Sunday, April 12, 2015

I is For Iron Man

Another character that needs no introduction, Iron Man is a superhero whose origins actual start not in some modern post Middle East country, but rather, Vietnam where a young Tony Stark was captured after being injured by a mine. Using super science to save himself and at the same time, create suit of armor, the invincible Iron Man was born.

Vietnam?

Yup.

Marvel Comics uses this thing called a 'sliding' scale so that whenever a character would be aged beyond a reasonable doubt, the real world events are switched over to something more modern and sensible. Back when Iron Man was first created , 1963, Vietnam was something recent as opposed to now (2015) where the Middle East is still a hotbed of activity.

This is, again, one of the reasons I try to recommend people look beyond the current crop of what's popular.

While the Iron Man movie franchise of movies has been entertaining, and Robert was a brilliant casting decision, fully showing what superhero movies can be, it's a very modern take on the character. While I'm not going to say that the original comics are works of art, some stories hold up better than others, it's a fascinating look at where we thought technology would be at the time.


Think about it. In 1963 they came up with the idea for someone who could create a suit of armor that is both defense and weapon. That had a myriad collection of abilities. That would evolve and change with the times. That would get specific suits to deal with specific menaces. That's a lot of imagination today, much less over forty years ago.

Another interesting aspect of the historical read? Crimson Dynamo, Black Widow, and Titanium Man are all Russian superhero counters to Iron Man, brought on by the Cold War. Modern readers may not even have the proper context for what that means. It's almost like being a historian, picking up clues as to what type of society Iron Man was created in and his stories told in. The comics reflect the culture.

Another thing? Hawkeye. While popular in the movies, Hawkeye was initially Iron Man's enemy until he became a hero. A redeemed soul so to speak. It's a showcasing of how things progress over longer periods of time, as opposed to a movie that at best has over an hour to bring in all that character development and special effects. 

One inexpensive way to get some of the back story of Iron Man, are the Essential collections.  It looks like the first few are out but secondary sellers have them.


For those not interested in such, Marvel Comics directly has an 'Unlimited' pass that allows you to read any of the digital comics on their website. It's usually about six months behind the current publication dates and it, last I had a sub, was a little bit chaotic in it's organization, but if you are a comic fan, it is well worth it.

Anyone have any favorite Iron Man arcs? Any arcs that are absolute garbage and should be avoided? Throw a comment into the old blog and share those hits and misses.