Issue Date: March 2011
Story Title: No Way Back - Industrial Revolution part five
Staff: Fred Van Lente (writer), Philippe Briones (pencils), Jeff Huet (inks), John Rauch (colors), Dave Sharpe (letters), Juan Doe (cover), Damien Lucchese (production), Charlie Beckerman (assistant editor), Ralph Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Whilst Iron Man (James Rhodes) is in Japan drumming up support for Tony Stark’s new company, Imperio Techworks, Tony himself is searching for Tamara Robinson and her brother Tyree. He doesn’t know that they’ve been taken by the villainous Pride. He soon learns of their existence when Geoffrey Wilder, head of the Pride, contacts him. He believes Tony is trying to attack the Pride, and is surprised to discover that Stark knows absolutely nothing about him. Stark believed his recent problems were all down to his rival, Obidiah Stane. Unfortunately, Wilder mentions the Gibborim in their conversation; a fact that Tony latches onto. Now knowing that the Pride have his friends, Tony heads to Malibu to confront them in his spare Iron Man armor. Dale Yorkes uses a whistle to set a dinosaur on him, but he manages to overcome the beast. Tina Minoru then uses her magic to entwine Tony in plant life. Thinking him helpless, the Pride prepare to discover how he knows so much about them and the Abstract, but from nowhere, Tony’s back-up arrives in the form of the powerful Illuminati!
The great Grottu and Tim Boom Ba lie in the rubble of a building that has been destroyed. Iron Man stands on a girder, victorious. “And stay down,” he warns them, though they seem unconscious and therefore oblivious to his words. He flies to where members of the public are standing behind a police cordon. In Japanese, he says, “People of Japan. Can you dig it?” An officer nearby can’t believe it. Iron Man speaks their language better than his own children! James Rhodes is slightly annoyed that a police spokesperson is hogging the limelight as he speaks to journalists. The officer says that, although they greatly appreciate the assistance of the gaijin, the Prime Minister would like to assure the public that the administration had this situation thoroughly under control. One of the members of the public shouts a sarcastic response and Iron Man tells them that it looks like their government has a problem admitting when they need help. Fortunately, he has no such scruples.
He says that some of them might have read about his employer, Tony Stark, in the business section. He’s lost his company. However, he’s starting up a new one: Imperio Techworks. His chest plate emits a holographic image of the blueprints for the company and he informs them that some small-minded folks back in America are preventing him getting it off the ground. Their mistake is their opportunity. He knows that they are grateful that he just saved their city… in a battlesuit designed by Tony Stark. What better way to show their gratitude than buying just a few shares of Techworks stock?
(meanwhile, back in Los Angeles)
Tina Minoru is with Tamara Robinson. She informs her that she and her husband, as well as five other couples, comprise the Pride - gathered together by the Gibborim who ruled this world before theGreat Flood. It was written in their Abstract. Here, in the City of Angels, they will return to cleanse the Earth and begin anew. Tamara asks when this ‘cosmic spin & rinse’ starts, exactly. Tina replies that it will be once they have transferred sufficient life force to their masters through the sacrifice of a maiden such as Tamara at each annual Rite of Blood! Tamara snaps at Tina, asking why it’s always ‘maidens’ that get sacrificed. Why is it never a hot young stud? Doesn’t that seem a little sexist to her? Tina says it’s an honor. Women hold the precious source of life within their bodies. She would know this, if she wasn’t drowning in the toxic hopelessness of the modern world. She adds that it is an incomparable gift they offer them, to remake the world with her essence. “Pass,” replies Tamara. Do they have a ‘returns and exchanges’ counter in this dungeon? Tina departs, leaving Tamara thinking about Tony Stark. Every man in her life has always left her… her husband, her father… but if Tony comes for her they will kill him. So, for the first time ever, she prays that he leaves her to her fate.
