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The 25 Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told!

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Today, in honor of the release of Iron Man 3, we are giving you the 25 Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told, as voted on by YOU! Here is the list of the other characters/creators that you’ve voted on so far.


25. Iron Man: Hypervelocity #1-6

In this action-packed thrillride by Adam Warren and Brian Denham, Tony Stark debuts a new Iron Man armor. The concept is that if Tony ever sufferes life-threatening injuries in battle, a good chunk of his consciousness will take over a new Iron Man armor and keep fighting. The problem is that the bad guys convince SHIELD that this new armor has gone rogue and since Tony is unconscious, he can’t convince them otherwise. So the armor basically has to keep constantly moving, because if it ever stops, either the bad guys or SHIELD will get it. Great concept and really strong execution.

24. “Fight On! For A World Is Watching!” Tales of Suspense #69-71

You know how Iron Man’s armor was created while he was in a prison camp? Well, what if the Communists used that idea to create their OWN Iron Man? That was the concept behind this great three-part storyline by Stan Lee, Don Heck and a different inker for each issue (Colletta, Esposito and Wood). Iron Man faces off against the Titanium Man as the whole world watches to see who will win this match-up over who has the superior technology!

23. “Mandarin: The Story of My Life” Invincible Iron Man Annual #1

Matt Fraction and Carmine Di Giandomenico show us how the Mandarin is trying to sanitize his life story through a documentary of his life (the filmmaker, though, valiantly tries to defy the Mandarin and show us the TRUTH).

22. “Best Defense” Iron Man (Volume 3) #73-78

John Jackson Miller and Jorge Lucas did this fascinating story where Tony Stark decides to become the Secretary of Defense to prevent a corrupt politician from taking the position. This storyline likely influenced later stories, like Tony Stark becoming the Director of SHIELD.

21. “Crash and Burn” Iron Man #301-306

After Stark Industries is falsely implicated in a scandal, Iron Man has to prove his company’s innocence while facing a variety of challenges by outside forces who are investigating the situation (people like Venom, Captain America, the New Warriors, Thunderstrike and the Hulk). Len Kaminski wrote it and Kevin Hopgood and Steve Mitchell drew it.

20. “10 Rings to Rule the World” Iron Man #95-100

Iron Man is framed for treason and faces off against the Guardsman (who erroneously blames Iron Man for the death of his brother), Ultimo and Sunfire until he discovers that someone behind the scenes is pulling the strings. Someone with, you know, ten rings.

19. Iron Man: The Iron Age #1-2

Kurt Busiek, Patrick Zircher and Bob McLeod revisit the early days of Tony Stark’s time as Iron Man as we see Tony’s transformation from a bit of a jerk into a true hero through the eyes of the two people closest to him during this time, Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan.

18. “Hulk Is Where The Heart Is!” Iron Man #131-132

Bob Layton, David Michelinie and Jerry Bingham present this titanic tussle between Iron Man and the Hulk. One of the best superhero fights of all-time.

17. “Haunted” Iron Man, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #21-28

Charles and Daniel Knauf, along with Roberto De La Torre, explore Iron Man’s new position as the Director of SHIELD along with his long-standing rivalry with the Mandarin by showing Tony literally being haunted by the ghosts of his past while the Mandarin plans on using Tony’s present (the Extremis) to annihilate nearly 98% of the world’s population, all in a goal to “improve” the world.

16. “Ghost in the Machine” Iron Man #219-221

Bob Layton, David Michelinie and M.D. Bright introduce the corporate saboteur the Ghost in this memorable three-parter that led directly into the Armor Wars storyline.

The top fifteen is on the next page!

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Finally some love for Byrne and Kaminski.

Stephen Conway

May 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I think the Fraction/Larroca run is really over-represented on this list. Beyond the opening arc, I thought it was middling at best.

was wondering if demon in a bottle would make the cut and surprise surprise not only did it crack the top five but it is number one. given how it shows even tony can get addict to something

Out of curiosity, what’s the general opinion on Busiek & Chen’s IM volume 3 run?

I would have included the excellent “The Inevitable” miniseries and Grell’s great run, but otherwise this is a stupendous list.

” Out of curiosity, what’s the general opinion on Busiek & Chen’s IM volume 3 run? ”

Good, but not as good as it could’ve been, especially since Busiek had to scale down to co-writer halfway through due to his health problems. The Iron Age one-shots, however, definitely deserve their place on this list.

No commentary for “The Best Defense”?

Busiek’s first issue of Iron Man was great. Don’t know why the full run turned out to be so collectively forgettable.

Mike Loughlin

May 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I found the Busiek run okay but not very memorable.

While I stopped buying the Fraction & Larocca trades after vol. 7. The first 19 issues were entertaining, though. Fraction did a good job putting Tony Stark through the wringer, and made me interested in a character I don’t have a lot of interest in.

The Layton/ Micheline issues are the best I’ve read, despite some of the dialogue. Their plotting was good and they had a great handle on Stark.

