His name: Omega Red. His nature: mutant, cyborg, created by the former Soviet Union. His mission vengeance: His target: the hideous mockery of humanity called M.O.D.A.M., creation of the terrorist corporation Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.). Red believes M.O.D.A.M. was once Olinka Barankova, a KGB defector who betrayed him decades ago. He has journeyed from the steppes of Siberia to A.I.M.’s headquarters on the island of Boca Caliente for the sole purpose of destroying her. M.O.D.A.M. begs to differ. It’s a debate that’s about to get ugly. The man lying on the ground wearing the model 12 armor is Iron Man. He’s in big trouble about now.
Trying to pick himself up off of the ground, Stark thinks to himself that he’s got to pull it together. M.O.D.A.M.’s psycho-blast somehow carried over telepresence link. It scrambled his operating system for artificial C.N.S., causing grand mal seizure. Before the whole system crashes and takes him with it, he has to concentrate, enter programming code, debug the code. As he tries to do so, Stark realizes that it’s a mess. It’d take hours for a clean sweep. He’s going to have to make it a quick and dirty hacking run, just fix the worst of it so he can get back in the game.
Once back in working order, Stark sees Omega Red and M.O.D.A.M. battling. M.O.D.A.M. tells Red that his carbonadium coils are unusual, she’ll admit but their novelty is scarcely adequate to challenge the armaments at her disposal. Red remarks that might be true if they were his only weapon. With that, Omega Red summons his death-factor, the mutant ability to literally drain living things of their vitality and begins to squeeze M.O.D.A.M. like a sponge. Just then, M.O.D.A.M. notices that her organic functions are failing and that she has 42.611 seconds to complete collapse. Strategic withdrawl mandated. As M.O.D.A.M. departs, Red calls out to her that there is no place for her to run that he cannot…
Before Omega Red can finish his thought, Iron Man puts his hand on his shoulder and tells him to hold on. Just then, a cadre of A.I.M. troops arrives and orders Red and Iron Man to freeze. Turning toward Iron Man, Red tells him “this is no business of yours, American.” He adds do not interfere unless he wishes to die alongside these worthless fools. After seeing Red take out a bunch of the A.I.M. troops with ease, Iron Man notices that Red’s body is generating some kind of bioplasmic energy that inhibits the function of living tissue. It’s not much good against a remote-controlled telepresence system though.
Iron Man proceeds to tell Red that he wouldn’t advise betting on that. But he is right about one thing – whatever’s between he and M.O.D.A.M. isn’t his problem. He has more important business of his own to look after. Leaving to go find his quarry, Red tells Iron Man that he would do well to remember that.
Once Red has left, Alessandro Brannex makes his way over towards Iron Man and asks him what he’s standing there for. Iron Man informs him that he doesn’t work for him. Brannex says true, but perhaps they could work out some kind of mutually satisfying temporary contract. After Iron Man responds that he’s listening, Brannex states that M.O.D.A.M. represents a significant financial investment to A.I.M. They would be willing to compensate him for protecting that investment. Iron Man states that there’s one problem with that. When Brannex asks what that is, Iron Man says there’s only one thing on this island he’s interested in and that’s what he came there for.
Brannex says the Stane International nuclear materials to which Iron Man says exactly. Brannex says he, Iron Man, drives a hard bargain but he has little choice but to agree to his terms. Pointing to him, Iron Man asks Brannex that he’s aware that he’s recording this entire conversation and that his statements are legally binding. Brannex replies painfully so and asks Iron Man if he would care to shake on the deal as well. Iron Man tells him no. He just had his gloves cleaned. As Iron Man takes off, one of the A.I.M. troops mentions to Brannex that he’s surprised he’d commit A.I.M. to that agreement. Brannex states that the agreement is only binding if he lives.
