Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "iron-man"

Review: Essential Iron Man, Volume 1

Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1 Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1 by Stan Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


To me, the most amazing fact about Iron Man is that it took him more than 5 years to get his own self-titled comic book. He premiered in Tales of Suspense #39 and continued to be the top feature or one of the top features until Issue 99 when the Magazine was named after Captain America and he was off for a one-shot magazine with Sub-mariner before getting his own in May 1968. This book collects Iron Man's first 34 adventures in Tales of Suspense.

Overall, they made for some pretty interesting reading. Due sharing Tales of Suspense, most of Iron Man's adventures were 13 pages long, with eight few being 18 (45, 47-49, 55-58). Even the 18 page story is less than heroes such as Spider-man, Daredevil, the FF were given for their own books. This led to plots being spread across multiple issues.

Still, long time fans of Iron Man will see some key introductions. Early Iron Man pals Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts entered in TOS #45, the Crimson Dynamo in #46, the Mandarin in #50, the Black Widow in #52, Hawkeye in #57, and Titanium Man in #69.

The nearly 3 years of Iron Man stories gives a great birds eye look at the development of the character. In Issue #39, Tony Stark is introduced as a billionaire who with the help of a good elderly scientist defeats the Communists who captured him by becoming Iron Man and finds himself condemned to live in his armor forever to stay alive.

By Issue 40, it'd turned into just the chestplate. In Issue 41, Iron Man would receive the first of many makeovers in his costume. The first makeover was changing from Silver to Gold (to show he had a heart of gold and to make him less like a sci-fi monster.) By issue 48, his armor looked very similar to what we had today. This is one case where not having color in these Essential Books does make a difference, as I'd love to see the colors in these transitions.

While Issue 39 advertised Tony as a tragic figure, this got lost in most early. For the first year, Iron Man seemed to be having his own golden age or trying out for DC. These are much more light-hearted fare with some odd science fiction and some odder science. My favorite scene remains the one where Tony sells the army rocket-powered roller skates that will allow soldiers to go down a sixty miles an hour. Just what they needed in the jungles of Vietnam.

Some of my favorite story archs in here included: 1) Mandarin Issue (#50, 54-55, 61-62): From the beginning, the Mandarin was a great villain, very powerful, and their first meeting with Iron Man fought to a standstill. Somewhat politically incorrect with the more oriental look, but still a great challenge to Iron Man.

2) The Captain America v. Iron Man Story (#58): A story that personifies Silver Age silliness. The Chameleon shows up at Stark's factory disguised as Captain America and tells him the real Captain America is actually the Chameleon disguised as Captain America.Iron Man proceeds to fight Cap. Captain America thinks its a joke and is expecting to see it on Candid Camera.The whole thing is resolved by Ant Man and Iron Man ends the story by quoting LBJ.

3) The Battle with Titanium Man (#69-#71): The Soviet Titanium Man challenges Iron Man to a duel. Iron Man fights him, but with the Soviet cheating, Iron Man will need a help from a supporting cast member who makes a big sacrifice, a moving story.

Beyond story lines and intros, this is a good collection. They come up with some great puzzles for Iron Man and while the villains are hit and miss, there's definitely some A material in here. I also love the Anti-Communist stuff and am adding an extra star for that. ("It's a feature not a bug.)

There are negatives. Some of the stories don't worry. The early incarnation of Hawkeye seems to be little more than Marvel's answer to Green Arrow. The blind hypnotic following of Black Widow makes the character seem weak and somewhat pathetic and he has no motivation other than a desire for attention for donning a costume. He has no reason for changing direction from costumed hero to costume villain other than the Black Widow asking him to.

The one other complaint I can have is that sufficient grounds for a secret identity weren't established. He's a public figure, Iron Man is his bodyguard. He says at one point he fears for his employees or for Pepper and Happy, but given that every criminal knows he hangs around Stark's factory that doesn't really cut it.

