Wednesday

OMU: Iron Man -- Year Four

Tony Stark finally starts to emerge from the shadow of death during the next twelve months of his career as Iron Man. Though still dependent on the life-support system in his armor’s chestplate, his health begins to markedly improve, allowing him to return to active duty in the Avengers and generally become a more proactive superhero. Much of the year is taken up with Tony’s effort to reorder his company’s priorities, moving Stark Industries away from weapons manufacturing to less lethal technologies. This is accompanied by another shake-up in the supporting cast, with Jasper Sitwell and Whitney Frost being written out in favor of Tony’s new psychic fiancée, Marianne Rodgers, and his ill-fated engineer / sidekick Kevin O’Brien. Going forward, Tony’s fortunes will continue to improve.

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 1965 – Tony Stark prepares to deliver a speech at the United Nations, entitled “The Scientist’s Responsibility Towards Man,” in which he sees a chance to lay out his justifications for moving Stark Industries away from munitions to peaceful applications of technology. Before heading to the UN Building, though, Tony pays a visit to Jasper Sitwell in the hospital, where the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent remains in a coma following his confrontation with Spymaster last month. Feeling guilty, Tony leaves the hospital and drives along the East River. The next thing he knows, Tony is in his private office a week later, his mind a jumble of vague memories and bizarre hallucinations about dragons, demons, and mechanical monsters. Kevin O’Brien is there, and he shows Tony the blueprints for a new nuclear weapons system that Tony suddenly ordered him to start building after blowing off his speaking engagement at the UN. Realizing he must have been the victim of some form of mind-control, Tony dons his Iron Man armor and goes out to investigate.

On the banks of the East River, Iron Man is attacked by a squad of armored men with jetpacks, but he loses them in the murky waters of the river. At the bottom he discovers a strange submarine and, breaking in, finds a Chinese man and woman whom he recognizes from his fever dream. The woman rants and raves about her plan to frame Tony Stark for an atomic explosion that would have devastated New York. Suddenly, their monitors show Stark Industries being destroyed in a massive nuclear blast. Sickened by the sight, Iron Man disables the sub and heads for the surface. As he rockets out of the water, an explosion from below signals that the submarine has self-destructed. Upon reaching his factory, though, Iron Man discovers that Kevin O’Brien worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. to fool the villains with a fake catastrophe after realizing that the weapons system was designed to fail. Immensely relieved, Iron Man compliments Kevin for his quick thinking.

Tony is disturbed to learn that, while he was under the influence of the Chinese agents, he created a weaponized prosthetic hand for the wealthy African-American businessman Lionel Dibbs, whom he had initially rebuffed. Dibbs then used the weapon during a racially charged confrontation with the police in San Francisco, though he was stopped by Thor. Furthermore, Tony missed the culmination of his joint project with Reed Richards and Charles Xavier to capture and cure the Hulk. Richards informs Tony that their plan failed, as the Hulk somehow vanished into thin air as soon as he was captured. As a result, General Ross suspended the project indefinitely. Learning that he was even flying around recklessly as Iron Man while not in control of himself, Tony decides to create a basic suit of armor for Kevin O’Brien to use in emergencies.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Tony receives a strange letter of resignation from the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, which claims that Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America personally disbanded the team. Confused, he calls an emergency meeting of the original members. Thor, Captain America, and Ant-Man soon join Iron Man at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. When the Vision regains consciousness, he recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Iron Man, Thor, and Cap assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Reed Richards realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. Iron Man recognizes them as Mandroids, which he designed himself for S.H.I.E.L.D. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that his king, Black Bolt, has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt has been exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, so Cap suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, however, saying the rescue of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind, so Thor generates a spacetime vortex that transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Iron Man, Thor, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and with help from Thor’s enchanted hammer, they are able to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Iron Man and Thor pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Iron Man watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

Over the next couple of days, Tony and Kevin O’Brien complete Kevin’s emergency back-up armor. As a nod to his Irish heritage, Kevin paints the suit green and starts training himself to use it. Also, Tony finally delivers his much-delayed speech to the United Nations, though he decides to hold off on formally announcing that Stark Industries is divesting itself from munitions.

