History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 34

Take a ride across reality as multiple incarnations of the Armored Avenger take on Kang, Onslaught 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!

Tony Stark: one of the Avengers’ most dangerous villains? In 1996, Iron Man’s reality slammed headlong into a wall as his world crumbled around him, leading into one of the most dramatic changes in the character since his inception.

The Avengers reeled from the machinations of the man they thought to be their friend and ally in IRON MAN #324. The evil time traveler Kang worked behind the scenes to manipulate Tony Stark into madness and murder, but Earth’s Mightiest Heroes sought a solution to the attacks in AVENGERS: TIMESLIDE #1. The team flung themselves back in time to pluck a teenage Tony from an alternate Earth to save the day. When Tobias, one of Kang’s anachronauts, killed young Tony’s parents, he vowed revenge and accompanied the Avengers to the present to carry it out.

IRON MAN #325 introduced the young man to his older self’s mansion and laboratory, while the heroes organized an assault on Stark’s current headquarters, an arctic bunker. Teen Tony donned armor to confront adult Tony, but his inexperience tripped him up and the evil Stark ripped out the boy’s heart.

The Avengers massed their forces in AVENGERS #395 to combat Kang and his army, while Tony Stark himself, gaining his sanity at a key moment, sacrificed his life to save his fellows from Kang’s devices. For the teenage genius, he found a continuation of his own young life through the Iron Man armor in AGE OF INNOCENCE #1 and Stark’s friends remembered his days as a hero, attempting to put his villainy behind them.

IRON MAN #326 brought the first of two new beginnings for the Iron Man legacy, as young Tony began to attend classes at Columbia University and make new friends. Alas, a crisis involving the Zodiac criminals put him on the frontlines in armor alongside Captain America and Thor, granting him his first taste of being a super hero in a new world. Meeting an adult version of his old flame, Meredith McCall, Tony ran afoul of her ex-husband in IRON MAN #327, a battle that spilled over into IRON MAN #328 and IRON MAN #329. Frostbite found defeat therein at the hands of young Tony and his “holo armor,” a suit made up of solidified light, but in the tussle, Meredith lost her eyesight. Meanwhile Fujikawa International bought Stark Enterprises.

War Machine calling in IRON MAN #330 to talk to young Tony about his legacy, and in good time, too, as Morgan Stark returned with a super villain group of his own, Stockpile, to once again cause trouble. Luckily, War Machine’s presence helped turn the tide against Joust, Calico, Brass, Sunstreak and a new Unicorn in IRON MAN #331.

Then, in IRON MAN #332, before teenage Tony could catch his breath, he found himself embroiled in the Onslaught crisis which raged across the world and involved juts about every super hero around. His youthful genius aided the Black Panther in the creation of psi-shields to fight against Onslaught’s horrific psychic bombardments.

Together with the Earth’s other heroes, the new Iron Man risked everything in ONSLAUGHT: MARVEL UNIVERSE #1 and, like his older self before him, sacrificed himself to shut the towering villain down and save the planet. He and his brethren seemingly perished in an incredible explosion of sound and fury.

In a new IRON MAN #1, the second new beginning unfolded. Ruthless businessman Tony Stark, pumped up from a victory in court, discovered trouble at one of his plants menaced by the Hydra terrorist organization. Rushing there with his friend, scientist Bruce Banner, he witnessed the explosion of Banner’s gamma bomb first hand—and took a flying piece of shrapnel in his heart. When Bruce disappeared in the blast and the raging green behemoth calling himself the Hulk appeared in the aftermath, Tony donned an experimental suit of armor to contain the creature if he could. And to save his own life.

The Hulk battled the opponent he dubbed “Iron Man” in IRON MAN #2 over Niagara Falls, and Tony, beaten and battered from the onslaught, utilized electrical current to recharge his weakening armor. After a surge of energy knocked out both Iron Man and the Hulk, the two combatants plunged into the falls, seemingly to their deaths. Not really the greatest way to begin a career and end a year.

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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