History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 30

Exit the Golden Avenger, enter War Machine!

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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!

The year of 1992 proved to be the end of the road for Tony Stark, bringing him even more health issues, the threat of World War III, the return of an old enemy and…his death?

Stark began his year in IRON MAN #276 being awakened by the beautiful Black Widow and her news of an impending international conflict if they didn’t stop a Russian agent named Oktober. Together, Iron Man and the Widow flew to NORAD, but as they started to investigate, the former Soviet super spy knocked her fellow hero out with a neural neutralizer, a sleeper program activated in her brain. It took the launch of the United States’ missiles in IRON MAN #277 for the Armored Avenger to get to the bottom of the riddle and help clear the Black Widow of any conscious involvement in the nefarious plot.

By the time of IRON MAN #278, our hero found himself in the middle of the raging “Operation: Galactic Storm,” a full-blown war between the alien Kree and Shi’ar alien races. Alongside the Avengers, Iron Man sought peace between the two sides, but after a battle with the Kree soldier called Shatterax, Stark surrendered his team to stave off further violence. He worked to free his friends on the Kree homeworld in IRON MAN #279 and took some bruises from Ronan the Accuser for his troubles. After initiating his armor’s self-destruct sequence and then aborting it when Earth’s Mightiest rallied and made a comeback, in AVENGERS #347, Iron Man witnessed the unthinkable: the end of the war by way of a Nega-Bomb which destroyed the Kree Empire.

Back from space in IRON MAN #280, Tony took stock of his failing health and realized he didn’t have much longer to live. With little time to ponder that, strange forces from the 28th century plucked him out of his time and revealed to him a future dominated by his own warped legacy. The Stark Programmers, a people that worshipped Tony as a god, held off a barbaric tribe and told their progenitor of an incident in his own present that created their society. Once back in his own time, Stark failed to comprehend how he could prevent the horrible disaster that lay in the Earth’s future.

A nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan sent the assassins called the Masters of Silence after the manufacturer of the parts that caused the event: Stark Enterprises. Iron Man utilized remote control armor once again in his weakened state to fight off the attackers, but ultimately decided to create a new suit to better combat the problem: the strengthened, weapons-laden War Machine armor. James Rhodes uncovered the truth of the nuclear incident in IRON MAN #282, another scheme of Justin Hammer’s that demanded Stark’s attention. On Hammer’s island, Iron Man, Rhodey and the Masters confronted the villain and forced him to clear Tony’s name, provide a new reactor and sell his company to Stark for a dollar. A bittersweet victory at best as Iron Man sought to wrap up his remaining business and prepare for the end.

His nervous system in complete shutdown, Tony Stark gave up the ghost and died in IRON MAN #284. James Rhodes took over Stark Enterprises as CEO and the role of Iron Man by adopting Tony’s new War Machine armor. He scattered his friend’s ashes in IRON MAN #285 and with little preamble found himself in battle with Tony’s rogues gallery of super villains.

Confused as to the new Iron Man look and unaware of who wore the armor, the Avengers confronted Rhodey and demanded answers in IRON MAN #286. Stark Enterprises’ new boss convinced the heroes to trust him while Kathy Dare, Tony’s former stalker and near-murderer, killed herself from her shame over Stark’s death. Somewhere deep in his company’s labs, the millionaire industrialist slept in cryogenic sleep, dreaming of the events of his life…

The year closed in IRON MAN with Morgan Stark, Tony’s ne’er-do-well cousin crawling out of the woodwork to cause more trouble, a new challenge for the new Iron Man called Atom Smasher and Rhodey trapped beneath a ton of rubble.

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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