Several days later, Tony is called to appear before a Senate subcommittee in Washington, DC, and he invites Marianne Rodgers to accompany him. He’s decided he really likes her, though she seems very high-strung. In fact, when the plane lands in the nation’s capital, Tony is forced to change into Iron Man when part of the airport terminal begins to collapse. Marianne has an emotional breakdown when she discovers that Tony has “disappeared” and runs off. When the crisis has passed, Tony tries to find Marianne, but is unable to locate her before having to head to the Capitol Building. There, he finds that his old college friend Ben Crandall, also an industrialist, has been called to appear before the same subcommittee. The hearing is convened by Senator Ernest McJavit, who accuses both Crandall and Tony of using shoddy materials and substandard workmanship on their government contracts. Tony is shocked and insulted, but the hearing is interrupted when the building begins to shake and the ceiling starts to collapse. In the confusion, Tony slips out and changes into Iron Man. His armor detects the same ultrasonic signal that he noticed at the airport terminal and tracks it back to the saboteurs—a pair of bickering villains called the Slasher and Demetrius. Despite their second-rate super-powers, they manage to give Iron Man a hard time, and during the fight he learns they are working for someone called Mister Kline. Marianne then stumbles upon the scene, apparently causing Demetrius to have some kind of fit. Iron Man knocks out the Slasher with a repulsor-ray blast and rushes to Marianne’s side as she faints. To his surprise, she deliriously calls him “Tony” before slipping into unconsciousness. After the police arrive and take the villains into custody, Iron Man flies Marianne to their hotel. He changes back into Tony Stark, and Marianne eventually recovers. She claims to have had psychic visions suggesting that his life is in danger, but Tony isn’t sure what to make of it.

After a restless night, Tony receives a call from Ben Crandall, who asks if Iron Man can meet him at the Capitol as soon as possible. When Iron Man arrives, Crandall informs him that Senator McJavit holds them responsible for yesterday’s disasters and claims the Slasher and Demetrius are just a couple of patsies. McJavit appears then and has Iron Man taken into custody. The Golden Avenger is determined to cooperate, but when he has a hallucination of Marianne being turned into a monster, he loses control of himself and smashes out of prison. Realizing he is being manipulated, Iron Man is suddenly teleported to a hellish landscape, where he is confronted by a man called Soulfather, who claims to have been granted godlike powers by Mister Kline. Seeing Marianne is being held prisoner, Iron Man attacks Soulfather, but is easily defeated. Iron Man is chained up, but he escapes and battles Soulfather a second time, only to fare worse than he did before, with his armor’s power levels reaching dangerously low levels. Finally, Soulfather transports Iron Man and Marianne to his throne room, where two bulky armored creatures attack, intent on smashing the transparent floor and sending the hapless pair into the jaws of a gigantic serpent below. In desperation, Iron Man channels all remaining power to his repulsor rays, sweeping the chamber and blowing up Soulfather and his minions. Unfortunately, this causes Iron Man’s life-support system to fail, so Tony has a heart attack and collapses. They are rescued by Kevin O’Brien in his green armor, who reveals that the hellish landscape was a fake and their foes were all robots. Stunned by this revelation, Tony lapses into a coma.

When he regains consciousness, Tony finds himself back at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan. Kevin and Marianne are both there to look after him as he recovers. Kevin explains that he got Tony to Avengers Mansion in time to repair his chestplate and save his life, though he had to scuffle with Captain America, who mistook him for a supervillain. Kevin reports that his armored suit worked better than expected under actual combat conditions, though he’s a bit worried the power might go to his head. Dismissing Kevin’s concerns, Tony asks him to find out all he can about Mister Kline. After Kevin has left, though, Tony and Marianne are attacked by the Night Phantom. Despite his ill-health, Tony manages to don his Iron Man armor, and quickly discovers that the Night Phantom is another robot sent by Mister Kline. During the battle, Marianne reveals that she’s already figured out that Tony is Iron Man. Using an emergency power-booster, Iron Man overwhelms his robotic foe and destroys it.

