OMU: Iron Man -- Year Three

For most of the third year of his superhero career, Tony Stark is basically semi-retired, going into action as Iron Man only when absolutely necessary. His health continues its downward spiral until his damaged heart finally gives out once and for all. His life is saved only by a radical new surgical technique, with some help from highly advanced technology from the future. But even then, he continues living in the shadow of death. During this period, we see an interesting shake-up of the supporting cast as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan are finally married off and replaced by eager-beaver S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell and his ne’er-do-well girlfriend Whitney Frost. Tony Stark receives a new love-interest in the form of the beautiful but unlucky Janice Cord. Despite his ill-health, Stark continues his globetrotting lifestyle, as his adventures take us to Brazil, the Congo, Greece, Japan, Monaco, Switzerland, Vietnam, and islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.

Now resuming… The True History of the Invincible Iron Man!

January 1964 – Having all but given up being Iron Man due to his failing heart, Tony Stark works diligently in his laboratory on a variety of research projects, believing himself to be living on borrowed time. In fact, when Hawkeye calls a special meeting of the Avengers to debate whether to make the Black Widow a member of the team, Tony decides not even to attend. As Iron Man, Tony informs Hawkeye that he will abide by the decision of the majority. Tony’s reclusive behavior has left his friends, Virginia “Pepper” Potts and Harold “Happy” Hogan, to spend a lot of time together.

Tony is preparing to test a new nuclear-powered tunnel-boring machine at the main Stark Industries plant on Long Island when the evacuated facility is suddenly transported to Subterranea by the Mole Man. Tony reluctantly goes into action as Iron Man to defend his factory from the hordes of Subterraneans, only to discover that Pepper has ignored the evacuation order and is now trapped there with him. Rather than allow his inventions to fall into the hands of the Mole Man, Iron Man tricks the would-be world conqueror into causing the tunnel-boring machine’s nuclear pile to melt down. The resulting explosion completely destroys the factory, but enables Iron Man to fly Pepper back to the surface. Assuming the Mole Man and his Subterraneans have been killed, Tony decides not to make their role in the fiasco public. Work begins immediately on a new factory.

Some days later, Tony hears the ransom demands broadcast by the terrorist organization HYDRA, threatening to release a deadly spore into the atmosphere unless the nations of the world submit. Fortunately, Iron Man is not needed, as the villains are soon defeated by S.H.I.E.L.D.

February 1964 – Tony oversees the construction of a new Stark Industries plant to replace the one destroyed by the Mole Man. During this time, he learns that Senator Harrington Byrd has decided to stop harassing him, as long as Stark Industries continues to deliver on its government contracts. Also, when Happy receives minor injuries in an industrial accident, Pepper’s reaction finally convinces Tony that she is in love with Happy. Relieved, Tony returns to his former high-rolling lifestyle, making a splash in the society pages while dating dozens of women. Convinced he has no future, Tony determines to live it up as much as he can before his impending death from heart failure.

Soon after the factory is completed, the Melter storms in and forces Tony at gunpoint to make improvements to his melting gun. Tony manages to sabotage the weapon, but is forced to become Iron Man again when the Melter gets into a shootout with the police outside before the sabotage takes effect. Unfortunately, his old Mark-II armor is the only suit available, and though Iron Man is able to defeat the Melter, using the bulky old suit puts a further strain on his heart.

Tony picks Captain America up from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and takes him to Stark Industries to test some new ordinance.

March 1964 – Tony’s experiments are interrupted when a mutated Cuban strongman calling himself the Crusher smashes into his lab. Wearing his Iron Man armor to protect himself from the forces he was experimenting with, Tony is able to immediately fight back. When his repulsor rays have little effect on the Crusher’s massive frame, Iron Man resorts to using a prototype weapon to exponentially increase his foe’s density. The floor under the Crusher soon collapses, sending the villain plummeting all the way down to Subterranea.

Following the battle with the Crusher, Happy and Pepper arrive and inform Tony that they have gotten married and have just returned from their honeymoon. Tony is stunned, but glad for them and wishes them well. They both resign from Stark Industries, with Happy taking a job elsewhere and Pepper keeping house at their new residence in New Jersey. Tony quickly gets a new executive assistant named Claire Greer.

Tony is demonstrating some new riot-control technologies at a prison in upstate New York when the Living Laser stages a jailbreak. Tony dons his Iron Man armor and tries to apprehend the villain, but the Living Laser causes a ceiling to collapse and then vanishes in a flash of light. Iron Man immediately calls an emergency meeting of the Avengers as he heads directly to the team’s Fifth Avenue headquarters. When he arrives, Iron Man is met by his old family butler, Edwin Jarvis, but is careful to maintain his secret identity. In the team’s conference room, Iron Man consults with Thor, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and their latest recruit, Hercules. A video transmission from S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury confirms their fears that a number of the team’s enemies have joined forces against them. While his teammates head for trouble spots in India and Africa, Iron Man joins Goliath and the Wasp on a mission to Brasília, Brazil. Upon arrival, Iron Man saves the city from a gigantic floating scimitar while his two teammates capture Power Man and the Swordsman in the Palácio da Alvorada. Iron Man is surprised when President João Goulart reveals that the costumed crooks are in the employ of the Mandarin, as he had thought his arch-enemy dead. The Avengers then rendezvous at the Mandarin’s orbiting space-station after Captain America provides the coordinates. The diabolical mastermind, who somehow survived the nuclear explosion last year, turns a “hate ray” device on the Avengers, which makes Iron Man lash out at Hawkeye. Fortunately, the Wasp deactivates the device before anyone gets hurt. The Mandarin’s second attack goes awry and blows a hole in the hull of the space-station. Though the Mandarin is swept out into space, Thor and Hercules seal the breach before anyone else is lost. The Avengers rig the Mandarin’s space-station to self-destruct, then return to Earth. On the return journey, both Iron Man and Thor agree to rejoin the Avengers as reserve members. Privately, Tony wonders if the Mandarin will manage to cheat death once again.

The following weekend, Iron Man attends New York City’s “Avengers Day” event in Central Park, meeting up with Thor, Goliath, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hercules at the scene. A huge crowd has gathered, and the festivities are being covered by numerous TV camera crews and newspaper reporters. When the Wasp arrives wearing a sparkly new red-and-gold costume and driving a brand-new Lamborghini 350 GT, Tony remembers hearing that she’d recently inherited a sizable fortune. The official ceremony is delayed to await Captain America’s arrival, and when Thor gets tired of waiting around and decides to leave, Iron Man takes the opportunity to bail out as well. He flies back to Stark Industries to get ready for a business trip to Vietnam.

After arriving in Vietnam, Iron Man oversees the field-testing of some new Stark Industries weapons systems. When the tests are concluded, an Army colonel asks Iron Man to investigate the suspected lair of a mysterious Communist inventor known only as “Half-Face.” Iron Man then fights his way through the many defenses protecting Half-Face’s hilltop fortress, only to discover his quarry is in league with the Titanium Man. His armor vastly improved by Half-Face’s upgrades, the Titanium Man is able to defeat Iron Man. However, after his foes have left to destroy a nearby village and frame the U.S. military for the massacre, Iron Man manages to recharge his armor and go after them. On the outskirts of the village, Iron Man and the Titanium Man battle once again, but the Titanium Man is finally defeated when Half-Face turns against him. Half-Face explains to Iron Man that he is done serving the Communists now that he has discovered his former masters nearly tricked him into murdering his own wife and son, who had been moved to the village without his knowledge. Respecting Half-Face’s mechanical genius, Iron Man decides to leave him in peace.

