History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 31

A tale of two Iron Men, as Tony Stark returns and James Rhodes takes off!

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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 1993, the old Iron Man became the new Iron Man and the new Iron Man became something else entirely as Tony Stark returned to the land of the living and James Rhodes forged a different path for himself.

After a throw down in IRON MAN #288 between the government’s Firepower, the villainous Atom Smasher and Rhodey as Iron Man, the new CEO of Stark Enterprises informed the Living Laser in IRON MAN #289 that Tony Stark had perished. One coat of reflective coating on his armor later and a victorious Rhodey hoped to unwind with his girlfriend—but not before learning his old pal Tony still lived in cryogenic stasis underneath Stark’s building.

IRON MAN #290 welcomed Stark back to life, but in a completely paralyzed condition. The industrialist genius quickly built a new set of armor with a “telepresence” function that responded to his own thoughts, but still couldn’t stop a betrayed Rhodey from quitting and storming off. Later, in IRON MAN #291, facing battledroids, Tony looked to Rhodey in the War Machine armor to finish up the fight. He then insisted his friend keep the armor and watched as he flew off to join the West Coast Avengers.

The world reacted to Stark’s new lease on life in IRON MAN #292 and Tony took on a new physical therapist in the form of Veronica Benning. The new telepresence armor once again came in handy as the new Iron Man fought a berserker sent by his old foe the Controller. IRON MAN #293 revealed that the Controller suffered an infirmity much like Tony’s: immobilization due to extensive nerve damage. With little time to ponder the ramifications, Stark sent his armor above and beyond to investigate trouble at the orbiting Stark Satellite One.

Along the way, a powerful entity called the Goddess made Tony an offer she didn’t want him to refuse IRON MAN #294, namely to become one of her loving converts. Stark refused, bringing the Goddess’ ire, and flew on to witness the creation of an incredible being, the Technovore, made up of the infected crewpersons on his own satellite. The Technovore tore the satellite apart and when it seemed like Stark would get caught in the feedback from his own self-destruct mechanism, the Goddess stepped in to save him in IRON MAN #295.

Throwing off the offer again, Iron Man headed towards a meeting with the criminal scientific group called A.I.M. to retrieve nuclear materials he didn’t want them to possess. M.O.D.A.M., a female version of M.O.D.O.K., clashed with him in IRON MAN #296, a scuffle that also involved Omega Red, an enemy of the X-Men. Stark agreed to help M.O.D.A.M. against Omega Red if A.I.M. returned the nuclear materials, and the two sides struck a deal in IRON MAN #297. Later, Tony walked into a surprise party populated by his oldest and dearest friends.

IRON MAN #298 detailed an accident at a Stark geothermal research facility, an event which transformed one of Tony’s employees into the creature known as Earth Mover. The hulking behemoth Ultimo returned in IRON MAN #299 to dispense with both Earth Mover and the telepresence armor, sending Stark into a coma. Who would save the day? James Rhodes thought he could as War Machine, but not before he called in a few reserves as the year came to a close…

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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