The Avenger That Makes It All Possible

IRON MAN #229, Marvel Comics, April 1988
80s Avengers Week continues with a random issue of Iron Man - Armored Hero with a Mullet - because, well, he's why we're even talking about the Avengers.

In the late 80s, Iron Man had a pretty cool story arc called Armor Wars. Basically, Tony Stark found out that somebody stole his Iron Man technology and sold it to every Tom, Dick and Harry who had a super-powered armor. His one-man quest: To destroy all those armors. It's a simple arc structure that allows you to have every armored Marvel character ever designed fight Iron Man. And that's fun.

Opening the book, I now see that it wasn't called Armor Wars at all (though that's what it came to be known), but Stark Wars. I don't know whether to slap writer David Michelinie in the back or in the face for that one...

The reason I picked this chapter over the others is that Iron Man wears a different suit, and that was always something that appealed to me. Iron Man's had a variety of looks, and since Tony Stark created the armor and has been known to upgrade it, there's no reason he couldn't have a suit designed for each type of mission. Iron Man #229, in fact, does just that with a black "stealth" armor, whose stripped-down design looks a lot more like the red and gold classic I grew up with than the red and white "Santa Claus" armor of the time. Here it is for all you kids who weren't yet born in 1988:
It's a good thing the Santa Claus armor isn't featured here, because Iron Man goes after his two communist enemies, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man. Red and green, respectively, and fighting in the snow to boot? Can you say Christmas Special?

Iron Man stealths his way into the USSR, disables the Dynamo by destroying the offending circuits, but gets sandbagged by the Titanium Man. Grappled from behind and without a negator pack or any repulsor blasts left (the suit is really pared down, but looks nice under Mark Bright and Bob Layton's usual clean artwork), he gets out of it like this:
Apparently, titanium explodes into a fireball at certain high temperatures. Iron Man's boot jets ignite the Titanium Man and he plunges into the sea (but nothing can put that fire out, we're told). Well, good thing the Titanium Man's armor is really made of pure titanium, eh? A bit contrived? Yeah, just a bit.

Then Tony Stark comes back to the States without the benefit of the booster rockets that brought him here... on low energy... Oh, let's just say he fell through a plot hole and woke up back in the US... And Hawkeye throws him out of the Avengers for having caused an international incident. Yeah, like that's gonna stick. Here we are, 20 years later, and Iron Man's still destroying the Avengers from within.


De said...

I'm in the middle of reading Iron Man's Tales of Suspense days and was surprised to see that the first Crimson Dynamo was actually convinced by Iron Man to defect and became a lead engineer for Stark Industries!

As for igniting Titanium Man's armor, I doubt very much that Iron Man's boot jets reach a temperature of 2200F (the temperature when titanium will indeed burst into flame but not melt). If Titanium Man's armor is made of a mail like Iron Man's, it will burn fairly rapidly once afire but not explode.

Whew. That certainly exhausted my nerd quota for today.

Unknown said...

Iron Man didn't jump the shark until John Byrne came aboard and put him BACK in the wheelchair.

mwb said...

I like the concept of it so much, but as you say the actual exposition was lacking.

Like Captain America, I find Iron Man is a hard character to do right. When done so he's a great read, but that is so relatively rare.

Jack Norris said...

Yeah, I'd have to agree that the red and white (or silver, I guess it's supposed to be) armour is one of the all-time ugliest Iron Man designs.


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