What do you do when you find that your secret armor technology has been stolen? You track down each piece and destroy it, of course.
Armor Wars (Originally referred to as "Stark Wars") was a seven-issue Iron Man storyline running in Iron Man #225 to #232 (December 1987 to July 1988), detailing the exploits of the Golden Avenger in trying to rescue his technology.
Tony Stark, analyzing Force's own armor, realizes that it is based off his own Iron Man technology, which had been kept secret. Compiling a list of possible suspects, he draws up a list comprising of Beetle, Shockwave, Doctor Doom, Stilt-Man, the Crimson Dynamo, Controller, Mauler, Professor Power, Titanium Man, the Raiders, and many more. Now all he has to do is to find out just how many villains have been using Stark technology, and get it back by force if necessary.
A live-action Disney+ series based on this storyline was announced for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in December 2020, with Don Cheadle set to reprise his role as War Machine, taking Tony's place as the main character.
Armor Wars contains examples of:
- Commie Land: Iron Man goes to Siberia to fight Gremlin and the Crimson Dynamo.
- Continuity Nod:
- In Iron Man #229: Tony designs a stealth armor, similar to what he had in the way back in Iron Man #152.
- From the same issue: The Gremlins old base that was destroyed by the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #188 is the first place Iron Man visits to find clues as to where he is.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Justin Hammer. He buys Stark technology from the supervillain the Spymaster.
- Create Your Own Villain: In the wake of Iron Man's rogue actions, the Pentagon commissioned Cord to create Firepower to destroy the renegade Avenger. However, once this was done, Cord refused to turn his new toy over to the Feds (threatening to blackmail them with a press release about Firepower - a heavily-armoured suit with a tactical nuke - being designed for riot control), and turned Firepower loose on Stark Enterprises' assets instead. Stark, who'd been willing to leave Iron Man "dead", created a "new" Iron Man that promptly tore Firepower apart.
- Cross Through: A minor example: Iron Man #229 segues into Captain America #341, and Iron Man #228 into Captain America #340.
- Friend of Masked Self:
- Tony Stark claims to Nick Fury that he knows who the supposedly rogue Iron Man is, and even divulges his identity.
- Inverted, as Tony Stark tells Fury that Randall Pierce has gone rogue and that he is not at all a friend of this obviously evil Randall Pierce.
- The General: General Meade in Iron Man #255.
- Good Versus Good: Iron Man and the Captain. Iron Man wants to destroy the S.H.I.E.L.D Mandroids using Stark technology, not trusting anyone, including the government with his super-technology. While Cap does sympathise with this view, he finds Tonys methods reckless, this sours their relationship.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Iron Mans fighting against S.H.I.E.L.D, hes kicked out of the West Coast Avengers, he nearly causes an international incident in the U.S.S.R and gets into a fight with the Captain.
- High-Speed Hijack: The Raiders do this on an Air Force plane in Iron Man #226. Justified in that they have been enhanced with Stark technology.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: Nick Fury thinks that Iron Man has gone rogue. And who does he ask to help take him down? Well, Tony Stark himself. Tony uses this to the fullest extent.
- It's Personal: The reason Tony Stark gives when the West Coast Avengers offer to help him take down the villains using Stark technology.
- Know When to Fold Them: One of the first villains Iron Man goes after is the Mauler. When Tony demands the armor, he gives it up without a fight, saying that he only gets paid to fight and muses later he can just go steal another.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The KGB decides to let Iron Man and the Gremlin fight so that the weakened survivor can be destroyed by the Crimson Dynamo in Iron Man #229.
- Literary Allusion Title: Iron Man #228: Part Four: Who Guards the Guardsmen? is a reference to the Satires from the Roman poet Juvenal, which also happens to be Alan Moores inspiration for the name of Watchmen. Watchmen came out in 1986, and Iron Man #228 came out in 1988.
- Military Superhero:
- Firepower is one, being created by the US military and Edwin Cord to finally destroy Iron Man once and for all. The first one, appearing in Iron Man #230 is Jack Taggert, a test pilot. The second one, however, is Edwin Cord, who blackmails the US military so that he can kill Iron Man.
- The Mandroids of S.H.I.E.L.D that use Stark technology are a downplayed example - while theyre not superheroes as such, they use Stark armor technology.
- The Mole:
- Tony Stark, to S.H.I.E.L.D.
- In a way, the Crimson Dynamo to the Gremlin, for the KGB.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Tony starts to realize that his little rampage is going off the rails when he realizes the hero Stingray doesn't have Stark tech.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Captain gives this to Iron Man on finding out his plan to destroy the Mandroids owned by the US government.
- No-Sell: Tony Starks negator pack can destroy Stark circuitry, and he uses it on the super-villains using his technology, starting with Stilt-Man in Iron Man #225.
- Nuclear Option:
- Firepower launches a freaking nuclear missile at Iron Man during their fight in Iron Man #230
- When a rogue Firepower attacks Iron Man at Stark Enterprises in Iron Man #231, he attempts to detonate a neutron bomb. Edwin Cord is really obsessed with killing Iron Man. (To be fair, Iron Man caused the defeat of Cord Colgomerate way back in Iron Man #145, so there is some precedent).
- Properly Paranoid: The Gremlin in Iron Man #229. Hes convinced that the KGB is out to get him and get his armor. Hes right. Theyve been bugging his Secret Lair. He still dies in the end, though.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant:
- Doctor Doom is one of the villains Tony suspects might have used his stolen technology. Averted in this case as its not true.
- ZigZagged with Gremlin. Gremlin uses the name and the armor of the Titanium Man, an Iron Man foe who goes way back, but Gremlin himself is primarily a Hulk villain, first appearing in Incredible Hulk #163.
- Stilt-Man, appearing in Iron Man #225, is a straighter example, starting out as a Daredevil villain (his first appearance in Daredevil #8), and having fought SpiderMan before this.
- Second Super-Identity: Inverted. Tony Stark makes a fake civilian identity for Iron Man as Randall Pierce to protect his own identity. After Randall Pierce is supposedly killed following the events of Iron Man #230 by Firepower, Iron Man gets another civilian identity.
- Superhero Paradox: You could make the argument that supervillains wouldnt be augmenting themselves with Iron Man technology if Iron Man didnt actually exist.
- Title Confusion: This story is actually called "Stark Wars" inside the comics. (It was intended as a Star Wars pun.) However, Marvel promoted it as the "Armor War" (singular) in their splash ad for the first issue of the arc, and the trade paperback was released as "Armor Wars", even though the individual chapters retained the original "Stark Wars" name in their titles. In any case, by the time "Armor Wars II" appeared in the comic, the "Armor Wars" name had stuck.
- Trojan Prisoner: James Rhodes pretends to be the supervillain Electro to be imprisoned by the Guardsmen and get imprisoned in the Vault. Its so that Tony can destroy the Mandroids, not trusting his technology in the hands of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.
- What the Hell, Hero?: S.H.I.E.L.D., the West Coast Avengers, and the Captain all take issue with how Tony behaves in this story with S.H.I.E.L.D. hiring Tony to hunt his alter ego, the West Coast Avengers giving Tony the boot, and his relationship with Steve is ruined (Steve even returns a shield Tony gave him, coming to believe it'd been a bribe).
- The World Is Not Ready: The reason Tony is so insistent in tracking down and destroying every remnant of his technology, even the ones owned by the government. This starts a conflict with the Captain.