When We First Met - All of Iron Man's Armors!

In this feature we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like "the first appearance of Superman," but rather, "the first time someone said, 'Avengers Assemble!'" or "the first appearance of Batman's giant penny" or "the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth" or "the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter." Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check 'em out!

Today, in honor of the release of Iron Man 3, we take a look at all of the first appearances of each of Iron Man's armors!


I'll split this into three pages. Page 1 will be armors from the 1960s/1970s, Page 2 will be armors from the 1980s/1990s and Page 3 will be armors from 2000s/2010s.

Tales of Suspense #39 saw the debut of Iron Man and his armor in a story by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Don Heck (Jack Kirby drew the cover, so he very well could have been the designer of the first armor)...

The following issue, Lee, Robert Bernstein, Jack Kirby and Don Heck changed the color of Iron Man's armor to gold...

1963's Tales of Suspense #48 gave us a story by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Dick Ayers (with a cover by Jack Kirby, so he very well could have been the designer of the new armor) with a brand-new armor that would last for over a decade (and a basic design that would last for more than TWO decades!)...


In 1964's Tales of Suspense #54 (by Stan Lee and Don Heck), the helmet was altered, with a rivet design and more importantly, with a face mask that no longer jutted out at all...

A weird aspect of this Iron Man armor design is the way that the pods on each of Iron Man's hips just sort of started appearing in the comic out of nowhere. As an example, check out the first two pages of Tales of Suspense #56 (by Stan Lee and Don Heck). First, no pods on his hips...

then the next page, pods on his hips!

Eventually, the pods on the hips became standard issue.

1965's Tales of Suspense #66 (by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Mike Esposito) abruptly (and without explanation) dropped the rivet pattern from the face mask...


My only guess is that that was Mike Esposito's second issue inking Heck on the title and he just decided not to ink the rivets any more for whatever reason.

And that was pretty much the Iron Man armor you would see for the rest of Iron Man's run in Tales of Suspense (Roughly another thirty-five issues) as well as the first 68 issues of his ongoing series. Don't get me wrong, each artist had their own flourishes with the armor. How much it shined, how many lines were in the armor design, how pronounced those round things around his shoulders were, stuff like that. But the armor would not be noticeably changed until 1974's Iron Man #68, when Mike Friedrich, George Tuska and Mike Esposito gave us...the NOSE!

I've done a Comic Book Legends Revealed on the history of the nose, if you're interested in reading it here.

In 1976's Iron Man #85 by Len Wein, Roger Slifer, Herb Trimpe and Marie Severin, the nose got the boot and the first new version of the armor since 1963 debuted...

That's it for the 1960s and 1970s! On the next page, we check out the 1980s and 1990s!

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