Hello, my friends. When it comes to long-running media franchises, it’s ultimately going to find itself releasing lots of content across various kinds of entertainment avenues. For a particular modern-day series, it’s had a sizable amount of tie-in releases for its fans to check out within their hands and on the printed page. As such, there’s no better time for us to check out a certain side of this media empire as I welcome you all to a brand new review series called…
I’ve already dabbled a little bit into this area when I talked about Spider-Man‘s four-paneled contributions to the franchise, but the Big Red M in both its regular comics and within all kinds of media outlets extends far beyond the Web-Slinger himself. While Sony was busy delivering Peter Parker’s initial big screen outings to the populace, Marvel Studios was carefully planning a well-crafted world that would serve them very well for many years to come. As for the featured hero that would kickstart this line, that power and responsibility ultimately wound up upon the shoulders upon a familiar armored Avenger.
Originally distributed by Paramount Pictures, this inaugural outing saw Jon Favreau in the director’s chair while Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway developed the screenplay. After receiving its general U.S. release on May 2, 2008, the movie wound up as a major hit with both critics and audiences, racking up a worldwide gross of over $585 million against its $140 million budget. While it did succeed with setting the wheels in motion for a major entertainment series and for also completely revitalizing Robert Downey Jr.’s acting career, we must now set our eyes upon a few noteworthy pieces of reading material that’s connected to this movie. In particular, we have its batch of tie-in comics.
First up, we have the two-issue adaptation called “Iron Man: I Am Iron Man!”, which was released in January & February 2010. While Part 1 ended up selling 17,544 copies, Part 2 had 12,595 books purchased from its shelves. For this initial batch of movie-based comics, writing duties would be given to Peter David (who also wrote the film’s novelization), Sean Chen handled the pencil work, Victor Olazaba & Scott Hanna shared inking responsibilities and Chris Sotomayor took charge of the colors. As for how this handled the narrative from its movie counterpart, let’s suit up and find out for ourselves.
We open within the Kunar Province of Afghanistan as a group of U.S. Military Humvees are making their way across the barren wastelands. Inside one of them is Anthony “Tony” Edward Stark as he casually talks with a few soldiers while even allowing one of them to get a picture with him. Suddenly, the vehicles get ambushed by heavy weapons fire as the soldiers try to fight back, but ultimately get picked off. Tony then gets out of the vehicle and tries to take cover, but he’s then confronted by a small ballistic missile that not only lands very close to him, but also bares his company name. From there, it explodes as he gets rocked by the blast before he’s ultimately captured by the terrorists. During this commotion, we begin to transition back to “Then” (or 36 hours ago according to the movie) as Stark’s background from an Apogee Award presentation is given. As the son of weapons developer Howard Stark, he was a young genius who managed to complete his M.I.T. education and graduated with high distinction at the very young age of 17. After his parents Howard & Maria Stark lost their lives in a car accident (which would later get fleshed out in “Captain America: Civil War”), Howard’s longtime business partner named Obadiah Stane would assume the lead role of Stark Industries until Tony turned 21 and inherited the company’s CEO position. However, the comic does leave out the rest of the presentation from the movie that cited Stark as a major player in the weapons industry that helped protect American freedom and its global interests. Back to the comic, it turns out that Tony isn’t even at the ceremony to receive his award. Instead, he’s at a nearby casino playing Craps for the view of some good-looking ladies. Ultimately, he’s met upon by his longtime friend and liaison who was going to present the award to him named James “Rhodey” Rhodes. After presenting him with the Apogee Award, Rhodey reminds Stark to not be late for an important meet-up the next day before he heads out. Just as Tony arrives at his car with his bodyguards, he’s then met upon by a Vanity Fair reporter named Christine Everheart who wishes to ask him a few questions. She ultimately asks him about a nickname that he’s been living up to, specifically the “Merchant Of Death”. Despite her seeing him as a war profiter (not that the comic mentions it), he rebuts by mentioning that through military funding, millions of people have ultimately been saved via advanced medical tech or even through the vital nourishment of “Intell-Crops”. When she then asks him if he’s ever lost a single hour of sleep within his life, he then slyly tells her that he’s up “to lose a few” with her.