In the aftermath of the battle, Tony checks in with his secretary, Claire Greer. She reports that Jasper Sitwell has finally woken from his coma and has started working with a physical therapist. Tony is glad to hear that Jasper’s prognosis is good. She also informs Tony that Senator McJavit has disappeared and his subcommittee has been disbanded, with all charges against Iron Man dropped. Relieved, Tony takes a shower and, fearing that his death from heart failure will soon come, he resolves to spend his remaining days with Marianne as man and wife. However, he soon receives a telegram informing him that the Stark Industries board of directors intends to oust him as company president tomorrow. Tony suspects that it’s a power-grab orchestrated by Simon Gilbert, the recently elected chairman of the board. Still, due to his fatalism, he finds it difficult to care, and proposes to Marianne. She accepts tearfully, and they spend the next several hours having sex. Finally, Marianne senses that something is seriously wrong at Tony’s factory complex on Long Island and, willing to trust her ESP, he dons his Iron Man armor and goes to check it out. Before leaving, Tony tells Marianne that the last few hours have been the best of his life.

When he arrives at the factory, Iron Man sees that a mob of student anti-war protestors has stormed the complex, and Kevin, wearing his green armor, has apparently fired on them, seriously wounding four of the students. Horrified, Iron Man tries to intervene, but the protestors refuse to listen to him as Kevin slips into the administration building. Unwilling to use force against the students, Iron Man takes to the sky, where he sees the police are on their way. Emboldened, the protestors storm the building, and one of them hits Kevin with a Molotov cocktail. Though it explodes harmlessly against his armor, Kevin is enraged and drives the protestors back with a barrage of repulsor rays. As the first police cars arrive on the scene, Iron Man crashes into the boardroom and confronts Simon Gilbert and the other executives. For some reason, Kevin sides with the board against Tony, and the two armored men get into a fight which soon carries them back outside. Kevin fires on the protestors again, causing them to flee, so Iron Man presses his attack. Kevin soon retreats inside the administration building, leaving the battle unresolved. Since the protestors have dispersed, Iron Man secures the perimeter and settles things with the police riot squad. He then heads back to Manhattan and rejoins Marianne, deciding to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

The next day, Tony and Marianne hear news reports about last night’s battle and are relieved to learn the four wounded protestors are expected to recover. The papers are calling Kevin “the Guardsman,” a name he apparently came up with himself. Marianne suspects that Kevin is infatuated with her and betrayed Tony out of jealousy. In the evening, Tony gets a call from the factory security office, reporting that hundreds more protestors have descended in response to last night’s violence and the situation is getting out of hand. Tony agrees to send Iron Man at once. However, Marianne insists on going with him, so they drive out to the complex together. There, Tony and Marianne find Kevin, still wearing his armor, smashing up the executive boardroom. Refusing to listen to reason, Kevin heads out to deal with the latest wave of protestors. Simon Gilbert laughs at Tony, telling him he’s washed up. Enraged, Tony punches Gilbert, knocking him down, but Marianne admonishes him for getting violent. She gets an ESP flash that something terrible is about to happen between Kevin and the protestors, so Tony dashes into his private office, changes into Iron Man, and flies out to intervene. To stop Kevin from opening fire on the protestors, Iron Man attacks him and they start brawling. When Kevin rolls a barrel of napalm at Iron Man and ignites it with a laser blast, Tony realizes that his friend has gone completely insane. As Iron Man staggers through the flames, Kevin keeps ranting about how Tony stole Marianne from him and ruined his life. Kevin then activates an experimental flying tank outfitted with a laser cannon. Iron Man is forced to blow up the tank, hoping that Kevin’s armor will protect him from the blast. Unfortunately, Kevin is mortally wounded and dies, professing his love for Marianne. The protestors disperse, and Tony is horrified by what he has done.