Upon his return to the United States, Tony finds that S.H.I.E.L.D. has assigned a young and somewhat over-eager agent named Jasper Sitwell as a liaison officer to Stark Industries. Tony initially objects, but grudgingly accepts the arrangement after learning that Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus wreaked havoc at his Long Island facility while he was in Vietnam.

April 1964 – Tony meets with Steve Rogers at Avengers Mansion after Rogers announces his retirement as Captain America. Recognizing that Rogers has reached a turning point in his life, Tony shakes his hand and wishes him well.

Tony’s opinion of Jasper Sitwell begins to improve after he witnesses the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent’s uncommon valor in defending Stark Industries from an attack by the Grey Gargoyle. Iron Man is able to defeat the Grey Gargoyle, but doing so drains his armor’s power supply to dangerously low levels. Severely weakened, Iron Man is unable to resist as his ne’er-do-well cousin, Morgan Stark, kidnaps him and turns him over to the international crime cartel the Maggia. Having managed to partially recharge his armor, Iron Man attempts to escape from the gangsters, but is defeated by their high-tech enforcer Whiplash. The Maggia’s soft-spoken leader, Big M, tries to cut through Iron Man’s armor with a laser beam, but the gangsters are forced to flee when they come under attack by the scientists of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), who want the secrets of Iron Man’s armor for themselves. Taking advantage of the chaos, Iron Man finally recharges his armor to full power. He allows himself to be captured by A.I.M. and taken to their island hideout. There, he foils their attempts to replicate his armor and blows up their headquarters.

On his way back to Stark Industries, Iron Man is suddenly attacked by Thor, who is clearly being mind-controlled by some unknown villain. Despite putting up a good fight, Iron Man is no match for his Asgardian teammate and is soon defeated. His power levels once again critically low, Iron Man is groggy as Thor carries him to a strange airship high in the sky. Thor smashes through the hull of the ship, grabs Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye, and flies them all back to Avengers Mansion. There, Iron Man learns that the Collector had brainwashed Thor into capturing the Avengers, but the others had driven the villain off by crippling his ship, which freed Thor from his thrall. After recharging his armor, Iron Man helps Goliath stabilize the power-restoration process the Collector had subjected him to, thus enabling Goliath to once again make full use of his size-changing powers. Before Iron Man leaves the mansion, Captain America, who has canceled his retirement plans, contacts the team to recommend they admit the African superhero the Black Panther as a member.

A few days later, while constructing a special test-robot, Tony sends Jasper Sitwell on an errand to Avengers Mansion. Soon after, though, Tony hears a TV news report that Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye have been murdered, and the Black Panther is the prime suspect. Tony is frustrated that he is at a critical stage in his project and cannot immediately investigate as Iron Man. Fortunately, a few hours later, news comes in that the three Avengers survived the attempt on their life and the Black Panther captured the true culprit, a scythe-wielding maniac calling himself the Grim Reaper.

May 1964 – Tony is flown to Washington, DC, by S.H.I.E.L.D. to defuse a sophisticated hydrogen bomb planted by the Red Skull. Once Tony has successfully shut down the bomb, Nick Fury orders a retaliatory strike on the Red Skull’s island fortress.

Tony is enjoying an afternoon on his yacht in Long Island Sound with four bikini-clad beauties when the boat is attacked by a sophisticated robot called the Demolisher. He quickly dons his Iron Man armor to lead the robot away from the yacht and its passengers. Curious about the robot’s creator, Iron Man allows himself to be captured. When the robot brings him to a remote castle on Long Island, Iron Man learns it was created by rival manufacturer Drexel Cord, who has become obsessed with destroying Tony and his company. Jasper Sitwell is already at the scene, having tracked Cord down by his own means, but Sitwell’s interference has caused Cord to destroy his own master control panel. The Demolisher runs amok, threatening Cord’s 24-year-old daughter, Janice. Realizing his error, Cord tries to stop the robot, only to be blasted by its disintegrator beam. Iron Man manages to destroy the Demolisher, but only by severely draining his armor’s power supplies. Drexel Cord dies of his injuries, and Iron Man asks Sitwell to take Janice home.

Upon his return to Stark Industries, Iron Man strains his armor’s systems further trying to save lives following an industrial accident that destroys the Uranus-XII rocket they’d been developing for the American space program. He staggers to his private laboratory, ignoring Jasper Sitwell when he tries to introduce his new girlfriend, Whitney Frost. Once inside, Iron Man barely manages to hook his armor up to a recharging generator before passing out. When Tony wakes up hours later, he finds his heart has become so weak that even his chestplate is no longer powerful enough to keep it beating. Only being attached directly to the generator is keeping him alive. Realizing the end is near, Tony calls his secretary, Claire Greer, and cancels all his appointments until further notice. For the rest of the month, Tony remains a total recluse in his lab, desperately trying to redesign the life-support unit in his armor.

June 1964 – Tony labors night and day, despite his chronic fatigue, on a new life-support system, aware that his mysterious seclusion has caused an uproar in media and government circles. He has determined that he needs to employ a completely new technology, but, though he has created all the necessary schematics, he is too weak to actually build the new components into a functional suit of armor. Salvation appears in the form of Happy Hogan, who, having guessed the reason for Tony’s withdrawal, has returned to the factory and forced his way into the lab. Under Tony’s close supervision, Happy constructs the new suit of armor and helps Tony put it on. However, exposure to radiation during the process causes Happy to once again mutate into a savage, superhumanly strong freak. Happy bursts out of the lab, kidnaps Pepper, and goes on a rampage. As soon as his new armor is fully charged, Iron Man pursues his mutated friend and battles him at a nearby construction site. With the help of the police, Iron Man traps Happy inside an armored car and subdues him with anesthetic gas. Back at Stark Industries, Tony is able to reverse Happy’s transformation, leaving him with no memory of his strange experience. However, Pepper remembers, and blames Tony for Happy’s ordeal. She refuses to speak to Tony as Happy recovers, and the next morning, the couple returns home to New Jersey.

Wanting to get away, Tony decides to attend a Congress of Scientific Achievement being held in Switzerland. Arriving at the luxurious Alpine lodge, Tony tries to relax and forget about his responsibilities. Unfortunately, the conference is attacked by the Unicorn, forcing Tony to go into action as Iron Man. During their fight, Iron Man learns his foe is dying as a result of the process that gave him super-strength. He promises to help the Unicorn if he surrenders, but the villain refuses. Finally, Iron Man manages to deactivate the Unicorn’s helmet, but, unwilling to accept defeat, he leaps off a cliff and mysteriously disappears in the fog below. Unable to find any trace of the Unicorn, Iron Man returns to the scientific conference to help clean up the mess.