One rollicking night of passion later, Christine wakes up within Tony’s Malibu-based cliffside home by an automated voice called J.A.R.V.I.S. She’s then met upon by Stark’s personal assistant named Virginia “Pepper” Potts who presents her newly cleaned clothes to her before allowing her to take her leave. Afterwards, Potts heads down to Tony’s sub-level work area where he’s working on a car. She reminds him that he was supposed to embark on a business flight 90 minutes ago, yet he says that it’s his private plane and that it’s supposed to wait for him. She then has him sign a paper, especially since today is her birthday and she has some plans to attend to. Upon his realization of that, he tells her to get something nice for herself from him, to which she says that she already has before she calmly takes her leave. Later (and omitting his in-flight chat sessions with Rhodey who calls him irresponsible), Tony arrives in Afghanistan where he presents a demonstration of his company’s newest missile called the Jericho to some U.S. Military Officials. Afterwards, Stark calls up Obadiah and informs him that the missile demonstration was successful before Stane says that he’ll see him tomorrow. Tony them climbs into a Humvee and denies Rhodey entry into the vehicle. Despite that, James simply tells him “Nice Job” before they begin to head back towards the base. From there, the ambush occurs with Stark getting captured. Later, Tony wakes up and horrifically discovers a makeshift pacemaker embedded into his chest. His fellow prisoner tells him that it was the best he could do in order to save his life. However, he wasn’t able to extract all of the missile shrapnel that managed to lodge itself into Stark’s chest and that it’s slowly making its lethal decent towards his own heart. The man then tells Tony that he’s far too away of this same kind of wound that his native villagers know all too well and that his fellow people have called those unfortunate individuals the “Walking Dead”, since those barbs will make it to the vital organs in only a week’s time. Thankfully, the makeshift electromagnet is preventing the shrapnel from reaching Stark’s heart. The comic then omits a minor detail in that Tony had previously met this same man at a Bern, Switzerland-based technical conference before they’re confronted by their captors. In a minor alteration done in the adaptation, the movie had the group’s second-in-command named Abu Bakkar who demands that Stark build the Jericho missile for them, to which Tony refuses before he gets tortured, during which the main leader named Raza appears. The comic simply has Raza, Abu and a few terrorists simply come in before they lead Stark (who still gets described as “the most famous mass murderer in the history of America”) and his fellow prisoner outside where Tony sees loads of his company-made weapons in their hands. Raza essentially explains that weapons have allowed empires to previously exist, but having Stark’s up-to-date weaponry will allow him and his group to reach said heights. As such, he’ll provide all of the required materials needed to build the Jericho missile for them. Once he does so, they’ll set him free. In the movie, Raza hasn’t directly approached Tony yet and it’s Abu that tells him about having the materials that he’ll need to build their Jericho missile and that he’ll be set free once he’s done. Once they’re back in their cell, the fellow prisoner tells him that all of those weapons from his company will become his lasting legacy and that he must do something in order to avoid that final notion. Stark says that the terrorists have no intention of properly releasing him and that they’ll both be dead within a week’s time, to which his fellow prisoner tells him that this will become the biggest week of his life.
Ultimately, Tony agrees to the demands and gets supplied by the terrorists in order to start tinkering. As Stark and his fellow prisoner get to work while Abu looks over them via security cameras, the comic omits a few moments of Tony learning about his captive assistant, such as he understands lots of languages while their captors (who also serve as Stark’s “loyal customers” and are officially known as the Ten Rings) know even more languages than him. Once they acquire enough Palladium from the assembled missiles, Stark finally learns that his fellow prisoner’s name is Yinsen as he pours the heated metal into a circular-esque container. Eventually, Tony takes the Palladium circle and combines it with other pieces of tech in order to create a miniaturized Arc Reactor, thus allowing him to replace the makeshift electromagnet as his own means of keeping the embedded shrapnel from reaching his heart. Not only that, but it also runs at three gigajoules per second, and it would be powerful enough to energize something that Stark has planned. From there, he combines a few pieces of drawn-on tracing paper in order to show Yinsen that he intends on building a mechanized suit as their means of escaping. Later, they pass the time by playing some backgammon as Tony finally asks his fellow captive where he’s from, to which Yinsen says that he’s from Gulmira (a fictitious town) and that he has a family that he’ll finally be with once he leaves their imprisonment. Stark mentions that he doesn’t have his own family, to which Yinsen says that he’s “a man who has everything and nothing”. Later, they’re approached by Raza (who gives his advancing weapons speech here instead of earlier in the adaptation) and a few terrorists who tells Yinsen that he and Stark haven’t produced what his group has demanded from them. Yinsen assures him that he & Tony have been working and that the process has been “complex”. Despite the comic omitting the scene of him nearly scalding Yinsen with a heated coal, Raza then says that they have until tomorrow to have the Jericho missile fully assembled.
From there, Stark goes full steam ahead into forging his armored suit while they plan their escape route out of the caves. Just as Tony gets suited up, a pair of terrorists approach their cell door to check up on them. Thankfully, Tony and Yinsen had managed to rig the door since once the two Ten Ring goons open it up, it explodes onto them. With the blast alerting the terrorists, Yinsen begins to power up Stark’s suit. However, Yinsen begins to realize that they won’t have enough time before more terrorists manage to swarm in. As such, Yinsen decides to give Tony more time as he grabs a fallen fiend’s gun and wildly fires into the ceiling, causing the goons to retreat. While the distraction does work, Yinsen soon finds himself at the armed mercy of Raza and the rest of his fellow Ten Ring cohorts. Stark then begins to smash and strike his way out within his fully powered armored suit. He then finally reaches a fatally wounded Yinsen who warns him of an upcoming shot. Thankfully, it allowed Tony to dodge a powerful blast from Raza before striking back with his built-in flamethrower (as opposed to a mini rocket in the movie). Afterwards, Stark tells his fallen friend to get up in order for them to stick to the plan, but Yinsen says that this was always the plan. Tony then tells him that they have to go if he’s going to see his family again, but Yinsen says that his family is already dead and that he’s about to reunite with them. After Stark thanks him for saving his life, Yinsen tells him not to waste it before he finally passes on.
Afterwards, Tony emerges from the cave and withstands the opposing gunfire before he uses his flamethrowers on the Ten Ring thugs while also incinerating their supply of his company’s weapons. Eventually, he activates his suit’s jet boosters and flies out of their mountainous base. In a comic-exclusive scene, Agent Sitwell informs Cl. Fury of the recent craft that emerged from the Kunar Mountain Range, yet it’s too small to be an actual aircraft. Suddenly, it blips out of their sensors as Fury orders him to contact their “friends in the D.O.D.” Meanwhile, Stark crash lands in the desert and discards his armor before he begins a perilous trek. Eventually, he gets rescued by Rhodey and a small group of soldiers.