Overall, Iron Man is a fascinating character. Once again, Lee creates a character that thoughtfully prods us on how we judge other people. Like Spider-man and Daredevil, our assumptions can be wrong. Tony Stark, considered one of the most lucky men on earth is lonely, and his heart is one step away from stopping needing constant recharges. Tony is a fascinating character in that he jury rigs a device to take care of his heart and never considers turning to another doctor or scientist. It says that Tony is an accomplished man who thinks he can do anything and nearly can, but that do it alone attitude is going to be the source of a lot of grief.





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Published on January 14, 2013 06:23 Tags: iron-man

The Great Iron Man Stories: Beginning of the End

Owning a copy of the 2006 Iron Man, "Iron Man: The Complete Comic Book Collection" has its definite advantages. The DVD collects every Iron Man issue from 1963-2006 save for the Iron Man/Submariner book that was a bridge between Tales of Suspense and Iron Man's own title.

As we gear up for Iron Man 3 on May 3rd, I'm reading through some of the great Iron Man story lines.

Actually I read all the stories right up through the first story arch cited on multiple sites as a great Iron Man Story: Beginning of the End.

Each was written by Archie Goodwin (and not the one who works for Nero Wolfe). The 7 books ran from September 1969-March 1970.

In some ways, it wasn't a modern superhero story arch. For all intents and purposes, Issues 17-19 were one arch and 21-23 were another. But they built upon each another and we see real development in the Tony Stark character.

Ironically, at the time, Stan Lee was announcing that Marvel was swearing off multi-part stories. These stories illustrate what a mistake that would be when you're talking about fully developed stories from the late Silver age.

The action kicks off when a Life Model Decoy (i.e. an android version of Stark used for security) is brought to life. The LMD determines to replace Stark believing that without Stark's frailty that it's a superior Stark and a Superior Iron Man. It supplants Tony and has everyone believing he's an impostor. Tony is quickly down and out without his Iron Man armor or any funds, replaced by his own creation.

However, a greedy super villain named Midas wants to steal Stark's fortune. Assuming Tony to be a look-a-like, he plans to recruit Tony to steal his own fortune for Midas.

And that's just the first issue! Over the seven issues, we get the first appearance of Madam Masque, guest sports by Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man, a change in Stark's health status, a guest appearance by the Avengers, a death of a supporting character, and a replacement Iron Man.

There's plenty of action and human drama. These seven issues are groundbreaking and show how much Goodwin managed to do in 2 years to revive a title that had languished in the last year of the overburdered Stan Lee's stewardship.

Rating: 4.5 Shellheads out of 5.0

This great adventure is reprinted in Black and White in Essential Iron Man, Vol. 3 and in color in Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 6
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Published on March 20, 2013 21:27 Tags: iron-man

The Great Iron Man Stories: Ten Rings to Rule the World

The second story is that often cited as one of the best Iron Man stories ever told is, "Ten Rings to Rule the World." The story runs from Issue 95 to Issue 100 of Iron Man's first volume in 1977.

The basic plot begins with allegations that Tony Stark's a security risk and he's summoned to Washington. While he's head to the area, Ultimo attacks and Iron Man has to fight the robot Ultimo and find out who is behind these attacks on Stark.

The serial had some good elements, particularly the introduction of the new Guardsman (after the old one had been driven insane) and some excellent battle scenes as Iron Man battled Ultimo, the Guardsman, Sunfire, and the Mandarin.

Unfortunately, there were problems with the series. The first thing was that these were Bill Manlo's first six issues as writer for Iron Man and Manlo's new direction really seemed like an old one. He brought back old characters who were died or had been incapacitated like the Mandarin, Sitwell (who'd not been seen in Comics for more than 5 years), gave the brother of the original Guardsman the Guardsman armor and once again messed with Tony's heart had finally gotten that straightened out.

In short, there was too much going on and much of what was going on was hard to cheer for. Rather than taking Iron Man in new directions, Manlo was reverting the character's progress. That plus the return of the Mandarin was tipped too early for my tastes.

It's not overall, but greatest not really.

