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Top Five Most Iconic Iron Man Covers

Here are the top five most iconic covers featuring Iron Man (with iconic being determined mostly subjectively by what covers are called to mind when one thinks of Iron Man, but with a prominent objective standard of whether a cover is homaged a lot or featured a lot in histories of the character). The notable exception is no covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course)! Here‘s a list of all characters featured so far.

Enjoy!

Before the list begins, here is the first cover appearance of Iron Man, from his debut issue…

Artists: Jack Kirby and Don Heck

Now on to the list…

5. Artists: Gene Colan and Mike Esposito

Colan’s cover for the first issue of Iron Man set a tone for a lot of Iron Man covers to follow, including an artist later on this list who managed to create an even more iconic visual while basically following Colan’s general template.

4. Artist: Bob Layton

Bob Layton is a very popular artist to commission cover recreations from, especially Iron Man covers. This cover is the #1 most requested cover recreation he gets.

3. Artists: Luke McDonnell and Steve Mitchell

I debated between this one and the previous issue’s cover (“YOU be Iron Man!”).

2. Artists: Gil Kane and Vince Colletta

While following the basic foundation of Gene Colan’s #1 cover, Gil Kane produced a much more iconic vision of the Power of Iron Man, creating an image that would be followed by later artists frequently (including Jim Starlin on the cover of Iron Man #100, who pretty much did a straight homage of this issue’s cover, which is why that great cover is not on the list).

1. Artist: Bob Layton

Demon in the Bottle is simply the most famous Iron Man story, and this cover is the most iconic aspect of that storyline (much more so than any interior image from the story).

71 Comments

This is to make up for not having any panels of him, isn’t it?

The cover to Tales of Suspense 58 might qualify as iconic: http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=18699.

On the other hand it isn’t strictly an ‘Iron Man cover’ so it probably doesn’t fit here.

It definitely was a hard exclusion, Ajit, but that’s ultimately the reason I excluded it, because that issue was way more about Cap than it was about Iron Man.

I’ve never seen covers 2 or 3 before. I would’ve gone with either 150 (Iron Man vs. Dr. Doom) or 182 (In the morning Tony Stark will be sober or dead)

I’m guessing 150 was too much of a Dr. Doom spotlight and 182 is too similar to 128? But there are a lot of Layton/Micheline covers I recognize more than Kane or McDonnell ones.

I would argue that Iron Man #100 cover became FAR more iconic than the cover it was inspired on (number #2 on your list).

Best,
Hutner (Pedro Bouça)

I do love that Kane cover to Iron Man #47 so I’m glad to see it on the list. Generally speaking, I don’t think Iron Man has had that many iconic covers, just as he hasn’t had many iconic panels. Having said that, I do think there may be one iconic cover you overlooked, which is this cover to Iron Man vol. 2 #74 from 2004:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=220699&zoom=4

There are two other covers that are personal favorites of mine but that probably shouldn’t be on the list, which are the classic cover to ToS #49 (probably too much focus on Angel to be on your list):

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=18188&zoom=4

And this great but totally forgotten Iron Man cover from #192:

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=39795&zoom=4

Good List! Though I personally would have went with 169 over 170, its a much more powerful image.

I immediately thought of Iron Man #100, as well.

Though I personally would have went with 169 over 170, its a much more powerful image.

It was definitely a close call between the two, Dave!

# 4 is actually the coolest. It’s the one that I would want to pick up an read the most.

These are probably the top five, but I would’ve put IRON MAN #1 first or second.

Honestly I don’t think any of these are particularly good pictures – though issue 128 would get the iconic title due to the subject matter.

I’m surprised there’s no Tales of Suspense covers, especially the Jack Kirby cover from Iron Man’s first appearance.

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/File:Tales_of_Suspense_39.jpg

I’m surprised there’s no Tales of Suspense covers, especially the Jack Kirby cover from Iron Man’s first appearance.

First appearances are excluded.

