By Jim Beard
"Iron Man: Armored Adventures" welcomes two writers whose Iron Man credits exist as legend among comic readers with tonight's new episode premiering at 8:00 p.m. ET on Nicktoons. David Michelinie and Bob Layton crafted such fan-favorite stories as “Demon in the Bottle” and “Armor Wars” and also created James Rhodes, but now they turn their attentions to the Armored Avenger’s animated adventures.
|Screenshot from Michelinie & Layton's first episode of "Iron Man: Armored Adventures"|
“One of the regular writers on the show, Andrew Robinson, recommended David and me to showrunner Brandon Auman,” reports Layton. “Andrew suggested to Brandon to approach us about writing some episodes. Brandon laughingly said to me when he approached us about writing for the show, ‘We've been borrowing storylines from you and David's work for an entire season. I think it's easier to just have you guys come on board.’”
“What was attractive to me about the gig was writing in a medium I hadn't experienced before, and tackling a new challenge is always interesting,” adds Michelinie.
The first of the duo’s stories for the show, "Fugitive of S.H.I.E.L.D.," was plotted by both and scripted by Michelinie and involves the theft of potentially dangerous technology from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier--apparently taken by Iron Man. The second will be "The Hammer Falls," in which, as Michelinie explains, “many secrets are revealed, several bad guys end up in pieces, and a final confrontation between Iron Man and Titanium Man literally blows the lid off things.”
|Michelinie & Layton co-created James "Rhodey" Rhodes|
The two creators know the character of Tony Stark through and through, having worked on not one, but two runs of the comic book IRON MAN series in the 1970s and 1980s. Their knowledge and insight into Iron Man makes them perfect choices for continuing the Avenger’s tales in other media.
"Essentially, the story of Tony Stark is the tale of a flawed but genuinely noble man trying to make the world a better place within the structure of his life as a businessman, inventor and armored avenger,” says Michelinie. “Simple as that. As for what makes him tick--at least when I was writing and Bob and I were co-plotting the character--he's a super hero whose only native super power is his brain. Whatever he can do comes from technology he created, not a spider bite or a red sun or gamma radiation. He made himself what he is; that's a unique motivating factor, and to me the most compelling trait in his character.”
“I think it’s all of those things,” Layton agrees. “The Tony Stark character, to me, was a modern-day representation of Arthurian ideals, which has thrived in literature for centuries. He is the king of his own empire; he wields power judiciously, and punishes those who seek to destroy what he has built for the greater good. In my opinion, when we took over the series back in the late '70s, Tony Stark was little more than a vehicle used to get the armor on him and go into action. David and I felt that it was more important to concentrate on the man inside the suit than the armor itself. That’s why we introduced an entire cast of new supporting characters and changed the emphasis of the series to the world of corporate intrigue.”
|Justin Hammer, a key threat in Season 2 of "Iron Man: Armored Adventures," first appeared in Michelinie & Layton's first Iron Man run|
One of those supporting characters, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, has gone on to become a star in his own right, first as Iron Man and then as War Machine. Rhodey now also charges into action at Tony’s side in "Iron Man: Armored Adventures." It’s these sorts of characters and storylines that made the writing duo’s famous comic runs unforgettable and still discussed to this day. They also both have their own thoughts on the matter.
“I hope what impacted readers most was the entertainment factor,” Michelinie remarks. “Because that's really all we set out to do with each issue: entertain. I think a lot of what may have made those stories memorable is the people in them. Tony Stark, Jim Rhodes, Justin Hammer, Victor von Doom--if you care about the characters and what happens to them, you're going to be involved, and involvement makes the impact stronger.
“Of course, specific elements can make a story more important to individual readers. A young man came up to me at a convention once and told me that his father had a drinking problem that was generating friction in his family. Then he read the alcoholism story arc in IRON MAN and said it gave him insight that enabled him to communicate with his dad and make things better. It's pretty amazing to think that something you've created as a fantasy can actually help a total stranger in real life.”
“David and I were privileged to have the opportunity to reshape the initial Stan Lee concept into something whose legacy endures to this day,” says Layton. “I think it's the uniqueness of Tony Stark's character that David and I created that links us to him and the Iron Man fans over the decades. I feel very fortunate and privileged to continue to have such a loyal and vocal fan base. That is something more gratifying than any creator can usually hope for in their career.”
“I hope everyone enjoys the episodes once they air,” Layton notes. “Like everything David and I do with Iron Man, it was a labor of love.”