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Welcome to the two-hundred and sixty-second in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and sixty-one
Comic Book Legends Revealed is part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com. I’d especially recommend you check out this installment of Baseball Legends Revealed to find out what Baseball All-Star played the All-Star Game with a jersey he bought outside the stadium!
COMIC LEGEND: A comment by Stan Lee led to Iron Man getting a nose on his armor for over a year.
1974 was an odd period in Marvel history as far as upper management went. Stan Lee was the publisher of the company and was still the editorial supervisor, but a succession of people had the job of Editor-in-Chief between 1972 (when Stan became publisher – he had been editor-in-chief since 1945!) and 1978, when Jim Shooter took over for an extended period. FIVE different Editors-in-Chief in six years. They haven’t even had five Editors-in-Chief in the 32 years SINCE then!
So with all that upheaval and Lee’s reduced presence at the company, it is totally understandable how some things fell through the cracks.
One of those things was Iron Man’s nose armor.
When Lee would get a chance, he would make comments about covers and stuff like that, but since he was not around a lot, his comments often were not elaborated upon, and as a result, he began to get a bit of an undeserved reputation as a fickle guy. He would make a comment one week, have it taken out of context and then when he later saw what had happened from his comment, he would make a second comment, seemingly the OPPOSITE of the first one, and it would be “he’s contradicting himself!”
Probably the most famous example of this is Iron Man’s infamous nose armor.
One day, in ’74, Lee made a comment about an Iron Man cover, asking basically “Where’s the nose?” (as my pal Roquefort Raider points out, the phrase most often repeated in this story is that he said “Shouldn’t there be a nose?”). Lee’s remark was based on the notion that he thought that the head was drawn so small that it was practically Iron Man’s face, and that it did not look like as though the facemask would be able to fit a nose under there.
That was taken as “his armor should have a nose.”
And in 1974’s Iron Man #68, that’s just what they did…
You have to love the rationale behind the chance in the comic. Poor Mike Friedrich, to have to come up with that!
The nose was not exactly well-received, getting mocked as early as Iron Man #72, when Shellhead visited the San Diego comic book convention…
(isn’t it funny seeing talk about Star Trek only five or so years before the franchise WAS resurrected?)
but it stayed, since that’s what Stan “wanted.”
Eventually, either Lee made a comment about the nose or people just got sick of it, so in Iron Man #85, the nose departed…
And I don’t believe anyone ever missed it!
Thanks to Jim Shooter for the details of the story, from an interview he did with Gary Groth in the Comics Journal years ago.
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