Thursday, August 6, 2015

No Assembly Required

Most of the time, the invincible Iron Man has to spring into action so quickly that there isn't time to get a look at the components of the armor as they're pulled from storage, slipped on piece by piece, and polarized. We've learned from the Iron Man films that Tony Stark has special machinery that suits him up as if he were a Transformer, presumably to minimize delay time but mostly to add a really cool, geeky touch to the Hollywood production that's brought this comic book character to the screen:

But in the comics, Tony Stark needed to be a mobile presence and still be able to become Iron Man at a moment's notice--so he needed to cart his armor around with him in some capacity. That meant, in the words of his close friend, Jim Rhodes, designing the armor to be "soft as silk till you polarize it--then gets tough enough to stop artillery, while stayin' supple enough to move in." In other words, Tony Stark in comics stories didn't have the luxury of bringing with him an engineering room that outfits him in his armor, or a compact suit that could be summoned to him and assemble itself around him.

Often, the circumstances of suiting up could be solved by cutting to the chase with just a few panels:

But there was still a little fun to be had when the story and art would take the time to show Stark suiting up piece by piece.  And no offense to any of my fellow geeks who are staring wide-eyed at a movie screen and watching the Iron Man armor fit itself to Stark as if it had a mind of its own--but you have to admit that designing armor that pulls on like clothing and can be polarized to super-toughness is absolute genius. No screwdrivers or ratcheting needed.

So here are some dramatic suit-up sequences you'll never see in the Iron Man or Avengers films, where Tony Stark makes do with an attaché case and still gets the job done. With a little help from clever artists who make basically the same process look a little different each time.

George Tuska certainly short-cuts it for us:

Jim Starlin has the basics down, but, to be honest, his version of Iron Man never struck me as either formidable or powerful, no matter how staunchly he's sticking his chest out here.

Jerry Bingham and Bob Layton do a nice job of giving us an idea of the pride that Stark exhibits at donning not merely components, but the suit of a hero.

Stark has also found it necessary to drop trou and polarize metal in the company of girlfriends: well as his best friend.
(Who, if you didn't know better, appears to be acting a little jealous here--and not just of the armor!)

A new armor design or idea generally called for an extended suit-up sequence:

Though Stark is often happy when a new design checks out and all systems are "go."

But my favorite suit-up scene? That's easy!

(I believe our friendly and startled townspeople are exclaiming, "A flying man?" "Holy s**t!")

Not every quick-change goes smoothly--as Uranus Bliss can sorely attest.


George Chambers said...

After all these years, I still want to know how Tony got that '$500 Pierre Cardin jacket' off of an arm that was chained to an attache case...

Comicsfan said...

All I can say, George, is: Pierre Cardin thinks of everything, doesn't he?