Comic book characters get redesigned, for better or for worse, all the time, much to fans' dismay. One of the most infamous examples is the brief time Iron Man had a nose. While many of Tony Stark's fans like to forget this period, a recent conversation on Twitter shed some light on the controversial change.
In Issue #68 of The Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man's eye and mouth shields get cracked by extreme water pressure while underwater, giving the Avenger an excuse to change up his look by giving his new mask a nose. Surprisingly, Tony Stark's in-story explanation for the new face is that it will make him look more expressive, which will help him strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. However, that still brings up one question: Why did the artists behind the scenes changes things up in the first place?
Journalist Sean Robinson asked this question on Twitter while looking at an Iron Man cover during this phase of Stark's life, admitting it always secretly bugged him.
This seems to be from that short period when Iron Man’s faceplate included a nose. Always wondered about its appearance and disappearance.— Sean Robinson (@seanrobinson1e4) August 26, 2019
Comic book writer Kurt Busiek saw the post and was willing to share what actually happened, or at least what he's heard was the reason, through a series of follow-up Tweets.
The Story of Iron Man’s Nose (at least as I’ve heard it):— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
When Stan was publisher and “editor emeritus,” he didn’t look at all the books; he just went over them from time to time.
At one point, he was complaining about some Iron Man art by a relatively new artist... https://t.co/1tqdYEDvBL
...(Starlin, Russell, someone like that), indicating a panel in which Iron Man was drawn in profile or 3/4 profile, and his eyes were too close to the surface of the mask for there to be any room for a nose underneath the mask.— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
“Where’s his nose?” Stan asked.
The editors he was talking to did not take this to mean “The eyes shouldn’t be drawn that far forward,” but “Iron Man should have a nose.”— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
So they gave him a nose. pic.twitter.com/vZu3l1NzGd
So, the whole thing was basically an answer to a rhetorical question from Stan Lee. Busiek assured, however, that Lee wasn't expecting the change to actually happen.
Sometime later, Stan looked at a bunch of comics and asked, “Why the hell does Iron Man have a nose? It looks stupid!”— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
So they got rid of the nose. One of Bill Mantlo’s first jobs in Marvel Production was whiting out all the Iron Man noses in an issue of AVENGERS that had to...
…go off to the engraver that day.— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
And that’s the story of Iron Man’s nose. It was the result of a misunderstood criticism from Stan.
For whatever it’s worth, he had the nose when I started reading, so it looked normal to me. I don’t mind him without it, but I always thought the faceplate was a little more expressive with it.— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
“Where’s His Nose?"
And in case you’re wondering about the “shocking secret of Iron Man’s new mask,” here it is: pic.twitter.com/lszaoSyPTG— Kurt Busiek Resists (@KurtBusiek) August 26, 2019
So, there you have it, folks. Always be careful about taking things, even suggestions from your boss, too literally. It's also good form not to ask why or why not people have noses.