Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Ultimate Iron Man

Go To
Ultimate Iron Man was a pair of Ultimate Marvel series written by Orson Scott Card and drawn by Andy Kubert (Volume 1) and Pasqual Ferry (Volume 2) that was intended to reveal the origins of that universe's version of Tony Stark. In this version, Howard Stark and his beloved wife Maria are brilliant scientists who are working on such ambitious projects as creating a suit of shock-absorbing bacterial armor and figuring out how to induce limb regeneration. After an accident exposes a pregnant Maria to the limb-regeneration formula, her baby is altered, causing neural tissue to develop all throughout his body. And thus is born Tony Stark, a boy with literally more brains in his little finger than any other human being who suffers from constant, agonizing pain that requires him to be covered in bacterial armor. Meanwhile, Maria dies and Howard finds himself forced to protect his new son from the machinations of his vicious rival, Zebediah Stane, who will stop at nothing to learn the secrets of Stark's bacterial armor.

The two mini-series were later written out of continuity by Mark Millar, who explained that they were actually an in-universe anime series inspired by the version of Iron Man that appeared in his The Ultimates series.

This series contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: As with his mainstream counterpart, this version of Tony Stark is an alcoholic, but here, he has the excuse that getting wasted is the only way for him to cope with the constant pain that he suffers as a result of his condition.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Maria Stark accidentally swallows some blood from a severed monkey hand and the virus it contained somehow completely changes both her and her unborn child's genetic structure, causing neural tissue to develop throughout their bodies.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The reason Maria got monkey blood in her mouth? She was attacked by it in an animal test lab, causing her to fall over and her protective helmet (which is made of glass and not hardened plastic) to shatter. The shards themselves are sharp enough and move fast enough to completely sever the monkey's hand, yet somehow didn't injure her.
  • Asshole Victim: The common backstabbing within the Stane family (Zebediath, Loni and Obadiah) — culminating with Loni and Obadiah orchestrating Zebediah's death as well as Obadiah killing Loni — would be a sad sight if they weren't all greedy murderers.
  • Blessed with Suck: Little Tony has a massive intellect and a healing factor, but also suffers constant, excruciating pain.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The origin story for Tony Stark depicted in the comic was for the longest time often outright ignored by other stories using Ultimate Iron Man. Eventually Mark Millar made this official by retconning the two miniseries into be part of an in-universe anime series that entirely distorts Ultimate Iron Man's true origins.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: As part of his efforts to learn Howard Stark's secrets, Zebediah Stane has one of Stark's researchers kidnapped and subjected to the Lid, a torture device that turns the poor man into a wreck. Later, Stane attempts the same thing with Tony.
  • Continuity Snarl: No, Tony having a Healing Factor and being a literal humanoid brain was never part of his character in The Ultimates or any other Ultimate Marvel media. It's likely partially because of this that the entire series underwent Canon Discontinuity and was retconned into a Show Within a Show.
  • Creepy Child: Obediah Stane is a little sociopath who manages to kill two of his classmates and makes it look like the two kids had a suicide pact. He later puts out a hit on his own father and makes it look like the hit was arranged by Howard Stark.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zebediah, after being smug about seizing Howard's lab, get a phone call that Maria, Stark's wife, has died and expresses sympathy to him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The military rejected Zebediah's Lid, not because it didn't work, but because it worked too well, sucking out all useful information and basically lobotomizing whoever it was used on, that it would be classified as a war crime.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: During Tony's brief time at a prep school, some bullies try and feed him into a lit furnace, causing the lower half of his body to become severely burned. Lucky for him, he's able to regenerate.
  • Healing Factor: One of the few upsides to Tony's condition is that he can heal more rapidly from injuries, and this is the only thing that prevents his bacterial armor from eating his flesh alive.
  • Jabba Table Manners: As they discuss their plans to take over Stark Defense Corporation, Zebediah Stane and Loni Stark attack their lunch like a pair of starved hyenas.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Apparently, in the lab Maria worked at, they wear helmets made of glass. When the monkey jumps on her and she falls, the helmet shatters, the shards slice off the monkey's finger, and infected monkey blood ends up in her mouth.
  • Race Lift: In this continuity, Maria Stark is a Hispanic woman, making Tony (short for Antonio) half Hispanic.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Obediah Stane puts out a hit on his own father in order to take over his company. He also frames Howard Stark for the murder, by designing a ridiculously complex killing device that rips him in half. Lengthwise. When his mother decides You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, he kills her too.
  • Shapeshifter Baggage: Tony's healing factor allows him to regrow his legs after they're burned off, but needs to eat a lot in order to provide the raw materials.
  • Show Within a Show: The series itself got retconned into being an in-universe cartoon based on Ultimate Tony's life... but Broad Strokes of Card's concept remained part of the character; as Warren Ellis put it in Ultimate Human:
    Bruce Banner: You were prepared for everything by wealthy technocrat parents. Right down to your cell structure being rendered into biological computronium in the womb, for God's sake.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The bacterial armor that young Tony Stark depends upon to keep his chronic pain to tolerable levels is vulnerable to anti-bacterial soap. He can't even swim in a pool because chlorine will kill it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the second issue, Zebediah Stane kidnaps and tortures Tony.