By Jim Beard with Ben Morse
50 Years ago, Tony Stark became Iron Man, a historic milestone in the tapestry of the Marvel Universe.
Flash forward half a century, and the Armored Avenger has become a worldwide sensation. Beyond his prominent role across the Marvel Comics line, Shellhead hit the big screen in 2008 as Robert Downey Jr. brought Tony Stark to life in the first “Iron Man” movie. The character’s popularity grew in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” and 2011’s “Marvel’s The
On May 3, 2013, Tony Stark returns to theaters everywhere in “Iron Man 3.” In anticipation of this momentous occasion and to celebrate Iron Man’s 50th anniversary, each week Marvel.com will be bringing you another chapter in the history of this complex and beloved character. Year by year, get an in-depth rundown of the trials, foes and experiences that have made Iron Man the hero he stands as today.
You can start here.
1967 brought new challenges for the Armored Avenger, but none carried so heavy a burden as the most terrible blow to his heart yet.
Happy Hogan meant well when he doubled for his boss and wore the Iron Man armor while Tony Stark recuperated in a hospital bed, but he never bargained on the Mandarin’s quest for vengeance. Captured and spirited away to China in TALES OF SUSPENSE #85, it took an incredible new double-strength Iron Man suit that Stark sported to rescue Happy from the clutches of the master villain. The battle between the Golden Avengers and The Mandarin in TALES OF SUSPENSE #86 rocked the world and once again the ring-toting baddie found himself on the wrong end of his own evil manipulations.
Tony threw himself back into his work in the opening pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #87, this time on an amazing atomic-powered earth borer. Then buildings started to sink into and below the ground and Iron Man discovered the Fantastic Four’s old foe The Mole Man behind the scenes of a fantastic plot. The underground struggle spilled over into TALES OF SUSPENSE #88 and the unfortunate Pepper Potts, Stark’s gorgeous girl secretary, became a hostage to the Mole Man’s mad desire to beat Iron Man.
When the dust cleared and our cast returned to the surface, Pepper made a momentous decision in TALES OF SUSPENSE #89: she chose Happy Hogan over Tony Stark. The millionaire weapons manufacturer barely found a moment to digest that fateful news before his old enemy The Melter came calling and demanded Stark build him a new, miniaturized melting gun. It seemed like our hero ended up quite dead at the hands of the villain in TALES OF SUSPENSE #90, but Iron Man appeared from the ashes—in his original armor—to save the day and put the Melter away.
If seeing Happy and Pepper together as a couple didn’t depress Stark, the shocking, world-shattering news of their elopement in TALES OF SUSPENSE #91 surely sent him reeling. Heartbroken, Iron Man flew off to Vietnam to
Iron Man’s year came to close with an encounter with the fearsome Grey Gargoyle, the villain whose touch turned any substance to stone—including humans. In TALES OF SUSPENSE #95, Stark had the help of young, exuberant S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell in protecting his new Cobalt weapon from the stone-cold bad guy, but in TALES OF SUSPENSE #96, after being turned to stone himself, Iron Man took the hit. Draining his own life-supporting power to transform the Grey Gargoyle back into his normal humans self, our hero collapsed, seemingly dead to the world.