Armors of the 1980s

During this period, Stark came to realize there were several situations where his regular model armor, while functional in most environments or situations when necessary, was not wholly appropriate. In response, Stark began to develop numerous specialized suits for special missions.

Space Armor, Mk I

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #142

While based on the same design principles, this suit’s matrix was formed non-collapsible to increase its protection from the rigors of deep space; also, its specialized nature made collapsibility unnecessary. Power was provided by a Mk IV micro-nuclear supply pack, supplemented by solar power converters. Systems were controlled via a cybernetic interface, though it proved to be overly sensitive. The suit was designed for extended time outside of the atmosphere, up to two days in orbit (food and catheterization capable). The life support, boot jets and altitude maneuvering were powered by an on-board supply of liquid oxygen. Weaponry consisted of palm-mounted third-generation Repulsors (electron beams which require laser ionized path of air to travel through the atmosphere; the beam is moderated using a pulsing beam and early form of adaptive optics; objects are jolted away from the beam path by the combination of ionized air and the accelerated neutron beam) and a chest-mounted Unibeam (a variable intensity light source usable as a spotlight or a laser; the pentagon shape of the emitter allowed for more accurate laser pulsing while in an atmosphere), and epaulet-mounted concussion-burst cannons. Sensors consisted of radar, sonar, infrared scanners, and radio. Additional features included ECM against radar and sonar, and the fully-articulated hands could be fired out on retractable cables for use as long-range grapples. The most obvious feature on this special armor was its ability to attain escape velocity without aid of an external thruster, unique to this Iron Man version; however, the nuclear jets which allowed this made the suit bulky, heavy and awkward in Earth’s gravity. The dangers inherent in an atomic-energy based propulsion system of such immense power seem to have driven Tony Stark to build the thruster unit which he has been using ever since.

[edit] Stealth Armor, Mk I

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #152

The Stealth armor is another of the specialized suits of armor developed by Tony Stark for specific missions, similar to the Space Armor. The Stealth Armor was designed using current “stealth” technology to allow Iron Man to foil detection devices and slip unknown in and out of restricted areas. This sleek, jet black suit (composed of impact resistant carbon-composites overlaid on top of layered “flex-metal” which can condense itself like a 3-dimensional accordion pleat) was a polarized metal mesh armor that uses every bit of space for detection and evasion components, and therefore was originally designed with no weapons. 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 able to recharge itself from electrical sources, a thermocouple to siphon power from extreme heat or cold, and solar power. The suit utilized force field technology to render Iron Man electronically invisible — a layer of low density plasma would be held in place by a focused magnetic field, and the tripole waveform reflected radar, along with a wave modifier that bent the radar around it. To quash any detectable infrared signature, the armor’s boot-jet exhaust was “washed” by bursts of super-cooled air. The micro-turbines on his jet boots possess assisted air liquification devices, rings of liquid oxygen jets, that cool the boots’ emissions. It runs on diesel fuel.

Recovery armor

After climbing back out of the gutter where he had landed after Obadiah Stane’s psychological attack had devastated him, Tony Stark started to construct a very basic armor out of spare parts he asked as payment from the companies he advised. More symbolic than anything, this armor had a strong resemblance to the very first, gray armor. While far more advanced than most earlier armors, it was infinitely inferior to the regular model Jim Rhodes was using at the time. It was eventually and unceremoniously destroyed by one of Stane’s mechanical pawns. Nevertheless, it served to channel Stark’s emotional distress into creative paths and paved the way for the armor that came next.

Silver Centurion

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #200

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 suits 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 750mph in the air and 180mph 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). Sensors consisted of a full band audiovisual transceiver, radar, sonar, infrared scanners, and an electromagnetic scanner that could, by measuring the variances in the magnetic fields in structures, reverse-engineer a schematic of the layout where power lines ran inside of the walls and overlay the layout onto the visual display inside the helmet. One notable feature of the suit was the hologram emitter, which could generate up to 12 simultaneous images of the armor. It could also be used to generate a “chameleon field” around itself — the computer in the armor would analyze its surroundings and generate a hologram to make it blend in with the surroundings making it effectively invisible visually and to cameras. Unfortunately, the “chameleon effect” module interfered with the cybernetic controls of the armor, providing nasty feedback and massive headaches.

The Silver Centurion armor was recently used by Tony Stark to defeat the Mandarin when his Extremis abilities were temporarily deactivated due to concerns regarding his mental health.

Hydro-Armor/Undersea Armor

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #218

This unit was designed for salvage missions at the bottom of the deepest oceans — while Stark’s conventional suits function underwater, they were noisy, inefficient, and they leaked. The exact composition unknown; it is assumed to be composed of the same layered “flex-metal” micro-scale suit tiles fabricated by genetically-engineered metal-affinity bacteria which assemble themselves in specific orderly arrays and then expire, leaving behind various metallic deposits which form all the metal shapes and micro-electronic circuits. A new aligned-crystal production process allowed the construction of a large, semi-spherical headpiece, as transparent as glass. This unit was like an electric eelĀ“s and had an inner “Escape Suit” that could be jettisoned from the main suit in case of emergency (this inner suit possessed a Unibeam, 2 torpedoes, and the holding bay). Functions were controlled by cybernetic interface.

Stealth Armor, Mk II

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #229

This armor was nearly identical to the Mk I Stealth Armor, with two additional features. The first was a camouflage effect, similar to the chameleon effect generated by the Silver Centurion armor. This suit’s camouflage effect was entirely manually controlled, providing the wearer with invisibility to visual or camera detection, but only against backgrounds that are mostly of one color. The second addition were palm-mounted Mk IV Repulsors, though they only had enough energy to fire three shots at full power.

Neo-Classic Armor

  • First Appearance: Iron Man (vol. 1) #231

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. Reticent to enter the fray again, but forced into action, Tony Stark designed a new suit, even more powerful and versatile than its predecessor. 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 neo-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 already formidable might.


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