It's been quite a few weeks since we've covered that massive screw job known as The Crossing, but worry not dear readers, the story will make just as much sense as it ever has. When we last checked in, several blows had been made to Tony Stark's evil schemes, Wasp had transformed into an actual bug person, and Madam Masque of all people had a theory on how to stop the madness. Can this story wrap up in any sort of sensible manner? Not likely but let's give it a look anyway.
|"You're dead!" "No I'm not." "Well okey then."|
We get right into some action as the Avengers along with a few helpers like a shirtless, low powered Thor battle some of Kang's minions in hopes of reaching the magic basement door. Of course the final big push of the story should yet again involve basements. Then Captain America finally decides to join the tale which is met with “Aren't you dead?” to which Vision replies “Clearly he's not.” Guess that settles the issue. Yellow Jacket (the lady who died at the being of this mess) also shows up in a brief time jump that we saw way back when. It's one of those rare instances of actual cohesion that doesn't add to much but I'll take it. The evil twin, Tobias shows up to end the fight and before ya know it, the magic basement door is busted and Avengers are sent soaring through the timestream with Century as their guide.
Ten years in the past....no really, that's where they end up since giving actual years to the Marvel time line is a futile effort. Cap, Widow, and Jarvis arrive at the Stark Family estate with almost zero memory of what they're supposed to be doing while a teenaged Tony Stark rides around town with some Blondie. Also, the Vision is being cared for by a young Matt Murdock while pointless cameos abound such as Sue Storm with freakish hands.
|My god, what's happened to her hands!|
Old Jarvis informs young Jarvis of the situation when they realize that today's date is when Maria Stark dies. Fitting, since Tobias (who's twice the size of everyone else for....reason) just busted into the house. The Avengers fight and lose yet again as the giant weirdo runs off with Tony's parents. The kid arrives just in time to do this weird thinking hands thing to his face the the team tells him their brilliant plan of taking him into the future to stop his psycho adult self from destroying the world. He doesn't much care for the plan until Jarvis gives him some spiel about loving him like a son. I guess that means more when you're parents have been kidnapped by a time traveling giant.
|"There are my thinkin' fingers."|
Tony tracks his mother using her hi-tech super watch he made for her. The group air drops into battle with Tobias who kills the Elder Starks. Believe or not they actually put a hurtin' on him until his brother reaches through time to rescue him. The younger Tony, now filled with some good old fashioned dead parent rage decides he'll go along with whatever the Avengers want. Question is; how do they get back home? That's easy. Tobias was holding up in a place where Dr. Doom kept a time platform. The evil dude's all like “I gather you're not from here. Please leave.” So they do. Wasn't that awfully convenient?
|"Get out of my time and into my car."|
Iron Man #325
Remember how the Iron Man issues in this event are usually the least interesting while being endlessly confusing? Well this one's got it's fair share of stupid to go around. Things kick off innocently enough with teen Tony catching up on all the newfangled technology his older self left in the evil future basement. Meanwhile Hawkeye and Madam Masque watch him over security monitors and bond by throwing drinks at each other.
After a brief interlude where old Tony sits around and mopes (big change of pace there), a big chunk all about the family dynamics of Kang, Mantis, and their weirdo twin boys begins. Tobias and Kang train with the henchmen while Malachi asks his mommy how she met his time conquering father. Did I mention that he's wrapped around her legs like a whiny toddler? Cause he is, which is totally normal for a teenager, right?
|ummm, buddy. Don't touch mommy like that.|
Eventually, Mantis finds herself as board with the conversation as we are and wonders off for an extended inner monologue about all that she's lost and how her so-called friends, the avengers weren't there in her time of need. Perfect reasoning for marrying a madman and reshaping history. She goes to visits old Tony as she senses that his loneliness and pain is equal to her own as another victim of this war (What war?). He whines about how no one can take away his pain which she questions as to whether anyone has ever tried. Then she licks bloody tears off his face in some weird seduction scenario. So did they do it? Who knows. Like so many other plot points, this event is never mentioned again which begs the question of why it even happens in the first place. Oh, and does Tony have the stigmata? Seems like he should get that whole bloody tears thing checked out.