Eventually, Tony arrives back at Edwards Air Force Base where he’s met by his bodyguard named Harold “Happy” Hogan and a teary-eyed Pepper. Afterwards, Potts wants to take Stark to the hospital, but he shoots that order down and simply asks for two things. First, a cheeseburger. Second, he wants her to call up a press conference. Later, they arrive at Stark Industries where they’re met upon by Obadiah and a large crowd of reporters. Just then, Potts is met upon by a man named Phil Coulson who’s an agent for the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement & Logistics Division. Though the comic does omit a minor movie detail in that his organization is separate from the major governmental ones and is actually “a more specific group”, Phil does mention that they would like to debrief Tony on how he escaped as Pepper agrees to schedule said appointment. As the press conference gets started (and with the comic omitting him saying that he never got to say goodbye to his father while also asking him how he would feel about how their company is doing today), Stark says that he saw innocent American soldiers lose their lives by his own company’s weapons and that he had been “part of a system” that had no problem with never taking any accountability. After going through his eye-opening overseas moment, he realizes that he can provide more to the world aside from “making things that blow up”. As such, he officially announces that he’s shutting down his company’s weapons manufacturing division and that he’ll decide on a better path for his organization, much to the shock of the press and Obadiah who says that he and Tony will be having an “internal discussion”. Later, Stane meets up with Stark in front of their main Arc Reactor and reminds him that they’ve been longtime weapons manufacturers, even describing themselves as “Iron Mongers”. However, Tony says that they can do better as a company and that they should seriously look into Arc Reactor technology. Obadiah argues that it wasn’t a cost-effective venture, especially since there weren’t any major breakthroughs in three decades. Stark then ultimately reveals the Arc Reactor on his chest as proof that it can work to which Stane says that while they’ll initially take some financial heat, he wants Tony to lay low for a while. Later at his Malibu-based home, Stark had summoned Pepper to his workstation. He tells her that he’s made an upgraded mini–Arc Reactor and that he needs her help in order to properly install it into his chest. He also warns her that there’s even an exposed wire underneath that’s causing a minor short. After he removes his first Arc Reactor, he tells her to gently remove said wire from his chest. Despite coming across an “Inorganic Plasmic Discharge” that came from the device, she manages to grab the copper wire and slowly pull it out. Just as he also tells her not to remove the magnet at the end of it, she accidentally does so. He then tells her to install the new Arc Reactor before he completely falls into cardiac arrest. Ultimately, she manages to complete the task. Afterwards, she asks him what he would like to do with his prior Arc Reactor, to which he tells her to destroy it. Later, he meets up with Rhodey at the Air Force base and informs him that he’s got something big in the making that he would like him to be a part of. However, it’s not connected with the military. Just as Tony is about to get into the specifics, Rhodey tells him that he has to get his mind right before taking his leave.
Later, Stark is back at his house, though the comic skips over him making an updated version of his original armored suit, even codenaming it as “Mark II”. It also bypasses a scene in Afghanistan where the Ten Rings have found Tony’s initial armor and have recovered every last scrap. Back in Malibu, Stark has finally built the initial flight boots before he decides to test its ability to levitate at 10% trust capacity. However, it ends in comical failure as he immediately crash-lands shortly upon start-up. After the adaptation skips over some more tinkering, which includes the basis for his hand based Repulsor Beams (that also doubles as a flight stabilizer) and even Pepper informing him that Obadiah has dropped by for a visit before she gives him a present, Tony meets up with Stane who had just met with their company’s board of directors. It turns out that they’re claiming Stark has developed posttraumatic stress disorder and are now filing an injunction to lock him out, especially after the company’s stocks had a big drop following Tony’s recent announcement. Obadiah elaborates on how the board isn’t liking Stark’s new direction, to which Tony says that he’s finally being responsible. Stane then says that he has to present something to them as a pitch. In particular, he wants their engineers to look over Stark’s chest-based Arc Reactor, but Tony refuses to comply and says that it stays with him, even refusing to allow his partner access to his sub-level workshop. We then shift ahead by at least 10 days as Stark is still hard at work getting the new suit’s flight propulsion to properly function. He finally gets it working at 1% thrust capacity before it even achieves minimal flight after increasing to 2.5%.
Later, the Mark II armor is fully assembled as Tony suits up while running an initial start-up with J.A.R.V.I.S. as they run a check on control surfaces. Following its completion, J.A.R.V.I.S. is ready to power the suit down for some diagnostics. However, Stark orders him to perform a weather and A.T.C. check since he wants to get to a full flight test immediately. As such, he blasts off and proceeds to fly around the city for a bit. Eventually, he decides to see how high he can fly his suit into the atmosphere. He tries to surpass the SR-71 Blackbird’s record flight of 85,000 feet, but the intense build-up of ice completely encases the suit and shuts off his propulsion system, leading him to plummet towards the ground. Fortunately, he manages to manually deploy his flaps and shatter the built-up ice from his suit in order for the propulsion system to come back online and fly him back to his home. From there, his flight ends with him inadvertently choosing the wrong spot to turn his boosters off as he crashes through the roof and falls through several floors before smashing onto one of his vintage cars. After getting out of his suit, he opens up his gift from Pepper and sees that she’s placed his first Arc Reactor into a display that reads “Proof That Tony Stark Has A Heart”. After the comic skips over the Ten Rings reassembling Tony’s Mark I armor, Stark makes some notes with J.A.R.V.I.S. on what to improve with the suit moving forward, even deciding on an advanced metal to help combat the icy cold of space.