July 1964 – Back from Europe, Tony is working in his laboratory when he is suddenly transported 400 years into the future, without the attaché case containing his Iron Man armor. In that post-apocalyptic world, a panel of judges informs him that he is to be executed so he will never invent a master computer called Cerebrus, which has taken over the world and destroyed civilization. However, the execution is interrupted when an army of zombie-like slave warriors attacks, having been drawn there by the tremendous energy consumption of the time machine. Tony slips away in the confusion and is soon befriended by a beautiful historian named Krylla. She leads him to the remains of a museum, where he is shocked to find a suit of his Iron Man armor perfectly preserved in a display case. After charging up the 400-year-old armor, Iron Man takes Krylla and invades the central computer core of Cerebrus. While Iron Man fights a losing battle with the far-more powerful Cerebrus, Krylla is able to drop an explosive device into the master computer bank. The resulting explosion destroys Cerebrus, and Iron Man and Krylla race back to the time machine before the world’s power grid fails. Krylla activates the time machine and returns Tony to the 20th century. He materializes mere moments after he left. Though the armor he is wearing is ancient and badly damaged, Stark eagerly analyzes its systems. However, the armor yields no secrets of future technology.

Inspired by his jaunt to the 24th century, Tony offers generous endowments to a number of New York area museums. Soon after, he finally meets Whitney Frost properly when Jasper Sitwell introduces them. Tony can see that Sitwell is deeply infatuated with the beautiful socialite, which makes him feel even more frustrated that the numerous bouquets of flowers he’s sent to Janice Cord have gone unacknowledged.

When the Crusher returns and breaks into Stark Industries intent on stealing the density-increasing ray that defeated him months ago, Iron Man and Jasper Sitwell both try to stop him from taking Whitney Frost hostage. Fearing that Sitwell is recklessly endangering himself, Iron Man knocks the young agent out with a punch to the jaw, then tricks the Crusher into destroying the density ray. Iron Man then grabs his foe and rockets up into the sky, hoping the Crusher will pass out when the air gets too thin. However, the Crusher’s furious struggling causes Iron Man to drop him, and the villain plummets down into Long Island Sound, where he drowns. Returning to the factory, Stark finds that Sitwell feels Iron Man humiliated him in front of Whitney. Tony silently berates himself for not handling the situation better.

August 1964 – Iron Man joins Thor, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther at Avengers Mansion to discuss making the mysterious android known as the Vision a member of the team. Searching for clues as to the Vision’s origins, the Avengers head out to Goliath’s abandoned suburban laboratory in Cresskill, New Jersey. There, they discover that the evil robot Ultron-5 created the Vision using the recordings they had made of Wonder Man’s brain patterns last year. The Avengers return to their mansion and, after some deliberation, vote to accept the Vision into their ranks. Iron Man is surprised when the Vision appears to be overcome with emotion after hearing their decision.

September 1964 – Iron Man attends the impromptu wedding of the Wasp to a mysterious masked man called Yellowjacket. When he arrives at Avengers Mansion, Iron Man mingles with the other guests, including Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Nick Fury, Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Thing, the Human Torch and his girlfriend Crystal, Doctor Strange and his girlfriend Clea, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast. Iron Man is surprised to also meet a new Black Knight, who is not a villain like his predecessor. Before the ceremony can begin, though, Iron Man is summoned back to Stark Industries on an urgent matter. Some hours later, Iron Man is relieved to hear that Yellowjacket turned out to be the Wasp’s old beau, Goliath, in disguise. Despite the strange circumstances, he’s glad his old teammates have finally tied the knot.

When Tony overhears Jasper Sitwell revealing sensitive information about factory security to his girlfriend, Whitney Frost, he considers reporting Sitwell to his boss, Nick Fury. However, Tony is distracted by a visit from Janice Cord and her lawyer, Vincent Sandhurst. Janice has decided to sell her father’s company to Tony, since it was in financial meltdown at the time of Drexel Cord’s death. Tony is amenable to the idea, so the three of them drive out to the castle on Long Island to survey the property. Afterwards, they are kidnapped by the Maggia and taken to a remote industrial complex, where Tony discovers that the cartel’s leader, Big M, is none other than Whitney Frost. While Frost leads a Maggia assault squad on a raid of Stark Industries, she leaves the Gladiator to guard the prisoners and await Iron Man’s inevitable appearance. Tony manages to jump out of a window, even though doing so puts Janice and Sandhurst in grave danger. He dons his Iron Man armor and returns in time to rescue them from the Gladiator’s retribution. Unfortunately, in doing so, Iron Man injures his hands and crushes his repulsor ray devices. Without his primary offensive weaponry, Iron Man is unable to prevent the Gladiator from severely damaging his armor. After a vicious battle, Iron Man abandons the fight to carry Janice and Sandhurst to safety. He then follows the Gladiator to Stark Industries, arriving in the middle of a massive firefight between the Maggia gangsters and a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Iron Man finally manages to defeat the Gladiator, and the crooks are taken into custody. He is relieved to learn that Sitwell was on to Frost the whole time, and expertly arranged for her and her Maggia gunmen to walk into a trap. However, Frost manages to escape in her hovercraft, and Sitwell is unable to bring himself to shoot her down. Later, as he begins making repairs to his armor, Tony broods over the fact that the lovely Janice Cord must think he’s a cowardly cad who left her to die in order to save his own skin.

During an unseasonable heat wave, Tony finally determines that the Mandarin is indeed still alive, after analyzing the energy signature of a teleportation beam that made the Hulk disappear following a rampage through China. Tony contacts Nick Fury and confirms the Mandarin’s involvement in the affair. Tony then helps Fury foil an assassination attempt using an experimental holographic technology. He accompanies Fury back to the Helicarrier, where they watch a taunting transmission from a criminal mastermind calling himself Supremus. Tony helps Fury determine Supremus’s location, then returns to his factory to continue repairing his armor.

When Captain America goes missing, Iron Man volunteers to cover Cap’s monitor duty rotation at Avengers Mansion. While there, he receives a phone call from the NYPD reporting that Captain America is dead, gunned down by HYDRA assassins. He is soon joined by Thor, Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Vision to learn more about the circumstances of Cap’s death from Rick Jones, who is dressed as Cap’s WWII-era partner Bucky. A funeral service is quickly arranged, attended also by Nick Fury and other agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., including Cap’s bereaved girlfriend Sharon Carter. During the eulogy, everyone present is suddenly knocked out by a powerful anesthetic gas. When Iron Man comes to, he finds himself in a coffin about to be buried alive by HYDRA agents in a gloomy cemetery. However, Captain America reappears and, with Rick, pursues the fleeing HYDRA agents as the Avengers recover their senses. Later, back at Stark Industries, Tony waits impatiently to analyze a robot arm that S.H.I.E.L.D. has captured. However, he is informed that the object in question was accidentally destroyed by the Human Torch.

Tony is relieved to learn that Janice Cord is still willing to do business with him, but their meeting at Vincent Sandhurst’s office is disrupted by a Hulk robot. Tony dons his Iron Man armor and pursues the phony Hulk when it kidnaps Janice. After a wide-ranging battle, Iron Man succeeds in rescuing Janice and destroying the robot, although he is left with no clue as to who sent it or why. Soon after, Janice agrees to go on a date with Tony, but their evening is ruined when Tony is branded a traitor in the press. Photos have come to light showing Tony at secret meetings with high-ranking Communist military officials, and Tony is frustrated that the meetings all took place when he was in action as Iron Man, thus preventing him from offering any provable alibi. As a result, Senator Harrington Byrd suspends all of Stark’s government contracts, forcing its factories to close down. To make matters worse, Iron Man is hounded by S.H.I.E.L.D. to answer the charges against Tony. Realizing an enemy must have deduced his secret identity, Tony sneaks into Drexel Cord’s laboratory and hastily constructs a Life Model Decoy robot in the form of Tony Stark to confound his foe’s scheme. After sending his robot doppelgänger to a hunting lodge in the Adirondacks, Iron Man discovers that the Mandarin is the mastermind behind both this plot and the Hulk robot. The Mandarin’s plan nearly succeeds, but with the help of the LMD, a hastily arranged press conference, and some prosthetic make-up, Iron Man convinces the villain he and Tony Stark are two different people. His attempt to discredit Stark exposed, the Mandarin tries to escape by holding Janice hostage, but his own fiancée, Mei-Ling, betrays him and causes his airship to crash. Iron Man rescues Janice in the nick of time, and barely manages to prevent the LMD from being exposed as a fake. Later, Tony decides to store the robot in a vault at his factory until he has the time to dismantle it.