Back at Avengers mansion, the team looks for.....not really sure. They just fill a few pages doing very little until Captain America comes along and says it's time to start the final battle. If only things were that simple however as their blocked in their own front yard by a man named Gyrich (a stand in for every corrupt political wiener) and a bunch of mandroids.
Out in the arctic, young Tony opens up the technodrome only to be assaulted by Machinesmoth who is abruptly killed for the second time in this event by Masque and Hawkeye who provide back-up for the new kid. Making their way inside they come across a storage room for Iron Man suits. Little does anyone know that old Tony is in one of the suits hanging on the wall much like an old spook house painting with moving eyes. Ole crazy pants attacks the intruders who are joined by his psychic ex-girlfriend cause she might as well do something worthwhile in this damn story. The kid suits up while back in New York, the Avengers get transported by the Century so they can finally stop wasting pages on another pointless battle scene. Back in the arctic, Old Tony gains the upper hand and unmasks the young upstart. He's not very happy to see his younger self.
After some over dramatics, evil Tony attempts to kills his younger self by ripping his chest. No real details, he just reaches into the kids chest and pulls whatever out. The result is that the kid now has a damaged heart (natch). Does this count as attempted murder/suicide? Just wondering. Before the Avengers can stop him, he fades out in a time mist only to be replaced by Kang, Mantis, and their crew of flunkies.
|He's a real heart breaker. Sorry. I couldn't resist.|
The majority of this issue is just one big fight while Kang preps his Temporal Transposer (actual name). Crystal and The Vision sit most of it out as they work to keep young Tony alive. Boy am I glad that kid turned out to be so useful. Mantis goes on the warpath, bitching and moaning about how the team never helped her and blames Vision for never returning her feelings opting instead for Scarlet Witch. Nothing shows off a poorly written female character like her blaming everyone else for her years of marrying villains, kidnapping children, and wiping out entire nations from exsistance.
One more last minute plot-development comes forth when Kang reveals that Stark wasn't his first choice for a mole in the Avengers. He actually tried to bend Hank Pym to his will, which serves as an explanation for his years of mental illness. Oh and dare I forget more vague hints about a greater threat that Kang is trying to stop......yeah, nothing comes of that.
While all of this is going on, old Tony wanders around the time palace as he comes to the realization that being a puppet to some big purple asshole was one of his lesser life choices. Thous he frees Mantis' plant based ex-husband from the dungeons and the two of them join in the fight against Kang. It all comes down to Tony shutting down the temporal transposer by sacrificing himself. As he dies, Kang & Mantis escape while shouting about how “No one is safe now” (safe from what?), then Tuc shows up to give Luna back to her parents, and Force Works arrives with a half-hearted “sorry we're late, we've got things to discuss.” It's totally a lie, they've got nothing to talk about.
Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man
Turns out that before he kicked the bucket, old Tony gave the team some schematics for his suits so they could use it to rebuild young Tony's heart. Hank Pym does just that with some invasive surgery. What follows is basically an overview of Iron Man's history as different friends show up to discuss their relationships along with his actions and flaws. Most of it is fairly simplistic and uninteresting until the last ten pages or so when things go off the rails.
First off, Madam Masque decides to torment a comatose Tony by changing her face into all the different women he's failed over the years. Then Marianne, the psychic one, has a spiritual projection adventure into the kids organs which yields yet another unnecessary ass shot.
|Did you really think I'd forget an ass shot?|
To cap things off, some goofball all in red appears to tell Tony about all the different villains he's just inherited from his older self. Apparently that was the last jolt the kid needed to wake up and take the place of the newly deceased Tony Stark.
So that's it right? The villains have been stopped, several characters have been changed in the hopes of making them more marketable. Clearly there's nothing else to cover. Wrong! There are still 4 more issues to go in this travesty. Come back soon when, god willing, we can wrap up the crossing.