TOP

When We First Met – All of Iron Man’s Armors!

by  in Comic News Comment

In this feature we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ’em out!

Today, in honor of the release of Iron Man 3, we take a look at all of the first appearances of each of Iron Man’s armors!

I’ll split this into three pages. Page 1 will be armors from the 1960s/1970s, Page 2 will be armors from the 1980s/1990s and Page 3 will be armors from 2000s/2010s.

Tales of Suspense #39 saw the debut of Iron Man and his armor in a story by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Don Heck (Jack Kirby drew the cover, so he very well could have been the designer of the first armor)…





The following issue, Lee, Robert Bernstein, Jack Kirby and Don Heck changed the color of Iron Man’s armor to gold…


1963’s Tales of Suspense #48 gave us a story by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Dick Ayers (with a cover by Jack Kirby, so he very well could have been the designer of the new armor) with a brand-new armor that would last for over a decade (and a basic design that would last for more than TWO decades!)…





In 1964’s Tales of Suspense #54 (by Stan Lee and Don Heck), the helmet was altered, with a rivet design and more importantly, with a face mask that no longer jutted out at all…



A weird aspect of this Iron Man armor design is the way that the pods on each of Iron Man’s hips just sort of started appearing in the comic out of nowhere. As an example, check out the first two pages of Tales of Suspense #56 (by Stan Lee and Don Heck). First, no pods on his hips…


then the next page, pods on his hips!


Eventually, the pods on the hips became standard issue.

1965’s Tales of Suspense #66 (by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Mike Esposito) abruptly (and without explanation) dropped the rivet pattern from the face mask…


My only guess is that that was Mike Esposito’s second issue inking Heck on the title and he just decided not to ink the rivets any more for whatever reason.

And that was pretty much the Iron Man armor you would see for the rest of Iron Man’s run in Tales of Suspense (Roughly another thirty-five issues) as well as the first 68 issues of his ongoing series. Don’t get me wrong, each artist had their own flourishes with the armor. How much it shined, how many lines were in the armor design, how pronounced those round things around his shoulders were, stuff like that. But the armor would not be noticeably changed until 1974’s Iron Man #68, when Mike Friedrich, George Tuska and Mike Esposito gave us…the NOSE!



I’ve done a Comic Book Legends Revealed on the history of the nose, if you’re interested in reading it here.

In 1976’s Iron Man #85 by Len Wein, Roger Slifer, Herb Trimpe and Marie Severin, the nose got the boot and the first new version of the armor since 1963 debuted…



That’s it for the 1960s and 1970s! On the next page, we check out the 1980s and 1990s!

In 1981’s Iron Man #142, Bob Layton, David Michelinie and John Romita Jr. debut the first of Iron Man’s specialty armors, the space armor…




Later that year, the same creative team debuted Iron Man’s stealth armor in Iron Man #152…



In 1985’s Iron Man #191 by Denny O’Neil, Luke McDonnell, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, Tony has to become Iron Man again because James Rhodes has been driven slightly insane by the Iron Man armor (as it was not meant to be worn by anyone but Tony for too long). Tony and his brother and sister scientist pals, Morley and Dr. Clytemnestra Erwin, put together a makeshift armor that Tony used for awhile…



Later that year, Denny O’Neil, M.D. Bright, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey debuted the most dramatic change in Iron Man armors yet with the new silver centurion model…



In 1987’s Iron Man #218, Layton and Michelinie did not waste much time before they debut a new Iron Man armor, Iron Man’s deep sea armor…



A year later, during Armor Wars, Layton, Michelinie and Bright debuted a new version of Tony’s old Stealth Armor in Iron Man #229…




A few issues later, after Armor Wars was over, Layton, Michelinie and Bright debuted the updated version of the classic red and gold armor…




In 1992’s Iron Man #278 (part of Operation: Galactic Storm, where the Avengers go off on an interstellar battle with the Kree), Len Kaminski, Paul Ryan and Bob Wiacek introduced the latest version of Iron Man’s space armor…



A few issues later, in Iron Man #281, Kaminski, Kevin Hopgood and Andrew Pepoy introduced a new version of Iron Man armor that Tony Stark could control remotely (since Tony was slowly dying of a sort of techno-virus that stripped him of his mobility)…



The armor ends up being destroyed in battle, forcing him to take a different approach, introducing his “War Machine” armor….




Tony would give this armor to James Rhodes when Tony “died” soon after.

Tony would “return” to life in Iron Man #288, and Kaminski, Hopgood and Steve Mitchell knew they had to give him a new armor when he returned, and they did so with this updated take on the red and gold armor that, due to Stark being able to walk yet after his recovery, was also remote controlled (just better than the previous remote control model)…





In 1993’s Iron Man #300, Kaminski, Hopgood and Mitchell debuted the new “modular” armor, meaning an armor that could have different special items attached to it for special uses (rather than having to use a whole other armor to do different tasks)…




In 1994’s Iron Man #304 (by Kaminski, Hopgood and Mitchell), though, the modular armor was not enough, Tony had to debut a new special “Hulkbuster” armor…




The following year, in Kaminski’s final issue, Iron Man #318, he and artist Tom Morgan debut a special arctic armor…



The next issue new writer Terry Kavanagh introduces the armor that Iron Man would wear through the Crossing storyline (where he basically became a bad guy). Tom Morgan did the art…


In Iron Man #325 (by Terry Kavanagh, Dan Abnett and Jim Calafiore – at least the page I’m showing you), the Avengers have brought a young version of Tony Stark from the past into the present to fight his evil older self (sort of like All-New X-Men). They get him into Tony’s arctic stronghold and teen Tony picks out a never-before-seen armor to wear…


In the battle with old, evil Tony, teen Tony is seriously wounded (old, evil Tony then sacrifices himself to save his old teammates and dies a hero). Teen Tony’s heart is messed up so he needs to wear a chest plate just like old Tony did.

