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Drawing Crazy Patterns – Iron Man Has to Go Back to Using an Old Armor!

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics). Here is an archive of all the patterns we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Greg P., we take a look at instances where Iron Man was forced to use one of his older armors in an emergency.


NOTE: As always, I am not listing EVERY instance of this particular plot device. It has happened a lot of times over the years. So if I don’t list an example, it is not because I “missed it” or “forgot about it,” I am just listing five or six examples, that’s all. And these just happen to be the ones I chose to list.

One of the first examples of this theme was the brilliantly silly “When Titans Clash!” from Tales of Suspense #65 in 1965 (written by Stan Lee, drawn by Don Heck and Mike Esposito). A crook steals Tony Stark’s attache case and, of course, becomes Iron Man…

So what is the REAL Iron Man to do?

Tony ends up beating Weasel so bad that Weasel basically snaps and believes that HE himself invented the armor. He gets sent to a mental institution and Iron Man’s secret identity is saved.

Next up is “The Golden Ghost” in Tales of Suspense #90 by Stan Lee, Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia. At the end of the previous issue, Tony was about to turn into Iron Man when the Melter burst into his office to try to get him to build him an upgrade on his Melting Gun. Tony had to hide the attache case with his regular armor in it. He then began work on the Melter’s gun, but eventually tried to cause a disturbance to get away…

Anyhow, Tony’s plan is that the Melter wouldn’t figure that he was wearing a metal breastplate, so that protected him from being killed. Rather than going for the attache case, though, the better answer was to go get his old armor (which the Melter had mocked earlier in the issue and melted a little bit)…

Next, we see Iron Man #18, an early part of the classic Archie Goodwin/George Tuska/Johnny Craig Iron Man storyline “The Beginning of the End” (it was ranked #10 on our recent Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told list!), where Tony is fighting against a Life-Model Decoy of himself that has taken over his identity as both Tony Stark AND as Iron Man!

Next we have another Iron Man classic tale, Iron Man #98, a middle part of “10 Rings to Rule the World,” #20 on the aforementioned Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told list). In the issue (by Bill Mantlo, George Tuska and Don Perlin), Iron Man has just recently fought the armored Guardian, who thinks Tony Stark and Iron Man are bad guys. Tony is working on a new Iron Man armor but it is not finished yet, so when Sunfire shows up and is causing all sorts of mayhem, Tony is forced to use the Guardsman armor…

When the Guardsman sees Tony be so heroic, he re-thinks his position and then climbs into the unfinished new Iron Man armor to fight Sunfire himself…

Tony is having trouble with his heart and needs an Iron Man armor quick, ANY armor, so he goes back and finds an old model…

Finally, much more recently, during the epic World’s Most Wanted storyline (#6 on the Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever Told list!), Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca put Tony and Iron Man through the paces.

First things first, in Invincible Iron Man #9, Tony began to, in effect, purge his own mind. During the Extremis storyline, Tony had merged with the Extremis technology to essentially become an Iron Man himself. Now after Secret Invasion, the Extremis technology had failed and Tony could barely operate his current armor (as it was based on Extremis). In addition, Tony knew that the database within his mind had all sorts of secrets that he did not want Norman Osborn (the new head of SHIELD) to get his hands on, so Tony began to slowly purge his own brain. As a result, as the storyline went along, Tony had to slowly but surely begin to step down his Iron Man armors. First because they were getting destroyed and later because his depleted brain could no longer operate the machinery.

During the storyline, he went from the most modern one in the first issue…

to what looks like the one he used during Kurt Busiek’s run in Invincible Iron Man #10…

to the classic 1970s armor in Invincible Iron Man #14…

to finally the very first Iron Man armor in Invincible Iron Man #18…

That’s it for this time! Thanks again to Dave for the suggestion! If YOU have a suggestion for a future installment of Drawing Crazy Patterns, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


I’d seen a couple of these but didn’t realize it recurred this much.

What about the time he had Rhodey as Ironman because of the drinking, Rhodey went crazy from the armor and Tony had to wear the original grey armor.