A few days later, Tony drives Janice up to Sandhurst’s family home in Kittery Point, Maine, and tries to convince her that selling her company is a bad move. When they arrive, they find that everyone in town has had their mind taken over by a villain calling himself the Controller. When he attacks them, the Controller’s ranting reveals him to be Vincent Sandhurst’s brother and a disgruntled former employee of Drexel Cord, who now plans to use his technology to enslave America. Iron Man fails to prevent the Controller from making Janice one of his slaves and taking her back to New York aboard a hijacked train. However, with Jasper Sitwell’s help, Iron Man is able to cut the Controller off from his mental-wave absorbatron’s power transmission field. Without it, the villain cannot even operate his armored exo-skeleton and is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. After the Controller’s victims are freed from their control-disks, Tony begins to think he is putting Janice in constant danger just by associating with her.

Tony avoids Janice for a few days, prompting her to take a vacation to the Caribbean by herself. However, he is drawn to join her there when one of his installations is destroyed by a mysterious saboteur known as the Night Phantom. Iron Man soon discovers that the Night Phantom is an old friend of Drexel Cord’s who received superhuman strength from the waters of a radioactive spring. The Night Phantom tries to expose Janice to the same mutagenic radiation, but Iron Man rescues her. Attempting to increase his powers, the Night Phantom leaps into the pool, but its floor collapses, sending him plummeting into a bottomless pit. After making arrangements to have his facility rebuilt, Tony and Janice return to the United States. As their plane flies over the Caribbean Sea, Tony suddenly feels as though something is interfering with his chestplate’s electronic systems. Then, as the plane comes in for a landing in Miami, Florida, Tony is overwhelmed by a compulsion that causes him to become Iron Man, fly to Cape Canaveral, and attack the mystery man known as Captain Marvel. Unable to control himself, Iron Man injures Captain Marvel’s friend Carol Danvers with a repulsor blast. Iron Man battles Captain Marvel until Tony suffers a heart attack and collapses. The fallen hero is loaded into an ambulance and driven to the base hospital, but on the way, the strange compulsion suddenly disappears. Feeling better, Iron Man tells the medics he was merely feigning distress to escape from Captain Marvel, then flies away.

Back in New York, Iron Man joins Thor, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Vision, and Hawkeye, who has adopted the Goliath identity, aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to meet Dr. Myron MacLain and test a sample of his new super-alloy called adamantium. Later, at Avengers Mansion, Iron Man is injured when the team’s new combat-simulation room is sabotaged. Thus, he is of little help when the mansion is attacked by Ultron-6, who has built a new indestructible body for himself from the adamantium which the Vision stole from the Helicarrier. Though the Avengers manage to drive Ultron-6 off, Iron Man is too weak to pursue the villain with his teammates. He returns to Stark Industries to recover, and is relieved later to learn that the Vision redeemed himself and helped defeat Ultron-6.

Tony and Jasper Sitwell head out to Nevada to test a cosmic ray intensifier device. However, they are attacked by the Unicorn, who steals the technology for his new partner, the Red Ghost. Iron Man tracks them to their hidden lair in an abandoned town, but is too late to stop the Red Ghost from using the device to augment his super-powers. The Red Ghost then betrays his partner and blows up his headquarters with the Unicorn and Iron Man inside, forcing the two enemies to work together to escape. Iron Man and the Unicorn finally catch up to the Red Ghost in Africa, where he is attempting to use the cosmic ray intensifier to create an army of super-gorillas. However, his first two test subjects turn on him and destroy the machine. Iron Man urges the Unicorn to help him capture the Red Ghost, but the Unicorn knocks Iron Man out instead. When Iron Man comes to, both his enemies have fled.

When he finally returns to Stark Industries’ Long Island facility, Tony discovers that his LMD has somehow been reactivated and has decided to replace him. Donning a suit of Iron Man armor, the LMD easily overcomes Tony, confiscates his attaché case, and has him thrown out of the complex as an impostor. Tony soon finds that the LMD has completely stolen his identity, cut him off from all his financial resources, and convinced all his friends that he is a fraud. The stress causes Tony to suffer another heart attack, forcing him to attempt to recharge his chestplate using the battery of a parked car. Unfortunately, a couple of beat cops mistake him for a car thief and chase him into an alley. He is nearly captured when someone drops down from above and gasses him into unconsciousness. When Tony awakens the next morning, he finds he has been kidnapped by the avaricious tycoon Mordecai Midas and brought to his private island in the Aegean Sea. Midas coerces Tony, whom he believes to be an impostor, into agreeing to infiltrate the factory, kill the “real” Stark, and sign the company over to Midas. Believing he can use Midas’s resources to defeat the LMD, Tony agrees to the plan. He spends the rest of the day training with Midas’s shapely assistant, Madam Masque, who wears a facemask of pure gold at all times.

October 1964 – Tony and Madam Masque break into Stark Industries, but the LMD attacks them wearing Iron Man’s armor. As Madam Masque flees, Tony dons his old Mark-II armor once again, but his heart is simply not strong enough to withstand the strain of operating the bulky suit. Feeling yet another heart attack coming on, Tony tries to retreat, but the LMD presses its attack. It is about to hurl Tony into a smelting pot full of molten metal when it is distracted by the sudden entrance of Yellowjacket, Wasp, Goliath, and the Vision. Tony lunges to grab a cable, causing the LMD to lose its balance and topple into the smelting pot, where it is instantly incinerated. Removing his helmet, Tony explains to the horrified Avengers that it was merely a renegade LMD, not the real Iron Man. However, Tony is quickly overwhelmed by a crippling pain in his chest as his damaged heart finally gives out once and for all. As the Avengers rush to his aid, Tony passes out.

Tony regains consciousness 48 hours later and learns that Dr. José Santini has rebuilt his heart using synthetic tissue in a highly experimental surgical procedure. Tony seems to recall having a strange dream in which Iron Man and the Avengers fought four super-villains in some kind of game between Kang the Conqueror and a blue alien, but the impressions soon fade from his memory. The next morning, Tony is discharged from the hospital, having made a miraculous recovery which Santini credits to the ultra-rejuvenator device the Avengers used on Tony before bringing him to the hospital. However, Santini warns Tony to avoid undue stress, lest his body reject the synthetic tissues binding his heart together. Tony realizes that, even though he is no longer dependent on his chestplate’s life-support systems, he may have to give up being Iron Man in any case.

