics Iron Man” #1 of 4 debuts in October.