It's a cosmic arc (Hence the Godkiller armour Stark used when fighting The Phoenix in Avengers vs X-Men), and with Iron Man shortly joining up with the reboot of Guardians of the Galaxy that actually makes a lot of sense. Embracing the big adventure, space odyssey, side of the Marvel Universe, in preparation might seem like a logical move. Gillen himself has gone into a bit more detail about the arc itself in an interview for Comic Book Resources, which will apparently introduce a new alien race to the Marvel Universe (The 'Voldi'), explore some of the repercussions of what happened to The Phoenix in A vs X, involves an inevitable clash of alien cultures, and from the artwork posted on CBR certainly seems to involve some kind of gladiatorial arena.
"The first arc is very much like a Conan arc in that the Voldi are a civilized and cultured race. It's, 'Oh my god Earth has super heroes? How cute!' So they're slightly patronizing, but also quite charmed by Tony who's not even trying to get past his prejudices. He thinks he's going into space and he's going to make out with an alien and it's going to be brilliant," Gillen continued. "So one of the themes in the story is the culture clash between these two sets of people who don't necessarily understand each other yet."
Well, I'm on board. It's a bit of a different approach for the usually earthbound Tony Stark, but one which should be a lot of fun to read. The cosmic stuff which Gillen was doing in his S.W.O.R.D. series (up until its unfortunate early demise) was really well thought through and enjoyable stuff. The tone was easily in step with the approach that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning had taken with Marvel Cosmic (on Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy), and while I absolutely loved reading Gillen doing fantasy stories on Journey into Mystery I had been hoping that he'd get back to writing some more cosmic stories at some point.
That S.W.O.R.D. run also featured Death's Head, of course. So what part does he play in all this?
"Death's Head plays a role in the 'GodKiller' arc, and this is the Death's Head I used in 'S.W.O.R.D.' so he's 30 feet tall. You can play Death's Head in many ways and if you're doing a space opera he's the Boba Fett -- the big, enormous robot over in the corner glaring. He's taciturn and he's the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. It's that simple. I use him throughout the story since he's part of the large supporting cast for all the ongoing space opera stuff," Gillen stated. "The idea was, 'Why not?' That's why I used him in 'S.W.O.R.D.' I needed a bounty hunter. I could have made it someone new if I wanted, but I was already making up a lot of new stuff, so I thought, 'Let's use Death's Head. He's a lot of fun.'
Damn right he is.
So this will be the Transformers-sized, earliest point in his timeline version of Death's Head, from S.W.O.R.D. Which should satisfy a fair few of the more hardened Marvel UK stalwarts. And also out doing what does best.
Just don't use the 'B' word to his face, right?
The 'Godkiller' arc begins in Iron Man #6, out in specialist comic book stores today.