History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 32

The Golden Avenger faces a bevy of angered heroes, from Hulk to War Machine!

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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!

A new year brought new armor for Tony Stark, but just over the horizon awaited a tense showdown with his best friend and another terrifying confrontation with his worst foe.

The landmark IRON MAN #300 introduced the Iron Legion, a phalanx of Tony’s friends wearing past suits of armor and flying in to fight his fights, a recurring situation that angered James Rhodes and widened the schism between the two men.

The cyborg Deathlok showed up in IRON MAN #301, unhappy about leaked Stark files on the Internet. After a brief scuffle, our hero calmed the cyborg warrior down and promised to look into the leak himself. Then, Venom struck down Stark, removing his head. As it turned out, the alien symbiote only bit the head off of a Life Model Decoy, as revealed in IRON MAN #302, along with Tony’s further problems with Stane International and a growing disdain between his new beau Veronica and his old flame Bethany.

While investigating a destroyed dam designed by architect Eric Masterson in IRON MAN #303, the Golden Avenger ran afoul of Thunderstrike, Masterson’s Asgard-powered alter ego, and the fight spilled over into IRON MAN #304. In that same issue, Bethany took over the investigation into Stark Enterprises’ hacker troubles, while Iron Man himself jetted off to confront the Hulk over a gamma bomb plant in new Hulkbuster armor, of course. Once the two reached an accord, they destroyed the plant together in IRON MAN #305.

Somehow, in the middle of the chaos of his life, Tony Stark founded a new team of heroes called Force Works, as seen in FORCE WORKS #1. Intended to be a more proactive strike group, it consisted of Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman, Wonder Man, and the USAgent, among others

Then, in a surprising move, Tony dissolved Stark Enterprises in IRON MAN #306 and moved to restart it as what he hoped would be a more ethical company. Nick Fury requested Iron Man rein in Rhodey—active then as War Machine—and the Mandarin awoke in China. After a virtual workout with the X-Men, Shellhead downloaded himself into cyberspace in IRON MAN #307 and entered into a strange struggle with VOR/TEX, an electronic sentient entity. Said entity overloaded Iron Man and then downloaded itself into Stark’s body in realspace.

While the real Tony languished in cyberspace, VOR/TEX went on a rampage against its creators in IRON MAN #308 in Stark’s body. Our hero engaged Philip Grant, the hacker who’d caused him so many previous problems, to help download himself into the prototype of his telepresence armor to fight VOR/TEX. The full throwdown between the two Tony Stark’s occurred in IRON MAN #309, as well as the Mandarin’s new mission: recover his 10 rings of power.

In IRON MAN #310, Stark refused to hand over the specs to Rhodey’s War Machine armor after it incurred damage. No surprise, this lead to a brawl between the two men, a situation cured by smart-thinking Bethany Cabe and a hastily applied EMP gun—before the Mandarin showed up, to make matter worse.

The worst transpired in the final issue of the year, IRON MAN #311, as the Mandarin tortured a captured Iron Man and once and for all confirmed his long-time suspicions of the Armored Avenger’s true identity.

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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