This is Past Was Close Behind, a feature that spotlights moments, exchanges, etc. from older comics that take on a brand new light when read in concert with later comic books or events. Basically, stuff that looks hilarious in hindsight.
Iron Man #231 came out in 1988 and was the final part of the story that would later become known as the Armor Wars. Written by Bob Layton and David Michelinie with art by M.D. Bright and Layton, the set-up of the story was that Tony Stark had grown sick of seeing his technology used by others, as it left it open to be adapted for use by criminals. So he decided to wipe out all armors that used his technology. Therefore, even if they built new armor, it would not be on his conscience if the armor was used for evil.
Along the way, however, Iron Man had to basically go rogue, as some of the people he was attacking were GOOD guys, including United States government employees. He has to quit the Avengers (they were going to kick him out anyways for his actions) and in the end, once he succeeded, a new armored bad guy seemingly killed Iron Man.
So, at the time, Iron Man was really bad for PR for Stark Enterprises, as Tony saw at the beginning of the issue…
In the end, he decided to temporarily make one last suit of Iron Man armor to defeat the bad guy who seemingly killed the “previous” Iron Man in the previous issue (obviously, Tony got out of the armor before it blew up, but Tony DID get beat up badly in the fight). Obviously, his “temporary” return to being Iron Man quickly became permanent. This is one of my favorite Iron Man armors…
Anyhow, before Iron Man made his return, Stark’s top public relations manager explained to him that it might be a bad idea to have Iron Man representing Stark Enterprises as a spokesperson going forward. She then offers to get him a much less controversial spokesperson………Bill Cosby.
Cosby, of course, was at the peak of his The Cosby Show fame from a PR perspective…
And if you just flipped through channels wildly in 1988, you were bound to hit a commercial involving Cosby. So the line obviously made sense at the time.
In retrospect, of course, at the time, Cosby allegedly had been (and would continue to be) drugging and raping women for years.
Soooo…yeah, that’s just an incredibly awkward line to see in an old comic book.
If anyone else has a suggestion for some hilarious in hindsight stuff, let me know by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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