Iron Man (Marvel Now)
Writer – Kieron Gillen
Artist – Greg Land
Although it’s a little too early to say that Marvel Now’s Iron Man is a major turning point for the character, it’s certainly one enjoyable book for the character. The first arc, Believe, showed a return of the Extremis Virus (a “super soldier solution”), that goes on sale to the highest builder after the death of Maya Hansen.
From there, we meet a group of Camelot-themed Extremis enthusiasts, revisit the relationship between Tony Stark and Eli Stane, and then we get to see Tony venture out into space for his Godkiller arc, which finds him on trial for his actions against the Phoenix in the Avengers vs. X-Men event. You can also catch Iron Man in Guardians of the Galaxy, and a few other Marvel Now/ Avengers books, but if you’re looking for a good ongoing Iron Man book, then this is the one for you to pick up.
Demon in a Bottle (1979)
Writer – David Michelinie and Bob Layton
Artist – John Romita Jr, Carmine Infantino, and Bob Layton
This book redefined Iron Man and Tony Stark in many ways. Prior to it’s release, Tony was a drunken playboy who led a secret life as Iron Man, but this book ends with Tony sobering up and dealing with his alcoholism.
The events that lead him to this are varied. His armor begins malfunctioning which causes the death of a foreign ambassador at a meeting for Stark International, the Avengers demote him from being their leader, and his binge drinking results in Jarvis (his butler) quitting. Everything is resolved by the end of the arc, and it’s revealed that Justin Hammer was behind his armor malfunctions. This book is definitely worth a read, if only to see the more desperate side of Tony Stark.
Writer – Warren Ellis
Artist – Adi Granov
This book is the definitive origin story of the Extremis Virus, as well as an updated origin to Tony Stark and Iron Man. Maya Hansen and Aldrich Killian invent the Extremis Virus before it is let loose by Killian himself, who commits suicide. Maya calls on an old friend, Tony, to help deal with the repercussions, unaware that he is actually Iron Man.
The Extremis Virus ends up being used by a man called Mallen. After a brief fight between Mallen and Iron Man, Stark realizes that he can’t defeat Mallen with his current set of armor. Stark is left defeated as Mallen leaves the scene of the fight. After that, Tony decides to upgrade using the Extremis Virus. While healing from the initial effects of the Virus, Stark relives the events that cause him to become Iron Man.
Once Extremis has finished rewriting Stark’s nervous system and healing his wounds inflicted by Mallen, Stark shows off his upgrades to Maya, who now knows he is Iron Man. Thanks to Extremis, Stark now has full control of his armor, phones, computers, and even global satellites, just by using his mind. Stark then flies off to stop Mallen from reaching Washington, DC. The two fight, and Mallen is easily outmatched by the upgraded Iron Man. Mallen becomes enraged and begins to rip apart Iron Man’s chest plate, which causes Iron Man to shoot him with a blast of energy that goes straight through Mallen’s torso. As Mallen is dying, Tony shows his merciful side and decapitates Mallen using his repulor rays.
Tony then flies back to let Maya know that he has stopped the Extremis Virus (for now), and realizes that Killian wasn’t the only one who let the Extremis Virus loose, and that Maya had to have helped. When confronted, Maya confesses everything, and she is arrested.
Civil War (2006-2007)
Writer – Mark Millar
Artist – Steve McNiven
The Superhuman Registration Act has been initiated in the Marvel Universe, and the world is asked to pick sides between Pro- (lead by Iron Man) and Anti-Registration groups (lead by Captain America). The drama is increased in this event, because heroes are fighting heroes. The Avengers are divided, with some joining Cap, and some joining Stark. Spider-Man unmasks himself with Tony Stark by his side, in front of live press cameras. SHIELD hunts down unregistered costumes, and enforces the Registration Act under Director Maria Hill. No one could handle this better than Mark Millar did, and he made this story a major turning point in the Marvel Universe.
We see Iron Man and Captain America come to blows a few times in this series, without anyone actually coming out on top. During the final battle between the two factions, Iron Man’s armor becomes compromised by the Vision, which gives Cap the upper hand. As Cap is about to deliver a fatal blow to Iron Man, he is stopped by several emergency workers. Realizing how much damage has been done by Captain America’s fight for secrecy, he surrenders himself to Stark upon an agreement of amnesty for all those who followed him in his battle against the Registration Act. This eventually leads to Captain America being fatally shot when he is heading into court, during the finale of the Civil War arc. I also recommend reading Ed Brubaker’s tie-in during his run on Captain America.
Fear Itself (2011)
Writer – Matt Fraction
Artist – Stuart Immonen
While the overall story of Fear Itself wasn’t really my favorite, there’s no doubt that Iron Man’s part in it was “worthy” of being on a top list of Iron Man stories. His tie-in to Fear Itself saw him battling Grey Gargoyle, who was transformed by Asgardian magic into Mokk: Breaker of Faith. As Mokk, Grey Gargoyle turns the entire population of Paris into stone, before battling Iron Man. During the battle, Tony realizes that as they are fighting, they’re actually destroying all the recently petrified citizens of Paris, so Tony flees.
Back in the main series, Iron Man requests to use Odin’s workshop to forge new weapons for the heroes to use in battle against the Worthy. During his plea to Odin, Tony returns to booze to show just how dire the times are. Odin grants them use of his workshop, and the dwarves of Svartalfheim, who help him in his cause. When the weapons are made, and Tony’s armor is upgraded with Asgardian metal, they are finally able to end the Serpent’s reign of terror on Earth.