IRON MAN ARMORS
Iron Man possesses powered armor that gives him superhuman strength and durability, flight, and an array of weapons. The armor is invented and worn by Stark (with occasional short-term exceptions). Other people who have assumed the Iron Man identity include Stark’s long-time partner and best friend James Rhodes; close associates Harold “Happy” Hogan; Eddie March; and (briefly) Michael O’Brien.
The weapons systems of the suit have changed over the years, but Iron Man’s standard offensive weapons have always been the repulsor rays that are fired from the palms of his gauntlets. Other weapons built into various incarnations of the armor include: the uni-beam projector in its chest; pulse bolts (that pick up kinetic energy along the way; so the farther they travel, the harder they hit); an electromagnetic pulse generator; and a defensive energy shield that can be extended up to 360 degrees. Other capabilities include: generating ultra-freon (i.e., a freeze-beam); creating and manipulating magnetic fields; emitting sonic blasts; and projecting 3-dimensional holograms (to create decoys).
In addition to the general-purpose model he wears, Stark has developed several specialized suits for space travel, deep-sea diving, stealth, and other special purposes.
THE MOST IMPORTANT ARMORS:
Iron Man Armor MK I (Grey). First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)
Stark’s grey armor was the first iron man armor he built and (in retrospect) a prototype for the later models. It was built around an iron chest plate designed to prevent the piece of shrapnel he received in Vietnam from traveling to his heart and killing him. The armor, made from ordinary iron, provided protection from physical attacks, small arms, fire, extreme temperatures, some forms of energy, and acid. Powered by flat linear armature DC motors (rechargeable via any electrical outlet), the exoskeleton boosted the strength of the wearer by about 10 times, and employed negative feedback for motion sensing. Air pressure jets allowed for extended jumps (but not true flight) and removable suction cups allowed the wearer to cling to walls and ceilings. Weaponry included a chest-mounted monobeam (proton beam generator; useful range was only a few yards), a miniature hacksaw that could be attached to the gauntlet’s fingertip, and magnetic turbo-insulators that allowed Stark to magnetically deflect metal projectiles or bring metal objects to him. Sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. All of the armor’s devices and functions were manually controlled by the wearer. Stark used it to escape terrorists in Vietnam who were holding him hostage. He constructed at least one updated, form-fitting (although still rigid) version upon his return to the United States.
Iron Man Armor MK II (Golden Avenger). First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #40 (April 1963)
In order to make this armor – which originally was gun-metal grey, like the original – less frightening to the general public, Stark created a gold-colored version with a wide array of improvements over the original. The new armor used the three dimensional, collapsible micro-structure now common in Stark’s suits, so that it could be folded up and stored in his briefcase while inactive. The chest-plate was streamlined so that it could be worn under normal clothing without being noticeable. The suit had a semi-rigid interior with 3D knitted metallic exterior of a lightweight iron alloy, providing the same protection as his old suit did. This was also the first suit to be equipped with a force field generator. Power was still provided by flat linear armature DC motors, now rechargeable via solar recharger as well as electrical outlets, and motion sensing was still provided by negative feedback. The Mk II air pressure boot-jets provided limited flight; steering while flying was accomplished by bodily movement. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (usable as either a concussive force beam or a heat beam), a sledgehammer, hacksaws extending from the fingertips, hand drills, electromagnets allowing him to pull things to him and push them away, and an electrical field generator. Communications and sensor arrays consisted of a loudspeaker, short-wave two-way radio, radar, and a tape recorder. When one iteration of this particular armor was partially destroyed by the Melter, a super-villain who could dissolve iron and iron alloys with a special ray, Stark built an exact copy using aluminum instead of iron, which was unaffected by the Melter’s ability to dissolve iron.
Iron Man Armor MK III (original red and gold). First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #48 (December 1963)
Stark’s trademark red and gold armor arose from a battle with a villain named Mr. Doll, who could control the gold armor through a replica figurine. To circumvent the villain’s ability, Stark withdrew and constructed a new suit with a significantly different look and a lighter build- thus allowing him to devote less of his own strength to moving the armor and more to fighting Mr. Doll’s influence, resulting in the streamlined red and gold suit.