In the morning, the police disrupt Kevin’s funeral while trying to bring Iron Man in for questioning. Furious, Iron Man drives them back with repulsor rays, causing Marianne to become distraught. He flies off to the factory and broods about all the weapons he’s built over the years, all the death and destruction he holds himself responsible for. Tony questions whether he should just give up being Iron Man, but decides it still serves a worthwhile purpose. Thus, Iron Man submits to questioning by the police and explains the circumstances leading to Kevin’s death. After all the numerous witnesses have been questioned, Iron Man is cleared of any wrongdoing.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Feeling personally responsible since he recruited Goliath to the team back when he was called Hawkeye, Tony returns to Stark Industries to try to devise a technological solution to the problem. Iron Man is immediately called upon to deal with some intruders, but blacks out suddenly. When he comes to, Iron Man finds himself in the weapons lab with the Vision and members of a paramilitary group called the Warhawks. Like Iron Man, the Warhawks have no idea how they came to be there. The Vision insists that they need to rendezvous with the rest of the team at the Midtown Hotel in Manhattan, where the leader of the Warhawks, a man called Mr. Tallon, has somehow incited a mob against a Chinese delegation staying there. Along the way, the Vision tells Iron Man of how they fought each other in the weapons lab because Iron Man was suddenly determined to start World War III by any means necessary. Tony is frustrated to hear that he had once again fallen under some form of mind control. When they arrive on the scene, they find Thor holding the mob at bay, but Iron Man blacks out again. When he comes to, he finds the crowd dispersing and learns that “Mr. Tallon” was really the Greek god of war, Ares, who was using the hypnotic pipes of Olympian satyrs to bring people under his control. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, though, Ares teleported away to safety. Suddenly, Hawkeye emerges from the crowd, dressed in an unfamiliar costume, and reveals that he’s found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear, fight off the Avengers, and kidnap Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Iron Man heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Iron Man is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Thor’s enchanted hammer, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. Iron Man is quickly knocked out of the fight, and when he recovers, he finds the others have already defeated Ares and rescued Hercules. The Hulk has captured the Enchantress on his own, but Thor decides to leave her to face the justice of Zeus. The Avengers return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England. After what he’s just seen, Iron Man knows he can no longer dismiss Thor’s tales of Asgard as mere fantasy.

March 1965 – Due to the Guardsman fiasco, Tony reasserts total control over his company, firing Simon Gilbert and forcing the entire board of directors to resign. He then leaves town to inspect his munitions plants in Bay City, Michigan, with an eye toward converting them to other product lines. The executive shake-up spooks investors, and the company takes a tumble in the stock market. At a cocktail party outside Bay City, Tony has a few more drinks than usual in an attempt to take the edge off. When he nearly picks a fight with a pessimistic shareholder, Marianne drags him out of the party for a moonlit drive. However, Tony speeds recklessly and is pulled over by a cop. Recognizing that Tony is still blaming himself for Kevin’s death, she urges him to put that behind him now. They are interrupted by a call from the local plant security office, as the facility is under attack by Firebrand. Tony immediately changes into Iron Man, flies to the plant, and fights with the high-tech saboteur. During the battle, a ceiling collapses, revealing that Simon Gilbert has set charges to destroy the factory. Iron Man grabs Firebrand and flies him out, barely getting clear in time before a series of massive explosions brings the building down. Seeing that Simon Gilbert, who was trapped inside, has been killed, Firebrand goes berserk and tries to roast Iron Man with his thermal-blasters. Though his armor starts to melt, Iron Man manages to reach Firebrand and knock him out. As he is being taken into custody, Firebrand reveals that Simon Gilbert was his father and swears vengeance on Iron Man.

Returning to his headquarters on Long Island, Tony destroys the armor that was wrecked fighting Firebrand and starts designing a new version. His employees give him a vote of confidence as he vows to turn the company’s fortunes around. However, his executive secretary, Claire Greer, gives her notice as she has recently gotten pregnant and plans to resign when the baby is due. Tony then focuses all his time and attention on diversifying the company’s product line and steering it away from munitions.