Over the next four issues (all written by Terry Kavanagh with art by Jimmy Cheung and Mark McKenna on #326-327 and #329 and Dave Hooper and McKenna on #328), teen Tony slowly puts together his own new version of the Iron Man armor. First gauntlets..


then a chest plate…


then a rough version…


then a finalized version…


That’s the armor teen Tony wears when he sacrifices himself during Onslaught. Teen Tony is resurrected on an alternate Earth as an adult. Here is the Heroes Reborn version of the Iron Man armor from 1996’s Iron Man #1 (by Jim Lee, Scott Lobdell, Whilce Portacio and Scott Williams)…



Eventually, the heroes return to our Earth. Tony (an adult again after the time on the alternate Earth) debuts a new armor in 1998’s Iron Man #1 by Kurt Busiek, Sean Chen and Eric Cannon…


This is the armor that eventually became sentient in “The Mask in the Iron Man” storyline a couple of years later.

That does it for the 1990s!

On the next page, we check out the 2000s and today!

In 2000’s Iron Man: Bad Blood #4 (by Bob Layton and David Michelinie), Iron Man debuts a much different space armor…


In 2001’s Iron Man #42 (by Frank Tieri, Keron Grant and Rob Stull), Tony introduced a new idea for armor involving S.K.I.N, a liquid alloy that could change into a lot of different shapes. He did a prototype for it in #42…


And two issues later (same creative team), Tony officially debuted his new armor using this alloy…



The S.K.I.N. approach did not last long, and by 2002’s #50 (by Mike Grell, Michael Ryan and Sean Parsons), Tony had adopted a new armor…


In 2003, Tony adopted his “Hulkbuster” concept to take on Thor (when Thor was acting kind of nuts) in Iron Man #64 (by Mike Grell, Alan Davis and Robin Riggs)…


and laid Thor out for a bit…


In Iron Man #71, writer Robin Laws and artists Robert Teranishi and Eric Cannon introduced a new Iron Man armor that never really ended up being used at all since they were off the book after this short three-part arc…


In Iron Man #73, John Jackson Miller and Jorge Lucas introduced the armor Iron Man would use for the remainder of Volume 3 (mostly just a variation on the #50 armor)…


Although in 2004’s Iron Man #83, Miller and Lucas introduced a “high gravity” Iron Man armor that he uses in a zero gravity environment such as outer space…


2006’s Iron Man #1 (by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov) gave another variation on the armor Tony Stark used in the previous series (just with some flourishes by Granov – honestly, Granov was drawing the armor this way on the COVERS of the previous series, even if they weren’t appearing the same way inside the comic)…


And in Iron Man #5, Ellis and Granov gave us the Extremis armor!





In 2007’s Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1, Adam Warren and Brian Denham introduce us to a new armor, a fail safe armor that takes over a piece of Tony Stark’s consciousness when the real Tony Stark has been gravely injured…



In 2007’s World War Hulk #1 (by Greg Pak, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson), Iron Man made a new Hulkbuster armor to take on the crazed Hulk who was returning to Earth for revenge…


In 2009, Tony Stark is on the run from Norman Osborn and Stark is trying to basically erase his own brain so that Osborn can’t access the secrets hidden in the Extremis inside of Tony. Doing so, though, takes away Tony’s intelligence bit by bit so eventually he gets to the point where he can’t use his armors any more as they are too complicated. He ends up using a revamped version of his very first armor in Invincible Iron Man #18 (by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca)…



In 2010, after Tony recovered from his brain dump, he worked out a new suit of armor with input from Reed Richards…



He debuted it in Invincible Iron Man #25 by Fraction and Larroca…



In 2011’s Fear Itself #7 (by Fraction, Stuart Immonen and Wade Van Grawbadger), Iron Man introduces a new short-lived armor that was forged on Asgard with magical metal to help save the world from the Serpent (Iron Man also forged magical weapons for his fellow heroes, as seen here)…


In 2012’s Avengers vs. X-Men #5 (by Fraction, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), Iron Man and his fellow Avengers scientists build an armor that could theoretically destroy the Phoenix force (it ends up diluting it instead of destroying it)…



In 2012’s Invincible Iron Man #523 (by Fraction and Larroca), Tony Stark has been kidnapped by the Mandarin, who is also controlling Tony’s mind and forcing him to build weapons of apocalyptic destruction. Tony, though, manages to outsmart him and secretly builds an armor (along with Tony’s former enemy, Ezekiel Stane, also enslaved by the Mandarin) to stop him…


In 2012’s Iron Man #1, Kieron Gillen and Greg Land debut Tony Stark’s latest armor…


In this series, rather than going with one standard armor with modular aspects to it, Stark has sort of interchangeable armors that he can mix and match whenever the job calls for it.

In #3, (by Gillen and Land) he uses a stealth suit…



In #4, (by Gillen and Land) he uses a heavy artillery suit…



And finally, in #5, Gillen and Land introduce us to Tony’s latest and greatest suit, a suit that allows him to live in outer space indefinitely (this is where Tony is at right now, traveling in outer space)…



So there you have it!

I’m sure I’ve missed some armors (I know I definitely didn’t use some of the Iron Man armors that appeared in other hero’s titles, like there was a stealth one that appeared in Black Panther, for instance), but forty-eight different armors is more than enough, I figure!