The red and gold armor was composed of an ultra-fine 3-D knit alloy and incorporated motors into the knitting to allow full mobility. While it ran on the same type of power, the power consumption was much more efficient. The boot jets were upgraded to chemically fueled thrusters, which provided a much faster flight speed. Weaponry consisted of the chest-mounted Mk II Monobeam (useful range was still only several yards), repulsor rays, a proton gun, and powerful electromagnets to pull metal objects to him or repel/push them away. Communications and sensors consisted of a short-wave radio. Other features included an image reproducer and collapsible roller skates. Most functions were controlled by miniature electronic switches mounted on the insides of various pieces of the armor such as the helmet and the gloves; by pressing various combinations of them, different systems were engaged. The switches in the helmet were enabled by the wearer’s tongue; other functions were utilized with wrist-mounted controls.
Iron Man Armor MK VII (Silver Centurion). First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #200 (November 1985)
Stark began creating the Silver Centurion armor as a method of working out ideas and experimenting. The S-circuit, which uses its energy more efficiently, is an example of the breakthrough developed by Stark, using the armor as a model. With the destruction of Circuits Maximus by Obadiah Stane, Stark donned the newest set of armor to battle the foe that stripped him of his business, his friends, and almost his life. The battle with Stane was the first field test of this armor, and resulted in the defeat of Stane and the destruction of Stane International.
The suit had a rigid interior and a 3-D knitted metallic exterior, providing protection from physical attacks as well as acid, heat, cold, most forms of energy, radiation, and electricity. A 3-D knitting pattern on a submolecular construction level gave the armor itself more strength, while allowing for the most comfortable suit interior. By expanding the field that keeps the armor rigid, the armor could encase itself in a protective force field that was effective against most forms of attack; Stark could also use this field to polarize the armor to either attract or repulse other items via magnetic polarity.
Most of this armor used solar power to charge the batteries and run most of the integrated circuitry, though the pods on the sides were batteries that could maintain the suit’s functions for a short time. It was also able to recharge itself from electrical sources, a thermocouple to siphon power from extreme heat or cold. Flight was accomplished via Mk IV boot-jets (which incorporated high-speed duo-source turbines), supplemented by a booster pack that enabled the armor to attain speeds up to 750 mph (1,210 km/h) in the air and 180 mph (290 km/h) in the water.
Weaponry consisted of a chest-mounted Mk III Unibeam (search light, heat beams, tractor beam, laser beam, and ultraviolet light beam), palm-mounted Mk III Repulsors (laser-guided particle beam emitters), pulse bolts (slow-moving high energy plasma discharge “torpedoes” that build in intensity as they travel through the atmosphere, picking up static and ambient energy and thus doing more damage the farther they travel), and a sonic emitter (generating high-frequency sound waves).
Iron Man Armor MK VIII (New Red and Gold). First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #231 (June 1988)
During the Armor Wars, Iron Man found himself facing the government-sanctioned armored assassin Firepower. Against this walking, flying armored arsenal, even the Silver Centurion armor did not stand a chance, and it was destroyed. Reluctant to enter the fray again, but forced into action, Tony Stark designed a new suit, even more powerful and versatile than its predecessor, designed specifically to negate Firepower’s original advantages, such as a means of disrupting Firepower’s targeting systems, a gauntlet-generated energy shield, and more powerful boosters for increased speed. It made short work of Firepower, and Stark was so horrified of the destructive potential of the armor should it fall into the wrong hands, he resolved to destroy it. Fortunately, he changed his mind. The modern classic armor resembled the classic armor which had endured for many years, with some minor cosmetic changes. Its appearance changed somewhat, mainly becoming more bulky, ostensibly to increase thruster power (its massive boot-jets earning it the some-time nickname “coffeepot armor”). It was also the first armor to incorporate a beta-particle generator, radically reducing Iron Man’s external power needs and boosting his offensive power.
