The Strange Origins of Iron Man’s Second Armor War


In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, discover the bizarre origins of the second Armor Wars storyline in the pages of Iron Man’s comic book.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and twenty-sixth episode where we examine three comic book legends and determine if they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three captions. Click here for the first part of this episode’s captions.

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When John Byrne took over writing Iron Man, he had to write a story called “Armor Wars II”.



At the end of 1986, David Michelinie and Bob Layton, who had had a successful career on Iron Man from 1978 to 1982, returned to the series for a second stint on the title, taking over from writer Denny O’Neil, who had replaced them in 1982.

About a year after their comeback, they were a bit upset that Marvel hadn’t promoted it more. As I noted in an old Legends Revealed comic, Michelinie explained how this lack of promotion indirectly led to Armor Wars. He revealed:

A few years ago, a group of happy (and hungry) Marvel Madmen adjourned to one of New York’s finest Italian restaurants for an intense brainstorming session (in fact, we were there to fill our mouths). head, but we had to talk LITTLE business so we could justify putting the trip on the Mighty Marvel expense account!). In attendance were associate editor (then) Howard Mackie, editor (then) Jim Shooter, writer (then) David Michelinie and artist (now) Bob Layton. Between bites of twirled sprinkles, Bob expressed his displeasure with the lack of publicity we had received on Iron Man. We both felt we were doing some great stories (with then-artist Mark Bright), but we had no press on them. Wasn’t there a way to coax an internal announcement? A catch in Marvel Age? A full page in the New York Times Literary Supplement? Gobbling down a final row of impeccably curated angel hair, Jim replied that quality isn’t enough – quality is the STANDARD at Marvel. No, to get noticed, you would have to do something special. “You need an EVENT. Give us something to push,” he snapped, “and we’ll push it!

That event, of course, was Armor Wars, a storyline where Tony Stark decides he wants to make sure he’s the only one in control of his armor tech because he doesn’t want it falling into his hands. bad guys who could kill people with his technology. He therefore undertakes to withdraw his technology from the various armors of the Marvel universe (hence “Armor Wars”)…

The problem is that for this to work he couldn’t just target bad guys he had to target HEROES as well because he felt he couldn’t believe their tech could be compromised as well so he had to arrest people like the amazing underwater superhero, Stingray…

This led to a lot of bad press for Iron Man, as he broke a ton of laws. When he went to close the armors of the Guardsman, the guys guarding the supervillain prison known as the Vault, he inadvertently let a group of prisoners escape and he had to defeat his old friend, Steve Rogers , during the fight (Rogers was known as Captain at the time)…

In the end, the solution for Tony Stark was, once he succeeded, to “kill” Iron Man…

He then introduced the “new” Iron Man, with an all-new design (and a return to the classic red and gold look)…

Michelinie and Layton remained on the show for the next two years, but eventually Michelinie (who was writing Amazing Spider-Man solo at the time and wanted to do something else), left the show. John Romita Jr.’s first regular assignment at Marvel had been on Michelinie and Layton’s first Iron Man run and now the superstar artist was returning (initially with inker Harry Candelario), as Layton would take on the sole duties of writing on the show and the first thing he would do as a solo writer was set up…Armor Wars 2!

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Layton/Romita’s first issue was Iron Man #256…

In this issue, Tony (who had a chip implanted in his back to allow him to walk after being shot by a crazed stalker a few years earlier, a story I wrote a while ago here), noted that he was feeling a lot of pain but suddenly he felt completely good in his back…

This was of course the Armor Wars II setup. But wait, so LAYTON also decided to leave the show for an opportunity at the new Valiant Comics (where Layton would eventually become editor). The book was therefore authorless just before a major story began!

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In step John Byrne, who had recently returned to Marvel Comics after a stint at DC Comics, and Byrne learned that his first arc in the series was to be called Armor Wars II. After all, it was already announced! Byrne wanted to know if they expected him to follow the original Armor Wars II plan and was told no, he could do whatever he wanted, as long as it was called Armor Wars II (with the implied note in this being that presumably he would make it make sense as a title for the story).

Byrne agreed and he and Romita Jr (and inker Bob Wiacek) had a really fun run on the book…

Byrne’s approach was that the evil Marrs Corporation (of his brand new Namor race. A few years ago I wrote about the surprisingly incestuous influence of pop culture on these characters) controlled Tony via this chip, so the “Armor War” was that they controlled his armor by controlling him…

Years later, Layton and Michelinie got the chance to do an “Iron Man Forever” miniseries that allowed them to do their own take on Armor Wars 2, but it didn’t work out right away, so it was eventually published instead as Iron Man #258.1 to 258.4 (why use main series numbering when the story was out of continuity? No idea).

Dave Ross was the artist of this race…

We saw Layton’s original plan (well, a variant of it), which was for the chip to go rogue, creating an evil copy of Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence, and who was the villain of Armor Wars 2. ..

I like both versions of Armor Wars 2 myself.


In the latest Movie Legends Revealed – wasn’t Yaphet Kotto allowed to promote his own appearance as a villain in the James Bond film Live and Let Die?


Check back soon for part 3 of the legends of this episode!

Feel free to send me suggestions for future comic legends at [email protected] or [email protected]

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