April–July 1965 – Rebuilding and refocusing Stark Industries continues to be Tony’s top priority over the next several months as he recruits a new board of directors more in tune with his new vision. He makes only a few routine appearances as Iron Man after completing his new armored suit. He continues to provide various devices to capture and contain the Hulk for the Air Force’s Project Greenskin, but foregoes any other new military contracts. His munitions plants are gradually refitted to produce advanced computers and aerospace technology rather than weapons. Tony and Marianne begin planning for a November wedding, though he becomes increasingly skeptical of her ESP and grows annoyed at her vague prognostications.

August 1965 – Tony is contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury with an emergency request: an advanced Life Model Decoy android of a green-skinned alien woman named Jarella is needed to counteract a dimensional instability that threatens to cause the sun to go supernova. Tony suspends all other projects and has the amazingly lifelike android finished within eighteen hours. Fury and his right-hand man, “Dum Dum” Dugan, personally deliver the android to General Ross at Hulkbuster Base in New Mexico. Tony learns later that the LMD was destroyed by an assassin sent to kill Jarella, but Bruce Banner, Hank Pym, Reed Richards, and Peter Corbeau together managed to return Jarella to the Microverse in such a way as to allow the sun to return to normal.

September 1965 – While visiting Avengers Mansion, Iron Man meets several of Thor’s friends from Asgard—Sif, Balder the Brave, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde—as well as a couple of extraterrestrial acquaintances, Tana Nile and Silas Grant. Thor explains how they’ve all been marooned on Earth after questioning Odin’s judgment and will be staying at the mansion for a while. The thunder god suddenly realizes that they haven’t seen their other comrade, Volstagg, since a recent battle. Having heard Thor’s stories about the Warriors Three, Iron Man jokes that Volstagg must still be hiding in a basement somewhere.

October 1965 – After the Hulk is captured by the military’s Hulkbuster unit, he is brought to Stark Industries and placed in a specially-designed confinement chamber. Tony explains its operation to General Ross, assuring him that the Hulk will not be able to escape from it. The general is understandably skeptical.

A couple days later, Iron Man unveils an advanced computer system called Nimrod by hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision are also present. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. While the others try to intercept Tippit, Iron Man heads back to Stark Industries, where he builds a device to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. The work goes surprisingly quickly, and Iron Man feels almost as though an angel guides his hand. Finally, the Avengers bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine, which Iron Man then activates. As Tippit regains consciousness, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Tony is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion for a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes its way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. Her first lead takes the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America, where a trio of Chilean scientists has been abducted by strange men with superhuman powers. Iron Man joins the Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Thor, and Sif on the mission. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Iron Man defeats Equilibrius in single combat while his teammates take care of the rest of their foes. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

The next day, back at Avengers Mansion, the Scarlet Witch continues to search for clues to her brother’s disappearance. Fandral offers to help her, to give himself something to do. She soon calls Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther into the communications room to show them a news broadcast Jarvis had recorded while they were away. Suddenly, however, the console shorts out, and Iron Man is baffled when he finds the device has been completely rewired. While the others leave to check out the Scarlet Witch’s lead, Iron Man remains behind to put the communications system back together.

In the morning, Tony takes Marianne to tour the Brand Corporation, another large research & development installation on Long Island. Still looking for new directions to take Stark Industries in, Tony is curious about the cutting-edge research into genetics being conducted at Brand. They meet a prickly young researcher named Hank McCoy and his sexy assistant, Linda Donaldson. Marianne insists to Tony that her ESP indicates that Linda is not what she seems, prompting Tony to return after nightfall as Iron Man to investigate. He is immediately attacked by a shaggy, ape-like creature that calls itself the Beast, but Iron Man is able to knock his assailant unconscious. The Brand security team arrives then, but Linda Donaldson shows up and tells them to stand down, certain that Iron Man must have a good reason for being there. The Beast revives and tackles Iron Man from behind. The guards open fire, but the Beast proves to be bulletproof. Inexplicably, the Beast goes into a trance for a few moments, then suddenly leaps through the nearest window, screaming about having killed Iron Man. Confused, Iron Man departs, leaving the Brand personnel to protect their own factory. Impressed with Linda Donaldson, Tony dismisses Marianne’s intuition about her.