It’s a shame first appearances are out, cos #126′s homage to Iron Man’s ToS debut would be my most iconic

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=33690&zoom=4

No love for the Silver Centurion armour? #200 was always my favourite (vs. IronMonger to boot)

Great choices. I think Iron Man # 200 would have been a great choice as well. But I’ve always had a soft spot for that armor.

I never liked that armour, it looked white rather than silver, and the cover’s not helped by the debut of the worst IM logo ever.

I have to agree – I’ve never seen #2 before. I would’ve gone for that Barry Windsor Smith cover to the “Armor Wars” epilogue – but hey, I get it. Tough calls.

cool choices though would have number five a little higher. and was wondering if demon in the bottle would make the cut. for it shows that even iron man is not immune to certain abuses or demons

First appearances are excluded.

Ahhh, right. In that case I would have taken Iron Man #118 out and put in the Jack Kirby cover of Tales of Suspense #48 with the first appearance of the Steve Ditko designed red-and-golf armor in there somewhere. But otherwise it’s a solid list.

http://www.toymania.com/archives/ironman/comics/comic1-48.jpg

(Does a first appearance of a particular suit of armor or costume fall under the “no first appearances” rule?)

Count me among those who have never seen #2

Me neither, I’m surprised it’s so requested.

Me neither, I’m surprised it’s so requested.

I don’t think it’s put to a vote, is it? I just think Brian picks them himself so it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s so requested.

I went and did some research on the issue, it seems it is the first cover that Bob Layton ever pencilled and inked on the book. He started co-writing two issues earlier, but didn’t do a full cover until #118.

So maybe that’s why Brian considered it accessible?

Also, I posted this comment earlier but it seems to have been swallowed up by the spam filter:

I see you said first appearances are not eligible. Is it just first appearances of characters, or do first appearances of suits of armor and costumes count toward this rule as well? Because if not, I’d include Kirby’s cover debuting the Ditko-designed red and gold horned armor in place of choice #2,

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/File:Tales_of_Suspense_48.jpg

T, I wasn’t talking about Brian having picked the image, but Bob Layton being asked to recreate it it.

A lot of the recent World’s Most Wanted covers could qualify on the merits of their composition, if not their legacy. Larocca’s most recent cover showing Tony discarding his armor in the desert and walking towards oblivion is an especially iconic image.

Would also vote for Adi Granov’s cover for Iron Man 15 ( the Director of SHIELD riff ), though his covers have been more in the uneventful pin-up school as a whole.

Great list! As a re-donk-ulously big Iron Fan, I appreciate any Shellhead love.

Besides the other covers metioned above me, another iconic cover is Iron Man #232, featuring the beaten abd broken Iron Man at the tail end of the Armor Wars.

Drop #’s 3 & 4 from this list and replace them with #100 and #126!!!

You could then easily do another list that is post – Heroes Reborn.

T, I wasn’t talking about Brian having picked the image, but Bob Layton being asked to recreate it it.

I somehow missed that sentence when I read this the first time. Okay, so the cover is at least iconic among Bob Layton fans. Guess that’s good enough to justify it ranking in the top 5.

Oh, and I’m ashamed with myself for not remembering the cover to Iron Man 173 ( where a change in the last two letters is all that’s needed to change the Stark International billboard to STANE International, as Rhodey/IM and Drunk Tony look on in despair ).

This is my favorite Iron Man cover: http://bit.ly/P1d3m

Well played, Armstrong. Well played.

My personal favorite would be #127

http://www.coverbrowser.com/image/iron-man/127-1.jpg

Mostly for sentimental reasons. 118# -127# were the first “really old” back issues of any comic I was able to get my hands on. Man those thing were 6 or 7 years old at that point! It seemed like ancient history to a 13 year old.

I was lucky to hit the jackpot, those issues were awesome. I regret getting rid of them.

The only covers I recall seeing before are the first and the last. I’d probably put an Armor Wars cover in there but that’s probably just because my primary superhero reading days were back then.

