Arsenal (Marvel Comics)

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Arsenal on the cover of Avengers Annual #9 (1979).
Art by Don Newton.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Iron Man #114 (Sept. 1978)
Created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen
In-story information
Partnerships "Mother"
Abilities Superhuman strength
Air Jets
Laser Cannon
Advanced Sensors

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.

Publication history[edit]

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[edit]

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 an 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.

In the present day, the Avengers are battling the Unicorn underneath Avengers Mansion, when Arsenal suddenly appears and attacks them. However, Iron Man successfully drives Arsenal off.[1]

The Avengers learn the origin of the robot from their government liaison, Henry Peter Gyrich. Arsenal reappears and captures Avengers Hawkeye and the Beast and stuns Yellowjacket with an electric shock. Yellowjacket, however, recovers and alerts the other Avengers, advising them that Project Tomorrow is directly beneath the mansion.

Guided by Mistress (who erroneously believes the Allies lost World War II), Arsenal defeats several Avengers, until confronted by Thor and the Scarlet Witch. On the verge of defeat, Arsenal apparently self-destructs while Iron Man confronts Mistress, who was programmed with the brain patterns of his deceased mother. Once Iron Man unmasks and explains that the Allies won the war, and that Mistress is simply modelled on his dead mother, the computer program wipes its own memory.[2]

Arsenal actually faked its own destruction, and when She-Hulk and the Hulk visit Avengers mansion it attacks Edwin Jarvis, the Avengers' butler. Arsenal then incapacitates She-Hulk, and in a rage the Hulk pummels Arsenal until it is destroyed.[3]

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 him. 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.[4]

Arsenal, fully reassembled and under control, is later used as a test for a group of Avengers recruits, under the pretext that it is out of control.[5]

Powers and abilities[edit]

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.

Other versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

In Ultimate Marvel, Arsenal robots are shown and revealed to be created by Tony Stark's grandfather Howard Stark Sr. for his Project Tomorrow in Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars.[6]

Marvel Noir[edit]

In Iron Man Noir, the Arsenal robots were created as a Nazi weapon by Baron Zemo, who in this continuity is revealed to be a mind-controlled Howard Stark.[7]

In other media[edit]


  • Arsenal appeared in Avengers Assemble, voiced by Jim Meskimen. This version was created by Howard Stark to serve as a friend and protector for his son Tony Stark. In the episode "The Arsenal", the Avengers discover Arsenal. In the episode "Thanos Rising", Arsenal helps the Avengers fight against Thanos on the Blue Area of the Moon. He self-destructs in order to blow Thanos far away from Earth. Iron Man vows to rebuild Arsenal and is seen beginning to do so in the episodes "Ghosts of the Past" and "Nighthawk". In the episode "Thanos Triumphant", Arsenal is rebuilt and modified to be able to absorb all the Infinity Gems's energies, thus helping to defeat Thanos. However, something goes wrong as Arsenal's body gets infected by Ultron, absorbing the Infinity Stones, which makes Ultron unstoppable. In the episode "Crack in the System", Ultron mentions correcting the flaws in Arsenal's body. In the episode "The Ultron Outbreak", Arsenal briefly regains control of his body and sacrifices his life to get rid of Ultron by flying into the sun while saying goodbye to Iron Man.


  1. ^ Iron Man #114 (Sep. 1978)
  2. ^ Avengers Annual #9 (1979)
  3. ^ Hulk #282 (April 1983)
  4. ^ Iron Man vol. 2, #84 - 85 (2004)
  5. ^ Avengers Academy #2 (2010)
  6. ^ Ultimate Comics: Armor Wars #3
  7. ^ Iron Man Noir #3 (August 2010)

External links[edit]