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History of Iron Man

The History of Iron Man Pt. 39

Our hero rebuilds, with a new job and retooled identity!

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!

When Tony Stark closed up shop and gave away his fortune, it meant a year that got worse before it got better. In 2001, Iron Man debuted yet another new set of armor, but the man inside couldn’t shuck his old life fast enough to suit him.

After a tussle with HYDRA at the bequest of Nick Fury in IRON MAN #36, our hero made way for his childhood rival Tiberius Stone in IRON MAN #37 and worked some new, top-secret tech for his armor. Stone stole Tony’s flame, Rumiko, out from under his nose, but it seemed like business rival Trevor Donahue represented the greatest threat to Stark in IRON MAN #38.

A throwdown with an even more powerful Radioactive Man gave Shellhead even more to think about, and in IRON MAN #39 it came down to Stark’s new teleportation device to save his bacon from being crispy-fried. Though he made it through that fight, Tony made the mistake of turning his back on Stone and his old pal zapped him with a neural device. Waking up in a strange realm called the Dream Vision in IRON MAN #40, Tony battled Stone for his very existence. Defeated, Stone vowed revenge.

Iron Man risked life and limb alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes when in AVENGERS #41 he witnessed the newest scheme of Kang the Conqueror. Together with his son, the Scarlet Centurion, the time despot rolled out the grandest plan yet to subjugate not only his enemies but the entire planet.

Blizzard blew in for a chilly how-do-you-do with the Armored Avenger in IRON MAN #41, but the coldest words of all came from Tony Stark’s lips when, after much soul-searching, he decided to close down Stark Solutions and relinquish his fortune. From the ashes of that monumental decision arose a new man: “Hogan Potts,” an everyman with the singular dream of living a normal life.

As Potts, Tony went to work for Askew Electronics and its owner, Ms. Hancock, in IRON MAN #42. Still operating as Iron Man, albeit with mediocre armor, he ran afoul of a “mad bomber” when he accidentally downloaded an explosive virus into his heroic suit. Flying off in a haste to dispose of his bomb-laden armor at Avengers Mansion in IRON MAN #43, our hero ran into a roadblock called Mr. Hyde, whose mission involved delaying his foe’s flight. Finally reaching the mansion, Tony learned a horrible truth; he’d been tricked and Askew Electronics paid for his mistake.

Ms. Hancock shut down her nearly-destroyed company in IRON MAN #44, and then fell into the arms of her employee, “Hogan Potts.” With new armor and a determination to get to the root of the problem, Iron Man stopped another bomb and traced it to the Advanced Corporation. There, he uncovered the real culprits: M.O.D.O.K. and the Ghost. With Jocasta, the Avengers’ robotic ally, able to control Tony’s new armor should he become incapacitated, our hero fought back against his enemies. Trevor Donahue, feeling as if he should shoulder the responsibility for Tony’s new frame of mind, gifted Stark with his own fortune and stood back to watch as Askew rose like a phoenix from the ashes.

The Sons of Yinsen moved in to attack in IRON MAN #46, clearing the path for what Stark thought to be the sentient armor he’d buried on a deserted island. Also believing the armor contained the brain of his old friend Yinsen, Tony heard its demands for the release of the Sons’ leader, Sun-Tao. Then, to wrap up the year in IRON MAN #47, the most devastating revelation of all: the sentient armor housed not Yinsen, but the Avengers’ most persistent enemy, Ultron. And he controlled Tony’s heart.

Check out IRON MAN (1998) on the Marvel Digital Comics Shop and Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

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