War Machine Armor (Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Mark I). First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #281
Officially known as the Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, this armor was created initially by Stark to deal with the Masters of Silence threat by using a “respond in kind” philosophy and strategy. It was designed for all-out warfare and was Stark’s experiment with laser guided munitions and ballistic weaponry. Since the Masters of Silence were protected against Iron Man’s usual weaponry of repulsors and unibeam, those weapons were removed from the Mark I model. The armor included several response devices such as a shoulder mounted electric minigun, shoulder mounted missile box launcher, and wrist mounted gaunlet cannons with additional weaponry such as a laser blade and flamethrower. It was not collapsible, and included far heavier carbon-composite-based armor as well as improved tactical computer systems and automatic targeting. A later version, Mark II Model JRXL-1000, was designed and built for James Rhodes, which became a full-fledged superhero identity for him as War Machine. In Mark I model, both the double-barreled cannon and the plasma blade were fixed with the flamethrower built over the plasma blade casing. In Rhodes’ Mark II model, the wrist weapons became modular and the armor also included repulsor and unibeam technology. In both iterations, the shoulder mounted weapons are modular and can be removed and replaced. All further incarnations of the armor were used by Rhodes.
NTU-150 Telepresence Armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #290 (March 1993)
Though similar in design to both the Neo-Classic armor and its remote-controlled counterpart, the NTU-150 incorporated the new SE Telepresence technology, enabling the unit to be operated under full Virtual Control. This unit was not a wearable suit of armor; rather, it was a fully articulated device controlled by the mental impulses of the user via a remote headset apparatus. The remote headset transmitted commands to the active unit in much the same way as the human brain transmits commands to the central nervous system (in this case, it is via a subspace radio connection, lessening reaction time to almost zero). Similarly, the visual, aural, and (to a lesser degree) tactile information collected by the NTU-150 could be interpreted by the user’s brain in the same way as normal sensory data. The primary difference is that the sensory data collected by the NTU-150 includes a full range of electromagnetic spectra and computer-processed data normally unavailable to humans, while the active devices contained in the unit includes not only analogues to the human body, but weaponry, data collection and processing hardware as well, all under autonomic and voluntary nervous system control. In contrast to traditional robotic devices, the NTU-150 contains no mechanical framework to mimic the action of the human body; the unit’s outer shell is articulated by a multiprocessor-controlled structural integrity field which allows for a much greater range of movement.
Modular Armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #300 (January 1994)
This unit is a drastic departure from all of the previous armors. Instead of a single cohesive unit, each piece of the armor is a stand alone subsystem that can be interchanged at will. As such, while the overall unit is still referred to as the Mark 11, the actual configuration at any given time will vary. The shell was composed of layered “flex-metal” which could condense itself like a 3-dimensional accordion pleat. Micro-scale suit tiles were fabricated by genetically engineered metal-affinity bacteria, which assembled themselves in specific orderly arrays and then expired, leaving behind various metallic deposits which form all the metal shapes and micro-electronic circuits.
Crossing Armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #319 (August 1995)
With this armor, Stark did away with the Modular Armor and constructed a version designed specifically for combat. Its appearance was simpler, sporting rivets as its only decoration. Bulky gauntlets housed more powerful repulsors on top of the wrist instead of in the palm of the hand.
Renaissance Armor (“Heroes Return”)/Sentient armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #1 (February 1998)
Fresh upon his return from the “Heroes Reborn” universe, Tony constructed this armor which served as a new beginning, combining cutting-edge technology with classic lines. The armor possessed energy-absorption strips, as well as a “horned” faceplate, reminiscent of the first red-and-gold armor, and a pentagonal chest beam. Its most useful feature was a completely self-contained life support system, allowing Tony to completely cut himself off from the outside world while relying on food pills and the armor’s own internal atmosphere if he was in a hostile environment, a feature that came in particularly useful when he was abducted by the Brood to participate in a contest against other heroes, the armor’s internal life support allowing Tony to escape infection by the mood-altering nanites the Brood were using to keep the heroes too aggressive to consider their situation in depth long enough to develop a means of curing his allies.
