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“Armor Wars” is easily one of the best Iron Man stories. Tony discovers the Stark armor technology is stolen. Iron Man also encounters Force, which sets up the plot of “Armor Wars” in the following eight-issue story arc by Marvel Comics. The arc first appears in Iron Man issues #225-#232 of volume one from December 1987 to July 1988. Our very own Kirk George is here with the official ComiConverse review.
Review: Iron Man: Armor Wars
Batman and Spider-Man are two of the most popular and favorited superheroes ever. I remember watching their TV shows in the 70’s when I was a kid. Not until about 20 years ago, when I really got into comic books, Iron Man quickly became my favorite superhero. His powers are all within the human grasp and if you have the intelligence, imagination, work ethic, focus, money and willingness to take chances, you too can be Iron Man. But what made him “super” is his ability to combine all those skills and maintain an interest in humanity. His abilities are tangible, and that’s what makes him my favorite.
In my bucket list, I want to collect every Iron Man comic. I started by collecting and reading some of the defining stories of the character Iron Man like “Iron Man is Born”, “Demon in a Bottle”, “The Confession”, “Deliverance”, “Iron Monger”, and “The World’s Most Wanted” to name a few. Recently, I acquired the Armor Wars story arc in Volume 1, issues #225-231, and “Armor Wars: Epilogue”, issue #232. It features the creative team of David Michelenie, Mark Bright, and Bob Layton. While the “Demon in a Bottle” storyline tends to be the most talked about, “Armor Wars” remains one of my all-time favorite. In fact, I’d say this classic storyline has placed Marvel into the dark, modern age of comics. As for the shocking epilogue, it is one of the best single-issue Iron Man tales ever.
Now, when you read this story, don’t get confused by the story arc title, “Armor Wars”. While “Armor Wars” is the popular name for the storyline and is the name used for the trade paperback collection, the actual story is referred to as “Stark Wars” within the issues themselves.
It is a fantastic story of obsession, guilt, and justice with awesome battles where Iron Man has to take down a bunch of armored bad guys. With a good amount of action to be found in this series, the storytelling, character development, and themes outweigh the excitement of the battles.
Iron Wars “Armor Wars” Synopsis
In “Armor Wars,” Stark’s worst fear comes true. When Tony Stark is analyzing the armor used by a former villain he discovers that much of the technology in the suit is based on his own designs. Horrified that his technology could be used by others to kill, Stark decides to take matters into his own hands and neutralize any technology based on his work. Stark then invents the “Negator Packs” that could destroy his technology on contact. Stark was faced with no choice but to defy laws and forcibly reclaim his property. Things get a bit tricky when he goes after armor owned by the U.S. Government and S.H.I.E.L.D. Stark also gets in conflict with Steve Rogers. Each chapter is a lot of fun, and the intensity increases with each issue.
In the first issue, “Stark Wars!” #225, it is made known that there are an abundance of technology based villains in the Marvel Universe. The Beetle, Stilt Man, Titanium Man, Controller, Crimson Dynamo, and more all use super advanced technology to make the weapons and armor. Tony Stark finds out that his Iron Man armor technology was stolen and could be the catalyst for the technology these villains use. And believe me, “he’s not happy about it.”
In the second chapter, “Glitch!”, Marvel tech-villains are using Tony Stark’s super technology to commit their crimes. Whether with the government’s help or not, whether by the law or by breaking it, Iron Man is on a mission to take it all back. First Iron Man takes on the Raiders, he then crosses the line as he also targets Marvel’s techno-heroes in his private war. We also hear of the ‘Project: Firepower’, but what is it?
By the third chapter, “The Last Mandroid!”, Iron Man has become public enemy #1. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. want Shellhead (aka Iron Man) brought in, and they deploy a crack unit of Mandroids to accomplish the job.
In chapter four of Armor Wars, “Who Guards the Guardsmen?”, Iron Man has already proven more than once in his private war that he’ll cross the line to get back what he deems his. The only thing standing in his way from his next targets is longtime friend and teammate Steve Rogers, now known as the Captain.
Get ready for one of the most epic armor battles ever in “Red Snow!”, chapter five. Iron Man breaks out his seldom used Stealth Armor to trek into the U.S.S.R. to confront two highly dangerous tech-heroes/villains, Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo.
Next in “The Day the Hero Died!”, chapter six, Iron Man had lost his friendship with the Captain, and was no longer an Avenger. He was an international criminal, now. We learn about the details behind ‘Project: Firepower’, a government agent in a huge battle suit of armor. As Iron Man arrives to confront this latest theft of his super technology he soon realizes he is completely over matched by Firepower. Iron Man and Firepower engage in a battle that only one of them will walk away from. By the end of this issue you will see the end of Iron Man as we know him. Or at least everyone in the world though except Stark and Rhodes.
After the explosive events of chapter six, chapter seven – “Reborn again” – Tony Stark lies broken and bruised. His red and silver Centurion Armor has been destroyed by the superior armor of Firepower. Now defeated, but not down and out, Tony enters his lab and does the thing he does best… he creates an even more powerful Iron Man suit. Introducing the new Iron Man with the demise of Firepower as priority number one.
In the aftermath of Iron Man’s thunderous epic adventure, the Epilogue – “Intimate Enemies” – sees Tony Stark struggle with the guilt of allowing his super technology to be stolen. He feels responsible for the innocents who have lost their lives because of his creations. It’s a surreal adventure into the mind of the man behind the helmet. This final issue in the story arc is by far the most powerful, dramatic moment.
Overall, this is a well-written, adventurous and entertaining series. I really liked the idea of Tony Stark taking responsibility for the fact that his Iron Man technology was being used too often by nefarious individuals and going on a one man crusade to “repossess” the tech from the people using it. “Armor Wars” storyline sets the stage for Tony’s place in the Marvel Universe as a man who is powerful and respected, feared by some and hated by others. Simply put, this is vintage Iron Man. The fight between him and Steve Rogers alone is worth the price of admission. It’s entertaining, mature and full of moral uncertainty, making it in my opinion a must read for any comic fan, beginner or fanatic.
Armor Wars is easily accessible through trade paperback or digitally online. Iron Man Epic Collection: Stark Wars on Amazon.com trade paperback collecting Iron Man (1968) 215-232; the Prologue, Armor Wars and Epilogue.
Have you read Iron Man “Armor Wars”?
What are your thoughts on the Iron Man/Steve Rogers, Captain America confrontation in the storyline?
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Kirk George is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @KirkGeorge
Source: Marvel Comics
It is a fantastic story of obsession, guilt, and justice with awesome battles where Iron Man has to take down a bunch of armored bad guys. With a good amount of action to be found in this series, the storytelling, character development, and themes outweigh the excitement of the battles. It’s entertaining, mature and full of moral uncertainty, making it in my opinion a must read for any comic fan, beginner or fanatic.