Rating: 2.5 Shellheads out o5 5.0
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Published on March 25, 2013 18:10 Tags: iron-man

The Great Iron Man Stories: Demon in a Bottle

This is perhaps the most famous Iron Man story. It begins in Issue 120 and concludes in Issue 28 of Iron Man Volume 1 published in 1979.

There are two key plots here. First, there's an external plot against Iron Man. Due to this plot, his suit is having a series of malfunctions, one of which gets him accused of murder. This external plot really works out nicely. The story told by Bob Leyton and David Michelinie is very told with lots of action, suspense, twist, and turns along the way with some guest appearance by the second Ant Man (Scott Laing), Captain America, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. And the fight at the start of Issue 127 is perhaps one of the best superhero performances ever.

The internal conflict over alcoholism was the series' hallmark. Some critics and fans alike have complained that the issue of alcoholism is hardly touched on in early issues in the arch and given a too quick resolution in Issue 128.

I think the critics have it wrong for two reasons. First, I think Leyton and Michelinie were actually pretty clever in how they dealt with it. They slowly began to expose the problem with Tony and alcohol in Issue 120 with Tony having had four martinis since aplane took off and a little regretful when he put on his Iron Man costume. Each issue had an ever-increasing number of shots of booze and drinks. Leading up to a drunk Tony Stark snapping at Jarvis leading to his resignation.

One of the most stunning panels in the story is in Issue 127 when Stark realizes that he's been blaming an inanimate piece of armor (Iron Man) for his problems when in reality, they are his. The story of Tony's girlfriend and fateful butler helping back from the abyss was moving. The story didn't carry on for multiple issues because they had no idea how the public would take it. Dennis O'Neal would this alcoholism thing to another level with it forcing Tony to leave being Iron Man.

The book wasn't without improbabilities and silliness. One of the worst examples of this was the mad panic over Jarvis selling two shares of Stark International and the fear that S.H.I.E.L.D. could buy it to take over. Note: if you're two shares away from being taken over, you'll be taken over. Publicly held stocks easily trade that in minutes.

That annoyance alone stands out in what's otherwise a solid story.

So I give this one:

4.5 shellheads out of 5.0
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Published on April 03, 2013 22:38 Tags: alcoolism, demon-in-a-bottle, iron-man

The Great Iron Man Stories: Doom Quest

We continue our look at great Iron Man Stories as we await the release of Iron Man 3.

Doom Quest pits the Marvel universe's best Meta villain, Dr. Doom against Iron Man. It's relatively short, set in issue 149 and 150 which marked the end of David Michelinie and Bob Layton's first run on Iron Man.

In Issue 149, Tony Stark stops a shipment of equipment to Latveria and Doom has it stolen. Iron Man and Doom battle and both get hurtled to Camelot where Doom seeks a favor from Morgana Le Fay and leads her army against Arthur. Iron Man fights on Arthur's side.

The comic is not epic-ally great, but it is pretty interesting. Iron Man has to deal with magic and he hates magic about as much as Indiana Jones hates snakes. He's really not set to deal with, but he acquits himself well.

The story includes a temporary truce between the two metal clad geniuses that's pretty well-drawn and fun to read.

Overall, this was a great two issue story that worked pretty well.

Rating: 4 shellheads out of 5.

Reprinted in Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest
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Published on April 05, 2013 17:41 Tags: iron-man

The Greatest Iron Man Stories: Armor Wars

Iron Man: Armor Wars Iron Man: Armor Wars by David Michelinie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Armor Wars is a book that lefhe writing is usually good with plenty t me with mixed feelings. On one hand, tof twists and lots of action. The plot simply put is that Tony Stark realizes his arm specs have been stolen. Driven by guilt, he decides to reclaim his stolen technology. Good as far as it goes when taking on bad guys such as the Stiltman and the Controller. It begins far more problematic when Stark decides that he's going to take on armor that Stark has sold legitimately to the government. Along the way, he loses his longtime friendship with Steve Rogers and then is kicked out of the Avengers. He doublecrosses S.H.I.E.L.D.