Flying high over the jungle, Stark recalls that M.O.D.A.M. was looking a little woozy when she cut out on Red. When he finds her on his radar, he adds that it looks like she’s crashed. Deep in the jungle, Omega Red approaches the downed M.O.D.A.M. and says to her there she is, Olinka Barankova. M.O.D.A.M. tells him that name means nothing to her and asks why he persists in using it. Red states that it was her name when she betrayed him to the NKVD, all those years ago, and the name she is listed under in A.I.M.’s personnel files. M.O.D.A.M. informs him that he has been deceived. It is standard procedure for A.I.M.’s administrative records to be falsified.
Telling her he doesn’t believe her, Red begins his assault. As he does, he tells her that flimsy lies will not save her. Nor will her ebbing mental powers, which grow ever more feeble as he drains the life from her grotesque body. M.O.D.A.M. begs Red to stop but he does not and proceeds to punch through her chest and begins to pull out her circuitry. Before he can finish killing her, Red is blasted from behind by Iron Man who tells him that he’ll say this once – back off. Picking himself up off of the ground, Red says to him that he warned him not to interfere. Now he will…
Before Red can finish his thought, Iron Man punches him and tells him that he’ll sit down and shut up if he knows what’s good for him. Recovering quickly, Red rushes towards Iron Man and calls him a fool. He is nothing more than a man in a metal suit while he is Homo superior. With that, Red kicks Iron Man to the ground. Perched on top of him, Red tells Iron Man that he doesn’t know how he’s immune to his mutant death-factor but he has other, more satisfying ways of killing him.
Jamming one of his coils through Iron Man’s chestplate, Red states that was a disappointingly easy kill. Grabbing hold of one of Red’s coils, Iron Man tells him that he can assure him he’s not even close. With that, he proceeds to surge 50,000 volts through Red’s body, knocking him backwards. Approaching the weakened Omega Red, Iron Man tells him that some of his best friends are mutants. Just then, he takes hold of Red’s coil and tosses him. While he does so, he tells him that he’s starting to think that some of them (mutants) need to be reminded that there’s more to this business than genetics.
Turning his attention towards M.O.D.A.M., Iron Man asks her if she is still with them. M.O.D.A.M. answers that she remains functional. At that moment, Brannex contacts M.O.D.A.M. through her communicator and tells her that it is of prime importance that Iron Man be terminated. Just then, M.O.D.A.M. blasts Iron Man and tells him that she is functional enough to finish what she began. His mind is strong but even he cannot survive psychotronic assault a second time. Iron Man recalls that the synthetic gem on her forehead collimates M.O.D.A.M.’s psionic energies. He has to take that out first. Iron Man then tells M.O.D.A.M. that may have worked for her before but one shot is all she gets. After punching the gem in M.O.D.A.M.’s forehead, the blast knocks them both backwards with great force.
Picking himself up off the ground, Iron Man says that was a bit more than he expected. M.O.D.A.M.’s gigantic brain generates a tremendous amount of psionic energy. But lord, what a price she’s paid for that power. He wonders if she ever looks in the mirror and rejects it or if her mind has become as twisted as her body. Looking at the battered bodies of both Omega Red and M.O.D.A.M., he says it’s frightening to think how much he has in common with them. All of them are half-human, half-machine. He wonders if they chose to become something more and less than human, or was it thrust upon them. And what were they before that? What about Red? Was he a homicidal psychotic before he became a cyborg? Or is his berserker rage an attempt to preserve what little animal there is left in him? What about M.O.D.A.M.? Is there still a human being buried within that cybernetically violated shell? Or has A.I.M. stripped even the memory of humanity from her? And what about him, what has he become? Not that he’s as much machine as man, will he become like her? Has he already?
Turning around, Iron Man recommends to the approaching A.I.M. troops that he advises them to get Omega Red off the island before he wakes up and finds out M.O.D.A.M. isn’t dead. Oh, and they can tell their boss if that shipment isn’t on its way back to the States by sundown, he’ll be back. As he flies off, one of the A.I.M. troops remarks that he has a feeling that this ain’t gonna be a good day to ask the boss for any raises.
