by Michael DeLaney
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
In modern storytelling it’s usually pretty obvious who the bad guy is going to be – often times it’s practically written on their face. Prior to reading Tony Stark: Iron Man 5 I had next to no knowledge of Tony’s elder brother Arno Stark, but just looking at Alexander Lozano’s menacing cover it seemed clear to me that Arno was more likely foe than friend. With that in mind. Tony Stark: Iron Man 5 could be considered a piece of a villainous origin story.
This issue serves as a good introduction to Arno for readers like me, as we have those ever-so-helpful editorial recap pages in addition to some brief internal Arno exposition.
Arno likes to challenge himself by taking on unique problems that only his intellect can tackle. In a manner of pages we see him replace a violinist’s arm, grow wheat in the desert, and clear a considerable amount of man-made pollution from the ocean.
The main challenge that he faces in this issue is on a ranch in Montana:
Wayne Butterfield has genetically engineered cattle to have “No brain. No feelings. No personality.” But one bull from each “batch” always acts out. Arno soon discovers that Butterfield’s “humane cattle raising” isn’t 100% humane, as those cattle in question feel their siblings’ pain, even after death.
Tony Stark: Iron Man 5 feels like a blend of The Twilight Zone and Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. Arno (and Dan Slott) teach Butterfield that no beef is guilt-free, as he leaves the men to be slaughtered by the angry cattle.
Arno might be teaching them a lesson, but I’d also argue that he sees the majority of humanity as expendable. He is definitely a Darwinist, with himself at the top of the food chain. That is very much in line with the Hannibal Lecter aesthetic, as is the the copious amounts of blood.
If you weren’t sure that Arno was taking a villainous turn, then this “baptism of blood” should probably change your mind. After he cleans himself up from the carnage at Butterfield Ranch, Arno wraps up some loose ends from his other “clients.”
Arno acts as a benevolent, loving god to those who follow his instructions and a punishing god to those who get too greedy. When you make a deal with Arno Stark you very well may be making a deal with the devil – everything comes at a price.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?