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.
The landmark year of 1973 exploded onto the scene with more new foes for Iron Man, including the introduction of one of the Marvel Universe’s most chilling and powerful villains ever.
It began in IRON MAN #54 when the strange alien woman called Madame MacEvil committed experiments on Earth to
Then, the birth of a legend. Iron Man found himself called to war in IRON MAN #55 by an alien called Drax the Destroyer, of Titan. Together, the two powerhouses squared off against the Blood Brothers, the lackeys of none other than the mad god Thanos. With help from Mentor of Titan, Iron Man and Drax routed Thanos, but kicked off a legendary struggle that, in the years to come, would spread across the galaxy.
After a brief encounter with the wayward magician Rasputin and his living statue Fangor in IRON MAN #56, the Armored Avenger concentrated on the thorny problem of his Stark Enterprises employees on strike and being accused of communism by the mysterious “Gene Kahn.” As it turned out, Kahn revealed himself as Iron Man’s old opponent The Mandarin and, together with The Unicorn, the villain once again sought his enemy’s total defeat. That battle rolled over into IRON MAN #58, wherein not only did Tony Stark deal with the return of his former personal secretary Pepper Hogan, but also the almost miraculous discovery that his damaged heart seemed to have healed.
Iron Man also made history at this time by making his very first guest-appearance with Spider-Man in MARVEL TEAM-UP #9. He aided the mighty Avengers against the villainous Magneto in AVENGERS #110 and #111 and welcomed the exotic Mantis into the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes with AVENGERS #114.
With Happy Hogan terribly unhappy that his wife Pepper had claimed her old job again—working for Tony, her old flame—Iron Man forced himself to concentrate on the return of Firebrand in IRON MAN #59—and the mercenary’s beautiful sister, Roxanne Gilbert. Soon, though, a new challenge reared its head in the form of the Masked Marauder who, in IRON MAN #60 and #61, stole a Stark aerospace shuttle and tried to build an atomic bomb out of it. Our hero managed to beat him and his armored sidekick Steele, even though the fallout from Happy and Pepper’s rocky marriage loomed on the horizon.
What could be worse than the daring theft of Tony Stark’s amazing micro-power cell, as seen in IRON MAN #62? How about the deadly Whiplash working in secret as one of Stark’s employees and seeking to sabotage his own fiancée’s work on Tony’s Quantum II orbiting laboratory. Perhaps the alluring charms of Roxanne Gilbert served to soothe Iron Man’s jangled nerves after such an encounter, because in IRON MAN #63, Tony Stark promised he’d never manufacture munitions again and dispensed with “war profiteering” all together. That didn’t mean much to the Squadron
IRON MAN #64 brought a sock to the jaw for Stark, courtesy of a jealous Happy Hogan, but what would one expect after Tony shared a tender kiss with the former chauffeur’s wife? Shellhead also ran up against a strange entity called Rokk who sought the demise of the kindly Doctor Obatu, but in the end it all turned out to be another stratagem by Doctor Spectrum.
The earth-shaking Avengers/Defenders War captured Iron Man’s attention throughout AVENGERS #116, #117 and #118, as he tried to divine the evil plan of both the otherworldly Dormmamu and Thor’s half-brother Loki. In IRON MAN #65, Happy, furious at Pepper and Tony, told his wife that her boss moonlighted as none other than his own bodyguard, Iron Man. For his part, our hero struggled to escape from the clutches of Doctor Spectrum, only to fall under the sway of the Power Prism and become its new host.
Then, Thor showed up, itching for a fight—but that’s a story for next year.