Turd Burglar

May 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Byrne’s run was mediocre at best. Kaminski’s work on the title seems to either be overrated or underrated, with people either gushing over what was ultimately just a mediocre run that only stood out during its time because of how awful (most of) Marvel’s superhero line was in the early 90s, or outright ignoring it altogether.

I vaguely remember an interview where Matt Fraction said that they were not enough good modern Iron Man stories and he was going to change that with his run. From the look of this list, I would say he succeeded.

Turd Burglar

May 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Matt Fraction said that they were not enough good modern Iron Man stories

And there still aren’t.

I’ve only read a few of these. If nothing else, I’ve added a fair amount to my “to read” list this past month!

Happy to see a few O’Neil stories mixed in, especially #182, but that whole run deserves more attention. It’s beautifully done, and sets up the more conflicted view of a more morally flawed Tony that dominates both the last 20 years of the comic and the films. And the O’Donnell/Mitchell art is one of the more stylized, personal and haunting takes on the characters the book has had.

I’m surprised by there being no The Inevitable.

I half expected Civil War to turn up too.

Turd Burglar

May 4, 2013 at 7:08 am

Wait, wait, wait… Did the first appearance of Squirrel Girl seriously not even make the top 25?


Why would she, Turd?

Turd Burglar

May 4, 2013 at 8:49 am

How is that not one of the top 25 Iron Man stories of all time?

Les Fontenelle

May 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

It’s a shame to see “Hypervelocity”, one of the smartest Iron Man stories ever written, ranking so low. It’s far better than half this list.

Hard to argue with this list. I would’ve included the Midas arc in Invincible Iron Man #103-07 though, since it set up such a great paradigm for so many memorable stories to build off of later. I’d also agree with the comments on the O’Neil and Busiek runs, the former is really underrated and the latter is not particularly memorable. I never felt Busiek really had a passion for Iron Man, and as with his Avengers run, leaned on past ideas and directions too often.

“And the O’Donnell/Mitchell art is one of the more stylized, personal and haunting takes on the characters the book has had.”

Agree with everything you said about O’Neil, but really strongly agree with this comment about O’Donnel. Reportedly the guy actually slept on New York’s streets as research for Tony’s descent.

I don’t remember there being a prison outbreak at The Vault after Tony took out the Guradsmen and Steve Rogers. Granted, I haven’t read the Armor Wars in quite some time, I don’t recall that happening.

Agree that Hypervelocity could be higher, but given how few people read it, I’m glad it squeaked onto the list at all. I’m not even really an Iron Man fan, but it rocked. At least this might give it a little more exposure.

I have always found Luke McDonnell to be a good, solid, underrated artist. So I’m glad that a couple of the stories he penciled made it onto the list.

Denny O’Neil’s run was quite good. Obviously it’s not as well remembered as his DC work, but O’Neil was the first writer to put Jim Rhodes in the Iron Man armor, and he created Stane / Iron Monger, who played a HUGE role in the first Iron Man movie.

As for Michelinie and Layton dominating the top three spots, well, I would be hard pressed to disagree. They really did some of the most definitive work on the character of Tony Stark. I’m looking forward to reading their latest Iron Man story, which seems to be a sort of Armor Wars II Redux.

Michael Greczek

May 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm

No Gene Colan ? No Don Heck ?
How about the first battle with Titanium Man ? How about the second ?

Sorry, but you lost me at #25 : Hypervelocity.

I’m a lifelong Iron Man fan, and I couldn’t get through 2 issues of Hypervelocity. The armor design, the art, the story, the pacing… I found it lacking in every category but lettering. The lettering was good. :-S

Nice to see that ‘Hypervelocity’ made the list.. It’s one of my favorite Iron Man stories.

No Gene Colan ? No Don Heck ?
How about the first battle with Titanium Man ? How about the second ?

Did you read the list before making that comment?

Travis Pelkie

May 6, 2013 at 1:21 am

Am I the only one who wants to know who the “Pete” is that John Jackson Miller signed that issue to?

I don’t know enough Iron Man to know how good this list is, but people seem to like the list.

guy incognito

May 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Sorry, but you lost me at #25 : Hypervelocity.

I’m a lifelong Iron Man fan, and I couldn’t get through 2 issues of Hypervelocity. The armor design, the art the story, the pacing… I found it lacking in every category but lettering. The lettering was good. :-S

this wasn’t “jon’s 25 greatest iron man stories ever told”. and, after reading your comment, I’m glad it wasn’t.

The O’Neil era is on a par with his Green Lantern/Green Arrow work for DC. It is a solid run which fully merits the Omnibus treatment.

You have Rhodey taking over the lead role for couple of years and Tony easing into a supporting role as we helplessly witness the most gut wrenching moments of his life. McDonnell and Mitchell’s moody, nourish art was the exact opposite of Layton’s majestic Golden Avenger, but it fit the storyline like a glove. I began reading the series on a regular basis with #170 and stayed with the book through a few issues beyond #200.

O’Neil’s stories offered action, humor, tragedy, and provided a refreshing break from every “Tony the Renaissance Man” tale that we’ve seen before or since. No fancy armor upgrades, no unlimited wealth, no womanizing. Just Tony as a human being crawling back up from the gutter in a display of actual valor in the face of adversity that any of us could identify with. And Rhodey, torn between the responsibility of taking up his best friend’s mantle while rapidly growing accustomed to the sheer power and invincibility which had been previously denied to him.