S.K.I.N. Armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #42 (July 2001) (prototype); Iron Man (vol. 3) #44 (September) (finished design)
This armor’s main difference from its predecessors is its sheer size; the torso and shoulders in particular are massive. Its development, starting from scratch, resulted mainly from Tony’s fear that an innate factor had resulted in his previous armor developing sentience. Its appearance also differed markedly from the Sentient Armor, perhaps to make it seem as different as possible: it possessed a circular chest beam, a greatly altered overall configuration (including many “industrial-style” details such as external tubing, earning this suit the ignoble nickname “udder armor” and a restyled helmet.
The armor is powered by a Beta Particle Generator and solar power converters and controlled by a Cybernetic Interface and Battle Computer to enhance reactions when in combat. It can absorb directed energy attacks as well as massive non-directional energy discharges (like explosions). It also possesses a new force field.
The golden sections of Iron Man consisted of S.K.I.N (Synth-Kinetic Interface Nano-fluid), a liquid alloy that can be manipulated to conform to any desired shape. It is lightweight but has immense structural integrity, being harder than titanium and approaching low-grade adamantium. S.K.I.N. can be contracted to fit into a small container or stretched/shaped into another form. The alloy’s wondrous properties were developed by Askew Technologies, and the exact elements incorporated into the S.K.I.N. remain unknown. Tony had set up the S.K.I.N. of his armor to be stored in a small container. On his command, the S.K.I.N. spilled out and assumed its default armor configuration.
The larger size of the armor accommodated storage of several new systems, including an improved sonic array, upgraded chameleon field, energy blade, missiles and even a number of grapefruit-sized, spherical drone units which could hover and fly autonomously, and serve as scouts or remote-controlled weapons.
Tin Man Armor. First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 3) #50 (March 2002)
After the S.K.I.N. fiasco, Tony once again more or less redesigned the armor from scratch. Improved scanning included GPS and a particle mist that could be used to ‘mark’ targets. The armor, which went through various evolutions, had originally a generally segmented, almost insect-like appearance; later, it became heavier, more industrial, and the ultimate form of this armor (through trimmed down) made Tony sigh, “It’s difficult to believe I used to be able to fit this inside a briefcase”.
Carbon dioxide provides underwater propulsion; immediate satellite uplinking even from miles underwater was possible.
Repulsors were improved with a ‘crowd control’ setting. The armor could also release a (tentatively called) “deflector pulse”, a shaped force field blasting outward from various points on the suit. Armor could also release a devastating “blockbuster” blast utilizing uni-beam and repulsors in concert, but more potent than either.
Iron Man Model 30 (Extremis Armor). First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 4) #5 (March 2006)
After being critically injured during a battle with a nanotech-enhanced foe, Stark injected his nervous system with a modified techno-organic virus to save his own life. This fused Stark’s armor to his body, allowing him to store the inner layers of the Iron Man armor in the hollows of his bones as well as control it through direct brain impulses. The Extremis enhancement has turned Stark into a cyborg, whereby the usage of his existing lockchip (a personal area networking implement implanted in his forearm) is directly integrated into his nervous system.
His new armor is no longer a bulky unit which houses its own AI “response server” and miscellaneous interfaces for neural control. Instead, it is more lightweight (constructed of a pliable crystalline material with a molecular structure that can collimate into super-hard planes upon the application of an electrical field) and less complex (as it interfaces directly to Stark’s brain via the Extremis-modified cybernetic connections), and has much faster response time since it effectively functions like Stark’s second skin.
He is also able to remotely connect to external communications systems such as satellites, cellular phones, and computers through the PAN interconnect (that is now thought-controlled). Because the armor’s operating system is now directly connected to Stark’s nervous system, its response time has been significantly improved.
Another major departure from the previous armors is expansion of repulsor technology. The “repulsor flight system” provides lift (something like anti-gravity) and positive flight control (pitch, roll and yaw), while the usual rocket boots provide the armor with thrust. The same repulsor technology allows the individual pieces of the armor to levitate and assemble themselves, by modulating what Stark referred to as “vectored Repulsor fields”.
Text: Wikipedia. Images: Google.