ITEM! Man am I ever jazzed about the soon-to-be-unleashed on an unsuspecting public Iron Man Movie! May 2nd can't come fast enough. I got so wound up last night that I had to go down into “The Crypt” (Joanie’s name for the humidity-controlled vault that I had built 50 feet below our Long Island mansion) and re-read some of those early Iron Man appearances in Tales of Suspense.
You know I’d forgotten that Ol’ Shellhead originally started out as a second-tier hero in the Marvel Universe. In those earnestly early days of the Marvel Age of Comics, you could always tell which colorful costumed characters I considered secondary players because those were always the ones that I let my kid brother Leapin’ Larry Lieber script. It didn’t usually work out too well (witness how quickly The Mighty Thor or the Human Torch solo books went to Hell-in-a-hand-basket when either Jack or I took a breather from them — and don’t even get me started on Ant-Man), but Larry and Darling Don Heck both really came out of their shy-prone shells and blossomed on those early Iron Man tales.
Even the “timely” setting of the origin story, featuring the Red Menace as adversaries and Vietnam as a backdrop, set this series apart from the Distinguished Competition. I know it all seems annoyingly anachronistic in these modern times when America is at war with an entirely separate set of brown-skinned folks located in a wholly different part of Asia, but this was cutting-edge stuff at the time, trust me.
What wasn’t cutting edge was the science, and since Jack and Yours Truly created and plotted the thing, I guess we can’t rap little bro’ too hard for that. Cramming every incredibly incongruous inception conceivable into every crook and cranny of Iron Man’s armor? That was just Jack being Jack. And the whole thing about the armor being “transistor-powered?” That one was me, pilgrims. It sounded pretty cool at the time. After all, even to my laudably limited scientific understanding, transistors had taken the refrigerator-sized radios of my cretaceous childhood and transformed them into transistor radios the size of your average ever-lovin’ iPod. That seemed like a lot o’ power to me, pilgrim. The fact that transistors were shrinking things, not magnifying them, must have escaped my attention at the time.
But fear not, True Believer! I’m sure that Jon “Foggy Nelson” Favreau and crew have fixed up all the science in the new movie — at least enough to pass muster as another Mighty Marvel Box-Office Blockbuster. And I’ve been on the set of this one, pilgrim. You’re totally going to buy Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. Believe it, Fearless Ones. He makes a waaay better Howard Hughes than that pocket-sized popinjay Leonardo DiCaprio.