For decades, the Invincible Iron Man has been a character defined through constant cycles of self-destruction and reinvention, rising above the problems of today to look towards tomorrow. But what becomes of this hero when he is confronted with an ever-darkening future? How will he reckon with the impossible choices he’s made? And how much of himself will he lose along the way?
In 2006, Marvel Comics released Civil War, an event that fractured the superhero community and forever changed the trajectory of its characters. Brought to life through writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, Civil War is still seen as one of the most polarizing comics ever made, drawing from real-world tragedies and events while doing very little to comment on them in an insightful way. While the event was (and is) still maligned by many, its aftermath saw a number of major shifts within the Marvel Universe, namely the death of Captain America, the founding of the “Fifty-State Initiative,” and Iron Man’s ascension as the head of the global intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s this era, largely penned by the father-and-son writing team of Charles and Daniel Knauf, that would take the armored avenger into some of the darkest stories of his history, warping a hopeful icon of the future into a man tormented by the darker world that he helped build.
Primarily known for their work in television, the Knaufs arrived at Marvel with a definitive plan for their favorite character, building on the new status quo of 2005’s Extremis while grounding Iron Man through a focus on present-day politics and international espionage. Staying on for 21 issues between 2006 and 2008, the Knaufs’ tenure on the character was short but incredibly impactful, putting decades’ worth of storytelling under a new lens, and building a legacy that would haunt the character for years to come.