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Marvel has always tried to be about telling believable stories set in real(ish) locations. One of their most well known and liked heroes has always been industrialist Tony Stark. His dashing good looks and daring can-do attitude made him a fan favorite, especially amongst female readers, from the early days of Marvel. Not only battling communism and corporate espionage, Iron Man continuously battles with Alcoholism, making him a relatable and human character. Over the years, Tony has had many moments of turmoil and hardship, but this week’s Point of Entry will guide you through it all. Starting with his Origins in the The Cold Way. (Keep in mind Marvel’s floating timeline, which states that everything published has happened in 15 years time.)
The Cold Way
Like most early stories of superheroes, there are large, easily accessible collections. For Iron Man, there are Marvel Masterworks, Essential, Marvel Omnibus, and Marvel Epic Collection. The Essential line is a good place to start, only downside being it’s in black and white, but if you want to read all the early stories, it’s cost effective and useful. The early days of Iron Man had him battling corporate espionage against communist threats, playing very heavily to Cold War sentiments of the time. Early Iron Man hid his identity, behaving similar to another billionaire superhero at another company. But once he got an artificial heart transplant, he revealed his secret identity.
The Defining Way
During the 70s and 80s, Tony saw a great deal of turmoil and change in his life. The now infamous Demon in a Bottle story saw him battle his alcoholism, something he still battles to this day. This time frame also saw the Armor Wars stories, during which Tony fights stolen versions of his armor. Other notable events include the creation and debut of War Machine, Col. James Rhodes’s armor suits name, and Tony’s tussles with Doctor Doom. The Defining Way shows the whole journey of Iron Man’s early days, finding his way and discovering who he is as a man. It’s a terrific read, if a bit lengthy, because it speaks to all of us, the fall from grace and redemption that we can find on the other side. Must read stories from this time include Demon in a Bottle, Doomquest, Iron Monger, Armor Wars,The Dragon Seed, and War Machine.
Jumping a bit, The Invincible Way begins shortly after the Avengers Disassembled story, with the heroes parting ways for a short time. During this Point of Entry, Iron Man’s origins were retold to feature the war in Afghanistan. His adventures during this time took him to new heights and brand new lows. He rose to the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. During the Civil War crossover, and attempted to erase his brain following the Secret Invasion crossover two years later. After having his brain rebooted and restored to full capacity, Tony created a new company focused on delivering his repulsor technology to the world, aptly named Stark Resilient. Truly, no other hero in the Marvel universe is as invincible as Tony Stark. Highlights from this seven year stretch are, Extremis, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Five Nightmares, World’s Most Wanted, Stark Disassembled, Stark Resilient, Fear Itself, Long Way Down, and The Future.
This Point of Entry begins a little bit ago, before a series of three crossovers. During an initiative called Marvel NOW!, Iron Man as a series was renumbered and redirected. Tony took to the stars, traveling alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy and learning things nobody saw coming. He learned he was adopted and has a half brother named Arno, who is also in possession of a genius level intellect. The two brothers meet and decide to try to make the city of the future, but are met with opposition from Iron Man’s nemesis, The Mandarin, who has been slowly building power for years. After the Mandarin’s attacks, the crossover AXIS occurred, making Tony a “bad” guy. He becomes self obsessed and only grabbing for money and women, ending the NOW era with a nine issue series called Superior Iron Man. There’s really not an issue you can skip from this era, but at least it’s only 37 issues. Marvel NOW went all the way to Secret Wars, ending the traditional Marvel Universe and starting with a new version, making another good Point of Entry.
Now that the various Marvel multiverses are reformed and mixed up to some degree, the new Prime Earth is the main continuity, where everything is taking place. New universe means new series, and Invincible Iron Man forges ahead. Tony is soon to pass the mantle of Iron Man to a new character, Riri Williams, making the current publications a great Point of Entry.
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