Most of you are probably familiar with the story of billionaire playboy inventor Tony Stark, a munitions maker injured by (in most versions) his own weaponry in the field. With a shrapnel precariously close to his heart, a makeshift electromagnet is all that keeps him from death. He escapes captivity and saves his own life by making himself a weapon: Iron Man.
Originally created by old standbys Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, in a story scripted by Larry Lieber and drawn by Don Heck in TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 in 1963. Iron man gets periodic updates to his origin, which originally took place in Vietnam and has been moved to Afghanistan, and to his armor, once “powered” by transistors. He’s always remained ahead of the pace of even real-world science.
Although Tony Stark’s identity as Iron Man was secret for most of his career, in recent years he’s gone public with it. An autocratic technocrat, Tony tries to make the world better with his inventions, at the same time steadfastly guarding against people who would misuse it. He often fails to recognize any authority but his own, which sometimes puts him at odds with government and other superheroes (although Tony was thoroughly pro-government in the CIVIL WAR miniseries which pitted brother superhero against brother superhero). Tony has also hit bottom a number of times, such as in the “Demon in a Bottle” storyline, in which his alcoholism costs him the Iron Man armor and even his company.
Constantly teetering between progress and self-ruin, human and machine, Iron Man perfectly represents the nature of technology. And he does it with style.
Iron Man’s look is always evolving, too. After the initial, bulky, robotic Kirby design, Steve Ditko created the first version of the more iconic, streamlined yellow-and-red armor. Although the version I’ve done, inspired by artist Adi Granov, is not his favorite, I dedicate this piece to Iron Man fan Steve Bannister, who’s as resolute (and right more often) in his opinions as Tony Stark himself.
Tomorrow I’ll present a very attractive character for MIGHTY MARVEL MAY.