SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for the final pages of Invincible Iron Man #600 by Brian Michael Bendis, Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
"The Search For Tony Stark" may have reached its conclusion (along with Brian Michael Bendis' tenure as a Marvel writer), but that doesn't mean the Iron Man's story ends here. In fact, you could say Tony's life as a superhero will extend into the far-flung future, where he adopts a new mantle.
There is a lot to digest in Invincible Iron Man #600, but the development in the issue's final pages will leave fans buzzing. The reasons for this is because of where in time the story takes us, a callback to Bendis' tenure as writer of All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, and how the writer cements Tony's future role in the Marvel Universe after a year of setup.
The Secret Life Of Eva Bell
After Tony resurrected his deceased best-friend, James "Rhodey" Rhodes and met his evil biological father, along with a centuries-old Leonardo da Vinci, Invincible Iron Man #600 ends on a quieter, yet still significant, note. Readers are taken to an unspecified point in the future, where the X-Man known as Tempus comes knocking at the doors of the Sanctum Santorum in a panic. If you're surprised to see this forgotten X-Man make her return, Bendis did promise Eva Bell's appearance in a post to social media ahead of the release of his final Marvel comic.
Tempus' time-travel adventure took place in 2014's Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 and All-New X-Men Annual #1, also written by Bendis. After losing control of her powers, Tempus found herself hopping uncontrollably through the time stream before ending in the year 2099. Tempus would meet the X-Men of 2099, along with Illyana Rasputin, who is the new Sorcerer Supreme. Eva would become stuck in 2099, where she eventually found love and started a family. Ultimately, Eva returned to the present-day, though her memories of 2099 remained.
However, Tempus has now found herself venturing to the future yet again. At first, Tempus is relieved to see the familiar face of a Nightcrawler descendant she encountered in "The Secret Life of Eva Bell," but for some reason, Wagner doesn't recognize her. Tempus is in a panic as she requests to see the Doctor, who the X-Man refers to as "her." The only problem is Wagner suggests there is no woman doctor at the Sanctum. Not one to be deterred, Eva freezes Wagner in a time bubble and barges through the front doors, where she makes a startling discovery.
The Doctor Will See You Now
Illyana Rasputin, the 2099 Sorcerer Supreme, is long gone, replaced by none other than Tony Stark. Bendis first introduced the concept of Tony Stark being named the Sorcerer Supreme of the future in Infamous Iron Man #9, as an astral projection of Tony visited Doctor Doom. We again saw Future Tony in Generations: Iron Man & Ironheart #1 when Riri Williams was sent into the far-flung future to meet Tony, where the young hero got a glimpse of she will positively influence not only the world, but entire galaxies.
Of course, Tempus was looking for Magik, not a previously technological hero-turned-magician. As she slumps to the floor in tears, we have to wonder exactly what drove Tempus to risk time travel again, especially after she lost so much the first time.
In typical Bendis fashion, his final Iron Man statement referenced stories from his past writing duties at Marvel, while also teeing up potential characters arcs to be followed up by other writers at their discretion. The idea of Tony Stark dedicating his life to the mystic arts is just the type of character progression that should be too compelling to pass up. Hopefully, Marvel pays tribute to Bendis' nearly 20-years at the publisher by continuing these adventures.