I’ve been reading a little vintage Iron Man this week — in this case, issues #127-130 of The Invincible Iron Man from 1979.
First of all, this 1979 Tony Stark is no Robert Downey Jr.
He looks a lot more like Robert Goulet – so much so that I kept expecting him to break out in a comic book version of “Those Were the Days.” He didn’t, but I kept an eye on him.
In issue #127, Tony Stark is a very wealthy industrialist who lives in a fabulous house, designs high-tech stuff, woos women and drinks. This guy is the Barbie of superheroes. He has everything.
Occasionally he shucks his leisure suit and dons an armored suit and cruises the world as Iron Man. In this one, Iron Man fights off a whole super army (a woman villain named Man-Killer? Really?) , clears himself of a murder charge, stands up his bodyguard girlfriend Bethany and sinks into a deep depression realizing that, despite the good he does as Iron Man, without the suit he’s just a rich, drunken cad who brings trouble on himself.
By issue #128, Tony Stark is deep into the bottle and he’s in trouble. You think you’ve got problems? Tony Stark’s butler quits on him. Now that’s a real problem. It’s hard to find good help. Especially when you’re drunk.
The guy’s a wreck, but still, he puts on his costume. Then he crashes through the window and “helps” at a train wreck where he drops the car that happens to be filled with deadly chlorine gas (he forgot to check the car’s weight ratio with his sensors) and causes an evacuation. No one is amused. Fortunately Bethany comes to the rescue and gets him to dry out, but by the end of the comic, he’s lost control of Stark Industries.
In the next two issues, he gets his company back and battles Dreadnought, goes to Hong Kong and defeats a supernatural/high-tech “demon” and once again, saves the world. Tony Stark’s a busy guy.
For some reason, nobody seems to notice that every time Tony Stark disappears from the scene, Iron Man shows up. Luckily he keeps his suit in a briefcase and he can change in a flash. I just don’t understand how he can fit that suit in there with all the stuff it has. It’s kind of like all those clowns they jam into the little Shriner cars; there’s no way they can all fit in there, but they just keep coming out.
Check this out:
You’d think having all the money in the world PLUS an adamantium, electric-powered, refractory-coated armor suit that has repulsion rays, sensor scanners, super strength, an image projector and reverse magnetism (to name a few) would make Tony Stark a happy man, but it doesn’t. Like many good superheroes, he’s conflicted – much like Bruce Wayne, but with a sense of humor.