Iron Man is not only known for being a superhero, but also for being a business tycoon. Because of this, Tony Stark is one of the world’s leading industrialists – when he has his company. Recently Tony divested from Stark Unlimited, convinced it was in good hands. That turned out to be a big mistake.
Invincible Iron Man #4 (written by Gerry Duggan and penciled by Juan Frigeri) features a corporate takeover, putting Tony’s company in the hands of a villain. And now Stark Unlimited is going to be used as a tool to destroy the mutants of the world.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Invincible Iron Man #4 (2023)!
Which villain bought Tony Stark’s company?
Stark Unlimited is now the property of Feilong, an evil industrialist who is an enemy of the X-Men. Feilong didn’t capture the company through ransom, blackmail, or by using violence. The evil tycoon used the stock market to launch a stealth takeover of the company. He even held a press conference on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. This puts Tony Stark in a difficult position, because it’s not like he could just arrest Feilong, or punch his way out of this problem.
Feilong was born with the name Kelvin Heng, but he changed his name as part of a rebranding when his company Feilong Industries took off. He had plans for colonizing Mars, but the X-Men and the Avengers used the planet as a battlefield, ruining Feilong’s dream. Ever since then, he’s devoted his life to destroying mutants.
Before Feilong's Mars mission was cancelled, Feilong had mutated his body so it could survive on the planet’s surface. As a result, his skin is pink, and he has enhanced durability. Feilong also has the ability to fire energy beams from his mouth, thanks to Cosmic Ray exposure.
Feilong has been striking at Tony Stark from behind the scenes ever since the launch of Duggan’s Invincible Iron Man run. The villain has murdered two of Tony’s friends, ruined Iron Man’s public reputation, and manipulated various aspects of his private life. Iron Man knows all this, but he doesn’t have any physical proof, so for now Feilong is a media darling.
Angered by these new developments, Tony heads down to the Stock Exchange to confront Feilong. When a random bystander suggests the two fight for the stocks, Tony and Feilong agree. They meet on the street outside the Stock Exchange, preparing to fight (kind of as if they were on an elementary school playground). After some sparring, Iron Man flies away, fearing that he might lose control of his temper and murder Feilong.
Feilong then files a cease and desist, claiming ownership of the technology in Iron Man’s armor. Depending on how a judge rules, it’s possible that it would be illegal for Iron Man to use his own armor. Tony finally realizes that he’s in over his head, and flies to the mutant nation of Krakoa to enlist the help of Emma Frost.
Tony Stark can’t hold onto his company
Let’s face it, Tony Stark is really bad at holding onto his company. Stark Industries has been taken over by supervillains and corporate raiders on multiple occasions. You would think Tony would be more prepared for something like this by now, but it remains a recurring problem. In fact, he even mentions it during his confrontation with Feilong.
“Only the bravest try hostile takeovers on Stark companies,” Tony said. “Obadiah Stane. Of course, he’s dead. Justin Hammer, also dead. Justine Hammer, dead. Or dead to me – I forget.”
Let’s break down Tony’s list of Stark raiders. It’s worth noting that Stark’s companies have gone through many different names and incarnations. Don’t be surprised if you see multiple names for Tony’s company in this breakdown. For the purposes of comic book historic accuracy, Popverse is identifying each company by the name they were called when the comic was published.
Obadiah Stane – A business tycoon who specialized in psychological warfare. Stane engineered an attack on Stark’s psyche, which drove the industrialist to drink. In Iron Man #173 (1983) Stane used corporate maneuvering to gain control of Stark Industries, which he renamed Stane Industries. Stane used the company’s resources to build his own Iron Man armor. He called himself Iron Monger and battled Tony Stark and later took his own life after losing the battle in Iron Man #200 (1985).
Justin Hammer – A British industrialist who specialized in weapons manufacturing. Hammer was always trying to steal Stark’s company secrets, most notably in the 1987 storyline Armor Wars. Hammer inherited Stane’s shares of Stark Industries after his suicide.
After a failed plot against Iron Man, Hammer sold Tony his shares for $1 in Iron Man #283. Justin lost his life in Iron Man: Bad Blood #4 (2000) when he was accidentally sucked into the vacuum of space.
Justine Hammer – Like father, like daughter. Justine is the daughter of Justin Hammer, and like her father, she spent a lot of time trying to destroy Stark’s company. It’s interesting that Tony mentioned her here, since she never fully gained control of Stark Industries (then called Stark Resilient), but not for lack of trying.
If Tony can’t remember if she’s alive or dead, he should check Invincible Iron Man #527 (2012). She was killed in that issue by Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah Stane.
And those are just the names Tony listed this issue. A Stark Industries board member named Eric Lynch also targeted the company during Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man run. Kenjiro Fujikawa merged Stark Enterprises with Fujikawa Industries in Iron Man #4 (1998).
The point is, if you’re a company owned by Tony Stark, be prepared to change hands more than a volleyball.
What’s next for Iron Man and the X-Men?
If you’ve noticed that Iron Man seems to be weaving into the world of the X-Men, there’s a reason. Gerry Duggan, the writer for Invincible Iron Man, is also helming the current X-Men title.
In fact, Feilong was introduced in the first issue of Duggan’s X-Men run. According to a press release from Marvel, Iron Man will also play a big role in Fall of X, this summer’s X-Men crossover event.
According to preview art and solicitations, Feilong will use Stark Unlimited’s resources to upgrade the mutant hunting Sentinels into Stark Sentinels.
Imagine an army of giants with Iron Man’s armor, with every one of them programmed to exterminate mutants. Feilong actually had the nerve to name them after Tony! Can you blame Tony Stark for getting involved? The Stark Sentinels begin their reign of terror in Free Comic Book Day 2023: Avengers/X-Men #1. The giant mutant hunters will then set their sights on the X-Men in X-Men #23.
Earlier this week Duggan tweeted a preview image from Invincible Iron Man #6, featuring Tony in his 1980s look. ” This panel is from Iron Man 6, a flashback to the 80s & the Silver Centurion armor. The White Queen is coming, get your orders in,” Duggan wrote.
It sounds like we’ll be getting a flashback to a confrontation between Stark and Emma Frost set during the 80s. At the time Emma Frost was a villain, and a member of the Hellfire Club. That should make things particularly interesting.
It’s rare to see Iron Man intersect with the X-Men’s world outside of company-wide crossovers, so this summer should be particularly fun. Keep your eyes peeled here to Popverse as we continue tracking the leadup to Fall of X.