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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Is This Really the Origin of Ultimate Iron Man?

All throughout December, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked.

Today we look at the current status of Orson Scott Card’s Ultimate Iron Man origin within the Ultimate Universe.


In 2005, Marvel did an origin mini-series for Ultimate Iron Man, written by Orson Scott Card.

It was an interesting series, really, but Card did make some dramatic changes to the concept, including making Tony’s whole genetic structure become quite…unusual…right from birth…

No one really used Card’s concepts in the later comics (outside of Warren Ellis in the mini-series Ultimate Human) and in New Ultimates vs. Ultimate Avengers #2, Mark Millar finally wrote the origin out of existence by explaining that it was a show-within-a-show in the Ultimate Universe. A cartoon show, to be precise…


Technically, Warren Ellis referenced the Card origin in Ultimate Human, by explaining that Tony’s undifferentiated neural mass also made him prone to malignant growths (tying it into the brain tumor from Ultimate Iron Man’s original backstory).

But that story aside, nobody else referenced Card’s Ultimate Iron Man. Since it was in a class all its own in terms of completely missing the source material’s point, I’d say it’s for the best.

I’d ask the point of creating an alternate Iron Man if you had to make him the same guy anyway, but I think I’m missing the point.

Thanks, Neil, I’ll put in the Ellis mention!

I loved Card’s series. Easily my fave Ultimate take on a character. Clearly it was too…original.

I kinda liked it. I can see why other writers weren’t ready to pick up and run with it, something editorial could have made more of an issue I suppose, just as it was so different from what was established.

That said, that pool reflection is just wrong. It looks like the watcher has paid an unexpected visit.

I second P.Boz’s opinion: what’s the point of creating an ultimate version of a 616 character when it cannot differ from it? That’s my main problem with the ultimate line…

Captain Librarian

December 14, 2011 at 7:33 am

I guess it comes down to whether you want a genuine reimagining of a character into something different, or just a modern reboot with some minor tweaks. Of course you could still just not like the story either way. It’s not like 616 Iron Man hasn’t been made super human as well.

Still, I’ll admit I wasn’t as pulled in by the series as I was say, by Ultimate Spider-man’s early issues. Not sure why not.

I don’t think the problem with Card’s version was that it was too different from Marvel U Tony, I think it’s that it was too different from Ultimate Tony as he’d already been established (which, granted, was pretty much the same as Regular Iron Man but with a brain tumor instead of a bad heart). I think the story would have worked better without the “Iron Man” name on it.

On the whole I DO think the Ultimate Universe hews too close to convention — I’d love to see the characters age in real-time, for example.

I thought the point of the Ultimate Line was to be streamlined and avoid retcons. How long before we learn Spider-Man isn’t dead, and Miles Morales was the main character in the Spider-Man cartoon?

Thad, I like the idea of characters aging in real time. I think the first Spider-girl series was the only one where Peter Parker was his real age. He’d be in his 60s by now. I don’t think they aged in real time as that series progressed though.

The guy is on a bar with a brazilian flag, so I assume it’s in Brazil. A place where people don’t speak spanish!

For the thousandth time, the language spoken in Brazil is PORTUGUESE, dammit!

randypan the goatboy

December 14, 2011 at 10:36 am

I know why captain….because it sucks. this was worse than a Justin bieber cover of fade to black.

I loved Ultimate Human. What I don’t love is Millar’s snide way of retconning it. Millar’s writing is fun but he often feels like he’s standing with a bunch of comic haters pretending to be one of them.

Since Millar “created” Ultimate Iron Man, I think he has the right to retcon someone else’s origin for that character, especially one as outlandish as Card’s.

That said, Ultimate Iron Man #1 blew me away when it came out. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. I dropped the title after the first issue of the sceond series.

I thought the point of the Ultimate Line was to be streamlined and avoid retcons.

That shipped sailed a WHILE before the books mentioned in this post. The retcons started coming fast and furious after the Ultimate Team-Up series.