Just then, he catches a newscast about his annual benefit for the firefighters’ family fund in full swing. After Tony learns from J.A.R.V.I.S. that he didn’t get an invitation to his own event, he then hears the reporter mention that he hasn’t been seen in public since his major announcement and it’s unlikely that he’ll show up. Just then, J.A.R.V.I.S. finishes the initial render for his Mark III armor before Stark tells him to add some hot rod red to the design. And so, Issue 1 ends with him heading out to the party while J.A.R.V.I.S. begins the five-hour assembly process.
Issue 2 begins with Tony arriving at the charity ball (which is where Stan Lee has his movie cameo) as he’s swarmed by the paparazzi with Obadiah even noticing. However, the comic omits their brief encounter where Stane tells Stark that he has their company’s board exactly where they want them. It also leaves out Tony’s first meet-up with Phil who requests for a debriefing, yet Stark is distracted by the sight of Pepper in her backless blue dress as he unknowingly agrees to the meeting. Afterwards, he meets up with Potts who’s surprised to see him here as she ultimately tells him that her dress is counting as his birthday gift to her. From there, he takes her to the dance floor for a little slow dance, much to her awkward surprise. As they engage in a flirtatious chat, the comic does omit him admitting that he would have trouble tying his own shoes or even remembering his own social security number without her. Eventually, they head out to the balcony as Pepper talks about how weird their dance felt to her. He tries to tell her that it wasn’t anything beyond a simple dance, but she says it’s not that simple since the populace is aware of his public image, especially around women and that the uncomfortable feeling comes from the fact that she was slow dancing with her boss. However, the comic then omits their conversation leading towards them almost kissing each other before they compose themselves. From there, Potts tells him that she would like to have a vodka martini with lots of olives. As Tony puts in the drink request at the bar, he’s then met upon by Christine who tells him that he had quite the nerve to show up tonight, especially after his own company had just gotten involved with a “latest atrocity”. He initially has no idea what she’s talking about, so she gives him some recently taken pictures showing the overseas village of Gulmira getting attacked by the Ten Rings, since they somehow have Stark Industries weapons in their hands. Tony says that he didn’t approve of this shipment, but Everheart informs him that his company did. From there, Stark confronts Obadiah and demands an explanation for their weapons winding up in the wrong hands over in Gulmira. As they stand to get their pictures taken, Stane discreetly informs him that he was the one who filed the injunction against him and barred him from the company in his effort to “protect” him. Later, Tony is back home tweaking his gauntlet while watching a newscast covering the current terror occurring in Gulmira. While some of its citizens have managed to embark on a long and grueling journey to safety, the village continues to be assaulted by the fully equipped Ten Rings. As the reporter mentions how there’s hardly any hope for the refugees and wonders if there’s anyone who would be able to help, Stark fires his Repulsor Beam in frustration as if to answer the call.
One suit up and an international solo flight later, Tony arrives in Gulmira and saves the remaining villagers by smiting the terrorists’ weapons & easily defeats them (with the movie specifically showing Stark besting their field general Abu). However, a single tank still stands and manages to blast him. Thankfully, he responds by firing a single mini rocket at it, ultimately destroying the opposing combat vehicle. As Tony flies out of the area, his activities have gotten picked up stateside at Edwards Air Force Base. With Rhodey having been informed on what has just gone down, he decides to call Stark. James tells him about the weapons depot that was just destroyed and asks him if he has any tech in the area. Tony quickly tells him that he doesn’t, but he’s then approached by two U.S. fighter jets who mistake him for an enemy bogey. As such, Stark hangs up and begins some evasive maneuvers. From there, we quickly have a scene exclusive to the adaptation as Agent Jasper Sitwell informs Cl. Nick Fury about the bogey with the similar energy signature from Kubal, yet it’s much stronger and faster. Not only that, but it’s being pursued by a pair of F-22 Raptors. Nick tells him to contact Edwards Base and have them call off the attack, but Sitwell says that it’s too late.
Tony is able to stave off an incoming missile with some flares before he manages to evade their sight. He then calls up Rhodey who proceeds to chastise him for sending civilian equipment into an active war zone, but Stark tells him that it’s a suit and that he’s in it, much to James’ shock. Just then, one of the pilots discovers their bogey hanging onto the underside of his comrade’s jet who manages to shake him off. However, Tony ends up slamming into the wing of the other jet, crippling the craft and forcing the pilot to bail out. However, things go from bad to worse for the pilot as his parachute is jammed and unable to deploy. Fortunately, Stark reaches him and punches the jammed mechanism, allowing the parachute to deploy and save the pilot’s life. Afterwards, he resumes his call and asks his friend if he’s going to swing by his place to see what he’s “working on”, to which Rhodey declines before he asks what he’s going to tell the press. Tony simply says that he can use the “training exercise” excuse, yet James says that it’s not that simple. However, the following newscast has him using that exact excuse, while Rhodes also mentions that whatever intervened in Gulmira had no involvement from the U.S. Government. During this moment, the comic omits Obadiah watching said broadcast from his house. Instead, the adaptation has this being shown on a TV back at Tony’s house while he’s struggling with getting his armor off just as Pepper walks in and is surprised to see him in the suit.
