The History of Iron Man Pt. 19

The History of Iron Man Pt. 19

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 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!

Not even two sets of new armor could help Tony Stark when 1981 sent him headlong into the clutches of a rash of new adversaries, dire emergencies, and the wrath of the Marvel Universe’s worst villain.

Encased in his new space armor and angry at the sabotage committed on his company, our hero blasted off into orbit in IRON MAN #142 to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the citizens of Allentown, Iowa. There, circling the globe, he discovered a huge space station called Star Well, operated by the Roxxon Corporation. After an invitation to board the station by the armored Sunturion in IRON MAN #143, Stark realized that Star Well’s experiments in solar power lead to the inadvertent peril in Allentown.

IRON MAN #144 wrapped up the case as the combined might of both Iron Man and Sunturion prevented the station from crashing to Earth after a Russian attack. Unfortunately, the Armored Avenger’s ally died to prevent the catastrophe.

Tony Stark faced a team of agents called the Raiders, employees of CordCo, in IRON MAN #145 and hired a new vice president for Stark International, Yvette Avril, in IRON MAN #146. Nothing stayed quiet for long, though, after the whip-wielding Blacklash went after Tony’s chief of security Vic Martinelli several times, ultimately resulting in a raging fire that swept across Stark’s plant. IRON MAN #147 revealed Martinelli’s secret: he’d testified against the mob and tried to start a new life. Iron Man insured that he’d get that chance by beating Blacklash and warning off the villain’s bosses.

In the South American country of Costa Diablo, the head of Stark’s operations fell victim to a gang of military thugs working for a wayward general. So, in IRON MAN #148, the Golden Avenger flew south to rescue him, only to receive the shocking news that the man had colluded with the general over weapons manufacture and masterminded the nation’s revolution.

Another small country, Latveria, figured prominently in IRON MAN #149 when its ruler, the despotic Doctor Doom, demanded Stark circuits for his time machine. When Iron Man himself landed in Latveria to deny the technology in person, the two men found themselves whisked into the past by the machinations of Doom’s disgruntled lackey, Hauptman. Landing in Camelot, they met the famous King Arthur in IRON MAN #150, and Doom joined forces with the evil sorceress Morgan Le Fay in a bid to rescue his own mother from Hell. After a gigantic battle between undead soldiers led by Doom and Arthur’s forces, Iron Man and his opponent called a truce long enough to jury-rig a time machine and return to the present. Doctor Doom swore revenge on our hero, of course.

Bethany Cabe, Tony Stark’s beautiful lover, left in a hurry in IRON MAN #151, but the millionaire inventor found his attention drawn to a computer problem that shut down his entire complex. Scott Lang, Ant-Man, raced to the rescue and when Stark could grab a moment to breath he discovered Bethany’s predicament: captured as a spy in communist-held East Germany.

Wearing his incredible stealth armor, Iron Man infiltrated the enemy stronghold known as Heaven’s Hand, with his friend James Rhodes providing back-up, all in IRON MAN #152. The Russians employed the villainous Living Laser to hold off the American super hero, but the real shocker hit Stark with the revelation of Heaven’s Hand’s prisoner: Bethany’s thought-to-be-dead husband, Alex Van Tiberg. Rhodey helped Alex and Bethany make it to West Germany while Iron Man fought the Living Laser in IRON MAN #153. After the dust cleared, Tony Stark rushed to his lover’s side, only to learn that she’d be leaving him to care for her husband. Merry Christmas, Iron Man.

As an extra-special year-end gift, our hero also encountered the X-Men in AVENGERS ANNUAL #10. During that one-of-a-kind event he fell victim to the shape-changing Mystique, became a living bomb, and went toe-to-toe with the latest mutant powerhouse, a Southern belle called Rogue.

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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