As soon as Tony returns to his Long Island factory complex, though, Madam Masque appears and gasses him into unconsciousness. When Tony awakens, he finds himself back in the ornate palace of Mordecai Midas. Realizing Tony is not an impostor after all, Midas threatens to kill him unless he signs over all of his financial assets. However, Tony manages to win over Madam Masque, whom he discovers to be Whitney Frost, her face having been disfigured during her escape from S.H.I.E.L.D. last month. Frost reveals that she brought along Tony’s attaché case, thinking its contents might be valuable. Unfortunately, Midas corners them when they try to retrieve it. With no other option, Tony dons his Iron Man armor in full view of his foe, though Midas believes it is merely the desperate act of a doomed man. Worried about the strain on his heart, Tony barely holds his own against Midas and his weaponized hoverchair. His poor performance further convinces Midas that Tony is not the real Iron Man. Luckily, with Madam Masque’s help, Tony manages to destroy the hoverchair and defeat Midas. The hoverchair then self-destructs, blowing Midas’s palace to smithereens, but Tony and Madam Masque escape from the island in a hydrofoil. Having overexerted himself, Tony passes out, and when he wakes up later, Madam Masque is gone. Assuming she must have swum for shore, Tony pilots the hydrofoil to the mainland and makes his way back to the United States.

Despite his fears, Tony becomes Iron Man again when one of his security guards, Charlie Gray, is apparently possessed by the demon Lucifer, which grants him supernatural powers. After a battle on the Long Island Expressway, Charlie defeats Iron Man, but he overcomes his demonic possession thanks to the intercession of his loving wife, Wilma. Tony begins to wonder if he could find such a deep, committed love if he gave up being Iron Man. Thus, after attending a boxing match with Happy Hogan, during which he meets Eddie “Iron Man” March, who is a big fan of the Golden Avenger, Tony decides to pay a visit to Janice Cord at her company’s manufacturing plant. When he arrives, Tony finds Janice being menaced by a new Crimson Dynamo, so he dons his Iron Man armor to drive the villain off. Without speaking to Janice, Iron Man flies immediately to the Hogan residence in New Jersey, where Tony discusses with Happy his decision to give up being a superhero. They decide that Eddie March would be the perfect choice for a new Iron Man.

The next day, Captain America pays a visit to Stark Industries to use their most advanced computers. Though busy with another project, Tony gives Cap full access to his company’s resources. Later that night, Tony pays a clandestine visit to Eddie March’s apartment and offers Eddie the job of being the new Iron Man. Thrilled at the chance to emulate his hero, Eddie immediately accepts. Thus, Tony spends the following day creating a new suit of armor specifically for Eddie. His work is interrupted when the Avengers request the aid of Iron Man and Thor to help the team reach the extradimensional realm of Polemachus to rescue the Scarlet Witch from a barbarian warlord named Arkon. After Arkon’s defeat, Tony completes Eddie’s armor, and the new Iron Man begins a period of intensive training.

Stark Industries faces a financial crisis when a ruthless business tycoon named Cornelius Van Lunt attempts to stage a hostile takeover. Needing to marshal all his resources to fend off Van Lunt’s attacks, Tony visits the Avengers and tells them the team needs to raise $120,000 as quickly as possible. However, two days later, Van Lunt drops his financial attack on Stark Industries when the Avengers sign a contract to perform some menial labor for him. Tony is suspicious of Van Lunt’s motives, but he is too busy to investigate further, as Nick Fury requests a sophisticated android be constructed as soon as possible to test Captain America to see if he is an impostor. Remembering the havoc caused by his LMD doppelgänger, Tony builds the android to burn out its systems after 24 hours.

Later in the week, while Eddie is still learning to use his armor effectively, Tony reluctantly responds to a summons from the Avengers, who need help searching for the kidnapped Black Panther. As Iron Man, he joins Thor in canvassing Greenwich Village for any sign of the Black Panther or his kidnappers, a group of villains calling themselves the Lethal Legion. Though the pair’s search is fruitless, Tony learns later that the rest of his teammates did find and defeat the Lethal Legion. He is relieved not to have had to fight any super-villains. On Saturday night, Tony decides to mend fences with Janice Cord, and she accepts his invitation. Over dinner, Tony explains that he had been afraid of commitment when his heart was in such bad shape, but now that he’s been cured, he’s ready to make a new start in life. Janice is extremely sympathetic and accepts his apologies. They have a wonderful evening and spend the rest of the following week together, prompting the gossip columns to speculate that the couple may be announcing their wedding plans any day now.

As Iron Man, Tony attends what he hopes will be his last Avengers strategy session. At the team’s headquarters, he, Thor, Captain America, Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, and Vision argue about the best way the Avengers can serve the greater good of society. Iron Man agrees with Captain America, Thor, and Quicksilver that the team should focus on global threats like the international crime syndicate Zodiac. However, the Black Panther argues that the Avengers could do more good dealing with organized crime closer to home. Goliath and the Scarlet Witch side with the Vision, who wants to help the Native American hero Red Wolf avenge the murder of his parents. Unable to reach a consensus, the Avengers decide to split their forces and each faction goes its own way. After the others have left, though, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Quicksilver are rendered unconscious when a fast-acting knock-out gas is pumped into Avengers Mansion.

When the four Avengers revive, they find themselves in Madison Square Garden about to be executed by Zodiac’s mercenaries in front of thousands of unwilling spectators. Fortunately, the Black Panther and Daredevil have freed Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Quicksilver from stasis, and they easily break out of their restraints and attack Zodiac. As the crime syndicate’s leader, Aries, tries to escape, Thor blows up his airship with a bolt of lightning, causing the force field isolating Manhattan to fail. National Guard troops immediately pour into the city and capture the mercenaries. The Avengers spend the rest of the day helping to repair the damage Zodiac caused to the bridges and tunnels leading to the island. Comparing notes at the mansion later, the heroes are surprised to learn that the three separate cases they had pursued were all, in fact, connected.

The next morning, Tony receives an anonymous tip that an old enemy of Iron Man’s is being smuggled into the country aboard a cargo ship. He decides to make this Eddie March’s first assignment as Iron Man. Later that evening, Eddie dons his Iron Man armor and flies out to intercept the ship at a dock on the Hudson River, with Tony monitoring his progress from the factory. Eddie finds the Crimson Dynamo at the scene, but during their battle, Tony learns that Eddie has a blood clot in his brain that could prove fatal if he suffers any sort of severe shock or blow to the head. Horrified, Tony immediately dons his own Iron Man armor and races to the scene of the battle. By the time he arrives, the Crimson Dynamo is gone and Eddie is crawling deliriously through the wreckage. After apologizing for botching the job, Eddie lapses into a coma, and Iron Man flies him to the nearest hospital for treatment. There, Tony vows to himself to follow Eddie’s example and be willing to die for the honor of being Iron Man, and to not shirk his responsibilities despite the danger to his recently repaired heart.

While Eddie is still in surgery, Iron Man is alerted by the NYPD that the Titanium Man is on a rampage in the city. The trail of destruction leads Iron Man directly to Cord Manufacturing, and when he arrives, he sees the Crimson Dynamo apparently kidnapping Janice. Assuming the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man are working together, Iron Man intercepts him and rescues Janice. As Iron Man presses his attack, Janice pleads with them to stop fighting, explaining that the Crimson Dynamo is really her head scientist, Alex Niven. Unfortunately, the confusion gives the Titanium Man the chance to surprise them, and he suddenly blasts all three of them with deadly bolts of artificial lightning. Though the two men are protected by their armor, Janice is electrocuted. Iron Man flies into a rage and engages in a savage aerial battle with the Titanium Man. He is finally able to damage his Soviet counterpart’s armor, but the Titanium Man disappears in the murky waters of the Hudson River. When he returns to Cord Manufacturing, Iron Man finds that Janice Cord has died from her injuries.

