Arsenal (Marvel Comics)
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|First appearance||Iron Man #114 (Sept. 1978)|
|Created by||Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen|
Arsenal is a fictional character, a robot appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in Iron Man #114 (Sep. 1978) and was created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen.
Arsenal first appeared in a two-part storyline in Iron Man #114 (Sept. 1978) and Avengers Annual #9 (1979). The character made a final appearance in Hulk #282 (April 1983). The Arsenal "Alpha" unit appeared in Iron Man vol. 3, #84-85 (Aug. 2004).
Fictional character biography
In the final days of World War II, a group of Allied scientists led by Howard Stark developed "Project Tomorrow" and the creation of a robot called Arsenal, a prototype fighting unit to be deployed in the event of an Axis victory. The robot was also guided by Howard's early computer program called Mistress. When the Allies won the war, Arsenal was placed in storage. The robot was activated for a military demonstration during a worsening Cold War but was never used.
The Avengers learn the robot's origin from the group's government liaison Henry Peter Gyrich. Arsenal reappears and captures Hawkeye and Beast and stuns Yellowjacket with an electric shock. Yellowjacket, however, recovers and alerts the other Avengers, advising the group that Project Tomorrow is directly beneath the mansion.
Guided by Mistress erroneously believing the Allies lost World War II, Arsenal defeats several Avengers, until confronted by Thor and Scarlet Witch. On the verge of defeat, Arsenal apparently self-destructs while Iron Man confronts Mistress programmed with Maria Stark's brain patterns. Once Iron Man unmasks and explains that the Allies won the war, and that Mistress is simply modelled after Maria, the computer program wipes its own memory.
Arsenal actually faked its own destruction. When She-Hulk and the Hulk visit Avengers mansion, it attacks the Avengers' butler Edwin Jarvis. Arsenal then incapacitates She-Hulk, and enraged Hulk pummels Arsenal until it is destroyed.
Iron Man eventually learns that only a "Beta" unit had been destroyed, and that an "Alpha" unit remained deactivated beneath Avengers Mansion. Homeland Security ask him to shut it down without informing the other Avengers due to the security risk it poses. Iron Man tracks the unit, but is unaware that the Avengers have followed. The unit is activated when transmission codes are radioed to Iron Man, which results in a battle between the new Arsenal and the Avengers. Iron Man then realises that Arsenal was activated by interference with its signal, which was set to "inert". Iron Man occupies Arsenal while Warbird stops the source of the interference, causing Arsenal to deactivate. The unit is then dismantled.
Fully reassembled and under control, Arsenal is later used as a test for a group of Avengers recruits, under the pretext that it is out of control.
Powers and abilities
Both Arsenal units possess amplified strength and durability. The Beta unit also possesses air jets and inertia darts; can radiate an electro-stun field and project a high-intensity laser beam from its eyes. The Alpha unit possesses a flame-thrower, multiple gun systems and a toxic gas dispenser.
In other media
- A heavily adapted depiction of Arsenal appears in the Avengers Assemble animated series, voiced by Jim Meskimen. This version is a robot designed by Howard Stark to safely absorb and maintain massive amounts of energy. Introduced in the episode "The Arsenal", the robot is discovered by Iron Man in an abandoned Russian city where his body has been used to contain a reactor's Gamma radiation for decades until being reactivated with the Power Stone thanks to the Hulk. In the episode "Thanos Rising", Arsenal has a central role as he serves as Iron Man's friend and protector. He helps Iron Man and Thor against the Grim Reaper. When the Avengers fight against Thanos, Arsenal ultimately sacrifices himself by self-destructing in order to blow Thanos far away from Earth, fulfilling his primary function to protect Iron Man at all costs. With Arsenal's head intact, the robot gets rebuild gradually (as seen with Falcon's help in the episode "Ghosts of the Past" and where it makes Hawkeye uncomfortable in the episode "Back to the Learning Hall"). In the episode "Thanos Triumphant", Arsenal's rebuilt/modified form absorbs all the Infinity Stones' energies, thus helping the Avengers defeat Thanos once again by separating the Infinity Gauntlet. However, Ultron's AI takes over Arsenal's body to absorb the Infinity Stones to be more powerful. With Arsenal as Ultron's vessel, Iron Man makes reckless mistakes against Ultron (as seen in the episodes "Crack in the System" and "Avengers Disassembled"). In the episode "The Ultron Outbreak", Arsenal briefly regains control of Ultron's host body to say goodbye to Iron Man. Arsenal then sacrifices himself once again by flying into the sun, seemingly eliminating Ultron in the process.