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Don’t get in Tony Stark’s way when he’s mad. And you know what really peeves him off? Other people using his tech to hurt innocents. To put a stop to all this, he chases down and neutralizes all existing versions out there in IRON MAN #225–231 by Bob Layton, David Michelinie, and Mark Bright.
The story known as Armor Wars—originally titled “Stark Wars”— kicks off with our hero discovering that a now-reformed armored criminal called Force inadvertently used some of his tech. Making matters worse, Stark uncovers a bug in his workshop put there by Spymaster while in the employ of Justin Hammer.
Immediately kicking off his crusade, Iron Man takes out Stilt-Man, The Mauler, and The Controller with increasing amounts of hostility that the public starts noticing. And that’s just the beginning. The Beetle, the Raiders, Titanium Man, and Crimson Dynamo all eventually fall to Shellhead.
But the mission continues beyond the bad guys. He takes on not only Stingray—whose system actually turns out to be clean—but also the S.H.I.E.L.D. Mandroids, the Vault Guardsmen and even Steve Rogers during his time as The Captain.
To get the heat off his back, Tony publicly fires the Armored Avenger; at the time, Stark told the world that Iron Man acted as his bodyguard. Later, the Avengers oust him from the team that he helped found thanks to his erratic behavior.
At a deep low point, Tony still faces off against Firepower, an armored individual backed by Stark’s rival Edwin Cord. Realizing this is the last name on his armor hit list, Iron Man hits hard, but winds up taking a massive beating.
To buy some time and possibly kill off his Iron Man problem, Tony fakes the Silver Centurion’s death and seems content with letting his alter ego rest until Firepower continues to wreak havoc under Cord’s control. Fueled with a renewed creativity, Stark designs a new armor that he dons to destroy his opposition!
By the end of the arc, Tony Stark arms himself with a new sense of his place in the world. “I do have a responsibility to keep my inventions from evil hands—but I have a greater responsibility to oppose that evil any way I can. So…I guess Iron Man will be around for a while.”
Hacking the System
IRON MAN #230 features the destruction of one of Iron Man’s longest running armors. Dubbed “Silver Centurion,” the metallic and red suit debuted in IRON MAN #200 and marked the first major change in Shell Head’s color scheme since he went from gray to gold between TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 and #40 and then from all-gold to the original red and yellow in #48. He built this one after Obadiah Stane decided to dismantle Tony’s entire life. Though it pops up every now and then for armor group shots, occasional retro outfit changes and the like, Tony continues to look to the future when it comes to other suit designs.
Next, like all good scientists, Tony Stark earns an update during “Extremis” by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov.