History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 3

The Mandarin returns, Hawkeye turns over a new leaf, and romantic tension mounts for Tony Stark!

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By Jim Beard with Ben Morse

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!

1965 brought heartache, Hawkeye and hated foes seeking rematches with the Armored Avenger.

The Mandarin returned to kick-start the year in TALES OF SUSPENSE #61, a story which also found Tony Stark seemingly killed in an explosion and Iron Man caught in the web of his opponent. By TALES OF SUSPENSE #62, he’d learned the Mandarin’s origin as a descendant of Genghis Kahn who discovered alien technology in the form of 10 deadly rings. With those rings, The Mandarin launched his role of oppressor and conqueror, but still lacked the ability to definitively defeat Iron Man.

The rematch with The Mandarin galvanized Stark’s thoughts and in TALES OF SUSPENSE #63 he finally cracked the problem of having to constantly wear his full armor to preserve his life. Staging a miraculous return from the “dead,” the millionaire playboy industrialist then faced the enigma of The Phantom, another disgruntled employee with a mad-on for his former boss.

TALES OF SUSPENSE #64 brought a second re-match, this time with Hawkeye the marksman and The Black Widow. The female Russian agent now came equipped with a costume and amazing devices, but those innovations proved ineffectual in impacting Iron Man’s string of victories. In fact, only the growing romance between Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan could stop the Golden Avenger in his tracks, as jealousy reared its ugly head among the triangle of personalities in Tony’s office.

After conquering a thief who stole his armor in TALES OF SUSPENSE #65, Stark took the monumental step of quitting the Avengers in AVENGERS #16, a move he claimed would allow him to concentrate on more pressing problems closer to home, such as a battle with the undersea warlord Attuma and the angry resignation of Happy Hogan, both in TALES OF SUSPENSE #66. In the wake of the Avengers shake-up, Hawkeye laid down his criminal ways and took up Iron Man’s duties on the team.

Stark’s trusted chauffeur and friend soon returned to the fold in TALES OF SUSPENSE #67—a happy day for Pepper—but Hogan’s continued presence and doting on the pretty redhead continued to cause the genius inventor internal anguish. The tension around Stark Enterprises magnified when Morgan Stark, Tony’s ne’er-do-well cousin arrived in TALES OF SUSPENSE #68 and further complicated a conflict with the alien Moon Men.

Interestingly, not long after the U.S. government trusted Stark to design special weaponry for their new S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in STRANGE TALES #135, he came under close scrutiny by the prickly Senator Bryd in the three-part saga of TALES OF SUSPENSE #69, #70 and #71. That story also introduced a new menace for Iron Man in the armored form of Titanium Man, Russia’s latest effort to stamp out our hero. Though ultimately victorious in that skirmish, Iron Man witnessed grievous injuries inflicted on Happy Hogan during the tussle, which sent the former boxer straight to the hospital and hovering near death as Pepper looked on in horror and suspicions against Tony Stark mounted.

As the old year came to a close and the new one approached, the Mad Thinker sent his android after Shellhead at the behest of the wily Countess De La Spirosa TALES OF SUSPENSE #72—and the world began to ask “Who Is Iron Man?”

Check out TALES OF SUSPENSE and AVENGERS on the Marvel Digital Comics Shop, plus more Iron Man is available to subscribers of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited

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