WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Tony Stark: Iron Man #9, by writers Dan Slott and Jim Zub and artists Valerio Schiti and Paolo Rivera, in stores now.
Following his confrontation with the Controller in Tony Stark: Iron Man #8, the hero found himself sucked into a part of eScape, his virtual reality universe. This brought him together with artificial versions of his adoptive parents, Howard and Maria Stark, while also referencing his classic look and penchant for alcohol. The newest issue keeps the homages to Silver Age Iron Man coming, this time with a nod to the very first TV series centered around Marvel characters.
The issue begins with Rhodey and Janet van Dyne battling the Controller while trying to solicit help from the Avengers and Champions, who have their hands full with problems of their own. In the previous issue, Bethany Cabe -- under the influence of the Controller -- captured both engineer Andy Bhang and the body of Tony Stark's biological mother, Amanda Armstrong. Janet manages to score a critical hit against the Controller, which breaks his control over Bethany, giving Andy an opportunity to knock her out. Baintronics Inc. then swoops in to support War Machine and Wasp against the now outgunned Controller. With the villain on the back foot, everyone turns their attention to the missing Tony Stark.
At this point, the art style changes to one more reminiscent of Tony's early appearances in the '60s. However, the actual panels pay homage to the intro for Iron Man's segments of 1966's The Marvel Super Heroes. Although the panels aren't a perfect match for anything that happens in that intro, their inspiration is pretty clear to anyone familiar with the classic series. Plus, the lyrics on those panels perfectly match those Jacques Urbont penned for the series' theme song.
The Marvel Super Heroes focused on Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Namor, while also featuring appearances from from Black Widow, Hawkeye, the X-Men and others. John Vernon, who is probably best known for his role as Dean Wormer in 1978's Animal House, provided the voices for Tony Stark and Namor. Making a reference to that classic series fits the theme of the issue, which sees Tony returning to the days when he fought against Communists and didn't have to deal with the complicated matters of his alcoholism, parentage and life-altering civil wars.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #9 is on shelves now. Tony Stark: Iron Man #10 will release on April 17.