He pushes through heartbreak. Through chronic pain. Through bereavement. Through alcoholism. He breathes deep and swallows the hurt. He buries his parents and moves on. Strangers take him from all that is familiar to him. All he knows and loves and hold him hostage for three months of his life. Torture him and leave him with a glowing reminder that reminds him daily of the pain inflicted upon him. He takes a deep breath, pulls it all in and moves forward. He gives his heart, loses his love and buries Rumiko. He sacrifices his most cherished gift, his mind and yet he still puts one foot in front of the other. He builds a family, only to watch them splinter and leave. He forges a lasting bond with a man he loves as a brother. He watches that bond shatter under the cold banner of war. A shard of ice piercing his heart when Steve is gunned down and yet still, he curls his tears into a small, hard ball of desolation and buries it deep.
No matter how heavy the cloak of depression or sharp the blades of grief he never gives up. He simply doesn’t know how. Tony Stark is many, many things. A brother. A businessman. A team mate. A lover. And the sum of those shadowed parts create the flesh and blood of his whole.
No matter his own grief. His own pain. His own loss. He will never, ever give up. That’s what heroes do. And at his very core. At the center of his soul. Tony Stark is, and always will be, a hero.
Regardless if you believe Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are soul mates destined to meet across universes and time. Whether you are drawn to them by the magnetic aura they emanate as they orbit each other like a brilliant sun and steadfast moon. Or if you believe the intensity of their relationship inevitably ends in the intimacy of each other’s beds. This current run is devastating.
These two men, irregardless of if you believe they are brothers or lovers, need each other. Each is the other’s other’s revelation. Their heart and soul. To see them at such odds, that all communication is so broken that one resorts to physically beating the other is heartbreaking.
Civil War was all encompassing. A multi-hued landscape vivid and distracting. Smeared into a palette of distracting colors by the sheer emotional scale. It was, and still is. emotionally vast and cuts deep. This run shimmers forth in a shadowed monochrome and Steve and Tony shine brilliant white in the center of it. While it plays on a no less operatic scale, it’s vision and scope feels more intimate.
Civil War hurt my feelings and at times made me irrationally angry but Hickman in this brilliant run, has topped Civil War. He is tearing these two men apart in a far more intimate way than any war could.