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What Happened to Iron Man’s Artificial Heart?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comic News Comment
What Happened to Iron Man’s Artificial Heart?

In every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without actively retconnng away the previous story. Feel free to e-mail me at if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Reader Manuel C. wrote in about this one.

Before he became the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada had a memorable run writing Iron Man. In his debut arc, he revealed that Iron Man’s armor had become sentient after being struck by lightning. The armor wanted Tony Stark to basically merge with it, to work as one, sort of like how the alien symbiote wanted Peter Parker to bond with it. Tony refused to do so. However, Tony was also dealing with massive heart problems. He suffered a major heart attack in front of the armor and the armor pleaded with Tony to merge with it, to let it heal Tony’s heart like the original Iron Man armor’s chest plate had done so so many years earlier.

Tony refused, and so the armor decided to sacrifice itself in Iron Man #30 (by Quesada, Sean Chen and Rob Hunter) by removing its own artificial heart and placing it in Tony’s chest…

The following issue (art by Alitha Martinez), we learned that the heart had successfully replaced Tony’s, but it needed to be charged on occasion, so we were back to the old days where Tony had to plug his chest-plate in to charge it to keep himself alive.

Even after Quesada (and Frank Tieri, who came aboard as Quesada’s co-writer and then stayed on when Quesada left the book to, you know, become Editor-in-Chief of the entire company) left the book, the next writer, Mike Grell, kept up the whole “have to recharge the artificial heart” plot point…

That’s the only reason that this isn’t in “If I Pass This Way Again,” as it actually stuck around for a while, basically another 59 issues in total!

It was even mentioned in the final issue of that series, Iron Man #89…

When that series ended, though, it was then relaunched with an opening arc by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov, and Ellis promptly ignored the whole “Artificial heart” issue…

However, it IS worth noting, that if you’d like to earn a No-Prize, Ellis did, indeed, introduce the concept that the Extremis virus could regrow organs…

Make no mistake, there was no way that that Ellis’ intent was for Tony to grow a new heart with Extremis (as that would have been a rather large change to skip over), but since Tony DID get injected with Extremis…

We can hand-wave it, retrospectively, as saying that Extremis did, in fact, grow Tony a new heart. But no one ever specifically explained what happened to Tony’s artificial heart. Either way, it was an abandoned plot.

Thanks to Manuel C. for the suggestion (but I’m sorry that the answer really was, “Ellis just decided to ignore it”).

If anyone has a suggestion of an interesting abandoned comic book plot, drop me a line at!

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