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History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 16

The Golden Avenger travels to the far reaches of space and back, with alien armies and old enemies at his heels!

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 Avengers.”

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.

Also, be sure to visit the Marvel Digital Comics Shop and Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited to read 50 years’ worth of Iron Man adventures!

12 months of action, intrigue, all-out cosmic war and yes, even romance made 1978 a year that Iron Man would not soon forget.

As IRON MAN #106 opened, Tony Stark stood shorn of his company and his name. Surrounded by people who claimed to care whether Stark International fell to the devilish take-over of Midas, a business rival, Iron Man made his decision: fight. Leading a strike team that included Guardsman, Jack of Hearts, Madame Masque and numerous S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Iron Man plunged into battle with duplicates of his own armor and then ultimately found himself turned to gold by Midas. Jack of Hearts reversed the process in IRON MAN #107, freeing our hero, and together they watched in horror as the crazed Marianne Rodgers, an old flame of Tony’s, took Midas and his schemes apart with her psychic powers.

Madame Masque, also turned to gold, cooled her heels until IRON MAN #108 to be freed from her glistening status, but it took the strange arrival of the otherworldly Growing Man and his unique energies to aid Stark in returning her to her normal, shapely organic form.

Throughout this time, Iron Man also aided the Avengers on one of their most famous cases, that of the enigmatic Korvac. The strange cosmic being befuddled Earth’s Mightiest Heroes many times across AVENGERS #167-177, ending in not only the deaths of every hero on the team—including Iron Man—but a story that made comics history with its sprawling scope and themes.

Jack of Hearts requested assistance from the Armored Avenger in learning to be a hero in IRON MAN #109, but a huge dust-up with the Soviet Super-Soldiers on the moon put Shellhead and Jack in the path of an egg-shaped transportation device and a one-way trip to outer space. IRON MAN #110 revealed a war between the Rigellians and the Knights of Wundagore, now relocated to another planet, and put our heroes smack dab in-between the two warring factions. The skirmish spilled over into IRON MAN #111 where, after being mistaken for a Rigellian robot, Iron Man sided with the Wundagorians and led them against their attackers, while Jack of Hearts found himself press-ganged into helping the Rigellians.

Somehow, in IRON MAN #112, the war exploded on the scene back on Earth and Iron Man fought the good fight against the “Punisher,” a near-unstoppable automaton once used by the world-devouring Galactus. Then, the space-faring Recorder showed up to let everyone know that the Rigellians had found a new homeworld to call their own and the conflict subsequently came to an end.

A rebuilt Stark International opened its doors in IRON MAN #113 and Stark’s friends Jasper Sitwell and Jack of Hearts bid their fond adieus. The millionaire industrialist found little time to enjoy his resuscitated company, though, for the arrival of his old foe the powerful Unicorn once again brought the roof down around everyone’s ears, and the villain wound up on the critical list. Iron Man rushed him to Avengers Mansion in IRON MAN #114 to find a cure for his ailing body, but the arrival of the hulking Arsenal, a living weapon, sent the Avengers into defense mode. After fending off the attack, the team flew after the retreating Arsenal while Iron Man pondered the mystery of Unicorn’s benefactor, the mysterious “Other.”

An assault by the Ani-Men, human criminals with the features and abilities of animals, took Stark by surprise in IRON MAN #115, but the real kicker came in the form of Madame Masque’s threat to her lover: either find a cure for her rapidly-aging father, Count Nefaria, or die. The Ani-Men met their demise in IRON MAN #116 at the hands of the Spymaster, another old foe of Iron Man’s, and Nefaria seemingly perished when the Armored Avenger accidentally crushed him beneath a Jupiter Landing Vehicle. Masque left in a huff, unsure of her feelings and with much on her mind.

Spymaster continued to cause trouble in IRON MAN #117, and our hero discovered what the industrial espionage agent sought: computer files of Stark International’s stockholders. With his plate full, including the delicious introduction of the stunningly redheaded Bethany Cabe, Tony Stark and Iron Man looked to the future, ready to face the next rounds of trials and tribulations.

Check out IRON MAN (1968) and AVENGERS (1963) on the Marvel Digital Comics Shop, plus more Iron Man is available to subscribers of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

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