History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 18

The Armored Avenger encounters The Hulk, Ant-Man, Taskmaster and more!

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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!

In 1980, Iron Man dealt not only with friends in need and the return of a former lover and an old rival, but the sticky question of his severely wounded reputation.

After a bizarre encounter with a demon-spawned computer program called the All-Devourer in IRON MAN #130, Tony Stark found himself presented with an ultimatum: “Cure me or kill me.” The words came from Doctor Bruce Banner in IRON MAN #131, a plea to Stark to help the beleaguered scientist put an end to his horrific alter-ego the Hulk forever. The millionaire inventor had a nuclear-powered regulator surgically implanted in Banner’s chest to keep his heart from racing, but a grenade thrown by the police brought about the strangest change yet in Bruce’s life: the Hulk’s persona manifested in his own frail body.

With current Ant-Man Scott Lang at his side, Stark calmed Banner down with sound waves in IRON MAN #132 and after the real Hulk finally came out, fought the beast as Iron Man. Putting all his formidable power into a single punch, the Armored Avenger took down the Green Goliath, but sent himself off to dreamland in doing so. Waking up in IRON MAN #133, our hero found he could not move due to inoperable armor. Ant-man repaired Iron Man’s suit at a microscopic level and Tony’s friend and employee James Rhodes smuggled Banner off to the west coast and out of the spotlight.

After being turned to stone by the Grey Gargoyle in AVENGERS #191, Iron Man witnessed the debut of the Taskmaster in AVENGERS #195, and helped turn the tide against the dreaded mercenary. Later, in one of the saddest moments in Avengers history, Tony and his teammates conducted a trial against Hank Pym, a founding Avenger, in AVENGERS #213

A welcome respite for Stark and girlfriend Bethany Cabe in IRON MAN #134 proved short-lived when the Titanium Man rampaged through Manhattan to Times Square and then threatened to destroy the entire city of New York. While fighting the former Russian agent, Iron Man discovered in IRON MAN #135 that the public feared him as much as his foe, due to the unfortunate assassination Stark’s suit pulled off against his will by Justin Hammer. Thankfully, the Golden Avenger’s swift and sure defeat of the Titanium Man put him right back on the pop charts, once again in the public’s favor.

In IRON MAN #136, our hero met Endotherm, a new villain with cold powers derived from heat absorption, in London. Losing the first battle, Shellhead struck back to win the day and learn the true identity of his opponent, another disgruntled Stark employee. IRON MAN #137 revealed two more challenges for Iron Man: the theft of an energizer from a deep-sea sonic drilling rig and news of a good friend and former partner of Bethany’s lying near death in a hospital after a beating. Spymaster, one of Iron Man’s most-audacious foes, proved to be behind much of it, which lead our hero into the clutches of Madame Masque and her robotic Dreadnoughts in IRON MAN #138. Bethany herself confronted Masque and read her the riot act about Tony’s alcoholism. Ultimately, she took pity on Whitney Frost and her damaged face and let her go in IRON MAN #139.

Force, an armored enemy of Namor the Sub-Mariner, challenged Stark by stealing his yacht in IRON MAN #140. This lead to a new confrontation between Iron Man and Justin Hammer and his henchmen, a battle that blew up into even greater proportions in IRON MAN #141, and added an explosive finale to the hero’s year.

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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