The following day at Stark Enterprises, Felix Alvarez tells Tony Stark that he takes his hat off to him. He offered them everything but the moon and his grandmother’s soul, and they turned him down. But only a couple hours after he goes down there, they’re offering to ship the stuff back by air. Stark says that’s the art of the deal. Careful negotiation and timing is everything. Felix adds that there’s another piece of good news. The district attorney’s office has decided to proceed with formal charges against the Controller. He should be prepared to give a deposition within the next week or…
Just then, Abe Klein, Bambi Arbogast and Erica Sondheim enter the office toting guns and telling Stark that he’s coming with them. Stark asks them what the devil the meaning is of this but thinks to himself that it must be the Controller. He’s infiltrated his staff again, this time taking control of his most trusted confidants. Leading Stark down the hallway in his motorized chair, Bambi tells him that all will become clear shortly. Stark replies that he doesn’t know what kind of loathsome scheme the Controller has up his sleeve this time but he swears to god, he’ll pay for this. Just then, Stark’s friends roll him into the conference room.
At that moment, the lights come on and Stark is greeted by a number of his friends with a welcome back party for him. Once she fires her “gun” and the sign “happy birthday” emits from it, Bambi tells Stark that she thought it was about time they all welcomed him back to the land of the living in style. And, since the only way to drag him away from business is at gunpoint, well is she fired or what? Laughing, Stark asks fire her? He’d sooner cut off his right arm. Shaking his hand, Happy Hogan tells him that’s the Tony Stark he remembers.
Upon seeing Pepper Hogan, Stark gives her a big hug and asks her if she’s keeping this bruiser out of trouble. Happy then remarks to Tony that it looks like he’s on the mend. Tony says yes, thanks to… Looking around, he asks where Veronica Benning is. Felix tells him he doesn’t know, he guesses she couldn’t make it. Later in the celebration, Pepper apologizes to Tony for being so hard on him the last time they saw each other. Tony tells her no apologies are necessary, he had it coming. He then asks her how life is treating her and Happy. Are they enjoying that legendary domestic bliss? Pepper says no. With the recession and all, it’s tough to…
Stark asks her if he’s trying to tell him they are both out of work. Pepper answers that she still has her job but it’s been hard on Happy. Stark says that she could’ve called him. He’d have… Pepper says he’s a proud man, just like him. Just then, Stark calls Happy over. He then tells him that he needs to hire a personal trainer to kick him in the butt and make sure he keeps at the physical therapy that’ll get him out of this chair. Does he know anybody he can recommend? Happy replies that as it happens, the best darn coach on this coast is presently available and he’s looking at him. With that, Stark tells him he’s hired.
As Happy and Pepper embrace, Tony calls over to Rae Lacoste and asks her how Jim’s doing. Rae tells him that she thinks he’s still very mad. Stark says he doesn’t blame him. He then tells Rae to take care of him, he’s a good man. He deserved better than what he dealt him. For the next several hours, Stark spends time with more old friends than he thought he had. Friends like Roxy Gilbert, Eddie March, Marty March, Bethany Cabe, Michael O’Brien, and others. It gets him thinking about how isolated he’s made himself lately and about M.O.D.A.M. and Omega Red. Maybe you can’t stay human without human contact. Maybe it’s time he paid more attention to matters of the heart. And if that’s true, he knows where he needs to start.
Picking up the phone, Tony calls Veronica Benning. When he gets no answer, Tony doesn’t leave a message. At her place, Veronica wonders if that was Tony calling her and wonders if she’s right when she suspects how he feels about her and that she has to make a decision soon.
Just then, over at Acheron Mountain, site of the Stark Enterprises geo-thermal power plant, one of the workers picks up the phone and exclaims that they’ve got a massive pressure build-up in the thermal dampers. It’s going to blow. With that, a massive explosion occurs.