Adamantium Wholesaler

September 3, 2009 at 10:08 am

That “Iron Man versus Iron Man” cover got me thinking…can we have a list of iconic Hero Versus Self covers? In some cases, it’d be against their actual selves (I’m thinking Hulks, time-travel/otherdimensional stuff), while in others, it’d be imposters or the like (the recent Bucky Cap versus ’50s Cap cover).

I was surprised not to see no. 126 up here, as it’s my favorite image of Iron Man ever. Someone pointed out it’s an homage to his first appearance, which I sort of can see now, but still, I don’t think that should disqualify it as a memorable, or iconic, cover in its own right.

And I also was waiting to see no. 200.

I’d forgotten about no. 170, but that’s a very good choice. And I was happy to see no. 118 as well, which was one of the first I thought of!

192 is one of my favorite issues ever. I stole it from the local library when i was little. It has one of my favorite lines of any comic, when Tony attempts to hide from Rhodey he ends up in a winery.

Rhodey: I knew if there was a thimbleful of sauce in this country you would find it.

Ive quoted that line in so many situations since.

This may be the cover Luke is referring to, but the one Iron Man cover I always think of is one Barry Windsor-Smith drew in the late 80′s that featured Iron Man’s armor beaten up and damaged. I don’t remember the issue number, but I think it was somewhere in the 230′s…

“The notable exception is no covers from a character’s first appearance (which isn’t applicable to all characters, of course)”

Well, if it’s not applicable to all characters, why is it being applied to Iron Man?

Hey Brian Im a new reader of your blog but just wanted to say its wicked awesome. I check it everyday now. And We3 rules. Plus so far your number one iconic covers for Iron Man and The Joker were the first images that sprung to mind.

“Demon in the Bottle is simply the most famous Iron Man story” but it doesn’t have one of the top 70 iconic panels in it? Hunh.

Great choices. I’d second the suggestion of #182– that image of Tony in the snow with the graffittied text surrounding him is really powerful, a great summation of the previous year’s arc about his alcoholism, and a reminder that what matters is the person in the armor as much as the armor itself.

kalorama— I think he meant that not all characters appeared on the cover in their first appearance.

"O" the Humanatee!

September 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I’d never argue it’s a good cover, but the cover of Iron Man #80 cover of Iron Man 80 was the one that made many of us aware of an iconically bad Iron Man moment – the Iron Nose (even if the actual change occurred several issues earlier).

” Great choices. I’d second the suggestion of #182– that image of Tony in the snow with the graffittied text surrounding him is really powerful, a great summation of the previous year’s arc about his alcoholism, and a reminder that what matters is the person in the armor as much as the armor itself. ”

Most of Luke McDonnel’s covers ( and interior art, for that matter ) would qualify as iconic. I’d also vote for the covers to #166 ( ” Over the Edge ” ), #169 ( ” I can’t handle it anymore! YOU be Iron Man! ” ), #174 ( the flying squadron of Iron Man suits, most impressive when you consider how much smaller the selection of armors was back then ), and #178 ( ” Tony Stark’s Struggle ” ).

You said: iconic is: “a prominent objective standard of whether a cover is homaged a lot or featured a lot in histories of the character.”

and

“The notable exception is no covers from a character’s first appearance”

Your rules thus exclude THE most homaged covers, such as FF # 1, Amazing Fantasy # 1, Showcase # 4 and so on. It’s your rules, but for the Fantastic Four, you should list your choices as the Second most homaged.

Your choices on Joker were spot on, and it seems like you’re making an effort to hit different key artists/time periods. Looking froward to the month as well.

Just looked at IRON MAN #126. I could see picking that instead of #170. #170 is notable for the IDEA of Rhodey taking over the suit, not the depiction on the cover.

Seeing the Ironman covers got me thinking about the Ironman logos. I know its old but I just read it for the first time the other day.

http://kleinletters.com/Blog/?p=1278

that’s for that link Ian…what in interesting blog (all the Logo Designs)

Your rules thus exclude THE most homaged covers, such as FF # 1, Amazing Fantasy # 1, Showcase # 4 and so on. It’s your rules, but for the Fantastic Four, you should list your choices as the Second most homaged.

