History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 20

A year of mystery foes and ill-fated loves plague the Armored Avenger!

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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!

Strange cases, oddball adversaries, and some of the most strident sabotage on Stark Industries yet shaped 1982 for Tony Stark and his alter ego, the Invincible Iron Man.

While visiting New York City in IRON MAN #154, Stark came under fire, but from an unknown assailant. He soon learned his attacker’s identity: Unicorn. With a mad-on to kill the millionaire playboy industrialist, the villain then took hostages at Stark’s complex and forced a battle with Iron Man. The Armored Avenger convinced Unicorn that his former taskmaster, Titanium Man, had slunk back to Russia; the dazed villain walked into the ocean and our hero’s power levels registered too low to save him.

After a run-in with drug pushers at a school in IRON MAN #155, Stark dealt with another armored character, this one an employee of Tony’s former competitor Cord, now a jailbird. The Mauler searched for an information tape for his boss, but soon gave up his gainful employment to strike out as a freelancer. Meanwhile, Iron Man found himself swept into space by some weird spores in IRON MAN #157, only to be returned to Earth by the computer on an alien spaceship.

In AVENGERS #217, Iron Man witnessed the complete breakdown of one of his oldest friends, Hank Pym, aka Yellowjacket. After Hank landed behind bars for being manipulated into crimes by his foe Egghead, Tony Stark then wooed his ex-wife Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, in AVENGERS #224—but Janet learned that Tony doubled as Iron Man and couldn’t deal with dating a friend of Hank’s.

IRON MAN #158 revealed armor malfunctions for the Golden Avenger over Cougar Mountain and an odd set of people there known as “Sonny” and “Moms.” Back at Stark International, its owner met a new janitor who doubled as a chemical whiz in IRON MAN #159; it turned out to be the villainous alchemist Diablo with amnesia who conjured up a two-headed dragon to fight his foe and ensorcelled his own armors, too.

At the Long Island Zoo, Iron Man ran afoul of the Serpent Squad, who worked for yet another mysterious benefactor in IRON MAN #160. The hero experienced terrible hallucinations of his past brought about by the snakey bad guys before taking care of business and caging them up for the police.

Moon Knight came calling in IRON MAN #161 to help Stark out in an undersea facility called Project Neptune. There, the technological terrorist group known as AIM trapped Tony and his friends under the ocean until the base’s designer unlocked the secret of getting out while Moon Knight and Iron Man mopped up AIM’s agents. In comparison, the mind-controlling headphones in IRON MAN #162 amounted to a cakewalk, though it did kick off a whole new round of sabotage at Stark International.

IRON MAN #163 blew up in a blaze when Stark met the armored Knight, fought a fire, and began to romance the beautiful Indries Moomji. For his failure in battle with Iron Man, the Knight met his death at the hands of another chessman, the Bishop, in IRON MAN #164. Shellhead trailed the cantankerous clergyman to Scotland, where he introduced himself to Lord Jamie of Glen Travail and uncovered a plot against him. Fighting his way through a trap-riddled castle in IRON MAN #165, the Armored Avenger went toe-to-toe with the Rook, whose purple mist ate away at Stark’s own suit.

With Lord Jamie under arrest, but a shadowy figure still unrevealed behind the scenes, Iron Man ended his year on an uneasy note.

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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