Over at the factory, Tony searches for Tamara, disturbing some sleeping workers. He wonders if she and Tyree could have gone home. But, he ponders, without telling him? And how could they have gotten past the ring of LAPD outside? As he walks, torch in hand, a holographic image appears beside him. It’s Geoffrey Wilder, though Tony doesn’t know that yet. Wilder tells Stark that the cat and mouse game between them has gone on long enough. Stark asks who he is. Wilder thinks he’s being insulted. He says they have thwarted each other at every turn these past few weeks. He has calculated that it takes more time and resources to continue their struggle than it does to bring it to a climax. Stark asks if he works for Stane. He knows all his main lackeys. Wilder pauses a moment before gasping, “Gibborim, help me? You’re not faking, are you?” Stark replies that he’s so confused he’s not even sure.
Wilder provides Stark with some clarity. He informs him that they have the Robinson siblings. They’re being held in his estate in Malibu. He must come alone - no police and no costumes. If not, they die at dawn. Stark asks if he’s going to tell him who he is or what he thinks he has done. Wilder introduces himself and tells Stark that he’s intruding on the territory of his Pride. “That’s it?” asks Stark. “It, my dear man,” replies Wilder, “is all there ever is.”
The Pride are gathered. Dale Yorkes informs the others that it was all a coincidence after all. Stark didn’t know anything about them until Wilder, the preening idiot, went and told him. Wilder tells him to get bent. Coincidence or not, Stark is trying to take Imperio away from them and they cannot allow that. Catherine notes that Stark is five minutes late. Janet Stein holds a hi-tech headband in her hands and says she is thrilled that things came to a head like this. She always wanted to test her designs against a mind like Tony Stark’s.
Dale asks her if she thinks this is some kind of game. Wilder exposed their existence to one of the most powerful men on the planet on a series of faulty hunches and assumptions. Geoffrey Wilder tells him that if he doesn’t like the way he runs things, he hears Mystique has room in her Brotherhood for his kind… Dale cuts him off and calls Wilder a typical human. As soon as the chips are down, the anti-mutant hatred comes right out. Frank Dean groans. He wishes they could see that Earthlings are all equally tiresome. Catherine Wilder then tells him to shut up. Something just passed through the estate gates… and it’s moving fast.
An explosion shatters the front door as Tony Stark destroys it with his repulsor blasts. “Knock knock,” he cries, “Anybody home?” The Pride spring into action. Tina Minoru asks what’s happening. Wilder was supposed to say no armor. Geoffrey insists that he did. Janet comments that the news says that Iron Man is still in Japan. That’s why they struck now in the first place. Alice Hayes does a surface mindscan and informs the others that he’s still there. That’s Stark in the armor, not the real Iron Man. Stacey Yorkes says they should kill the Robinson girl now. If he wants to defy their instructions, let him pay the price. Tina glances at a Grandfather clock and notes the time - ten to twelve, and says no. It’s not the right time for the Rite of Blood until dawn. Stacey reckons in that case they should kill her brother. She cannot abide Stark’s insolence. Dale Yorkes asks her to calm herself. No one’s abiding anything. He pulls out a whistle and blows it. Elsewhere, his pet dinosaur answers the call and it smashes Stark through the exterior wall, knocking him to the ground. “That the best you got?” asks Stark when he comes to a halt. The creature storms towards him, causing Stark to realize… apparently it’s not. Luckily, he has some tricks up his sleeve. He blasts the creature with his repulsor ray, whilst inside, young Alex Wilder is oblivious to the melee outside as he whistles along to his music.
Stark then slams the dinosaur’s head into the dirt and tells the Pride, “See what you made me do? Now I feel guilty for treating an extinct species so shabbily.” As he speaks, he is blasted through the chest by Stacey Yorkes using a Kinetic Drainer. She quips that that’s what she was just about to say. Stark falls to the ground, thinking that the blast feels vaguely familiar. Stacey imagines it does. Their lackeys used it on him when he first arrived in Imperio. Stark realizes now that it’s been them all along and not Obidiah Stane. He fires into the ground and causes a shock wave that knocks Yorkes off her feet. He then recalls the banks and the city. They got to all of them? Leslie Dean takes to the air and fires at Stark, telling him that Los Angeles is theirs by right. They are unchallenged within its borders. Stark fires back, saying that for all their power and influence, they are still as paranoid as any penny-ante street hustler. Whatever benefits their power has brought them, happiness isn’t one of them.
