Gillen Armors Up with "Iron Man"

Although the first major launch month of Marvel Comics' relaunch is halfway done, the catalogue of Marvel NOW! titles have just begun. In the first of a series of special press conference calls, the publisher plans to bring new info about the relaunch, starting with the recently-released "Iron Man" by Kieron Gillen with art by Greg Land. Gillen is on hand to expound on the Marvel NOW! launch title, which features Tony Stark in a hunt for the Extremis virus.

Following introductions, moderator and Sales & Communications Coordinator James Viscardi kicked off the call, asking Gillen to describe the second arc of "Iron Man" called "The Godkiller."

"Basically, Tony Stark's in space," said Gillen, who stated he knew Tony would be in space during issue #6. The story takes place before Iron Man becomes part of the Guardians of the Galaxy. "It's things that Tony's been involved in catching up with him," he said. Some of the arc will deal with Tony and the back history of the Phoenix catching up with him, as well as the issues of faith that got brought up in "Avengers Vs. X-Men."

Iron Man will also get a new suit of armor. "What would you need to go and be this heroic space knight figure?" asked Gillen, who described the story as "Conan" but instead of Conan, it's Tony Stark, who gets dropped into an ancient civilization.

Gillen stated continuity was a tricky line to walk in the new series. "It's one of those really awful writing lines, you turn the things people need to know into the points of the story," said Gillen. "Basically, you do not need to know in the first arc why Tony was having this faith-type question. You just see his response. That's actually a good example. I only bring the question of the Phoenix in when it serves the story. I'm introducing the concept of Tony Stark from the ground up, I'm introducing Extremis." Gillen also stated the second arc will change from the format of semi-one-and-done issues from the first arc to more three-issue-arcs. "In some ways, the first five issues are building up to [Tony going to space.]"

In terms of Tony's love life, a lot of issue #6 is flirting with an alien lady and "Tony's thinking he'll get his James T. Kirk moment" and it may all go horribly wrong, according to Gillen.

Tony's facial hair is, apparently, a big part of the current story arc.

Gillen spoke briefly on his collaboration with Brian Bendis, considering Bendis' role as upcoming writer for "Guardians of the Galaxy." "In the actual summit, the idea came up of Tony being a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy," said Gillen, who said he and Brian Bendis were "in step" for Iron Man as a member of the galactic-based team. "It's a question of tone, type of stories, what space means in the Marvel Universe. [Brian and I] on the same page -- not literally on the same page because it would make writing a bit hard."

Greg Land will stay on "Iron Man" for the second arc. The writer also stated since readers will be following Tony into space, he hopes to explore "what's going on while Tony's away," but he couldn't say much about what will happen to Pepper Potts. "However, there's something interesting about Pepper and the space stuff -- the connection between Pepper and Tony when he's in space."

Gillen's arc explores a crisis of faith -- the way Tony sees the world and his beliefs. "The stuff in our universe is hard to deal with. If you're a man in a universe that's inherently unreasonable, that should push and pull you in interesting ways," he said.

"There's a lot of real, hard wakeup calls," said Gillen. "Some of these things really, really pick at Tony's identity full stop."

Gillen has written space-based Marvel adventures before and stated "you never know" if UNIT is going to show up, but Death's Head, the robotic bounty hunter will show up in "The Godkiller."

Iron Man will be without his Earthly resources, which will yield interesting story twists. "He thinks his suit will do the job it's required for and it's designed for 'I'm going to space as an adventure, as an explorer and as a hero,'" said Gillen, who said Tony would be like any traveler and part of the story would deal with him not having his support network. "Going forward, there's a certain MacGyverness of it."

The writer said Tony's been avoiding dealing with the idea of faith in "Fear Itself" and again in "AvX." "In the first few issues [of 'Iron Man,'] he realizes things about himself," said Gillen. "There's a hunger. He wants to know about the thing that he's been avoiding previously. He's driven. This is him being driven. It's like he's found a new wing in the library and he wants to read all the books."

According to Gillen, the first issue of "Iron Man" was a "quite conservative" start, but will develop into something more. "This is talking about conflicts in Tony's belief system," he said. "Issue #2 is about people that have an exoskeleton like Tony, but it's about training pilots." Continuing forward, there will be a number of other philosophical concepts that Gillen plans to push into "awkward areas" that make Tony angry. "There are a lot of things that he's not sure about, that's part of what the story is, self-discovery."

To wrap things up, Gillen stated he's listening to his "Iron Man" playlist, which he has yet to make public. "Telstar" by The Tornados, New Order and jokingly, "The Final Countdown" are a few of what the writer listens to while he writes Tony's escapades.

Following a brief conversation about the idea of the future contained in "Telstar," the call wrapped. "Iron Man" #6 by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land hits stores February.

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