WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Tony Stark: Iron Man #15, by Dan Slott, Jim Zub, Juanan Ramirez, Francesco Manna, Edgar Delgado and VC's Joe Caramagna, on shelves now.
As Tony Stark: Iron Man ramps up for the upcoming "Ultron Agenda" storyline, its title villain has made his first appearance and set the stage for the arc. Tony Stark: Iron Man #15 sees Ultron Pym -- the fusion of Hank Pym and Ultron created during the events of 2015's Avengers: Rage of Ultron -- making his triumphant return, and he's already captured one of the most important characters in the former hero's life: his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne, whom he infamously struck in 1981's Avengers #213.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #15 kicks off with the titular hero testifying at a congressional hearing about the events of the previous arc, which saw his virtual world -- the eSCAPE -- get taken over by The Controller, who used it to wreak havoc. Here, the A.I. version of Tony that assisted Riri Williams during her time as the star of Invincible Iron Man appears, raising questions as to what, if any, differences there are between the resurrected hero and an artificial intelligence. As that's happening, Wonder Man and Vision answer a call at the Avengers Mansion, where they're ambushed by an unclear assailant.
Following the hearing, Janet and Tony -- who have spent much of Slott's run so far in a romantic entanglement -- oversee a protest by various A.I. activists. However, a combination of Wonder Man and Vision attacks. Wonder Man/Vision resembles Pymtron in one key way: Although the body is that of the robotic counterpart, the face is taken from both characters. This Two-Face-esque splitting is also used for Tony Stark on the issue's cover, where the character's human face merges with his Iron Man mask, so a theme of duality in terms of man vs. machine definitely emerges in this issue.
Janet and Tony intervene and fight Wonder Man/Vision. During the fight, Tony decides to use an EMP Cascade, which destroys both the Wonder Man/Vision hybrid and the Tony A.I.. The process also temporarily kills Tony, with his armor rebooting him after the event. This only deepens Tony's existential crisis. However, he doesn't linger on it for long, as he quickly realizes Janet is missing.
During the battle, Janet gets slapped out of the air by a reprogrammed Jarvis. He takes the incapacitated Janet back to his lair, where it's revealed Ultron Pym is behind the attack. Pymtron, seemingly jealous of Janet's relationship with Tony, says, "I couldn't believe it when I found out you were with Tony." He then pays her a backhanded insult before teasing her forced involvement in his sinister plan, which will be explored in subsequent issues.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #15 serves as a sort of starting point for Marvel's upcoming "Ultron Agenda" arc, setting up a lot of the themes of the coming storyline. There's a lot here to suggest the issues will deal with Tony trying to assert his humanity despite being, arguably, only a copy of a previous version. It doesn't seem like a coincidence Wonder Man and Vision were chosen, as the latter was created using brain patterns from the former, meaning he might just end up being key to Tony learning to accept himself.
There's also the matter of Machine Man's upcoming robot uprising, which has been teased by future solicits. Exactly how Ultron ties into that isn't clear at this time, but the brilliant A.I. could certainly be pulling the strings behind the scenes in order to engineer a war between humans and machines. Whatever happens, Ultron's reappearance always means danger for the people of Earth. The fates of Vision and Wonder Man are currently unclear, and Janet might just end up being his next victim.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #16 goes on sale Sept. 18.