All of a sudden, Stark is grabbed by a series of plants that emerge from the ground, courtesy of a little magic from one of the Minoru’s. Stark’s armor offers him a warning that his batteries are down to 5% capacity. It needs power. “And not a wall outlet in sight,” jokes Tony. Tina walks towards him carrying her glowing Staff of One and Stark tells her that he’s curious. When they perform the Rite of Thunder and bring the Gibborim back to this plane, six of them are going to be destroyed with the rest of humanity. How are they gonna decide which six of them go and which six will stay? None of them strike him as the sacrificing type. Tina asks how he knows of such things. “Reader’s Digest,” replies Stark, “or in the margins of those comic strips they package with bubble gum. I can’t recall.” He thinks their whole religion seems bizarre. Stalling for time, he adds that he guesses that makes them perfect for ‘Hollyweird.’ They attract some A-List celebrities as spokespeople and they could really clean up.
Gene Hayes probes his mind and can see that he has whole passage memorized verbatim from the Abstract. Tina asks how this is possible. “Speak, infidel!” she demands. Victor Stein as her to keep her cowl on. He’s got this. He uses a crowbar to prize off Tony’s facemask. Stark recognizes his voice. “Victor? Victor Stein?” he asks. Janet leans in and says, “And Janet. Hello again Tony.” Stark is shocked. He hasn’t seen them since the exo-skeleton conference in Geneva. This is what they’ve been doing with themselves? Janet replies that they’re saving the world from itself. Geoffrey Wilder points out that he knows enough already. He tells Stark that he’s earned himself a reprieve. Who told him about the Gibborim, and who did he tell in turn? Frank Dean thinks he’s had enough of the arrogant monkey. He’s burning his limbs off until he screams out the truth.
From nowhere, a large craft descends and creates a cloud of dust. Geoffrey Wilder looks up and sees a craft. “What is that?” he asks. “The Dean’s know full well. It’s a Shi’Ar Royal Skiff. The pair of them are then smashed by Namor who descends at speed shouting his catchphrase, “Imperious Rex!” Stark answers Wilder. He explains that when he said the word ‘Gibborim’ during their little meeting, it sound a little mystic-y. So, he thought he’d call a master in the art, and he felt they should call in the cavalry. Wilder looks up and sees Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, Charles Xavier of the X-Men, Namor and Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme heading towards them. “Slaves of the Gibborim,” shouts Strange. “Prepare to face justice.” Wilder stands at the head of the Pride, rolling his sleeves up and clenching his fist which glows with energy. He snarls back as the Pride prepare for battle. “Only if you prepare to face your Gods!”
Iron Man (James Rhodes)
Frank and Leslie Dean, Alice and Gene Hayes, Robert and Tina Minoru, Janet and Victor Stein, Geoffrey and Catherine Wilder (all Pride)
Tamara Robinson and Tyree
Grottu and Tim Boo Ba
Workers at Imperio Techworks
Citizens of Tokyo, police officers, reporter and camera crew
Black Bolt, Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, Charles Xavier (all Illuminati)
Angels of the new world
When Geoffrey Wilder tells Dale Yorkes to get bent, the original words appear to come from Gene Hayes’ mouth.
The Illuminati first appeared as a group in New Avengers (1st series) #7.
The Pride decided, upon having children, that the youngsters could live and they would sacrifice themselves. However, the Dean’s and the Hayes’ thought otherwise and plotted to have the rest of the Pride killed, allowing they and their two children to survive instead. The plot failed and all the Pride died in Runaways (1st series) #17.