A storyline featuring Iron Man
and published by Marvel Comics
. The Armor Wars
were featured in Iron Man
comics issues 225 through 231 in 1987 and 1988. The Armor Wars were written by David Michelinie
and drawn by Mark Bright
The Armor Wars tells the story of Tony Stark, inventor, industrialist, and hero in the guise of the armored hero Iron Man, and his battle to stop villains from using his inventions to commit acts of evil. The storyline explores the lengths that this hero is willing to go to end the tide of mayhem he feels partly responsible for and the sacrifices he is willing to make both professionally and personally. Armor Wars has become one of the watershed events in the life of Iron Man and is well worth reading.
Warning: Spoilers to follow
Background: Tony Stark has used his inventive genius to build up a successful corporation, Stark International, and to acquire a great deal of personal wealth. Stark has also lived a secret life as the hero Iron Man often times putting his life on the line to stop threats to innocent people world wide. He has become a member of the Marvel universe's premiere super-team, the Avengers, and has used his personal fortune to help fund the activities of the group. Years ago, Stark's personal fortune was made from selling arms to differing governments, but ceased those activities when he realized that innocents were hurt with things that he manufactured. This decision serves as a back drop for the activities and decisions that Stark will make during the event known as the Armor Wars.
Iron Man #225: In recent months, Iron Man was able to help an armored mercenary called Force to escape from the clutches of his employer, evil industrialist Justin Hammer. During some downtime, Tony Stark discovers that Force's armor contains technology that he has designed - technology that he uses within his own armor as Iron Man. Knowing that this technology has not been released to the general public, Stark begins an internal search for the leak that allowed this technology to fall into the hands of villains.
Stark with the help of his friend and pilot Jim Rhodes begins to investigate. They soon discover that a villain known as the Spymaster, who had invaded Stark's lab months earlier, had placed a bug that allowed Hammer access to Stark's technology. Stark begins a two pronged attack to stop Hammer from using the technology. On the legal front, Stark begins court proceedings to get Hammer to turn over the technology back to him. Stark also gains help from fellow hero Ant-Man to infiltrate Hammer's labs and download his files in reference to the technology. Stark is only able to gain a list of armored villains and adventurers who may have access to his technology. Unable to accept that his inventions could be being used to harm others, Stark begins a campaign in his identity as Iron Man to track down those on the list.
Iron Man first finds the villain Stilt-Man. Iron Man is able to attach a neutralizer pack that once attached to armor using the stolen technology, fuses the stolen circuits, disabling the armor. Iron Man next tracks down the mercenary the Mauler and is able to gain his armor without a battle. Next, Iron Man locates the villain the Controller. In the insuing battle, a man being mind controlled by the Controller is killed. Iron Man is able to neutralize the Controller's armor. Stark vows to stop the others using his technology no matter the cost to him.
Iron Man #226: Stark takes out a group of armored villains known as the Raiders. Because of Iron Man's vigilante actions, the press begins to hound Stark International about what their employee is up to. Meanwhile, in response to Iron Man's increasingly erratic behavior, the U.S. Army approaches Edwin Cord of Cord Industries and employs him to construct a suit of armor capable of eliminating Iron Man should the need arise. Iron Man next targets the adventurer Stingray. During the resulting battle, Iron Man is able to attach one of his neutralizer packs, but discovers that Stingray's armored suit does not contain Stark's technology. Guilt ridden for having hounded an innocent, Stark calls a press conference and publically fires his alter-ego Iron Man.
Iron Man #227: Iron Man battles the Beetle and disables the stolen circuitry in his armor. Iron Man is approached by members of the West Coast Avengers who question what the hero is up to. Iron Man placates them, while planning how to attack his next targets: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Mandroids. Iron Man sets a trap and is able to neutralize all of the Mandroid suits of armor.
Meanwhile, Steve Rogers, the man who is best known as Captain America, approaches Tony Stark for some help. Rogers has stepped down as Captain America and taken up the mantle of the Captain, and approaches Stark to create for him a shield to replace the one he used as Captain America.
Iron Man #228: Stark creates for the Captain a new shield. Iron Man sets his sights on his next target: the Guardsmen armor that is used within the super-villain prison known as the Vault in Colorado.
Stark travels to Colorado, but is confronted there by Steve Rogers, who tries to convince Stark not to attack the Vault. Stark ignores Rogers request and breaks into the Vault. He is successful in disabling a number of suits of armor, but the Captain arrives and two battle. The Captain stops to help one of the Guardsmen and Iron Man takes the opportunity to disable the Captain. Iron Man succeeds in his task, but at the cost of his friendship with Rogers. As a result of Iron Man's actions, some of the villains in the Vault escape.
Iron Man #229: Stark is approached by the West Coast Avengers and told to cease his actions or face the consequences. Stark ignores their request and plans for his next two victims: the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man. Stark uses a stealth version of his armor and files to the Soviet Union to disable their armor. Because of the limited amount of space in the steath armor, Stark only has a small amount of offensive and defensive weapons and counts on the element of surprise to defeat these two enemies. Iron Man succeeds in disabling the Crimson Dynamo, but his second neutralizer pack is destroyed in the ensuing battle with the Titanium Man. The two struggle and the Titanium Man gains the upper hand. Then, as Iron Man seeks to escape, the Titanium Man's armor is ignited by his foe's boot jets and the Titanium Man is killed. Iron Man returns home and resigns from the West Coast Avengers.
Iron Man #230 The U.S. government test runs their newest weapon, the Cord Industries designed armored suit code named Firepower. Realizing that Iron Man is becoming more and more unpredictable, the government decides to set a trap for the hero. Meanwhile, Stark and his friends succeed in creating a computer virus that will spread world wide and destroy any record of Stark's inventions. The virus is a success and all trace of Stark's technology is destroyed from Hammer's computer.. Stark traces a single unknown usage of his technology: Firepower. Stark is warned of the trap being laid for his former employee, but his need to destroy the technology forces him to go into battle with Firepower. Iron Man is clearly outmatched and is hammered relentlessly by the larger and more heavily armed foe. Finally, Firepower looses an incredibly deadly missile at Iron Man, seemingly destroying both the armor and the man wearing it.
Iron Man #231 News of Iron Man's death circulates, but it is erroneous. Stark and his friend Jim Rhodes manage to get Stark out of the armor and fill it with pints of blood and send it on auto-pilot before it is destroyed. Stark resolves to cease being Iron Man, but soon realizes that he has one more mission to complete. Cord decides not to turn the Firepower armor back over to the army and begins to use it to destroy Stark Industries' holdings. Stark decides to create a new set of Iron Man armor to stop Firepower and then destroy the armor. Stark spends a number of weeks creating the new armor and then dons it for one last mission. Firepower attacks a Stark facility and the new Iron Man, using the cover story that he is a new man in a new set of armor, attacks the villain. Unlike the first battle, Firepower is clearly out matched, as the new Iron Man shows a number of improvements including improved pulse bolts, an energy shield, better, maneuverability, and the ability to emit an EMP burst. Iron Man defeats Firepower and Stark realizes that there is a need for him to continue as Iron Man.