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10 Great Iron Man Comic Storylines for Iron Man 3
Greatest Iron Man Comic Book Stories
By Kurt Anthony Krug
April 06, 2010
10 Great Iron Man Comic Storylines for Iron Man 3
© Mania/Bob Trate
As Iron Man 2 gets ready to rocket into theaters May 7 with Robert Downey, Jr. reprising the titular role as the Golden Avenger, the following are some of the best Iron Man stories to feature Shellhead. This was a very difficult list to compile.
10. What If Iron Man Had Been a Traitor?
From: What If (Special)
Stan Lee co-created Iron Man during the Cold War and, originally, his origin had ties to Vietnam (later modernized to Afghanistan). Here, writer Peter B. Gillis and legendary artist Steve Ditko show an alternate tale set during his origin where his Vietnamese captors stop Tony Stark a split second before he can bring his Iron Man armor online. They coerce him into servitude against his will, having him battle the Fantastic Four. However, Tony won’t take such a thing sitting down as he finds a way to turn the tables on his oppressors.
9. Iron Man: War Machine
From: Iron man Vol. 1 #281-291
Write Len Kaminski is one of the character’s most underrated creators. Tony Stark, who is dying, decides to fake his death when he is really undergoing a dangerous, experimental surgery that has a slim chance of saving him. He plays this one too close to the chest and posthumously asks his longtime friend Jim Rhodes to carry on as the CEO of Stark Enterprises and as Iron Man. When Stark tells Rhodes he’s still alive, Rhodes is not happy. In fact, he hates Stark for lying to him and it causes a rift in their long friendship. Rhodes then renames himself War Machine. Also, this story sets up future tales with Tony Stark as a shady manipulator.
8. Iron Man Vs. Captain America
From: Civil War: The Confession #1
During “Civil War,” Iron Man and Captain America fought on different sides of the Super-Human Registration Act. In this one-shot, Iron Man and Cap try to talk one last time before things get really ugly (Cap ends up “dying”). Their tumultuous relationship is explored as their ideological differences of Cap’s “do the right thing” philosophy vs. Iron Man’s manipulative “get the job” philosophy is put to the test. Despite Tony Stark’s tear-filled pleas, the two end up fighting and it ends in a draw. They both agree that they’re glad they talked as they walk away in a sad ending. “Civil War: The Confession” is a great follow-up to this story as a remorseful Iron Man tells Cap’s dead body that all he accomplished wasn’t worth their friendship.
7. Iron Man Vs. Namor the Sub-Mariner
From: Tales of Suspense #79- 81
Namor goes on a rampage and beats a weakened Iron Man senseless–“This is your finish, Avenger.” He really kicks the crap outta ol’ Shellhead. However, Iron Man doesn’t get mad, he gets even as he delivers the smackdown to Namor like never before in a classic tale written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gene Colan and Jack Kirby. This story still holds up after 40 years with all the dynamic action sequences.
6. Iron Man: Armor Wars Prologue
From: Iron Man #215-224
David Michelinie and Bob Layton–the definitive “Iron Man” creative team–returned to the title as they kick-start the character’s new status quo in California in the aftermath of his reassuming the mantle of Iron Man, getting sober, and starting a new company called Stark Enterprises. Their stories take place against the backdrop of industrial espionage, insider trading, and corporate greed that was so prevalent in the late 1980s. Further, they found a way to make it so there’s only one definitive Iron Man as Jim Rhodes (Iron Man II) nearly burns up upon reentering Earth’s atmosphere, making him deathly afraid of the armor after that.
5. Iron Man Vs. The Hulk
From: Iron Man #131-144
Yes, the Hulk and Iron Man have gone at it plenty of times, but this battle has to be their greatest. Tony Stark’s attempt to cure Bruce Banner of becoming the Hulk backfires and Banner is locked in his Hulk form. Bypassing his armor’s safety measures, Iron Man channels all his power into one giant punch that knocks out the Hulk. However, his armor is no longer functional and becomes a living coffin for Tony Stark. Ant-Man journeys through his armor in an attempt to get it up and running before Stark suffocates to death. Once again, Micheline and Layton (along with Jerry Bingham) deliver a taut thriller. Definitely worth seeing in the purported Avengers movie.
4. An Iron Man You’ve Never Seen Before
From: Iron Man #166-200
Under writer Denny O’Neil, Tony Stark falls off the wagon HARD. Behind the scenes, Obadiah Stane engineers Stark’s relapse into the bottle and then buys Stark International out from under him. Tony’s such a lush that Jim Rhodes becomes Iron Man. Eventually, Stane strikes again, nearly crippling Rhodes and forcing Stark to become Iron Man again. Stark and Stane then clash in a final showdown. The best issues in this multi-year story arc are “Iron Man” #170, “Iron Man” #182, “Iron Man” #191-192, and “Iron Man” #200. This story arc needs to be collected in multiple volumes.
3. Iron Man Armor Wars
From Iron Man #225-232
Tony Stark flips out when he discovers his Iron Man technology has been used in the armors of numerous villains. So he declares war on them, feeling somehow responsible for the harm they’ve caused. His vendetta gets him booted out of the Avengers and badly hurts his friendship with Captain America. Declared a public enemy, Stark “fires” Iron Man as his bodyguard. He then fakes Iron Man’s death, donning a new suit of powerful red and gold armor as the “new” Iron Man. Once again, David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and Mark Bright deliver a great story, which is great source material for a third Iron Man movie.
2. Iron Man Vs. Dr. Doom
From Iron Man #149-150
Iron Man and Dr. Doom end up in King Arthur’s Court, courtesy of David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and John Romita, Jr. Out of his own time, Iron Man feels out of his league when it comes to magic. Nonetheless, he leads Arthur’s men into battle against Dr. Doom, who leads an army of zombies thanks to his alliance with Morgana Le Fey. At the end of the story, the two work together to return to the present, Marvel’s premier armored hero and premier armored villain gaining a bone-deep respect for one another in the process. Michelinie and Layton later pit Iron Man against Doom in the future and the present with King Arthur somehow involved.
1. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle
From: Iron Man #120-128
This is the definitive Iron Man story of all time as David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and John Romita, Jr. chronicle Tony Stark’s downward spiral into the bottle. Under pressure as CEO of Stark International and as the Golden Avenger, Tony Stark needs a release valve, so he turns to booze. This vice negatively impacts him in both identities. This story won accolades from many alcohol awareness groups (as did #4 on this list). This story arc also introduced Jim Rhodes (the future Iron Man II and later War Machine), love interest Bethany Cabe, and retold Iron Man’s origin.
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