By Jim Beard
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.
Iron Man found himself between a rock and a hard place in 1975 as he weathered not only a super villain war but the return of one of his most mysterious foes.
Even super heroes need a break, so when Iron Man encountered a super villain
Iron Man then tag-teamed with the fiery Human Torch of the Fantastic Four in MARVEL TEAM-UP #29 against the menace of Infinitus the Reincarnated Man, only to seemingly die in the pages of AVENGERS #132. Obviously, Stark got better, because his services became required in IRON MAN #73 to jet back to Vietnam and follow up on the lost Marty March and Roxanne Gilbert. There, in the Asian jungles, the Armored Avenger pitted his power against a Vietnamese warlord who had teamed with the Crimson Dynamo to threaten the Hidden City where Marty and Roxie hid.
Back with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, in GIANT-SIZE AVENGERS #4 Stark witnessed the wrap-up to the search for time-master Kang’s “Celestial Madonna,” which turned out to be the team’s newest member, Mantis. Iron Man then also attended a double wedding, that of The Vision to The Scarlet Witch and The Swordsman to Mantis. With the Avengers down a few members, they held a recruiting drive in AVENGERS #136, which placed the X-Men’s bouncing Beast at the side of Iron Man for many adventures to come.
IRON MAN #74 kicked off a sprawling “Super Villain War” that centered around a mysterious Golden Globe, a prize offered by the Black Lama to several ne’er-do-wells to come out on top in a pile-on against the Golden Avenger. The first stages of the war involved M.O.D.O.K., The Mad Thinker and Firebrand, but by IRON MAN #75 it spread out to also include the villainous Yellow Claw and an Iron Man robot created by the Thinker.
The Super Villain War continued in IRON MAN #77 wherein our hero defeated The Mad Thinker only to plunge headlong into battle with both The Yellow Claw and Firebrand. With Stark’s defeat at the hands of the colorful criminal, the Lama awarded Firebrand the Golden Globe and then revealed its use as a teleportation device. In a blink of an eye, the Globe whisked Black Lama, Firebrand and an angry Iron Man away to another dimension.
Picking up the saga in IRON MAN #80, the cast of characters found themselves on the Black Lama’s home plane of existence, which roiled in the throes of civil war. The evil Baron Rockler sent his Nulatron robots after King Jerald—the Lama—and Iron Man, but in the melee Firebrand escaped the worst of it. To make matter worse, the Golden Avenger discovered that prolonged exposure to the dimension would drive him slowly insane. After the murder of the Baron in IRON MAN #81 by his wife the Baroness, Firebrand threw his lot in with the villainous to power her robot dragon and do away with Iron Man once and for all. Our hero won the day, of course, and returned to Earth via the incredible power of the Golden Globe, wondering what challenges awaited him there.
IRON MAN #78 provided a fascinating flashback to an early visit by Tony Stark to war-torn Vietnam, where he learned a valuable lesson in the dangers of weapon-making, while IRON MAN #79 told of a trip to Murder Mountain Lodge and Professor Kurarkill’s dabbling with the mysteries of the universe and her creation of Quasar the Futureman, a mutated ape that provided Iron Man with a dance of death and destruction.