Good times.

The story line is without a doubt revolutionary within the Marvel world. It makes Iron Man's role in Civil War seems very believable. Would Tony Stark choose to betray and even imprison friends and allies who risked his life for him and fought by his side due to his own subjective view of what's appropriate?

Been there,done that, will do it on a higher scale. With this story, it sets a new direction and a new definition for the Iron Man character. The problem is that as well-written as it is, it turns Iron Man into someone that's hard to cheer for.

In the beginning, Tony Stark was a patriotic weapons manufacturer who escaped the Vietcong and regularly came close to death's door as he fought evil even though he constantly risked death due to his damaged heart. By the end of this series, Tony Stark fights on because of guilt. He is a great mind that is driven by reasoning that's often arbitrary and based on his own whims rather than any objective sense of morality. Tony Stark makes his own rules and with power like his, that makes him a dangerous man.

While the writing and art were good, it should be noted that they aren't perfect. In the 1990s animated adaptation of the story, Jim Rhodes sees how dangerous Stark's actions are and tries to stop them. Here, despite having spent two years in the 1980s as Iron Man, he's merely a passive assistant in this obviously mad quest.

The story had its fair share of improbabilities including a convenient supply of whole blood on an airplane. Then we learn in the second to last issue that the U.S. Government developed a giant robot with a built in Nuke, not for taking on rogue superheroes, but for handling riots by outraged citizens. This may have been probable for the writers as the story was written in the tale end of the Reagan years and the government is always 50% more evil during Republican administrations in comics, it seems just silly.

Silly or not, the story is a well-told tale that makes key changes to a significant character in the Marvel Universe. However, we're reminded that change isn't always for the better




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Published on April 08, 2013 20:55 Tags: armor-wars, iron-man

The Greatest Iron Stories: Doom Quest 2

100 Issues after the original Doom Quest, this 1989 story running in Issues 249 and 250 and written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton reunites Iron Man and Dr. Doom when two nearly identical artifacts appear with one falling into Iron Man's hands and the other into Dr. Doom's. However, it's also an intricate plot by Merlin the Magician to get the two together to transport to 2093 where King Arthur needs their help against an older version of Doom and Tony Stark's grandson who have teamed up.

There's a lot to like in this story. Doom and Iron Man are a great mix of characters. And the story itself is just a great science fiction story. The battle between Tony and Andros once again offers Iron Man the chance to show that he's greater than the strength of superior technology. And Doom v. Doom, quite poignant, particularly given the ending.

On the other hand, I don't care for reincarnation stories. (Arthur being reincarnated as a boy.) Though they managed to poke fun at freezing embryos for career reasons, so that helped. Also, many of the characters didn't talk right. Having Merlin talk like a Broadway Agent, and Doom was not imperious enough. He even warns Iron Man that his behavior wouldn't get him on Doom's "good side." (Doom has a good side?)

It's a solid comic book story, but probably not among the greatest for Iron Man.

Rating: 3 shellheads out of 5.
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Published on April 15, 2013 22:35 Tags: greatest-stories, iron-man

The Greatest Iron Man Stories: War Machine

The 1990s are lost years usually when it comes to great Iron Man Stories. Most lists will include Armor Wars from 1987 and pick up in about 2003.

However, Blogger, The Colossues of Rhodey suggested a couple 1990s story archs including War Machine (issues 281-283).

The story arch begins with Tony Stark confined to bed, seriously ill and dying. He has been framed for treachery and an honorable group of Oriental Assassins known as the Masters of Silence almost succeed.

This leads Stark to build new more powerful armor to once and for all thwart Justin Hammer and clear his name.Stark is seriously ill and shouldn't be anywhere but a hospital bed. However he declares, "All I have left is my honor." And says that if clearing his name means death, than, "So be it."

This is a really a great moment. It reminds us that through all of the drama and trauma of Tony Stark, this is the core value of Iron Man: one man going above and beyond with a will of Iron.