The next day, Tony is still in shock over Janice’s sudden death, and he welcomes the distraction when Captain America asks him for a portable device with which he can analyze a robot that A.I.M. has sent to smash up Harlem. Tony throws himself into the problem and completes the project before the night is over.

Wanting to get out of town, Iron Man volunteers to answer a call to the Avengers from General T.E. “Thunderbolt” Ross, requesting aid in capturing the Hulk. He flies out to Los Angeles and meets with Ross and his aide-de-camp Major Glenn Talbot. Iron Man is surprised to find that the Hulk has been physically separated from his alter-ego, Bruce Banner. Together, Iron Man and Banner prepare a gamma-ray device to safely reintegrate Banner and the Hulk before they both perish. A teenager named Jim Wilson leads them to the Hulk’s hideout in a slum neighborhood and brings the Hulk out into the open. Iron Man attacks the Hulk to give Jim a chance to get to safety. The soldiers then fire the gamma-ray beam at the Hulk. Banner runs into the energy field and is absorbed into the Hulk’s massive frame. As the soldiers take the unconscious Hulk into custody, Iron Man fears Banner may never re-emerge. The mission a success, a melancholy Iron Man returns to New York.

November 1964 – Following the election of Senator Morris N. Richardson as the next President of the United States, Tony has a follow-up appointment with Dr. José Santini. One month having passed since the operation, Santini is astounded at how quickly Tony has recovered from major heart surgery.

Iron Man finally tracks down the cargo ship that smuggled the Titanium Man into the country, sinks it, and turns its crew over to the authorities. He hopes this will help him make peace with Janice Cord’s death. Soon after, however, he is contacted by Cheryl Porter, the wife of one of the sailors, who reveals herself to be the informant who tipped Tony off to the plot last month. The ship’s captain learned of her betrayal, she explains, and has hired a professional hitman known as the Mercenary to kill her. Having read S.H.I.E.L.D.’s dossier on the Mercenary, Tony agrees to let her hide out at his hunting lodge in the Adirondacks. When they arrive, Tony shows her some of the security devices that have been installed since the Mandarin’s attack in September. Securing Cheryl inside a panic room, Tony dons his Iron Man armor to wait for the Mercenary to make his move. When the assassin strikes, he proves to be a surprisingly formidable foe, and even manages to cripple Iron Man’s armor with a high-tech scrambler device. The Mercenary then disguises himself as Tony Stark so Cheryl will let him into the panic room. However, he is then shot dead by Vincent Sandhurst, who is seeking revenge on Stark for exposing his crimes and ruining his career. Sandhurst also dies, having been mortally wounded by the Mercenary just prior to Tony and Cheryl’s arrival. The danger passed, Cheryl returns to New York City to stand by her husband while he is prosecuted for his crimes. Depressed over having lost Janice, Tony decides to leave the country.

Tony hangs out at the casinos in Monte Carlo, but does not enjoy himself. In his hotel suite, he is confronted by Jasper Sitwell, who holds the solid-gold mask of Madam Masque, explaining it was picked up during a routine S.H.I.E.L.D. bust near the Aegean Sea. The mask bears the fingerprints of both Whitney Frost and Tony Stark, so Sitwell demands an explanation. Tony reveals how Frost became Madam Masque and tells of their adventure together fighting Mordecai Midas. Clearly hurt, Sitwell vows to hunt her down. Thus, the next day, Tony flies to Greece to look for her himself. While searching the coastal area where Madam Masque was last seen, Iron Man chances upon a fishing village being attacked by a real-life Minotaur. Iron Man drives the Minotaur off, then tracks it back to its underground labyrinth. Deep within the maze of tunnels, Iron Man discovers a laboratory where Whitney Frost, her face wrapped in bandages, has been strapped to a table and is being menaced by an old man with a syringe. The Minotaur attacks Iron Man, but Sitwell appears on the scene and rescues Frost. The old man and the Minotaur are lost when the battle causes the system of tunnels to collapse, but Iron Man gets Sitwell and Frost to safety. As Sitwell has been knocked out by a falling rock, Frost retrieves her golden mask and departs. Iron Man decides to let her go.

On his way back to the United States, Tony stops off at a Stark Industries subsidiary project on Meridian Island in the Atlantic Ocean. He discovers the project director, Blane Ordway, has been cutting corners and polluting the environment, which has brought the wrath of the Sub-Mariner down on them. Iron Man tries to drive the Sub-Mariner away, but then they are forced to work together to destroy the installation before it unleashes environmental devastation. Ordway is killed trying to stop the disaster, but the rest of the personnel are rescued. When he returns to Stark Industries, Iron Man immediately films a public service announcement about the dangers of pollution. Tony tries to rally his fellow industrialists to the cause of environmentalism, but they are not interested.

When the Collector kidnaps Happy and Pepper Hogan, curious about Happy’s transformations into the Freak and looking to replace the specimens he lost after his last skirmish with the Avengers, Iron Man is forced to try to obtain a special sword from an extradimensional world to trade for his friends’ lives. Thus, Iron Man is drawn into a war between the barbarian king Val-Larr and the evil wizard Shar-Khan. Iron Man initially steals the sword from Val-Larr, but manages to turn the tables on the Collector before Shar-Khan’s horde of shadow-demons overwhelms Val-Larr’s citadel. Having been forced to agree to terms, the Collector returns Iron Man, Happy, and Pepper to New Jersey. The Hogans are grateful to Iron Man, but Tony feels he is to blame for them having been endangered in the first place.

Tony is recruited by Reed Richards to work with geneticist Charles Xavier on a project to capture and cure the Hulk. They meet with General Ross, who arranges for them to have facilities set up at Hoover Dam. The three scientists then begin working on the project in close collaboration.

Eddie March is finally released from the hospital, and Tony offers to make him the director of a Stark-sponsored community center in his hometown of Bay City, Michigan. However, the ground-breaking ceremony is disrupted by a group of African American militants who object to the project. Things get complicated when a high-tech radical calling himself Firebrand tries to incite a riot, drawing Iron Man into a fight. One of the protestors, Helene Davis, brings Eddie around to her way of thinking, and they soon provide Iron Man with proof that the project is being forced through by a corrupt city councilman, Lyle Bradshaw, who stands to make a handsome profit from the project. Iron Man then defeats Firebrand and exposes Bradshaw’s duplicity, leading to the project being cancelled. Eddie then accepts a job as a community organizer for the Iron Man Foundation, electing to remain in Bay City with Helene. Satisfied, Tony returns to New York.

Summoned to Pinewood Sanitarium in upstate New York by his childhood sweetheart Meredith McCall, Tony discovers that the facility has been taken over by the Controller. Jasper Sitwell informs Tony that the Controller, a.k.a. Basil Sandhurst, was remanded to the sanitarium by S.H.I.E.L.D. when his health deteriorated in custody. However, the villain has managed to rebuild his mental-wave absorbatron in the facility’s basement and enslaved all the staff and patients. The Controller reveals that he forced Meredith to summon Tony so he could use Tony’s mechanical genius to miniaturize his absorbatron device and incorporate it into his helmet. Unwilling to risk the lives of the Controller’s victims, Tony complies, but surreptitiously makes faulty electrical connections that will soon blow out. When Sitwell storms the makeshift laboratory and attacks the Controller, Tony is able to grab his attaché case and escape. He quickly becomes Iron Man and battles the Controller until his new helmet shorts out, giving the villain a nasty jolt of electricity. The Controller is again taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. and his victims are freed from their slave-discs. However, Tony decides to leave without speaking to Meredith, as he has discovered that she is now married.

