SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “International Iron Man” #7, on sale now.
Tony Stark had already learned the identity of his birth mother, but “International Iron Man” #7 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev also confirms, for readers anyway, the identity of his biological father, along with a surprising revelation from his birth dad. The final issue of the series brings closure of sorts to Tony’s search, but the surprise unveiled within also comes with potential ramifications.
The issue opens with a brief flashback to a sad moment for Howard and Maria Stark decades earlier, where Howard attempts to console Maria after the loss of their unborn child. The timeline of the issue subsequently shows that this moment occurs when the couple was still childless, before the birth of their son Arno, as detailed in Kieron Gillen’s arc “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” a few years ago.
The scene shifts to a year later and the attempted assassination by Hydra of Amanda Armstrong; singer, covert S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and Tony’s future birth mom. She’s saved by her fellow agent and bodyguard Jude, who hints that Amanda might have been set up. Maleev’s art similarly hints of some initial attraction between the two after the attempt is thwarted, and Maleev’s likeness of Jude is more than a passing resemblance to Tony.
The incident helps establish Amanda’s credibility as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. as her musical career propels her into stardom. Two years later, Amanda learns that she and Jude are expectant parents, and late in her pregnancy, she discovers a wounded Jude in their home nursing a serious wound. As the two discuss the hazards of their dangerous occupation on the verge of their baby’s arrival, Amanda pries a shocking revelation out of Jude: that’s he secretly been acting as a double agent for Hydra, implying that his double cross is what might have been responsible for the attack on Amanda two years earlier, to bring them together, as well as the lack of any subsequent attempts on her life.
Upset with Jude’s betrayal, Amanda kills him and contacts S.H.I.E.L.D., pleading with them to find a loving home for her unborn child before she disappears from the organization. As word of her plea spreads across S.H.I.E.L.D., Howard learns of Amanda’s baby, and shortly after Tony’s birth, Howard presents Maria with their newly-adopted son. The issue then moves back to present day, where Tony’s meeting with Amanda has led to the point where he reveals to her that he’s her long-lost son.
Amanda and Tony tearfully embrace to close out the issue, which is noted to be continued in the next “Invincible Iron Man” #1, on sale November 9.
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