War Machine is a good and underrated story.

Rating: 3.5 shellheads out of 5.
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Published on April 16, 2013 22:56 Tags: greatest-stories, iron-man

The Greatest Iron Man Stories: Mask in the Iron Man

Collects Volume 3 of Iron Man, #26-#30.

The story and began in March 2000 ( a key point) and begins with Iron Man facing Whiplash while dodging commitment to company owner Rumiko when he encounters Whiplash.

Then his life goes into a downward cycle of his secret identity being revealed, losing his friends, getting fired from the Avengers, and going back to the bottle. But that was all dream.

The nightmare begins when Stark finds that the dream was caused by his armor becoming sentient and desperately seeking to grasp for emotions and feelings, and to understand what it means to be alive. Tony is hesitant at the new sentient armor but does agree to join with it to fight Whiplash, only to be shocked when it murders him. Stark comes to believe that he's created a monster, and when he tries to stop it, the armor takes him to an island, times him to wooden X and gives him a choice: agree to join with it or die of starvation.

Really, this is just a fascinating story. it someone ways, it's a deeper version of the incidents in Beginning of the End. You have Tony Stark, the futurist, the man who's whole life is defined by technology, at war with his own creation.

The question, as is so often the case with great Iron Man yarns, is what makes Iron Man-the man or the machine.

The story is fairly complex, deep, and thought-provoking with a poignant ending that makes it worthy of a great science fiction classic.

At times, there are stumbles. The use of the Y2K bug as part of the explanation for the armor's sentience dates the story. In addition, Stark's attempt to explain to the sentient armor why killing is bad really seemed kind of weak. (I might have another post on that later.)

However, the story itself is just a great piece of Science Fiction writing and a must read.

Rating: Four and a half shellheads out of Five.

Reprinted in:
Iron Man: The Mask in the Iron Man
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Published on April 20, 2013 10:31 Tags: greatest-stories, iron-man

The Great Iron Man Stories: Extremis

I'm about done with my pre-Iron Man III review of Great Iron Man stories via my Invincible Iron Man DVD-Rom. Extremis is one of the latest stories available on this disk.

The story was published in 2006 and is told in Issues 1-6 of The Invincible Iron Man Volume 4. Tony Stark in the story is a somewhat typical inspirational speaker CEO of Stark International. I mean it seems like he's trying to audition for his TED talk.

He's got a problem: The Iron Man costume has grown more cumbersome as its become more complex. Gone is the attache case Iron Man of the 1970s. Now, it has to arrive in a crate.

However, two scientists are working on an enhanced supersoldier formula called Extremis. One of the samples is stolen and given to a Militia Man terrorist who is going to Washington DC to rampage. Tony has to stop him, but finds the power given by Extremis more than a match for Iron Man. To defeat this menace, Tony will have to take extreme steps of his own.

This may be one of the most overrated Iron Man stories I've read. Its Exhibit A in what's wrong with most modern Superhero comics. The six issues can be divided between those filled with constant mindless violence or those where nothing of significance happens at all.

The villain is little more than a political trope. Not only is he portrayed as a militia man, but they had him stand up for a Christian heritage of the U.S. right before killing a patriotic Atheist misfit who was sitting aside the road and is the book for no other reason than to further the authors' politics.

Tony Stark is flat and even when he risks his life, the authors don't get us to cheer for him.

The art work is pretty good from a technical standpoint even though its not subtle,evocative, or all that emotional.

The Extremis concept is the highlight of the book and I hope that's the only part of the Extremis story that makes it into the upcoming movie. The idea of a system that would allow him to biologically connect to the armor? Sensational. It was used to great effect on the animated Iron Man: Armored Adventures and could be used to great effect on film..

Unfortunately, the story in which Extremis was introduced was all too boring, predictable, and typical of twenty-first century comics.

Rating: 2 Shellheads out out of 5.
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Published on April 26, 2013 22:11 Tags: extremis, greatest-stories, iron-man

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
...more
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