Iron Man checks in at Avengers Mansion the following day to see how the search for Quicksilver is progressing. The Falcon turns up to warn the team that a Captain America impostor is on the loose. The real Cap is vacationing in the Bahamas with his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, and the Falcon needs help getting down there to warn him about the impostor. When the Vision reports that Captain America took over monitor duty just ten minutes ago, the team realizes that the impostor must have just discovered Cap’s whereabouts. They provide the Falcon with a Quinjet and he takes off immediately for the Bahamas.

Iron Man is testing his armor’s defensive systems at the Stark Industries proving ground the next morning when the Beast appears, wanting to discuss their recent altercation. A couple of security guards come rushing up and one of them shoots the Beast in the shoulder, but the wound heals instantly. Iron Man rebukes the guards, then shakes the Beast’s hand, calling him a brave man. The Beast appreciates being called a man and they part on friendly terms. Iron Man then fires his trigger-happy employee.

Two days later, Tony is in his office when Marianne rushes in, distraught over a psychic vision of Iron Man dying when a catwalk gives way and he falls into a vat of acid. Tony tries to assure her that it was just a bad dream, but she has another flash about danger at Avengers Mansion. To humor his fiancée, Tony decides to check it out and flies over to the team’s headquarters as Iron Man. Sure enough, he finds the Super-Adaptoid has returned, and they get into a fight that carries them across the street into Central Park. Iron Man manages to overpower his android foe, leaving the Super-Adaptoid buried under a pile of rubble. However, the power-levels in Tony’s armor have been drained to life-threatening levels. He hurries back to Avengers Mansion to recharge, finding Marianne waiting for him on the roof. She panics and runs away, though, convinced by her psychic visions that she will cause his death. Desperate, Iron Man drags himself inside, shedding parts of his armor as he goes, and finally manages to plug his chestplate into a wall socket. When his life-support system is fully charged, Tony gathers up his armor and returns to his factory, stunned and angry at the way Marianne deserted him when his life was in her hands. Over the next few hours, Tony convinces himself that he needs to break off their engagement.

Later, while announcing Stark Industries’ shift in priorities to the media, Tony is attacked by Princess Python and her gigantic snake. She tries to hold Tony for ransom, but he causes his chestplate to emit a powerful electric shock that stuns the serpent. Tony flees the scene, changes into Iron Man, and returns to capture Princess Python. He pursues her into a nearby factory building, where he ends up tossing her pet python into a large vat of acid. Clearly hysterical, the villainess makes a suicide jump off a catwalk, but Iron Man catches her before she falls into the vat. As soon as they’re back on the catwalk, though, Princess Python shoves Iron Man off the edge, hoping he’ll follow her snake into the acid. He saves himself with his boot jets, though they’ve been malfunctioning intermittently. As his unhinged foe is taken away by security guards, Iron Man notes the similarities to Marianne’s prophecy, but becomes more convinced than ever that her ESP is a sham.

