A strange place, where a blue mass floats about. it has no name, it has never needed one. Call it the Omnos. It approaches slowly, with the curiosity that all thinking and feeling beings have when encountering the unknown. The unknown here is armor that lies strewn about on a rock floating through this strange landscape – and not just any armor. Iron Man's armor! It is a creature of magic, this Omnos. So it instinctively understands how to assemble the pieces properly. And soon afterward, another understanding comes: that this thing is meant to contain something. The Omnos obliges, taking a humanoid shape, it enters the Iron Man armor. It senses that the armor belongs to someone – someone from another dimension. It decides to seek out the armor's owner, and vanishes.
At that moment, at the Sarcee Reservation in Calgary, Alberta, Canada:
'What do you mean? You're saying I can't go back?' James “Rhodey” Rhodes – until very recently also known as Iron Man – asks Dr Michael Twoyoungmen a.k.a. Shaman of Alpha Flight. 'That is exactly what I am saying' Shaman replies. Hovering cross-legged before Rhodey, he explains to him that he cannot cross the barrier to the mystic dimension a second time, as it will not be in conjunction with their world again for years. 'But, Shaman – I left the Iron Man armor there and... and... it doesn't exactly belong to me' Rhodey declares. He then tells Shaman that when he took him there, to find a cure for his headaches, he didn't tell him he could never return. 'You did not ask!' Shaman points out. 'If I'd known I'd have to abandon the armor -' Rhodey begins, when Shaman suddenly declares 'Wait!' He informs Rhodey that he senses a presence on Earth – from there, from where they were. Shaman announces that it is seeking something. Shaman reminds Rhodey that earlier he mentioned Tony Stark, the inventor of the armor. 'Find him - for I feel you both have a great task to perform...' Shaman announces.
At the Palos Verdes Compound, home of the West Coast Avengers in Los Angeles:
'Tony! Is that you?' Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye calls out as he passes a bathroom and finds Tony shaving his beard off. 'Fraid so, Hawkeye!' Tony replies, explaining that wearing a beard was becoming a lie. He adds that it served a purpose for a while, said something about who he was, but now – well, he guesses he is becoming someone else. 'Becoming somebody like Iron Man again, maybe?' Clint asks as he follows Tony into one of the labs. 'No, not that' Tony calls back, but seeing Tony tinker with some armor on a table, he tells him that he seems to be enjoying himself. 'I like working out new ideas... and somehow it's easiest to work them out in terms of armor. It's the way my mind operates, I guess' Tony responds.
'You said there are a couple of reasons. What's the second?' Clint asks. Tony replies that he is not going to be Iron Man, but somebody should – Jim Rhodes, probably. 'Unless you want the job' he adds, turning to Clint, who holds up his hands and replies 'Not me, pal. I'm strictly the bow-and-arrow type'. Clint then asks Tony whatever happened to the other set of armor – not the one Jim Rhodes wore, but the clunky set that Tony had on. Tony explains that he had to shed it when he went into the ocean, when he was dumping Demonicus' monster – it is at the bottom of a lot of water, probably lost forever.
However, at that moment, deep beneath the ocean, a force field surrounds Dr Demonicus's base – which is approached by a large green monster! 'Dr Demonicus! Look'one of Demonicus's assistants calls out. Demonicus looks on the viewscreen and sees his large monster. 'Iron Man did not destroy my pet!' Demonicus declares, instructing his assistant to open the airlock and let him in. As the large monster emerges from the airlock, Demonicus and his assistant look up at it and the assistant points out that the monster has something in his mouth. 'Let us see!' Demonicus declares. The monster drops the object from his mouth and it falls to the floor, where it is revealed to be Iron Man's clunky armor. 'It's Iron Man!' the assistant exclaims. 'No, rather, his metal cover – his weapons!' Demonicus points out. He holds up the helmet and states that his creature has served him well this day – it has given him a means of revenge. 'Revenge? Surely you will not interrupt your work -' the assistant begins as he picks up the armor and follows Dr Demonicus, who responds 'The creation of other pets? The creation of an army with which I shall impose on the world my Pax Demonicus?'
They pass tanks containing green masses, and Demonicus declares that, as important as that is, it can wait, as Iron Man has defeated him and so he must in turn be defeated. Demonicus boasts that the civilization of Earth must be made to realize that he cannot be stopped – by anyone! He instructs his assistant to come to the workshop so he can examine the armor and fully understand how to use it against his maker.
