History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 15

The Armored Avengers faces a pivotal showdown with The Mandarin, dire health problems 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!

More than one attack on his heart in 1977 meant big trouble for Tony Stark, endangering not only his health, but his very identity as the Armored Avenger.

The year opened with Tony’s dual life as Iron Man revealed under extreme pressure to Commander Kraken in IRON MAN #94, but, after the pirate’s defeat and the rescue of his friends Krissey and Abe, darker clouds appeared on the horizon for Shellhead. IRON MAN #95 brought new troubles in Washington D.C. for the millionaire industrialist in the form of Senator Hawk’s allegations of international secret-selling, an attack by the monstrous Ultimo and heavy damage to his new armor. It took a timely rescue by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell in IRON MAN #96 for our hero to realize that something had to break—and soon.

That final straw came in IRON MAN #97 with a heart attack. After many months of believing he’d moved past his cardiac troubles, Stark faced not only the dire peril of a body that no longer served him well, but also a new Guardsman, Officer Michael O’Brien, brother of the late Kevin O’Brien, the first man to wear the armor. The two battled while Senator Hawk rustled up a subpoena to bring Stark before a Senate hearing for his alleged wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Iron Man convinced O’Brien that, like his brother before him, the Guardsman armor could drive him insane.

Somehow, in the middle of all this turmoil, Iron Man also faced off against Doctor Doom alongside the Avengers in AVENGERS #155, and then against the new menace of Graviton in AVENGERS #158 and #159.

Ignoring the subpoena, Tony Stark worried over his heart problems in IRON MAN #98 while he upgraded his armor once again. Japanese mutant hero Sunfire waged a new war against Stark International, but it fell to Michael O’Brien to don the Iron Man armor to fight him off. Tony had no choice but to use the Guardsman suit and then one of his old sets of armor to stabilize his heart. In a strange bit of déjà vu, The Mandarin then zapped the man he believed to be the Golden Avenger away to his fortress in IRON MAN #99, forcing Stark to reveal his identity as Iron Man to O’Brien and subsequently race into battle with his old foe.

The Mandarin illuminated his strange fate in IRON MAN #100, that of possessing the body of his enemy the Yellow Claw’s servant. Regardless, Iron Man still thrashed the villain soundly and destroyed his castle, stopping just short of destroying Mandarin himself. After showing mercy, our hero zoomed off to borrow a Chinese jet to bring him home again in IRON MAN #101. This brought him into the path of Yugoslavian missiles, spiraling into an encounter with the Frankenstein Monster in the Swiss Alps. There, the Children of the Damned introduced him to madness and the Dreadknight.

The strange armored figure who rode upon a dark, winged steed, proved to be more than a match for the Armored Avenger in IRON MAN #102, but an intervention by the Monster turned the tide against Dreadknight and together he and Iron Man won the day.

Tony Stark’s old business foe Midas reared his ugly head once again in IRON MAN #103, a situation which forced Stark’s personal secretary Krissey to reveal her true identity as Whitney Frost, once head of the Maggia cartel but now the scarred figure known as Madame Masque. Iron Man found his hand full battling Jack of Hearts, a new hero, and eventually lost his entire business and fortune once again to Midas.

The former Stark International debuted as the new Midas International in IRON MAN #104 and Tony buried his sorrows in the loving embrace of Madame Masque. Jasper Sitwell, Whitney’s devoted admirer, wanted to fight Iron Man for her hand, but he cooled his heels until in IRON MAN #105 he joined with the incredible grouping of Jack of Hearts, Nick Fury, Guardsman, Officer Jean DeWolff, Wraith, Madame Masque and Tony’s old buddy Eddie March to impress upon Iron Man the seriousness of the loss of Stark International to the world.

As chairman of the Avengers, Iron Man’s duty lead him into conflict with Count Nefaria, the powerful figure who almost single-handedly best Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS #165 and #166. What a way to end a 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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