Ultimate Iron Man shot itself in the foot by giving Tony Stark a healing factor to rival Wolverine’s. Not only does it render the Iron Man inconsequential, but if Tony can easily regrow any body part he loses, and survive getting shot in the head or burned alive, where’s the dramatic tension? He doesn’t seem to concerned about his chances, so why should we be concerned for him?

funny that has kind of already mentioned in the comments. Iron man’s Ultimate origins have been changed twice already.though I like his first origin has Ultimate Amadeus Cho it doesn’t fit Tony Stark in Ultimates

Also there was the origin Bendis wrote in ‘Ultimate Team-Up’

Wait, I thought that Ultimate Tony Stark is actually gay and this was Orson Scott Card’s way of covering it up.

Like John Severin, Andy Kubert had no idea.

Card is very anti-gay. He wouldn’t write a book where the main character was gay.

I read part of that Card series. I’m old Marvel fan, though. I had to stop trying to read the Ultimate series. They are too distracting. He’s blue!

@Pedro Bouça: most american writers/artists also seem to think that we speak Spanish in Italy, if that’s any consolation. I can remember many stories where some character goes to Rome and they are addressed as “señor”…

Bendis “created” Ultimate Iron Man and Millar retconned both Bendis’ and Card’s origins away with Greg Stark.

Rau- yeah, that is kind of what I was saying. Guess I didn’t do a good job on the follow through.

Yes, Spider-Girl stopped counting the real-time after it had been going a few years. Still, it did age everyone compared to the present by about 20 years–I loved the fact adult Nova had turned into a pompous kids-get-off-my-lawn type.

I’m surprised you didn’t mention the fact that Millar had previously established in Ultimates Tony Starks real name was Anthony Stark but in Card’s series his name was Antonio Stark. Its significant because Card thought he was establishing a unique name for the ultimate version of Tony but there was a single brief and insignificant seen in the original Ultimates where Millar had already used Anthony.

I suspect this has at least a minor impact on where the “spanish” cartoon jab comes from as well.

I think that’s the mess of the Ultimate Universe, they just re did people’s origins. I understand Peter’s Parents deaths were changed. In one he’s killed by the Hulk. That’s one of the problem of the Ultimate Universe, the other problem is that these characters were already around in the regular Marvel Universe.

Jumping on this thread a good 2 months too late, but whatever. A key component to Iron Man’s character is that he is, like Batman, a self-made hero. Tony is a normal human being who used his drive and intelligence to build a suit of armour. The fact that he can stand along side heroes who are mutants, have martial training or have been physically transformed by science is a testament to his will and ingenuity. He is the embodiment of the American success story. If Horatio Alger wrote comics they would be about Iron Man.

Now OSC comes in and writes a Tony Stark whose intelligence (and body) are the result of his father’s genetic manipulations. Now suddenly Tony isn’t a self-man hero. Imagine if somebody wrote a story when a pre-teen Bruce Wayne was secretly getting combat training from his father. People would be up in arms. It’s taking away a core component of what makes this particular character unique.


What are you talking about? Ultimate Spider-Man was never killed by the Hulk.

Thw worst thing is the people in the cartoon speaking spanish, with a flag from Brazil in the restaurant where Rhodey is. Guys, please understand this, we speak portuguese in Brazil not spanish!

@Leonardo At least the spanish used is pretty spot-on, all in all. I almost thought I was looking at one of the regional translations we get over these parts. (I live in Mexico). Countless times have I been baffled by the completely wrong “spanish” they use in comics and media from time to time But yeah, considering it’s Brazil, pretty much a fail.

I’m glad this scrapped all this nonsensical bullshit. Tony doesn’t need a regeneration factor as his armor is strong enough to prevent him from losing limbs or suffering major injuries, and the whole big-blue-baby-whose-mother-died-after-accidentally-swallowing-monkey-blood is too damn moronic to be his origin.

Man, was I glad to see that atrocious idea retconned away.

Ultimate Hammer Bro

May 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm

It’s funny how the Spanish is really, really accurate, as opposed to what happens in many English-language media (I read it without noticing anything strange, and then I realized that I was reading an article in English), and then they turn it into an epic fail by setting it in Brazil.

I’ll have to check the Spanish translation of this comic. I bet they turn the Spanish into Brazilian Portuguese.

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