Meanwhile, somewhere in North America:
'Isn't the view great, Lucy?' a man in a suit asks the woman who stands alongside him in a hot air balloon. 'I guess so, Charles. But are you sure it's safe?' Lucy asks as they pass large clouds over a canyon. 'I mean...there's nothing in this balloon except hot air!' Lucy exclaims. Charles tells her that it is the only way to fly, 'I'll bet this is the best honeymoon you've ever had!' he adds. 'As for safe... why, we're safe as a bug in a rug -' Charles begins, when suddenly, Lucy goes wide-eyed, 'Charles – LOOK!' she screams, as the Iron Man armor blasts towards them – straight through their hot air balloon! The balloon bursts and starts to plummet as the Iron Man armor flies onwards. 'He flew right through -' Charles begins. 'Charles, we're FALLING!' Lucy shrieks.
But miraculously, the balloon catches on the top of a tree before it hits the ground. 'Are we dead yet, Charles?' Lucy asks, covering her eyes. Charles informs her that what is left of the balloon has caught on a branch. They are suspended over a river, and Charles tells Lucy that they will get to the nearest town and then he is going to tell the world what happened – how Iron Man nearly killed them!
If the Omnos inside the armor knew of the tragedy he nearly caused, he might feel remorse. Or he might not. He is, in any case, oblivious to it. This plane of existence is new to him. He is still struggling to comprehend it... and to find the owner of the metal shell he inhabits as he speeds through the air.
Back at the West Coast Avengers headquarters, '...so the tin suit got left behind, Tony, in a weird dimension I'm still not sure was real. All I can say is I'm sorry' Rhodey tells Tony. 'I'm not' Tony replies as he continues to tinker with the new suit in front of him. 'Think of all the grief that armor caused. It was one of the factors that pushed me into a killer bout with the bottle...it tortured you with headaches for months...I'd say we're well rid of it' Tony declares. Rhodey replies that he guesses this means the end of his career as Iron Man. 'Not necessarily' Tony announces. 'Maybe -' he begins, when suddenly, Hawkeye rushes into the lab, telling his former teammates to turn on the television and watch an old buddy of theirs shoot off his mouth. Clint switches the television on, and Tony and Rhodey watch it as a voice can be heard saying '...was shocked to hear that Iron Man nearly killed two innocent young people – newlyweds at that'. It is Obadiah Stane. Stane states that although Iron Man is a former employee of the company he know owns, he feels no hesitation in saying that he should be stopped – before he does kill someone.
'Can you beat that? He cheats you out of what you built and now he badmouths you!' Rhodey exclaims. 'Not me, Iron Man! Since I created Iron Man I have a responsibility...' Tony begins. 'To do what?' Clint asks. 'To find out what really happened' Tony explains, holding up the chestplate in front of him, he asks Clint if there are any spare costumes lying around. Clint replies that he doesn't know, but supposes there might be some in the storage area. 'Why?' he then asks. 'There's something I've got to do...anonymously' Tony replies.
Soon, Tony is wearing a black outfit, and puts the newly created gauntlets on, followed by the power packs from the armor he has been working on, tying them around a belt on his hips. He adds a yellow cape to the bodysuit, and a red and blue mask, followed by a helmet. 'I'm all set' he announces. 'Pretty sharp' Hawkeye comments, while Rhodey remarks that they have a brand new super hero, and asks Tony what he is going to call himself. 'Do I have to call myself anything?' Tony asks. Rhodey reminds him that every good guy's got to have a fancy handle. Clint suggests the name “Spare Parts Man” and then Rhodey offers “Nothing-in-Particular Man”, to which Tony tells them that, as comedians, they are sensational nuclear physicists. 'I know zilch about physics!' Clint calls back as he follows Tony out of the lab. 'My point exactly' Tony tells him.
Soon, in the hangar bay / garage facility, Tony asks Hawkeye if he can borrow a Quinjet. 'Help yourself' Clint replies, before asking Tony why he needs one. Climbing into the jet, Tony explains that he needs to investigate the balloon incident, which is why he is also wearing this disguise. He adds that he may have to use the gauntlets and he doesn't want them connected to either he or Iron Man. 'Hey, one of us could do it' Hawkeye suggests, but Tony tells him that it is his job. For a moment, Hawkeye considers insisting on going with Tony. Tony, after all, was not so long ago incapacitated by alcoholism. But Hawkeye wants Tony to reassume his responsibilities as an Avenger, and sees this as a step towards Stark's acceptance of that role. Tony, on the other hand, ponders the implications of his decision. Inside the Quinjet, he wonders if it really is his job, or his he just looking for an excuse to get back into action? He asks himself if he is edging back into that other life – the mystery, the excitement, the danger – everything that led him into the gutter? But with that, the Quinjet takes off through the hangar exit built into the side of a cliff.