These are truly some of the best comics ever, folks.

Pedro Bouça

May 7, 2013 at 4:58 am

The Mask in the Iron Man at 11th? SERIOUSLY?!? That was horrible! The friggin’ Millenium Bug was part of the plot, who can take this seriously now (or even then, it was published a few months after the whole fiasco)?

THe only redeeming factor was Sean Chen’s art – and even he was out before the story’s end.

I may not like O’Neil’s overlong and unexciting run, but I can understand people who do. It does have its qualities as it does everything else in the list. Except for The Mask in the Iron Man. I can understand people voting for that one!

Oh, and it’s not even original. The (very) old Iron Man CGI graphic novel Crash had a similar plot – and did it much better, even though the art has now aged very badly…

Pedro Bouça

May 7, 2013 at 4:59 am

In the message above I meant “I CAN’T understand people voting for that one”, of course.

What’s the deal with the “male” symbol in the bar-code box on “Deliverance”? Was there some kind of male-centric crossover that month or something?

Yeah, I question the Mask in the Iron Man being in there, but Busiek’s run not. Heck, it deserved a medal just for fixing all the Teen Tony stuff that had gone on before. And bringing the character back. Plus, till Extremis, it was the only redesign of the armor that really worked. Miss the horns.

But the top of the list pretty much worked out how it should. It’s funny, I wonder how many characters would have so much of their best history dominated not by the original stories, or even the more modern stories fresh in people’s minds….but that was the golden age of Iron Man.

Honorable mention: Avengers Annual 9, while obviously not under the banner of “Iron Man,” is pretty much an Iron Man story. And a good one.

Was really hoping Armor Wars 2 would have placed higher than it did. A single Fraction Iron Man arc topping that shows how little it’s been read by the people who voted, which is sad, but the fact that three topped it is incredibly depressing.

Pedro Bouça

May 9, 2013 at 4:56 am

I think that the Busiek run got overlooked because it doesn’t have a memorable individual story. It started magnificently well, with the best first issue of Heroes Return (well, IMHO at least), but lost steam quickly, possibly because Busiek’s health issues. Avengers was quite clearly a higher priority to him as well (and a far more appreciated run as a consequence).

He even got some subplots unfinished. A silhouette of what seemed to be Midas appeared on the very first issue vowing to get revenge on Iron Man. Well, that has to be a HECK of a revenge plot, because he has been working on it for well over a decade now…

I did vote for the first Busiek stories (as “Deadly Solutions”, the name of the recente reprint HC), but I can very well understand why more people didn’t.

But Mask in the Iron Man IS a memorable storyline (just not, you know, good) and most importantly it was available on TPB for a long time (in the early Marvel TPB program days it was even the ONLY Iron Man TPB available!), so far more people are aware of it than the Busiek run. Why did they think it was any good is what puzzles me…

Oh, and the two major John Byrne Iron Man storylines deserved better indeed. But at least they were on the top 15.

[…] fall & redemption.  One of those issues, #182, was recently voted the number seven position in The 25 Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told at Comic Book Resources.  Looking at the cover to that issue, you can see the stunningly dramatic […]

Reading the synopsis for “Crash and Burn” and seeing Venom’s name, I thought “so… Nineties.” Then I saw the New warriors and thought “yep…. Definitely nineties.”

As someone who doesn’t really like Iron Man, I’ll be use to check these out. I read a bit of Matt Fraction’s stuff, and I liked it, but other than that, I’ve never really cared for the character that much as a solo act. The movies don’t help, since they seem to amp up his jackass qualities (or maybe it’s just Downey doing that). Plus, I just really can’t stand the way they’re written (having characters just ramble on and on, shouting at each other, which I think is supposed to be charming and/or funny, but is just annoying).

I tried to get into the current run, but that was so incredibly average, and that was WITHOUT the Greg Land art, and I ended up dropping it after six or so issues.

Went and read most of the stories on this list, and the only one I really enjoyed was Denny O’Neil’s Iron Monger run. I was pretty surprised at how good it was as I don’t like O’Neil, Iron Man or old art but it was fantastic, crime there’s no omnibus for it. If you want to read the story, go back and read it from 160-208, the full of Denny’s time on it (don’t bother with Secret Wars 1 an 2). 190-200 would start off with Rhodey in the suit and I imagine the feeling of walking in during the middle of a movie.

After that I’d agree Armor Wars was pretty good…but mostly just for the last issue. One of those situations where an amazing ending elevates the okay story. Then I guess Demon in a Bottle. All the rest felt typical. I really didn’t care for Fraction’s run. Cool ideas but the writing never drew me in. Beginning to think I just don’t like how he writes people. Okay? Okay.

Most of my favorites made it here, even the three-issue original Titanium Man story which in my opinion is the high point of the Tales of Suspense issues. Lots of Michelinie-Layton and Kaminski love as well who are my all time favorite writers for the character.

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