We then cut to sometime later on the outskirts of Gulmira where Stane is actually paying a visit to Raza. The comic does omit his initial arrival where it’s revealed that his original scheme was to have the Ten Rings rub Stark out. Once they’re inside the tent, Raza presents him with a fully recovered Mark I armor while also admiring how due to Tony continuing to perfect past this initial suit, a dozen of his own men within advanced suits could have the potential to help him conquer the entirety of Asia. Because they both see Stark as their common enemy (since Obadiah is gunning for control of Stark Enterprises), Raza proposes a deal. He’ll give Stane the designs and in exchange, he’ll be rewarded with his own set of armored suits. However, Obadiah uses a device on him that sends out a sonic shrill that’s powerful enough to paralyze him for 15 minutes while he was protected with his own auditory earpieces. Once he heads outside, it’s then revealed that his own men have also taken the remaining Ten Rings terrorists under their submission. Once he gives the order for the Mark I Armor to get packed up, his men proceed to execute the surviving Ten Rings members. From there, he calls up his team of scientists to prepare Sector 16 (or Section 16 as it’s known in the movie) underneath the main Arc Reactor and that he wants their top engineers to build him a prototype suit.
Later, Pepper meets up with Tony who gives her a special assignment. He wants her to go to his office at Stark Enterprises, hack into the company mainframe and retrieve every recent shipping manifest, since he wants to put a stop to his company’s under-the-table dealings and destroy his weapons. However, she refuses to help him if he’s going to go through a repeat of his recent activity, to which he tells her that there’s nothing else to this whole ordeal except the mission. As such, she tells him that she’s quitting. He then tells her that she’s been with him for so long while he’s been reaping “the benefits of destruction” and now that he wants to protect those that he’s put in harm’s way, she’s leaving him at this crucial moment. She tells him that she’s not going to take part in this whole ordeal if it means that he’ll get himself killed, but he says that he shouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for a good reason and that within his heart, he knows that this is the right thing to do. Ultimately, she takes the provided lock chip (which is initially absent in the comic) and agrees to help him, especially since she admits that he’s all that she has as well. Later, she makes it to Tony’s office and investigates his computer. She ultimately finds some key evidence within a Ghost Drive labeled under Sector (or Section) 16 before she comes across a video from the Ten Rings where they had Stark as their hostage and that they were originally telling Stane to pay a hefty price in order for them to execute him. From there, she begins to download all of the secret files onto the lock chip. Just as the process is finishing up, she’s suddenly met upon by Obadiah. While he’s unaware of what she’s been doing on the computer, he proceeds to tell her that while he’s happy that Tony was able to return home, he felt like Stark had “left a part of himself in that cave” as well. Afterwards, she discreetly takes the lock chip and manages to leave the office. However, Stane had ultimately found out about her recent activity. Back with Potts, she’s met upon by Agent Coulson who asks her about their appointment, to which she tells him to come with her as she’ll present him with a crucial meeting. After the adaptation skips over a scene where Obadiah learns from his head scientist that they’re unable to properly power his prototype suit due to them not being able to replicate another mini–Arc Reactor, we shift over to Stark’s house at night where he’s receiving a phone call from Pepper. Just as he’s answering it, he’s suddenly paralyzed by the same sonic device as Stane mentions that the U.S. Government didn’t approve of this gadget due to it causing short-term paralysis. As he extracts the mini–Arc Reactor from Tony’s chest, Obadiah admits to putting a hit out on him, yet is ultimately glad that he survived to provide him with one last piece of tech that will power “a new generation of weapons”. He then says that he shouldn’t have gotten Pepper involved before he leaves Stark to die. We then shift over to Potts having called up Rhodey and informing him of what she’s found out about Stane. As she, Phil and a group of agents are about to head over to stop Obadiah, she tells James that she tried to call Tony, but didn’t get an answer. As such, she tells Rhodes to go check on him. From there, the comic then cuts out Stark’s struggle to stay alive before he manages to acquire his original Arc Reactor and install it into his chest. After the adaptation also skips over the scene where Stane installs the newest Arc Reactor into his Iron Monger suit, we cut back to Tony’s house as Rhodey arrives to find Stark alive and well before informing him that Pepper has teamed up with five agents in order to have Obadiah arrested. However, Stark knows that it’s not going to be enough. After the comic skips over Phil and his agents helping Pepper get into Section 16 while Stane hears them coming and preps his suit to deal with them, Tony dawns his Mark III armor in front of James and tells him to “Keep the Skies Clear” before blasting off. Afterwards, Rhodes sees the Mark II armor and ultimately decides to wait until “next time” to try and suit up.
Back at Stark Industries, Potts, Coulson & his fellow agents arrive in Sector/Section 16 before they come across the Mark I Armor and discover that it was used to help build another suit. Just then, they’re confronted by Obadiah who appears within his Iron Monger armor and smacks through the opposing agents before he chases after Pepper. After the adaptation omits a quick scene where Stark is en route towards his company and learns from J.A.R.V.I.S. that he’ll be at a disadvantage due to his original Arc Reactor not being entirely compatible with his Mark III armor (yet the comic places that important conversation during the main fight), he’s then in a phone call with Potts who tells him that Stane has gone insane. Suddenly, Iron Monger rises up through the ground and prepares to kill her. Thankfully, Tony flies in and rams into him as they wind up onto the nearby highway. Obadiah then picks up a car containing a mother and her children, but Stark is able to hit him with a chest based Repulsor Blast and save them. However, Iron Monger recovers and goes on the offensive while telling Tony that he’s not going to stand in his way of taking complete control over the company. Shortly after Stark recovers by hovering in the air, Stane proceeds to show off his suit’s flight capability. As such, Tony wants to soar up to “Maximum Altitude”, despite J.A.R.V.I.S warning him that the suit is at 15% power and falling. It’s here that another scene is cut from the comic as military personnel at Edwards Air Force Base notice both of them within the nearby airspace and are about to send out their jets, yet Rhodey is able to belay that order in favor of them calling it “a training exercise”. As they fly higher into the sky, Iron Monger is able to draw closer while Stark continues to lose even more of his suit’s power. Ultimately, Obadiah catches up and says that his suit is far-more advanced. However, Tony makes him realize that he didn’t deal with his suit’s icing problem as Stane plummets towards the ground while Stark proceeds to descend despite solely operating on emergency power.