Nearby, 'Doctor, do you see?' Demonicus's assistant asks from a green jet that appears in the air – near the Quinjet. 'Yes! An Avengers Quinjet! So our information is correct – the Avengers headquarters is near here!' Demonicus declares, instructing his assistant to follow the jet, as it will undoubtedly lead them to the Aveners and to Iron Man. The assistant asks Demonicus that if Iron Man has a second suit of armor, his familiarity with it might give him an advantage. 'You forget to whom you are talking!' Demonicus exclaims, wearing the clunky armor. 'Oh, they call me a madman – how often I have been tarred with that brush! But that it because they do not realize the breadth of my vision!' Demonicus says to his assistant. He adds that one day the name Demonicus will be revered, honored, that will be after his Pax Demonicus brings order to the world. 'As for your question... as for this armor... of course I comprehend it better than its inventor! He may be a genius, but I am his superior!' Demonicus declares, instructing his assistant to pay attention to his task and not to lose sight of the Avengers' craft.
Soon, the Quinjet descends outside anb odd shaped building with a sign that identifies it as Circuits Maximus. 'Here you are, Jim! Home!' Tony tells his friend. They exit the jet and Jim asks him if he is coming in. 'For a minute or two' Tony replies. A man and a woman approach them, 'Hey, look who's gracing us with his presence - “Wandering” Jim Rhodes' the woman exclaims. The man tells him that it is long time no see, while the woman asks him who his friend is. 'Folks, meet my buddy, Spare-Parts Man!' Jim replies. 'Tony!' the woman exclaims as Tony removes his mask. 'Hiya big guy! I like the outfit!' the woman declares, hugging Tony, she adds that she likes the shave. Her name is Clytemnestra Erwin and the man is her brother, Morley. Morley begins to tell Tony that there is a woman who has been around looking for him. 'Her name is Bethan-' Morley begins, before his sister puts her hand over his mouth, cutting him off. 'We can talk about that stuff later. Why don't you guys go and have a cup of coffee?' Clytemnestra suggests. Jim and Tony enter the Circuits Maximus building, with Tony remarking that he can't stay long. Morley turns to his sister and asks her why she didn't want him telling Tony about Bethany Cabe. 'Because she's gorgeous and charming...and witty...and well-dressed...and obviously somebody from Tony's past and, and – NEVER MIND!' Clytemnestra exclaims, throwing her hands up into the air as she heads back towards the building.
Inside, Tony asks Morley how their mutual business is going. 'Not bad. We have a couple of design contractors...minor stuff' Morely responds. Clytemnestra tells Tony that it would go a lot better if he and Jim were helping out once in a while. 'Seriously, guys' she adds. Tony replies that he realizes he has not been carrying his share of the load, and promises that will change, as soon as he settles this Iron Man thing.
'The craft landed by that small geodesic dome. Prepare to -' Demonicus instructs his assistant, before shouting 'Wait! There he is – Iron Man!' as Iron Man soars past his vessel. However, of course it is not Iron Man, but the Omnos inside the Iron Man armor, soaring above the Earth, and he senses he is nearing his goal – the human who owns the metal shell. Demonicus puts the clunky helmet over his head and remarks that he knew if they followed an Avenger they would find Iron Man. 'As I suspected...he does have a second suit of armor... different from this, but clearly his' Demonicus adds, before leaving the jet, he flies towards the Iron Man armor, boasting that he will engage him in combat and defeat him with his own weapons. He fires some plasma projectors which strike as the first blow. 'And he who strikes the first blow often strikes the final blow!' Demonicus declares, as the Iron Man armor recoils backwards. For a microsecond, the Omnos probes the capabilities of the armor – and responds with a powerful surge of plasma, which strikes Demonicus at close range.