I’ve never read any of these examples, but I’ve read enough ones you didn’t pick to still know it was a pattern.

Quesada had Tony step into the early ’90s armor when the post-Heroes Reborn armor gained sentience and went all Fatal Attraction on Tony.

In Dan Slotts Thing comic Tony is trapped in Arcades Murderworld and forced to don the 80’s armor.

What is funny, or not, is that Iron Man will sometimes build new armor because the last one is destroyed, but then a few years later the destroyed armor will show up as one of his old left overs.

Like ‘going back’ to the gray armor. He painted that gold, so the gray is the same suit as the gold, and the gold was ruined by the Melter, which is why Iron Man built the first red and gold (right?).

I think he builds new armor when one is destroyed because he uses it as an opportunity to put together the new design he was already thinking of. He then rebuilds the old one when he has a bit of free time because he likes his big Hall of Armour.

I kind of love the Melter. Borderline silly name and power set, and yet perfectly suited to fight Iron Man. It’s like creating a villain named the Parcher to battle Aquaman.

My own favourite instance (and I realize you didn’t forget this one, it just wasn’t one of the examples you picked) was while Rhodey was still Iron Man and Tony donned the original armour, then (as with that last example) back in its original grey colour.

(whoops, I now see Tae already mentioned that one in my earlier post)

KDU, no–Tony replaced his original armor when he was fighting Mr. Doll, not the Melter. Doll’s voodoo doll put such a strain on Tony’s heart he adopted a lighter armor that would be less weight to carry.
Despite this turning point, Mr. Doll was a complete dork who became much more interesting as the original Brothers Grimm in Spider-Woman.

Okay. It has been a long time since I read those, and my Masterworks volume in boxed away.

That Melter story was basically redone beat-for-beat in Iron Man v.1 #92, except that time Tony was using a remote-controlled version of the Mark II armor so he could ambush the Melter in a newer suit.

so this tony stark made it in a cave too. with a box of scraps.

There are more. He used his classic yellow-red armor in Avengers Prime. Also during the Knaufs run.

Speaking of clichés, how about that shot of the villain having nothing better to do with his booty than sit on a makeshift throne surrounded by bags of currency… with the dollar signs printed on them.

Tony regresses to the original red and gold quite a bit. In addition to the period when Quesada was writing the book, and the run by the Knaufs, Tony ended up back in his 1970s armor during Secret Invasion (when all the other suits were shut down by the Skrulls), Siege (when every armor except a spare Jarvis held onto was slagged, due to Tony’s actions in World’s Most Wanted), and Age of Ultron (when it was the only suit left in the dystopian future). It’s as if it’s the only Plan B Tony has when his main suit is out of commission.

I love the image of Iron Man sitting in a pile of money.

I love how, no matter how often a suit of armor is destroyed, Tony always seems to have another copy of it stashed away. Especially the original and the classic red and gold. It’s like he really does rebuild them after every incident., right down to the transistors, shoulder antenna, roller skates, and nose. :)

I guess as a completionist, he just can’t stand not to have this physical examples of old suits lying around for inspiration or maybe comparison. Or maybe he just has the designs stored away and he has a automated process recreate them in the background.

I wonder how much each suit costs him.

I also love the way he remakes the old ones. In a few years he’ll break out the old broken armours again and they will miraculously be repaired. Surely not a good use of funds.

@buttler I was thinking the same thing. A natural foe for an “Iron” Man. How hard would it be to upgrade his equipment to make him a legitimate foe for the modern era?

” I also love the way he remakes the old ones. In a few years he’ll break out the old broken armours again and they will miraculously be repaired. Surely not a good use of funds. ”

Budget isn’t a concern for Tony, who has effectively unlimited funds. Though the money he spends rebuilding old armors COULD go to things like feeding the hungry or housing the poor….

What's in a name?

November 8, 2014 at 6:17 pm

These artists (and writers) are always dying to see the characters from their youth back in the costumes (and armors) that they grew up with. It’s right up there on their bucket list, alongside “try to create a new Avenger that hopefully the next writer will continue writing”. But they never do. Because writers are all d*cks to one another. =)

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