He ultimately lands on the roof of his company’s main Arc generator before he contacts Pepper and assures him that he’s OK, but he needs to get out of his suit since he’s low on power. Suddenly, Iron Monger comes in and ultimately attempts to crush him. Thankfully, Tony uses his armor’s flares to disorient Obadiah and go into hiding. From there, he tells Potts that they’ll need to overload the reactor and blast the roof. In order to do so, she’ll have to open up every last circuit on the central console. Just as he clears the roof, that’s when she’ll press the master bypass button. As such, she begins to carry out his plan. Meanwhile, Stark proceeds to buy her some time as he manages to approach Iron Monger and disable his optical viewer. However, Obadiah manages to throw Stark off of him and onto the main roof before he opens up his central chest cavity in order to properly see. Just then, Pepper contacts Tony and tells him to get off the roof since she’s ready to press the master bypass button. Unfortunately, Stane fires his gatling gun and shatters enough of the glass roof, causing Stark to nearly fall through. With him unable to get away, Tony tells her to just press the button anyway. Ultimately, she does so as the resulting energy blast disables Obadiah’s suit before he falls through the roof, lands on the Arc Reactor and dies in the explosion.
We then cut to the next day where a press conference is being held, as Rhodey gives a claim that the main Arc Reactor was damaged by a “robotic prototype”. Meanwhile, Stark has survived the whole ordeal and is waiting within an adjacent room. As Pepper applies some make-up to him, Tony notices that a newspaper reporter has dubbed his armored persona as “Iron Man”. Phil then gives him some note cards containing his alibi and wants him to tell the press that he was out sailing at Avalon last night. Stark then notices that his alibi doesn’t mention Stane at all, to which Coulson says that the excuse is that he was on vacation and ultimately lost his life aboard a small and faulty aircraft. Just as Phil is about to take his leave, he then mentions that his agency now has an acronym called S.H.I.E.L.D. With only a few seconds to go until he addresses the press, Tony tells Pepper that even if he was Iron Man, he would also have a girlfriend who knew his identity and would be “wildly conflicted” as well. While she recalls the night they danced at the charity gala, she does remind him that he went to get her a martini and never came back, thus bringing their conversation to an end. From there, he comes in and begins to share his alibi. Suddenly, Christine responds by saying that it seems unlikely that it was his own bodyguard who conveniently showed up in a suit to intervene. Stark tells her that he’s not the hero type before Rhodey discreetly reminds him to stick to the cards. Just as Tony begins to read off his alibi, he takes a dramatic turn by officially declaring that he is indeed Iron Man. We then cut to that night as Stark returns to his darkened home where a figure tells him that he’s not the sole superhero within the whole world and that he’s actually part of a bigger universe. From there, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury emerges from the shadows and offers to inform him about the “Avengers Initiative”. While the movie ends there, the adaptation continues as Tony tells him that he’s not interested and tells him to leave. Despite Nick saying that he’s offering him an opportunity, Stark says that opportunities are taken and that he’ll find one himself. Fury then says that he’ll be keeping an eye on him before heading out. And so, the comic ends with him calling up Couslon and essentially telling him that Tony had turned them down. However, he’s going to try again to bring Stark on board. To do so, he’ll need some help from a certain woman named Natasha.
Moving on, we have one last major story that also presents the events of the movie, albeit from different perspectives. “Iron Man: Security Measures” was released on September 30, 2008, as a digital comic and as a physical copy that came exclusively bundled with the 2-DVD set at Wal-Mart. Not only that, but it’s also included in the same trade paperback that has the two-issue adaptation. So, what kind of alternative tale does this weave? Let’s suit up again and find out.
We open within S.H.I.E.L.D.’s war room as Phil informs Fury about the surprise ambush within Afghanistan’s Kunar Province while using footage that was recovered from the foremost Humvee’s camera. Because Rhodey and his fellow soldiers within their Humvee were five minutes behind, they were too late to prevent Tony from getting kidnapped. Coulson goes on to explain that even though there hasn’t been any claim towards whomever was behind this assault, the Ten Rings are the most active group within said area. Not only that, but blood was also found at the scene, though not enough to recognize as a fatal wound. Nick believes that Stark is still alive since there would’ve been a ransom demand. Since there hasn’t been any, he thinks that they’re after something far greater than money. Even though Phil assures him that the military is searching throughout the entire area, Fury says that they’ll never find Tony since the Ten Rings are extremely skilled with this level of secrecy. Not only that, but they also don’t know who’s serving as the ultimate mastermind and what their motivation behind all of this is. Coulson offers to head out to Afghanistan, but Nick shoots his request down since their organization isn’t authorized to run foreign operations. Phil then says that the Stark Family has been making weapons for the U.S. Government ever since Tony’s dad Howard worked within the Manhattan Project. Despite his parents’ deaths, Tony has continued that legacy and has even created the Jericho missile. While losing Stark would be a major blow to the American military, Coulson senses a major concern towards homeland security growing. In particular, he thinks that the Ten Rings are forcing Tony to build Jericho missiles for them. Fearing that the Ten Rings could somehow have Stark be their catalyst towards crippling their national security, Fury tells Phil to talk to Obadiah and find out if Tony would truly sell out America’s protection to them in order to stay alive. We then shift to sometime later as Coulson meets with Stane at Stark Industries. Obadiah says that Tony has been the kind of guy “who makes his own rules” and that he’s more than proven himself after his dad left the company to him when he was a minor. Phil mentions that he’s trying to properly gage the risks that the terrorists could pose with Stark in their grasp, but Obadiah says that there’s not a whole lot that Tony could even mention to them about America’s defenses. After all, he likes to invent things, yet leaves their initial operations to either Stane or Rhodey. As such, it’s highly unlikely that the Ten Rings would ever successfully get the access codes for their surveillance satellites from Stark. From there, Obadiah heads out to prep the company to operate without Stark since he doesn’t believe that he’ll return home alive. Later, Coulson returns and informs Fury that he would like to join the search for Tony due to him being “focused on his work” and would still be potentially dangerous as a result. However, Nick declines his request and that they should instead focus on searching through Stark’s history & finances in order to anticipate what he may wind up building for the Ten Rings and that the military can continue searching for him. Unbeknownst to them, Tony had built his Mark I armor and is carrying out his escape plan.
