Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Breathing Avenger


While sometimes there are new features of Iron Man's armor that aren't well-received by readers,
this could very well be the hands-down winner of them all:



Can't spot it? Come on, it's staring you right in the face.

Maybe you need a closer look:



Yeah, how could you miss it? The nose. His eye and mouth shields damaged in an underwater explosion in pursuit of the Mandarin, Iron Man had to retreat to his components factory in the Philippines and mold a new mask--this time with "increased-strength plexiglass-like eye-and-mouth shields that will withstand the deepest oceans." (Though Stark seems to overlook the fact that it was the missile explosion near him that caused the damage, not just the depth pressure.)

But this issue of Iron Man was also notable because Stark took the opportunity to modify his mask to give himself the ability to "translate [his] brain waves into usable electricity" so that he was now able to mentally command his suit's equipment and weaponry, which was kind of a big deal for the character's technical evolution when you look down the road at how advanced his head gear is these days.

And, well, apparently not in a rush to get back to the Mandarin, he decided to add a nose:
"I'll finish the armor's changes with a slightly modified appearance...to allow a bit more expression to show--and so perhaps increase the fearsome aspects of my character to those who oppose me!"
Yeah. I didn't really buy that, either.

For one thing, Batman he's not. And I doubt Batman's nose piece was hardly the first thing that criminals recoiled from. And come to think of it, Jason did just fine inspiring fear with that expressionless hockey mask of his. So, no.

To add insult to injury, here's how Marvel advertised the change on the cover of the issue:


I hope they were referring to the technical upgrades as the "secret," instead of the nose piece. But regardless, there's no doubt readers were definitely shocked.

The nose piece stayed around for almost a year and a half before Iron Man was forced into yet another armor upgrade. This time marked another major change--he ditched the attache case, and made the armor so that in its depolarized state it was thin enough to wear under his clothing. And by activating ultra-sonic signals from his i.d. bracelet on one wrist and watch on the other, the polarization unit in his chest beam caused the rest of the armor to expand around him in micro-seconds.

But there were two trade-offs in making the armor so thin: it was slightly more vulnerable, and "in order for the mask to retain its symmetry, the nose had to go." To which Stark added, "But somehow, I don't think I'll miss it!" Amen, brother.


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