Below, Tony, James, Morley and Clytemnestra rush out of Circuits Maximus 'Tony – you see what I see?' James declares, motioning skyward. 'Yes – both sets of armor – locked in combat!' Tony replies, rushing to the Quinjet he announces that he has to have a closer look. James calls out after him, but Tony doesn't hear his friend's call as he takes the controls of the Quinjet and takes off into the sky without him. Tony tells himself that he has half a mind to do something to destroy both sets of armor – wipe them out of existence forever. But he realizes he doesn't know who is inside them – he doesn't even know exactly where they come from! Pulling the Quinjet in closer, he tells himself that he has to try to neutralize them without doing any serious damage. He knows that he has no idea whether these gauntlets alone are up to the job, but they are the best chance he has. Suddenly, Demonicus notices the Quinjet, 'Eh -? An Avengers plane!' he exclaims, declaring that he will brook no interference, he blasts the jet with a repulsor ray from the armor. The jet spins about, 'A double dose of repulsors...the new houstic repulsors I put into that suit...shortened out the jet's electrical system' Tony tells himself, knowing that he must pull out of this tumble, or he will kiss the ground – hard. He wonders why he didn't take Rhodey along to pilot this thing.
Tony hits the emergency batteries and the auxiliary rockets, and the jet swoops back into an even keel. Tony dives the jet towards the bulky armor, and veers away fast, causing Demonicus to topple though the air, knocked off balance, just as Tony had hoped. He knows that whoever is inside the armor has lost control of the gyros and it will probablytake him a few seconds to regain control. As the Quinjet heads towards the modern armor, Tony tells himself that by then, maybe he will have completed his crash run. He also knows that the silver armor couldn't withstannd the impact of a Quinjet striking – but the golden armor can, and a second later, the jet impacts against the armor. Tony stands at an open panel of the Quinjet, 'That was the easy part' he tells himself, realizing that getting close enough, from here, that is more tricky. He isn't sure this will work, it has never been tested, but he thinks a blast of negatively charged plasma energy directed at both suits will activate the magnetic circuitry in both, and lock them together. The plan works, as two bolts of energy strike both suits as the Quinjet passes them by and Tony fires the gauntlets at them, slamming both armors together.
Tony watches the armors fall, and knows that the golden armor's gyros will automatically right them and its boot-jets will land them gently – suddenly though, an air pocket takes Tony completely by surprise and knocks Tony off the side of the Quinjet where he stands. 'What a fool I am!' Tony thinks as he plummets to certain doom. 'Look – up there! Tony's falling! Does he have a parachute, or -?' Clytemnestra gasps. 'No' Rhodey replies. 'Oh, my gosh!' Morley utters. Tony continues to fall, telling him that there is nothing between he and the Earth – no trees, no water, nothing soft – so if he doesn't come up with something quick, he is finished. 'But what?' he wonders. Tony fires his gauntlets at full thrust towards the ground below, where the force starts to slow him, exactly as a rocket would. His body weight rides that force down, and he lands safely near his friends. 'I'm not sure what you did, but you did real fine!' James declares. Clytemnestra asks him if he is okay, to which Tony replies that his arms will probably hurt for a few days – but considering the alternative, he is not complaining. He then declares that it is time to see how the other two are faring. He marches over towards the armors, followed by the others, and Rhodey remarks that he is curious to find out who is inside them.
Tony de-activates the magnetic circuitry, and Morely removes the helmet of the bulky silver armor. 'Well, well. Everybody's favorite sea-going dictator... Dr Demonicus. I thought it had to be you' Tony remarks. Rhodey suggests that Demonicus must have fished the armor from the ocean. 'Something like that' Tony replies. 'You...fools! You do not realize what a mistake it is to interfere with Demonicus -' the madman exclaims. 'You would-be world beaters are all alike – rant, rant, rant! Save it for the judge, okay, Demmy?' Rhodey jokes, while deciding that he is glad he let Tony handle this by himself, as he was afraid his stints as Iron Man had totally wrecked Tony's urge to be a hero – but this proves that is not the case. Rhodey then suggests they cart Demonicus to the local law, and they can charge him with trespassing until they get the goods on the rest of his scam. Morely suggests that that sounds reasonable. Tony states that it is time to answer the big question. 'Who's inside this?' he asks as he removes the helmet of the modern armor – and the Omnos, a surge of energy, pours from the armor. 'What...was that?' Clytemnestra asks, while Tony points out that the armor seems to be empty. Morley remarks that he has never seen anything remotely like it. 'Did you guys hear it?' Rhodey asks his friends. 'Hear what?' Clytemnestra asks. Rhodey explains that there is a voice – inside his head, and he thinks it said “You're welcome”.