That evening, Tony is frustrated when the rocket scheduled to carry his new weather satellite into orbit malfunctions shortly after launch and self-destructs. He returns to his private quarters and is infuriated to find Marianne there. They argue about her earlier behavior and Tony breaks up with her, demanding that she leave her engagement ring with his secretary. Humiliated and furious, Marianne storms out. Just then, Tony gets a call from one of his research teams, begging for Iron Man’s help. Tony puts his armor back on and flies over to their lab. Seeing the distraught Marianne running blindly towards the danger, Iron Man swoops down, snatches her up, and deposits her on a catwalk in a nearby chemical-storage warehouse. Marianne babbles about her psychic visions, but Iron Man ignores her and flies away. Smashing into the research lab, the Golden Avenger discovers a scary-looking robot with a huge battle axe that calls itself the Cyborg-Sinister. As they fight, they crash into the warehouse where Marianne is, and she screams to Iron Man that he should flee for his life. Annoyed, Iron Man blasts the Cyborg-Sinister with his repulsor rays, but the recoil causes him to fall off the catwalk toward a large vat of acid. Using his boot jets to avoid death again, Iron Man yells at Marianne to get out of there and never come back. As she runs off in tears, Iron Man tips the vat over, spilling the acid onto the Cyborg-Sinister. The creature is destroyed, so Iron Man orders the clean-up crew to seal its remains in an airtight container and put it in storage. Tony is left with no clue as to where the Cyborg-Sinister came from or why it attacked him.

Soon after, Tony’s executive secretary, Claire Greer, leaves the company to go have her baby. One of the girls in the secretarial pool is promoted to replace her. Upset about his breakup with Marianne, Tony retreats into his private lab for several days and tinkers with his Iron Man armor, upgrading its offensive and defensive capabilities. He designs a solar-powered recharging system to prevent any more brushes with death like he just experienced.

A couple weeks later, on Halloween, Iron Man joins Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Black Panther in searching Manhattan’s East Village for a man who reportedly vanished into thin air. The four Avengers soon fall into a trap set by the Space Phantom and his new partner-in-crime, the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper considers the Vision to be his “brother” (since the synthezoid’s mind is based on the brain patterns of his actual brother, the late Simon Williams) and is confident the Vision will soon join him against the Avengers. Iron Man struggles to free himself from the Space Phantom’s anti-gravity field, but to no avail.

November 1965 – Some hours later, Iron Man is relieved when Captain America and the Vision come to the rescue. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves trapped once again in the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes, but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, Iron Man is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

When Ant-Man goes missing for several days under mysterious circumstances, Iron Man phones the Wasp to find out what’s going on. However, she puts him off, not wanting to talk about it. Tony then turns his attention to the second attempt at launching his new weather satellite into orbit. This time, the mission is a success, which gives Tony hope that he will be able to pull Stark Industries out of its current slump and make it profitable again. He is stunned, though, when the newspapers report that Ant-Man and the Wasp are believed to have perished when their home in Southampton, New York, burned down. Iron Man meets Bill Foster at the site of the fire and scans for the Pyms’ insect-sized bodies. Finding nothing, Iron Man assumes their remains were consumed by the flames. Foster insists that they might still be alive somewhere, but Iron Man doesn’t want to give him false hope. However, Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When the villain is defeated, Ant-Man leads Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Vision to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

Tony takes a trip out to Los Angeles, California, where he checks in with his business interests on the west coast. He also spends a few days golfing, sailing, scuba-diving, and dating numerous women. He convinces himself that his engagement to Marianne only tied him down, and now it’s time to move forward again. At a beach party, Tony spots a wildfire starting up in the Santa Monica Mountains and decides he’d better lend a hand as Iron Man. This leads him into conflict with a man calling himself Raga, Son of Fire, who can generate intense heat from his body, enough to turn the ground molten. Raga is part of some kind of hippie cult led by a mysterious figure called the Black Lama, who uses his mystical powers against Iron Man. The world seems to melt away as Raga grows to giant-size, claiming that their battle will take place on a “mystic plane.” Nevertheless, Iron Man presses his attack and overcomes his foe. As things return to normal, the Black Lama announces that Raga has lost the fight and teleports away. Growing fearful, Raga loses control of his powers and causes an avalanche that carries him into the Pacific Ocean, where he drowns. After making sure the forest fire has been extinguished, Iron Man returns to the beach party and changes back into Tony Stark.

December 1965 – At Avengers Mansion, Iron Man chats with the Scarlet Witch, whose search for her missing brother continues. They also discuss her burgeoning romance with the Vision, and Iron Man worries that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later in the day, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Knowing Hawkeye to be hot-headed and impulsive, Iron Man doesn’t think much of it.

