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The Many Armors of Marvel's Tony Stark: Iron Man Variant Covers, Explained

After a monumental run on Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott is turning his attention toward another major Marvel superhero in a new series called Tony Stark: Iron Man. Slott has been paired with superstar artist Valerio Schiti, and the duo's debut story arc on the title will celebrate the Armored Avenger’s long history of high tech battle-suits in the appropriately titled The Many Armors of Iron Man.

Marvel recently revealed a whole slew of variant covers drawn by Schiti and Alexander Lozano (Clone Conspiracy) that feature Tony’s most famous armors, from Model 1 all the way to Model 51 and beyond. That's a lot of armor to keep track of, so we decided to do a rundown of which comics they were introduced in, which writers and artists dreamt them up, and some basic details about each one's tech.

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Prototype Armor: Classic (Model 01)

This is Tony’s original armor that was created as a means to escape captivity at the hands of terrorists. Medical tech in this suit also kept his heart beating after a piece of shrapnel was embedded in his chest. The Model 01 was designed with the help of Professor Ho Yinsen. Like Tony himself, this gear first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39 (1963). This seminal issue was penned by Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber with art by Don Heck.

Red and Gold Armor: Classic (Model 04)

This was not Tony’s first Red and Gold Armor but it was exponentially more advanced than its predecessors. According to the 1993 Iron Manual, it was the first suit to feature H.O.M.E.R. (Heuristically Operative Matrix Emulating Rostrum). Model 04 made its first appearance in Iron Man #85 (1976), an issue written by Len Wein and Roger Slifer with art by Herb Trimpe.

Red and Gold Armor Variant: Classic (Model 04A)

Traditionally, this has been catalogued as one of the later versions of the Model 03 series. This iteration is nearly identical to the one before it except for the mask. New features of the helmet included integrated circuitry that allowed Tony to control the suit mentally, reinforced eye and mouth shields, and a nose that Tony added to “allow a bit more expression.” This suit makes its infamous first appearance in Iron Man #68 (1974) by writer Mike Friedrich and artist George Tuska.

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Space Armor: Classic (Model 05)

This armor was originally referred to by Stark as #14C. The bulky prototype was brought into play when Tony had to head to space in Iron Man #142 (1980). Its new features include a Pentode ChestBeam (for space-bourne and ground-use), a liquid oxygen life support system, and an auto-camera. The suit can withstand up to 48 hours in orbit. The 1993 Iron Manual made a point of letting readers know that it is also catheterization capable.

Stealth Armor: Classic (Model 06)

Both Eliot R. Brown’s Iron Manual from 1993 and Michael Hoskin’s All-New Iron Manual from 2008 list the Stealth Armor as Model 07, so we’re not sure why it’s renumbered here. This suit is alternately referred to as the Low Observable Model. This sleek design features a wave modifier that makes Tony invisible to radar, as well as a refactory coating. However, to keep the armor lightweight, Tony had to sacrifice all weapon systems. But the MKII version of the Stealth Armor added a low-powered unibeam and 25mm palm repulsors. Tony dons this get up to infiltrate Der Hand Von Himmel, East Germany’s top secret research complex in Iron Man #152 (1981) by writer David Michelinie and artists John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton.

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