In the Silver Age, most superheroes didn’t automatically get their own comic. Most of them must have made their debut elsewhere. In Iron Man’s case, his humble beginnings were in anthology comics tales of suspense. Iron Man and his supporting cast, and even part of his rogues gallery, were first developed there.
It would take about forty issues before Marvel felt comfortable giving Iron Man his own comic. But naturally, the hero lived a certain number of adventures within tales of suspense. What changes has Marvel made to the character? How close is this version of Iron Man to the one that eventually existed in his own comic book?
10/10 Iron Man Painted His Armor Gold When His Girlfriend Suggested It
MCU fans are used for Iron ManThe accelerated path to his most iconic look, where Stark changed from his massive gray armor to a slimmed down version in the classic red and gold suit. But longtime comic book fans know that Stark went through one more change before hitting the colors everyone knows him for.
In Thrillers #40 by Stan Lee and Don Heck, Iron Man’s dull gray armor was replaced with a shiny gold finish, on the advice of Marion, his girlfriend at the time. Iron Man retained this look for many of his early adventures, both in his solo adventures and with the Avengers.
9/10 Iron Man’s Greatest Enemy Was Communism
When Tony Stark was introduced, the character’s goal was to create a character that represented everything Marvel readers hated. It was a challenge that Stan Lee set for himself, where he would create a business owner wearing a costume who made weapons and turned him into a fan-favorite hero.
But since Iron Man represented the pinnacle of capitalism during the Cold War, that meant many of its villains had to represent communism. Some of these characters have been winners, like longtime villains Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man. Others were losers, like the forgotten villain The Actor.
8/10 He shared a comic with Captain America
Many of Marvel’s early comics weren’t titled after a specific superhero. Thor came out of Tales to Astonishwhile Dr. Strange walked out of strange tales. Even Spider-Man made his first appearance in an anthology series, amazing fantasy.
The names of these titles were meant to attract readers, but it also meant that a comic was not tied to a specific hero. Iron Man comes from tales of suspense, but he wasn’t the only comic book star. For several years, Iron Avenger shared the book with Captain America, with his adventures covering the front half of the issue while Cap took over the back half.
7/10 The first villain to discover Iron Man’s identity was an ordinary thief
For decades, Iron Man’s identity has been kept secret from all but his closest allies. Government officials and criminals wanted to know who was under the armor, but very soon the information leaked to the most unlikely sources. In Thrillers #65a common criminal known as Weasel Willis has managed to sneak into the Stark Industries base.
There he found Tony Stark’s famous briefcase and broke into it, not only discovering Iron Man’s identity, but also stealing the armor. With Weasel possessing the current Iron Man armor, Stark was forced to return to his golden armor to fight the thief. The two stayed in battle for so long that Weasel began to believe he was actually Iron Man, forgetting who he stole the armor from.
6/10 Tales of Suspense originally had no protagonist
In the case of some comics, a more popular hero comes to divert attention, appropriating the book. detective comics, for example, had characters like Slam Bradley and Speed Saunders before Batman came along and took all the attention away.
But tales of suspense was a book ripe for the taking, as it had no rotating roster of protagonists to fill the pages. The issue before Iron Man’s debut involved a group of kids who discovered a genie, only to learn that every wish they granted made the planet worse off.
5/10 Iron Man’s Early Adventures Were Lustier Than Superheroes
Iron Man is such an old character in the Marvel Universe that the Marvel Universe wasn’t fully formed when he was introduced. Stan Lee and Don Heck managed to create a gripping origin story for Armored Avenger, but what it meant to be a superhero for the Silver Age had yet to be established. Villains weren’t as common in early Iron Man-era issues in tales of suspense.
Instead, many of the early Iron Man issues featured a bunch of pulp adventures. He fought against aliens who sent a giant robot in the shape of a caveman or traveled to the center of the Earth to protect the planet from an underground kingdom. There would be several issues before Iron Man would settle into standard superheroes.
4/10 Iron Man’s classic armor debuted in Tales Of Suspense #85
When people think of Iron Man’s many upgrades, they think of the Bronze Age for the character. David Michelinie and Bob Layton created the idea of Iron Man having specialized armor for specific situations, like stealth or hydro suits.
At first, most of Iron Man’s upgrades were non-cosmetic, but he told him that he upgraded his armor without the appearance changing. Yet, by Thriller Tales #85, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, the character had his classic red and gold look after being forced to level up so he could properly face the Mandarin.
3/10 Tony Stark’s close connection to Shield began in Tales Of Suspense
Much like he did in the MCU, Stark has had a close connection to SHIELD from the start. Because Stark was still designing weapons for America, the super-espionage organization began to appear more frequently in his adventures.
In Thrillers #95, by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Iron Man was linked to SHIELD liaison Jasper Sitwell, who served as Tony Stark’s secondary bodyguard. Stark’s connection to SHIELD remained until he stopped making weapons for them in the late 70s. After a failed attempt to take over Stark Industries, Nick Fury and SHIELD went out of business to Stark.
2/10 Iron Man’s process was extensively covered in Tales Of Suspense #56
One thing that set Tony Stark apart from other heroes at the time was how all of his powers came from technology. Even human characters like Batman relied heavily on their training, but for Stark the powers were in the armor, so with every issue there were many armor scenes.
Technology was comic science, with armor fitting Stark like clothes until it was properly biased and hard like armor. Stane Lee and Don Heck even created an entire mini-comic showing the shielding process in Thrillers #56explaining exactly how it all worked.
1/10 Hawkeye also debuted in Tales Of Suspense
Long before Hawkeye was an Avenger, he was one of Iron Man’s toughest enemies. The character made his first appearance in Thrillers #57 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. Although he intended to be a superhero, Hawkeye’s actions were misinterpreted at first and led people to believe he was actually a villain.
Iron Man made several attempts to stop Hawkeye, but each time Hawkeye managed to get away with his variety of powerful arrows. It wasn’t until the Silver Age that someone as weak as Hawkeye would not only prove a challenge to Iron Man, but let him get away after successfully melting his armor.
NEXT: 10 Best X-Men Stories From The 80s