Gillen Explores Iron Man's "Secret Origin"

Earlier this week, Marvel Comics released a teaser that practically demanded more explanation. Featuring a baby adorned in Iron Man's helmet and the phrase "Secret Origin," the image left more than a few questions on the table in regards to the next step for Kieron Gillen and new artist Dale Eagleham's Marvel NOW! "Iron Man" title.

Today, answers started coming in the form of Marvel's latest Next Big Thing conference call, where the publisher revealed that the story kicks off in May's "Iron Man" #9. Promising to pull the curtain back on Tony Stark's own history while setting up plot points for the future, the story will spin out of the revelation in the "Godkiller" story about his father Howard Stark's own secret past. "I wanted to do a big story that harkened back to Iron Man's very beginning," Gillen said about the 50th anniversary tale. "Basically, this is a question of Tony discovering something that lies in the past...and fits in with everything we know about the Marvel Universe."

The story will dovetail between events involving Tony's parents Howard and Maria and their own "Stark's Seven" gathering of characters and Tony's modern day problems. "I wanted to do a caper," the writer said about the "Seven's" story in Las Vegas. "That's the first part of what happened back then, a caper to get something." The team will involve known characters like Dum Dum Dugan and new characters created by Gillen as he promised not everyone would make it out alive even as they experience the glamour of old Vegas. The story will continue to stretch through the better part of the year.

Gillen recalled how the third issue of his, until now, stand alone series of stories will fit tonally with where things are going next. "It's not just Howard and Maria...though we haven't seen them as much," he said, saying that the drive for Tony to get a semblance of his family means "I'm getting into a really interesting moral dilemma for Tony and the whole earth."

The story will also involve new duds for Iron Man as teased in the current storyline. "I wouldn't say this is a bad ass suit of armor...I'd say it's the most bad ass suit of armor in the history of ever," the writer laughed. "I currently call this suit of armor the Godkiller, and that will give you an idea of what it's for.

"Basically, 'Godkiller' introduces the supporting cast which will remain important. Death's Head is very much involved in the space epic part [of the story]. It also introduces Tony's motivation for the story. Everything is relevant, even when it appears not to be. If you read issue #6 knowing I'm going to tell 'Secret Origin' [you'll pick up more hints on the family.]"

Opening up to press questions, Gillen talked about the relationship between Howard and Tony Stark over the years. "I think Howard would be proud," he said. "Tony's hardened himself...but on any level, he should be proud. He's an incredible creature."

"Especially with Maria, you've got a lot of room," he said about what is set in stone by established comics. He noted that Matt Fraction's short story about how Tony's parents met was a cornerstone for their relationship, but he's got plenty of room to play with.

Gillen was excited to reteam with Eaglesham after a brief connection on "Uncanny X-Men." "This is a period piece with that sense of dated glamour. It'll feel like 30 years ago no matter when you read it. There's more of a sense of classic Marvel to [Dale] so I'm hoping that a slight tweak of the colors [will establish the period]. He does a very good Howard sipping whiskey like in 'Citizen Kane'...Howard's got a hell of a mustache."

Circling back to the armor, the writer said that since the story will stretch over eleven or 12 issues, the armor will factor largely into the story. "It's big," he said in regards to its actual size. "This is a suit of armor unlike anything else in the Marvel Universe." Gillen promised that the reveal of the armor will be one of his biggest moments with Iron Man.

As for the baby Iron Man in the teaser image, Gillen said the story will at some point involve seeing baby Tony. In fact, at first he hadn't planned on it, but once the teaser was drawn, he realized he had to work it in.

Asked whether the story would actually revisit the original origin of the character from his earliest appearance, Gillen said, "No...I love the Iron Man origin, but we've seen it before," he said. "This is all stuff you've never seen before."

Overall, the retro period of the story will take place around issues #10, 11 and 12 before the story shifts entirely to the present day. "Its not like a two or three-issue flashback," Gillen noted. More so, the story will focus on revelations Tony is learning in the present about what his parents and their team did in Vegas.

The story will also involve, in some ways unspecified, Iron Man's teammates from the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. "This will be interesting in terms of their response. It's not minor." As the issues grow closer to #9, readers will start to see how all the pieces fit together, Marvel promised. "I'm looking at Tony Stark and the Iron Man mythos, and I had a revelation about it. That revelation was profound and troubling...this is an origin story about how [Tony Stark] came to be."

"Iron Man" #9, the first part of "Secret Origin," ships in May. Stay tuned to CBR for more as it becomes available.

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