Tony Stark is one of the smartest heroes in Marvel’s library, but his big brain evidently doesn’t stop him from repeating dangerous mistakes.
Tony Stark has created countless iterations of the Iron Man armor, each one seemingly more advanced than the last. However, a new comic from Marvel marks the second time that Tony creates a suit with a mind of its own, showing he really didn’t learn his lesson from the first time.
Extreme Carnage by Phillip Kennedy Johnson takes place after the events of Marvel’s King in Black saga. The first issue shows that Tony has evidently taken it upon himself to keep tabs on all symbiote activity – a fact he shares with Flash Thompson, AKA Agent Venom, who is fighting a war against Carnage. Stark brings Flash into his lab to address the murders popping up in Carnage’s wake, but while there, Tony also reveals that he’s created a new suit that combines his extremis tech with a living symbiote. Dubbed the Extremebiote, Tony claims he can control it as he would any other suit, but Flash isn’t convinced. “Tony, it’s a living thing!” he says. “There’s no controlling it, not long-term!” Given his past mistakes, this is something Tony should already be well aware of.
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Back in the early 2000s, Iron Man #26 by Joe Quesada kicked off an arc in which Iron Man’s armor fell in love with him. It all started when Tony decided to make a suit to serve as a backup when he found himself in a pinch, but after waking up from a heart attack caused by the villain Whiplash, Tony discovers his backup suit has gained full sentience. With a mind of its own, the suit eventually began to develop feelings – specifically romantic feelings towards its creator. The autonomous armor did wind up saving Tony’s life, but only after murdering Whiplash and kidnapping Tony first. Needless to say, Tony hasn’t had much luck with sentient suits in the past, so why is he trying again?
Tony Stark may be one of Marvel’s most intelligent characters, but intellect and wisdom are very different things. Of all his problems, Iron Man’s biggest flaw is his pride, which is why he’s never been good at accepting defeat. So when Tony has an idea, he needs to prove to himself and everyone around him that he can pull it off, even if said idea has a dangerous precedent. The same determination that makes him an incredible superhero also motivates him to make risky decisions, and while they sometimes pay off, they blow up in his face just as often. When it comes to the Extremebiote, Tony is playing with things he doesn’t fully understand, and Flash’s words of warning seem to foreshadow that this sentient suit won’t behave any better than the last one.
While Tony’s first suit came to life of its own accord, the Extremebiote is really just a symbiote that Tony has locked up and experimented on, which raises something of a moral dilemma. Perhaps having this terrifying living armor turn on him would be the wake-up call Iron Man needs to finally put the concept of sentient suits to rest.
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