Tony travels to Seattle, Washington, to visit his facilities there, which have been hit hardest by the company’s change in priorities. Seeing his employees need a morale boost, he flies to the plant as Iron Man. However, he suddenly loses control of his armor and finds himself flying out over the Pacific Ocean. When the Sub-Mariner appears, Iron Man is forced to attack him. As they fight, Iron Man tries to convince Namor that he’s not in control of himself, but Namor doesn’t believe him. The battle quickly moves from the sky to beneath the waves, where Iron Man is at a disadvantage. Spotting a submarine lurking nearby, Iron Man assumes whoever is controlling his armor must be inside. An errant repulsor-ray blast strikes the submarine and damages it, freeing Iron Man from the unseen villain’s control. He beats a hasty retreat, leaving the Sub-Mariner far behind. Tony then spends the next week hanging out with his employees in Seattle.

Returning to New York, Iron Man attends the Avengers’ Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. A couple days later, the Scarlet Witch convinces her teammates that Hawkeye’s letter is a forgery and he may be in trouble. Iron Man, Thor, Vision, and Black Panther join her in traveling to California, where they find Hawkeye held prisoner by Champion in the Mojave Desert. The Avengers overcome Champion and his horde of masked henchmen and foil their plot to detonate a string of bombs along the San Andreas Fault. Hawkeye refuses to rejoin the team, though, so the Avengers leave him in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Tony Stark’s adventures continue in Iron Man #39 and following. While under the influence of Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, Tony creates the weaponized prosthetic hand that Lionel Dibbs is seen using in Amazing Adventures #8. At this point, I doubt Tony would have agreed to do it otherwise, so it makes for a convenient explanation. Iron Man is still under his foes’ mental domination when he appears in Avengers #88, though his memories of those events are erased by Psyklop in any case. Presumably, Reed Richards informed Tony of the failure of their joint project to cure the Hulk soon afterwards. When he has recovered from his brainwashing ordeal, Iron Man joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War across Avengers #94–97, during which Iron Man meets the Inhumans and travels into outer space for the first time. The Mister Kline storyline kind of fizzles out here, but will be resolved in Daredevil #84. Tony never learns the truth about Mister Kline and his mysterious master, which is probably for the best. The Avengers then foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #98–100.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Iron Man finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

August 1965 – Tony Stark builds the Jarella LMD behind the scenes in Hulk #148.

September 1965 – Iron Man meets Thor’s entourage in Thor #204.

October 1965 – Tony oversees the confinement of the captured Hulk in the first part of Hulk #153. Iron Man then helps deal with the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the Avengers appear at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in the latter half of Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Iron Man makes a cameo appearance during the “negative time” effect in Marvel Team-Up #7. It is Spider-Man who rewires the Avengers’ communications console, which causes it to short out when time resumes its normal flow. Iron Man then meets the newly mutated Beast in Amazing Adventures #12 and is hanging out at Avengers Mansion when the Falcon shows up in Captain America #154. The Beast comes to find Iron Man at Stark Industries in Amazing Adventures #14. Unknown to Iron Man, the “Cyborg-Sinister” that he battles in Iron Man #51 is really the Super-Adaptoid, which has been retrofitted by a diabolical mastermind from the Microverse. Following his bad breakup with Marianne, Iron Man is captured along with his fellow Avengers by the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper, as seen in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – The Space Phantom / Grim Reaper story concludes in Avengers #108. Iron Man then appears in Marvel Feature #9–10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – Iron Man helps the Avengers rescue Hawkeye from the megalomaniac Champion in Avengers #109. The team’s annual Christmas charity benefit occurs behind the scenes, as usual. This brings us up to Iron Man #54, in which the Golden Avenger is forced to battle the Prince of Atlantis by Moondragon (who for some reason is calling herself “Madame MacEvil”), though Tony remains unaware of this fact.


Jump Back: Iron Man – Year Three

Next Issue: The Modern Prometheus!

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