Still depressed about Janice Cord’s death, Tony decides to spend the Thanksgiving holiday on a yacht in the Caribbean Sea. However, after an encounter with a group of “boat people” fleeing the tyrannical government of their home island, Tony becomes Iron Man to investigate the mysterious “Overseer” who has conquered the tiny nation. He soon discovers that the Overseer is a gigantic computerized machine protected by a powerful robot called Myrmidon. Iron Man destroys them both and turns their human operator over to a mob of angry peasants outside.

Back in the U.S., Tony receives an emergency requisition from S.H.I.E.L.D. for gas-guns containing an extra-powerful sedative. Tony handles the rush job personally and meets Nick Fury’s deadline. S.H.I.E.L.D. then uses the weapons to attempt to capture the Silver Surfer, but the alien escapes.

December 1964 – Tony travels to Japan for a meeting with military and industrial bigwigs at Fujiyama Electronics. Iron Man is recruited by a research scientist, Goro Watanabe, to help investigate anomalous readings from an island in the Sea of Japan. Concerned that the Red Chinese are up to something, Iron Man agrees to help and accompanies Watanabe’s expedition. After reaching the island, they are attacked by what appears to be a monstrous, mythological dragon called Zoga. They barely escape with their lives. The dragon attacks the mainland the next day, but, having had time to prepare, Iron Man is able to destroy the monster. He discovers it to be a giant robot piloted by Watanabe’s traitorous assistant.

On his return journey across the Pacific Ocean, Tony stops to check up on a recently opened Stark Industries facility on the island of Lakani, which has been struggling financially. Tony realizes that Bowers, the plant manager, has been embezzling money and stirring up environmental protestors to hide his crimes. When a gang of mercenaries plants a bomb in the factory’s atomic reactor, Iron Man captures them and forces them to disarm it. Impressed with the plant’s ingenious security chief, Kevin O’Brien, whom Bowers had had kidnapped, Tony offers him a job at the main facility on Long Island.

Back in the United States, Iron Man spots a UFO and goes to investigate. He is captured by the alien spacecraft, which is piloted by an android called Mechanoid Scout MK-5. Leaving Iron Man imprisoned on the ship, the Mechanoid leaves to judge whether the earth is suitable for colonization. Iron Man soon breaks out and hunts down the Mechanoid, who has assumed the form of a man and befriended a human woman. Unfortunately, they have run afoul of two escaped convicts who shoot the Mechanoid before Iron Man can stop them. The Mechanoid self-destructs, and Iron Man hands the convicts over to the police.

Stark Industries comes under attack by Spymaster and his Espionage Elite, who kidnap Tony and set off a series of explosions at the Long Island factory. With Kevin O’Brien’s help, Tony escapes and dons his Iron Man armor. After a pitched battle, Iron Man forces the industrial spies to retreat, but while they are boarding their helicopter, Spymaster guns down Jasper Sitwell. Enraged, Iron Man blasts the helicopter with his repulsor rays, destroying it. Spymaster nevertheless gets away by activating a jetpack, but the five members of his Espionage Elite are taken into custody. The next day, Iron Man goes to the police precinct where the spies are being interrogated and tries to force them to reveal Spymaster’s location. However, the newly-elected district attorney, Franklin Nelson, and his special assistant, Matt Murdock, tell Iron Man to cool it. Frustrated, Iron Man conducts an extensive search of the city for Spymaster, without success.

Later, Iron Man stops by S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to check on Sitwell, who remains in a coma. Nick Fury shows Iron Man a dangerous artifact called the Zodiac Key, confiscated from Zodiac after their failed invasion of Manhattan in October. The Key briefly takes over Fury’s mind, so Iron Man encases it in a force field and takes it back to Stark Industries for analysis. After a while, Fury arrives for a status update, but their conference is interrupted when Aquarius, Capricorn, and Sagittarius storm the laboratory with an army of henchmen. During the brawl, Iron Man learns that Spymaster was working for Zodiac, and so vents his rage on them. He gets sloppy, though, and an energy blast from the Zodiac Key knocks him out.

When Iron Man regains consciousness, he finds he has been taken prisoner by Zodiac, along with Nick Fury, Kevin O’Brien, Daredevil, and Madam Masque. Aquarius, Capricorn, Sagittarius, and Spymaster gloat over their captives until a voice emanates from a strange field of crackling energy nearby. The voice commands Capricorn to release Fury and give him the Zodiac Key. Rather than attack their foes, though, Fury is mesmerized again and uses the Key to open a space-warp that transports them all to another dimension. There, they meet the mysterious Brotherhood of Ankh, who created the Zodiac Key long ago and eventually sent it to Earth to revitalize its fading energies. They order their captives to fight to the death, and Iron Man needs little inducement to attack Spymaster. However, Daredevil refuses to participate, upsetting the “balance” the Brotherhood seeks, so they are all sent back to Earth. Suddenly bereft of the Zodiac Key, Capricorn tries to call off the fight, but Fury immediately attacks him. Iron Man pursues Spymaster when he flees but loses him when the villain causes a traffic accident on the Long Island Expressway. Fury and Daredevil take the three captured members of Zodiac into custody and depart in a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicopter. Madam Masque asks Iron Man for some relationship advice, but he loses his temper and storms off. Frustrated by how empty and pointless his life now seems, Tony Stark decides to take a leave of absence.

Looking to forget his troubles, Tony calls up an old girlfriend, Marianne Rodgers, and invites her out to dinner. Their evening is interrupted, though, by a massive robot calling itself the Ramrod, which is trying to level an entire neighborhood to make a landing site for its alien masters. Ditching Marianne, Tony dons his Iron Man armor and attacks the robot. During the battle, Iron Man suddenly suffers a massive heart attack and crashes to the ground. He fears his heart has started rejecting the synthetic tissue Santini used to repair it. Abandoning the fight, Iron Man staggers back to the restaurant parking garage, where he changes back into Tony Stark. He is soon found by Kevin O’Brien, who tries to take him to the hospital. However, Tony convinces Kevin to take him instead to Avengers Mansion. When the mansion turns out to be deserted, Tony realizes he has no choice, and reveals to Kevin that he is Iron Man. He instructs Kevin where to find a spare suit of armor and how to activate the chestplate’s life-support system. Tony passes out, but revives a while later, feeling the familiar restorative effects of his chestplate. Donning the rest of the armor, Iron Man returns to the scene of the battle, where he finds Ramrod has demolished an entire city block and a massive spaceship has landed on top of the rubble. Iron Man rescues Marianne, destroys Ramrod, and wrecks the spaceship. While trying to apprehend the ship’s lone occupant, Iron Man inadvertently kills the alien. S.H.I.E.L.D. then cleans up the mess while Iron Man comforts the distraught Marianne.

Iron Man battles the mob after Tony decides to give a second chance to Frankie Majors, a young electronics genius who started out as a racketeer. Frankie is intent on going straight, but his former mob connections are trying to force him back into a life of crime. Tony even takes a bullet in the shoulder while helping Frankie fight off two mob enforcers. When Frankie’s girlfriend Louise is kidnapped, Iron Man helps Frankie defeat the mobsters and rescue her.