We then cut to three months later as Coulson informs Fury that a fully rescued Stark is en route to Edwards Air Force Base. However, Nick feels that the Ten Rings may still have some form of mental control over him and that he could wind up as their mole within Stark Industries in order to make them incredibly powerful, since he doesn’t buy the destruction of their ammunition dump as accidental. As for the big explosion from within the Ten Rings’ mountain-based hideout, it was caught by their surveillance satellites and Fury notices a certain shape emerging from the blast. As such, Nick feels that the terrorists had sent a mind-controlled Stark out to get the necessary equipment that would help tip the balance of power in their favor and that he wants to find out how severe of a punishment Tony would ultimately be in line for. Later, Phil meets up with Pepper as Stark announces to the press that he’s shutting down his company’s weapons manufacturing division. Eventually, Coulson meets back up with Fury and says that he’s not sure what Tony hopes to gain from this attention-grabbing event, since his company’s stocks will also take a major hit. As for Potts, he describes her as a smart and imposed woman who can run the entire company on her own. Nick mentions how his Intel had informed him that she’s incredibly loyal to Tony, yet Phil tells him that she seemed to be just as surprised from her boss’ recent proclamation. Just as Fury is about to investigate some unrelated sightings of unmanned aerial vehicles, they then get informed about their security cameras picking up a peculiar West Coast-based activity. It turns out to be Tony testing the flight capability of his Mark II armor while also seeing how high into the atmosphere he can reach. Nick then compares the figure to the familiar shape emerging from the recent Kunar region explosion and ultimately recognizes its familiar shape, realizing that it’s Stark within the armor.
We then shift to the next day as Coulson confirms that Tony is the man within the flying armor. Not only that, but they attempted to hack into his home computer system, only for Stark to trace their signal back to their dummy company. As for how Tony solved the icing problem on his suit, Phil says that their technicians believe that Tony is using the heat from his armor’s boot jets to raise its surface temperature. Fury now realizes that Stark got out of the weapons manufacturing business in order to devote his resources towards making these suits. He also fears that if Tony is still under the Ten Rings’ control, then they could legitimately become a global threat. As such, he wants Coulson to finally meet Stark. We then shift to the Firefighters’ Fund Gala where Phil is calling up Nick after he just set up an interview. When Fury asks him how Tony acted in front of him, Coulson says that it was as if he had “somewhere to be” before he notices that Stark had just left. Unbeknownst to him, this was after Tony had found out about the Ten Rings getting more of his company’s weapons and that Stane had locked him out of the company itself before he hears about the terrorists causing a major commotion on the news and decides to suit up in order to deal with them himself.
We then shift to Gulmira after the Ten Rings were vastly defeated as Nick and Phil arrive on the scene. Just then, a fellow soldier shares a video camera that was in possession of the terrorists as the footage shows Stark arriving in his Mark III armor and smiting his foes, while also destroying their weapons and tanks. As they watch Tony in action, Coulson shares some information that he got from Obadiah. Specifically, Stark acquired an old file about an alloy that his father worked on during World War II for a past O.S.S. Operation called Project: Rebirth. While Fury guesses that Tony found an “example” of the alloy and applied it to his suit, Coulson then asks him about Project: Rebirth. Nick explains that it was highly classified and that what Stark is using is nothing more than a prototype (including a replica of an item belonging to a specific Sentinel of Liberty) and that the true final product is currently lost, though they won’t stop searching for it. Aside from that, Fury believes that Tony is making a serious statement by wiping out the Ten Rings’ supply of Jericho missiles. Phil suspects that Stark thinks they’re onto him and he’s trying to destroy any evidence of his involvement with them before a fellow agent informs them that their suspect is being pursued by a pair of F-22 Raptors. To their surprise, they see Tony taking evasive action before saving a pilot after accidentally clipping the wing of his jet.
