A classic Avengers Endgame moment is revisited in the comics during Marvel’s latest event, as Iron Man finally comes face-to-face with his father.
Warning: SPOILERS for A.X.E: Avengers #1A classic Avengers: Endgame is finally revisited in the comics as Iron Man meets his father Howard Stark – but the meeting is far more heart-wrenching than the MCU version for one very important reason. The film is widely regarded by fans as one of the best in the MCU for the many character beats that brought closure to the stories of the original six Avengers, especially Tony Stark. But in A.X.E: Avengers #1, Iron Man reunites with an illusion of his father as the world around him crumbles – but it may not be an illusion at all.
Most of the second act of Avengers: Endgame involves the Avengers traveling through time to acquire the six Infinity Stones; they plan to use the stones to undo Thanos’ act of murdering half of all beings in the universe. Unforeseen circumstances force Captain America and Iron Man to make a detour to the 70s to acquire more Pym Particles (which allow time travel), but Tony runs into a younger version of his father, Howard Stark. Tony has a heart-to-heart with his father (without the latter realizing he’s meeting his son) and the scene is a poignant and bittersweet moment for both characters.
But the scene is revisited with additional poignancy in A.X.E: Avengers #1, written by Keiron Gillen with art by Federico Vicentini, in which Iron Man leads the Avengers through the interior of the Progenitor Celestial in an attempt to destroy the machine-god from within. Tony eventually sees images of figures from his past: Ho Yinsen, Captain America, War Machine and eventually his mother and father. All have died in the past and Iron Man feels a horrific amount of guilt. But he is consoled by an image of Howard Stark: “People die, son. I was a terrible father. We wanted you so badly, and then when we had you, I still wasn’t great…you’re too hard on yourself. You pass. I couldn’t be prouder of you.”
The Progenitor is known to appear to others in the form of loved ones or close friends, but another possibility exists here: this is not a Celestial’s manifestation, but the real Howard Stark brought back from the dead by the Progenitor. In Amazing Spider-Man #10, the Celestial brings Gwen Stacy back from the dead as a gift for Peter Parker, allowing the two to say their goodbyes properly. The resurrection is only temporary, but proof enough that the Celestial has the power to revive the dead. Endgame’s version of the reunion was bittersweet in that Howard Stark had no idea he was talking to his son – but he clearly knows who Tony is here, and it may very well be Howard imparting one last bit of wisdom to his son from the world beyond.
There is no definitive proof that Howard himself returned from the dead via Celestial technology, but it is impossible to disprove either (considering the events of Amazing Spider-Man #10). The Judgment Day event began with humanity loathing the X-Men for keeping resurrection technology to itself; what if the Progenitor grants it to Stark and the rest of the world after the event is complete? Regardless, Iron Man finally reunites with his father – and though their reunion is all too short, it is still meaningful.
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A.X.E: Avengers #1 is available now from Marvel Comics.