Iron Man, Thor, and the Black Panther work tirelessly to rescue Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision when they get lost during an interdimensional transit. After they have succeeded, Jarvis serves the Avengers tea and coffee and the Black Panther regales them with stories of his early years.

As Christmas approaches, Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion to attend a meeting with Thor, Captain America, Goliath, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Panther, and Vision. Since the United Nations is worried about an experimental weather-control station they are planning to test, Cap asks Iron Man, Thor, and Goliath to remain on-call at the mansion while the rest of the team goes to make a television appearance for charity. When the project comes under attack by the Hulk, the Sub-Mariner, and the Silver Surfer, the three Avengers immediately take a Quinjet down to the Caribbean to stop them. After a brief scuffle, the Avengers discover that the weather-control experiment is indeed too dangerous to proceed and they allow the Sub-Mariner and his Atlantean scientists to deactivate it. After meeting Lady Dorma, the Sub-Mariner’s fiancée, Iron Man, Thor, and Goliath fly back to New York and rejoin their teammates for the Avengers’ Third Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. At the party, Iron Man meets Captain America’s new partner, the Falcon.

A couple days later, the Falcon pays a visit to Tony Stark, needing help getting to Subterranea to rescue Captain America. Tony lends the novice hero a jetpack and sends him on his way. Tony is pleased that the project to cure the Hulk is nearing completion, and he looks forward to participating in the final stages with his two collaborators. Later, Tony decides to ask Marianne Rodgers out for New Year’s Eve, as the time has come to make a fresh start.


January 1964 – After remaining behind the scenes when Hawkeye calls a meeting in Avengers #38, Iron Man’s adventures resume in Tales of Suspense #87 and following. The Golden Avenger makes a cameo appearance during the Supreme Hydra’s broadcast in Strange Tales #156.

February 1964 – Tony Stark is behind the scenes in Strange Tales #162.

March 1964 – Iron Man joins the Avengers in countering the monstrous master plan of the Mandarin in Avengers Annual #1. The “Avengers Day” celebration follows in Avengers #45. Jasper Sitwell does not mention the battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus at Stark Industries, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #55, but the timing is right and it makes sense. Tony apparently does not remember Sitwell from their brief meeting six months ago, as mentioned in Strange Tales #144.

April 1964 – Tony Stark appears briefly in Captain America’s half of Tales of Suspense #95. During Iron Man’s battles with the Maggia and A.I.M., Tales of Suspense ceased to be a “split-book,” as favorable business conditions allowed Marvel to expand its line. The book was renamed Captain America and, after the one-shot issue Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1, Iron Man finally received his own title. Tony Stark’s adventures then continue in Iron Man #1 and following. Between the first two issues, Iron Man appears in Avengers #51–52.

May 1964 – Tony Stark remains behind the scenes as he deactivates the H-bomb in Captain America #104. Although it appears to be an accident, the destruction of the Uranus-XII rocket in Iron Man #3 may have been an act of sabotage carried out by the Secret Empire. The subversive organization is trying to keep America’s mission to the moon from taking place before the upcoming presidential election. Their leader, Senator Morris N. Richardson, intends to win the presidency by any means necessary, and a successful lunar landing would be a big boost for his opponent, incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson. See OMU: POTUS -- Part Three for more information.

August 1964 – Iron Man learns that even an android can cry in Avengers #58.

September 1964 – The wedding of the Wasp and Yellowjacket occurs in Avengers #60. Tony Stark makes a cameo appearance in Hulk #108 when he contacts Nick Fury about the Mandarin. He then guest-stars in Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #8 to protect Fury from some assassins. Although Supremus tries to take credit for the worldwide heat wave, it is actually being caused by a Saggitarian doomsday device located in the Savage Land, as seen in Hulk #109. Iron Man appears next in Captain America #112–113, and is behind the scenes in the flashback to these events in Avengers #106. He remains behind the scenes in Fantastic Four #84 when Fury attempts to have a robot arm analyzed. After appearing in Iron Man #14, Tony Stark makes a cameo in Sub-Mariner #14 and guest-stars in Captain Marvel #14. Although he is not aware of it, Iron Man attacks Captain Marvel under the sinister influence of the Puppet Master. Iron Man then hangs out with the Avengers again in Avengers #66–67.

October 1964 – After Tony Stark’s heart failure in Iron Man #18, he appears in Avengers #69, where he is kidnapped by Kang the Conqueror’s servitor, the Growing Man, and taken to Kang’s fortress in the 41st century. Captain America makes a deal with Kang, exchanging the Avengers’ cooperation for Stark’s return to the hospital. Tony remains comatose throughout. Dr. José Santini performs the operation in Iron Man #19. While Tony is in the recovery room, he is kidnapped a second time by Kang and restored to full health by Kang’s futuristic technology, although this cure will prove to be temporary. Thus, Iron Man is well enough to participate in the contest between the Avengers and the Squadron Sinister in Avengers #70–71. At the conclusion of the game, the Grandmaster teleports Tony back to the hospital recovery room, mere moments after he disappeared, leaving Tony with no clear memory of the event. So it is neither Santini’s surgical skill nor the Avengers’ ultra-rejuvenator device that accounts for Tony’s miraculously speedy recovery, but Kang’s 41st-century medicine.

In Iron Man #20, the “Lucifer” who possesses Charlie Gray is not really a demon, but an alien—the same alien responsible for crippling Charles Xavier. However, Iron Man never has the chance to learn of Lucifer’s true nature. Captain America drops by Stark Industries in Captain America #123. As seen in Iron Man #21, Eddie March is clearly a big, beefy guy and would certainly not fit inside one of Tony’s suits of armor, thus Tony would have to build him a custom-made suit. This is lucky for Eddie, since it would mean the armor’s cybernetic interfaces are keyed to Eddie’s own nervous system. Therefore, Eddie is in no danger of being driven insane by using Tony’s armor, as happened previously to “Weasel” Wills and later with Jim Rhodes.

Iron Man helps the Avengers battle Arkon in Avengers #76. In the following issue, Tony Stark appears in a flashback, asking the Avengers to raise money as fast as possible to save Stark Industries from financial ruin. Nick Fury then picks up his special-order android from Tony in Captain America #127. During his semi-retirement while Eddie March is in training, Tony appears as Iron Man in Avengers #79–82. It’s notable that Iron Man doesn’t actually do much in these issues. Following Janice Cord’s sudden death, Tony makes another cameo appearance in Captain America #133, then guest-stars as Iron Man in Hulk #131.

November 1964 – Tony Stark’s follow-up appointment with Dr. José Santini is shown in flashback in Avengers #146. Tony’s joint project with Reed Richards and Charles Xavier to cure the Hulk is revealed in Avengers #88. He makes a brief appearance in Silver Surfer #17 to provide S.H.I.E.L.D. with their Z-gas guns.

December 1964 – Iron Man’s team-up with Daredevil and Nick Fury crosses over into Daredevil #73. Tony Stark’s heart attack in Iron Man #36 shows that Kang’s healing process was only temporary and has now worn off, forcing Tony to rely on his life-saving chestplate again. Some fans consider Marianne Rodgers to be the same woman Tony was dating back in Tales of Suspense #40. However, since her name was Marion, I don’t believe that to be the case. Marianne is more likely one of the dozens of women Tony dated in February of this year. Iron Man helps out the Avengers in Avengers #86–87 and Sub-Mariner #35. The Falcon drops by Stark Industries in Captain America #136. This brings us up to Iron Man #38.