“Teen Tony.” Those two words will make even the most dedicated classic Avengers fan flinch just a little. They represent one of the things that occurred in one of the most hated crossover events in Avengers comics history – The Crossing. This week on “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” we are confronted with a teen Tony, and other wild effects of the Time Stone, let’s hope the others aren’t also reminiscent of storyline. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “The Age of Tony Stark.”
It was the 1990s and the Image-ization of Marvel was well underway. The costumes had changed, everything was ‘kewl,’ everybody had pouches and straining muscles, Thor looked like a bondage model, the Vision like Spawn, and the Wasp like a bug. As far as I was concerned, it was a dark time for comics. I fondly and sadly remember the special 400th issue of Avengers with a wonderful Silver Age script by Mark Waid, yet the pictures, with this weird and outlandish nineties version of the traditional team, burned my eyes. It was into this atmosphere that The Crossing emerged.
Kang the Conqueror had returned, this final time to destroy the Avengers once and for all, from within. Not only is it revealed that Mantis now stood at his side, but that Iron Man had been, for decades, his slave. They turned on their comrades, nearly killing the team. To stop the crazed and destructive Iron Man, the Avengers recruited a teenaged version of himself from his timeline to fight his older evil self – Teen Tony. When the bad Iron Man dies, Teen Tony takes over as Iron Man. Yeah, it’s that bad, so bad that a worse storyline was set in place to fix it – Heroes Reborn – but that’s a tale for another time and another place.
Meanwhile in the Marvel Animated Universe however, the Avengers are still looking for the Infinity Stones that the Red Skull lost when he came back to Earth with Thanos in pursuit. Not much has been said of Thanos lately, a bad sign, but the heroes are still in search of the Stones. And yes, like the movies, the cartoons seem to prefer Stones over Gems.
After a visit to the Skull’s cell, where he’s carving seeming gibberish on the walls like Agent Coulson on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Iron Man thinks he can find the Time Stone. He’s right, but it merges with his Arc Reactor, opening time portals. Savage Land references aside, but seeing the Avengers fighting dinosaurs always reminds of Avengers #200 and the rape of Ms. Marvel and that’s not a good thing.
Also, and we all knew this was going to happen, the Time Stone de-ages Tony Stark to a teenager. The armor won’t work, which I kinda found odd. Shouldn’t it be wired to his genetic code rather than the more generic ‘adult Tony Stark’? Is Tony more afraid of clones than he is if being de-aged? This experience ought to change his mind.
The Time Stone also de-ages him a little more when he gets upset. As he gets younger more dinosaurs and even killer robots from the future appear through portals. Tony goes from kvetching about his dad always telling him to be more like Captain America to him asking Cap for help. It’s sweet and reveals a bit about how and why Tony views Cap the way he does.
The Red Skull vs. Iron Kid
The portals keep opening, and Hawkeye nicknames them ‘time quakes’ after yet another bad Marvel crossover event from the 1990s, later spitting out time lost Hydra planes and a Zuul like realm within Avengers Tower guarded by a monster dog (Thor’s room??). I didn’t get these two references, but I loved that the killer robots from the future were targeting the Hulk and mentioning The Maestro.
Meanwhile the Red Skull has escaped his cell and is after Li’l Tony for the Time Stone. While it’s pretty disturbing that the Skull is stalking a little boy, it’s also pretty disappointing that the writers resort to the Home Alone tactics that they do. Skull has a harder time with Little Tony than he does with Captain America, and that ain’t right. And I loved the retro look of the Iron Kid armor.
This wasn’t the best episode of the second season so far, but it’s head and shoulders above anything the first season had to offer. Things are getting better, despite Teen Tony. I can’t wait to see what happens next.