I dunno, Jim, I think “Most Iconic with a notable exception” still gets the point across, no?

“Demon in the Bottle is simply the most famous Iron Man story” but it doesn’t have one of the top 70 iconic panels in it? Hunh.

Yeah, it’s really a shame that the storyline did not have any particularly iconic panels in it. I agree that it’s a bummer that it didn’t. Oh well, the cover for “Demon in the Bottle” is certainly iconic, though, hence its high ranking here!

If only there was a panel inside the storyline that was nearly as iconic as the cover. It’s too bad that there wasn’t.

Hey Brian Im a new reader of your blog but just wanted to say its wicked awesome. I check it everyday now. And We3 rules. Plus so far your number one iconic covers for Iron Man and The Joker were the first images that sprung to mind.

Why thank you, Benhameen.

I would’ve also gone with #200 somewhere on this list.

“Most of Luke McDonnel’s covers ( and interior art, for that matter ) would qualify as iconic. I’d also vote for the covers to #166 ( ” Over the Edge ” ), #169 ( ” I can’t handle it anymore! YOU be Iron Man! ” ), #174 ( the flying squadron of Iron Man suits, most impressive when you consider how much smaller the selection of armors was back then ), and #178 ( ” Tony Stark’s Struggle ” ).”

I agree. I went back and re-read that whole run a couple of years ago, and was really impressed. I hadn’t read it since I was a young teen, and I had forgotten how strong and expressive the art was. McDonnell/Mitchell is a really underrated team on IM.

will alpha flight get a most iconic covers? lol….the puck one has to be on it. Nobody remembers the thimbleful of sauce line? Come on! Its a classic!

another vote for a self vs self hero series

Thank you for that, Brian. Luke McDonnel is sorely under-appreciated, especially since his Iron Man work was done in the era of House Styles…

Great choices Brian, but rather than #118 I would also throw in a vote for issue #80, along with “O the Humanatee”. To me its a fantastic late Kirby Marvel moment, richly augmented by that psychedelic purple cosmic sky.

http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=29227&zoom=4

Why is he wearing his armor under his clothes on the “demon in a bottle cover”?
That got to chafe.

I’m with a lot of folks on here:
the BWS Armor Wars epilogue and “Tony Stark will be sober or dead” should be on here,
and i’d include the Adi Granov “punching the ground” Cover, which was immortalized in the movie.
(the only one i’d include of the list is #5)

Going back to the master list before the month ends, I gotta say Iron Man has had some of the coolest covers ever. I love # 118 to death. It was # 170 that made me a regular reader. And # 128 is indeed, the best. Layton nailed it with the “expression” of worry on the helmet as it looks up at Tony.

Well the covers you picked are iconic, but…. you Missed some covers i think are fundamental for Shellhead history , and are pretty Neat . I wouldn t ommit a Mandarin cover , Iroman s paramount Foe inthe sixties and seventies, 11 by George Tuska is one of my Favorites. An armor Wars cover being 225 , 227, and 232 By Barry Smith my personal faorites, from Tony Stark second fall in alcoholism i would pick 167, 173 , and 182 all by Luke Mc donell , and Finally the two John Romita JR covers 149-150 from Ironmans first clash wit Dr. Doom.

[...] out #1 and coming second only to the Classic Alcoholism issue #128. Check out their post right here (personally I thought Iron Man #66 should have made this list). Note Jim Starlin’s obvious [...]

A version of #2 was, if I recall correctly, used as the cover image for the first collected publication of the extended story that subsequently came to be known as “Demon in a Bottle” (originally the title of the last chapter only), but was originally collected as “The Power of Iron Man”.

Like I noted in the piece, Gina, I think Starlin was deeply influenced by the #2 cover, so I couldn’t really pick his cover as iconic. It is a great cover, though.

“Gil Kane produced a much more iconic vision of the Power of Iron Man”

Completely disagree- Colan’s version is far more iconic, well-known and reproduced more often…I’ve never even seen Kane’s version before

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