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History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 25

The Ghost debuts, Justin Hammer steps up his game, and the Armor Wars begin!

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!

Back on his feet again after recovering from terrible adversity, Tony Stark made a go of 1987, but soon ran up against even more challenges, both familiar and new.

After being incarcerated in the government’s Vault facility with the rest of the Avengers in AVENGERS ANNUAL #15 and then being freed by Spider-Woman, Iron Man returned the favor in IRON MAN #214. The Seekers—Grasp, Sonic, and Chain—sought out Julia Carpenter for the government, but they contended with a certain angry Armored Avenger along the way.

Then came A.I.M.’s turn for revenge in IRON MAN #215. Said scheme involved Tony Stark, his partner James Rhodes, a space shuttle and a space station, and ended with a fiery fall to Earth for Rhodey. IRON MAN #216 illustrated Iron Man’s rescue of his friend, as well as the hero’s own attack on A.I.M.’s island headquarters, Boca Caliente. All this proved fertile ground for Stark to test out the “chameleon effect” of his new armor.

Back at home, Tony re-opened Stark Enterprises with a bang, in the form of a deadly gift from his old adversary Justin Hammer in IRON MAN #217. On the flipside, the industrialist also gained a new Public Relations Chief in Marcy Pearson. Later, in IRON MAN #218, the Golden Avenger raced the wily Russians to the very bottom of the ocean in his new undersea armor to retrieve a lost cylinder of nasty nerve gas.

What else could go wrong for our hero? Well, there’s the arrival of one of his strangest in IRON MAN #219. Known as the Ghost, the slippery, near-intangible mercenary thief bedeviled Shellhead through IRON MAN #220, wherein he went rogue from his employers, the Roxxon Corporation, killed their lap dog the Spymaster and battled not one but two Iron Men. It took a crafty Tony Stark trap in IRON MAN #221 to halt the Ghost’s seemingly untouchable run—and that trap caused the crook’s suit to melt down, seemingly killing its owner.

Once he moved past his disastrous house-warming party in IRON MAN #222, Stark’s real problems began. Justin Hammer sent Iron Man’s foe Force reeling by refusing to accept the man’s “resignation,” so Tony stepped in to lend a hand when Hammer sent the Beetle, Blacklash, and Blizzard to seal the deal. Rhodey swooped in with his own armor to help out, too, in IRON MAN #224, and in the end Force accepted Tony’s offer of a new life and a new name as a Stark employee.

How to end a year? Here’s a thought: the kick-off of one of the biggest, most popular Iron Man stories ever. Once he’d learned that Justin Hammer took Stark armor designs from Spymaster and turned around and sold them to multiple villains in IRON MAN #225, our hero set a mission for himself: take back what’s his. As the year ended, the Stilt-Man, the Mauler, and the Controller all felt the wrath of Iron Man, as would many more to come.

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

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