With Stark having risked his life in order to help the ejected pilot deploy his jammed chute, Coulson asks if he’s trying to avoid the military’s wrath. Nick then believes that they probably have their initial facts wrong and that someone else is playing them. He explains how he realizes that Stane had been “extremely forthcoming” with giving them information on Tony despite having been somewhat of a father figure to him. As such, they’re heading back to America in order for Phil to attend his scheduled appointment at Stark Industries while he checks out the company’s financials concerning Obadiah’s activities. We then shift over to Coulson meeting up with Pepper after she’s just found out about Stane’s devious scheme as well before they head out to inform each other. Later, Phil tells Fury that Obadiah is the true culprit, since he was funneling arms to the Ten Rings. While he has a team of agents to help out Potts, he also mentions that Stane is in the process of making his own suit. As such, Nick tells him to be careful and that he’s sending backup. With Pepper, Phil and his fellow agents entering Section 16 in order to investigate, they’re suddenly met upon by Obadiah who uses his Iron Monger armor to easily defeat Coulson and his agents. While Fury orders for backup, Tony arrives in his Mark III armor before he begins his climactic fight against Stane. Eventually, their scuffle reaches the company’s roof before Potts manages to overload the main Arc Reactor and help Phil escape the blast as it ultimately smites Obadiah. Afterwards, they reach the roof in order to check up on an unconscious Stark. They thankfully discover that he’s still alive as they wonder how all of this will eventually be dealt with by the press.
We then cut to the next day as Coulson meets up with Nick who’s also just learned that the press has named Tony’s armored persona as Iron Man. Phil assures him that they’ve trademarked said name, secured every related web domain and that he gave Tony a proper cover story. Fury then admits that Stark had proved him wrong by being a rightful warrior, to which Coulson asks him if he has a proper future within S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick then admits that he likes the shortened name for their agency before they hear Stark admit to the world that he is Iron Man. Phil is shocked by this turn of events, but Fury says that he expected this. He explains that their “Psych Boys” had thoroughly profiled Tony and that the provided cover story was designed for him to reject it. He then says that he was looking for someone who makes the right calls and can rewrite the rules in the moment. As such, he sees Stark as a worthy asset that’s passed his test. From there, he tells Coulson to take a week off while he goes to see a man about their country’s future. And so, the comic ends on the film’s post-credits scene where Nick introduces himself to Tony at his home in order to inform him about the Avengers Initiative.
Briefly, let’s get to one final comic that’s tied into the central movie. This was the first issue of an informative series called “Guidebook To The Marvel Cinematic Universe”, released in October 2015 and initially selling 12,593 copies upon its publication. From the main and supporting characters to buildings, armors, workshop robots & and the original Arc Reactor, this book gives individual information on how each of these elements were used in the mainline movie, gives Fact Sheets about each of them and even mentions their original comic book counterparts. I won’t go too deep into this book since it essentially covers them as deeply as they are here, but it’s an interesting piece of MCU history worth having in your collection.
Overall, this was a humble start that mainly delivers in translating the movie’s narrative into comic book form. In their own unique ways, they both did nice jobs in following the film’s main story and properly presented it upon the printed page. However, they each did so with different tasks in mind. The two-issue adaptation had the more straightforward objective of bringing the mainline narrative over to the inked & colored panels. Aside from omitting a few details that remained exclusive to the movie (as I brought up during my review) or making a tiny handful of cosmetic alterations that were either added to the story or were streamlined to fit this format, the film’s tale is still presented here with good artwork, decent pacing and colorful detail to maintain the singular experience that this starting block to a major media empire successfully captured. As for “Security Measures”, it also follows the movie’s storyline but presents it from a different point-of-view, particularly from Nick Fury and Phil Coulson’s side. Even though it’s a trait that wouldn’t be expanded upon until future entries, this tale actually establishes a somewhat paranoid aspect to Nick’s side. In particular, he thinks that the Ten Rings have somehow either convinced or mind-controlled Tony into infiltrating America and secretly supply them with his company’s technology in order for their conquest over all of Asia to become a reality. Their investigation into Stark’s suspicious behavior while the film’s main events play out is decent and does its best to line up with key moments of the cinematic narrative, but any tension that might’ve been building from said initial premise is dropped once Tony’s actions in Gulmira ends and his rescue of a pilot whose jet he accidentally damaged begins to help Fury & Coulson see him within a better light. As for the spark that helps Nick become convinced that Iron Man is potentially worthy for the Avengers Initiative, maybe it could’ve been built up much better since there wasn’t a lot of notable breadcrumbs that I originally noticed which ultimately led to his decision. After all, we’re just as much in the dark on this as Phil is once it’s brought to light. Despite this being nothing more than a complimentary piece, it was still an interesting read supported by neat artwork, quality pacing and a casually energetic feel that one would feel going into this comic having just watched the movie yet would also retain said momentum with a little bit of clarity from another side of the overall story. Overall, both comics complement each other really well and support the foundational feel that the MCU’s inaugural entry delivered in spades. Before I close, I’m aware that another comic had originally came out around the same time and was also supposed to tie itself into this world called “Iron Man: Spies Like Us”. However, it’s since been considered to be MCU-adjacent, yet not officially connected, so I didn’t include it here. Not to mention, I also discovered that the movie’s much-criticized tie-in video game also had its own tie-in comic. Most likely, I’ll cover those last two comics separately and within their own space. Either way, the comics that we covered here were a joy to revisit and I recommend them for anyone who’s particularly curious about the MCU, while also looking to suit up for some extra media. Either way, it’s worth checking out if you have the strength, the determination and especially, the Heart.
Next Time: Our tie-in look into this particular universe has just begun as we focus on a scientist who’s on the run while trying to find a way to rid himself of his Gamma-Charged side. While different factions want his super strong persona for their own use, his attempt to be rid of said being will lead to some smashing results. Come back and rejoin this critical quest as we delve into the small batch of comic book material that’s connected to “The Incredible Hulk”.
Iron Man (created by Stan Lee, Larry Leiber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby) is owned by Marvel Comics.