Comic Book Legends Revealed #275

COMIC LEGEND: Tony Stark was originally going to be the creator of the Sentinels.

STATUS: I'm Going with a False

Reader R. Lewis (who has contributed more than one good legend suggestion over the years) sent me this one in the other day.

Have you ever read/heard about how Tony Stark was supposed to be a villain and the creator of the Sentinels, but was changed to Bolivar Trask? Both the Iron Man suits and Sentinels resemble each other greatly and both are very driven characters. Trask is an anagram of Stark, as well.

This one came up on the Iron Man message boards at comic boards recently, where a poster states, in a discussion about how the Sentinels are similar in design to Iron Man's armor:

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the fact that originally they were Stark designs. Before they went to press the first time, the editors decided that Stark wasn't a bad guy and would not design anti Mutant robots.

It was my understanding they anagram-med his name to Trask instead of Stark. That's why they still look an awful lot like Stark designs.

Now, I'm going to break from normal protocol a bit this week, in that I do not have any direct proof from, say, Stan Lee, writer of X-Men #14, the first appearance of Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels, to disprove this one. I'm still willing to feature it because I think we can pretty much disprove it just based on the issue alone.

Here are the first two pages featuring Bolivar Trask from X-Men #14, written by Stan Lee, with layouts by Jack Kirby and finished by Werner Roth (who was slowly transitioning into the book's new ongoing artists) with inks by Vince Colletta.

(as a quick aside, where is that famous whipping photo from again? I always forget. It's some pulp, right?)

I do not need to check with Stan Lee to realize that there's no way that that character could ever have been Tony Stark.

This is not even counting the fact that Trask DIES at the end of the three-part story!

I discount that aspect of the tale because, let's say that Stan Lee DID decide to change the story in #14, the way he worked back then, any changes he made in #14 he could then tell the artists to incorporate into #15 and #16, so if he DID decide to make changes, the ending of the story wouldn't necessarily have an impact on it all (this is largely what drove Jack Kirby absolutely bonkers eventually on Fantastic Four, as Kirby would occasionally do a plot where Lee changed a major aspect of the plot in the first part of the storyline forcing Kirby to bend over backwards changing the plots of the next issues to fit the first issue).

But really, "the editors decided that Stark wasn't a bad guy and would not design anti Mutant robots"? The only real editor Marvel HAD was the guy WRITING the story!

It is not like Bolivar Trask was some good-intentioned guy whose designs were co-opted by bad guys. If that were the case, then maybe Stark would be a possibility, but as it stands, there's no way that that guy was originally intended as Tony Stark. It just makes zero sense. So much so that I'm willing to go with a false here (the fact that Stan Lee has never said anything about this issue also helps my willingness to go with a "False" here, as you'd think Lee would have mentioned somewhere over the years that he toyed with the idea of making Tony Stark a villain and not even in the pages of his own book but as a guest star in X-Men).

Thanks to R. Lewis for the suggestion and thanks to our pal Omar Karindu, who I see was over on the Iron Man thread in question also debunking the Trask/Stark story.

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