My Iron Man collection is pretty much limited to the first Michelinie era - I have all but a handful of IM 116-154. Other than that, almost nothing. I recently browsed through an Iron Man index, released no doubt to coincide with the recent movie. It gives a little synopsis of every issue of Tales of Suspense featuring IM, and all of the issues of the various IM series (plural) released up to this year. It includes all of the creators too, and there's a quite a group there .... a lot of people had IM stories to tell. Anyone who can share their thoughts on the issues by Archie Goodwin, Bill Mantlo, Denny O'Neil, John Byrne, Len Kaminski, and of course the second David Michelinie run? Those comments, and any others, would be most appreciated.

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I remember the earlier part of Denny O'Neil's run as very downbeat. Tony became an alcoholic, lost control of Stark Enterprises, and disappeared for a while. Rhodey, who took over as Iron Man, was portrayed as serious and glum. He left Stark, so he didn't have the tech support Tony had had, and was more of an underdog hero, lacking Tony's technical knowledge and experience.

After Tony recovered from alcholism the title was less downbeat, although a downbeat element was still present. Tony, Rhodey and their friends Cly and Morley set about starting a new company, but it was never more than a startup. Rhodey remained the main Iron Man. In some issues Tony used a new suit he built that looked like his original armour. His resources being limited, it was more primitive than Rhodey's. He finally reclaimed the role of main Iron Man and control of Stark right at the end of the run.

I didn't buy the immediate post-O'Neil issues, but from what I saw of them, they weren't too far from O'Neil's in tone.

When Michelinie and Layton returned they shifted the tone and Rhodey's characterisation back to what they had been during their first run. Rhodey's Iron Man role was written out. I thought the issues I read from their second run a cut below those from their first, but it was also a period when I was enjoying comics less generally so some of that may have been me.
Don't ask me, I think I reviewed the only Iron Man comic in my collection back on my "Comic a Day" thread. All of the others I had I gave to a friend of mine years and years ago.
Any Gene Colan comics are always good, so I'd start by nominating the run he did in Tales of Suspense that is collected in Essential Iron Man Vol 2.

I'm not sure how many he did, (probably quite a few) but the battle with the Sub Mariner that begins in ToS #80 and ends in Subby's strip in Tales to Astonish #82 is one of the best battles between Marvel heroes you will ever read. The art is SUBLIME!

I guess this isn't strictly Iron Man Vol 1, but mmmmm Gene Colon art..... The earliest issues of Iron Man Vol 1 were by Colan and collected in Essential Iron Man Vol 2, at any rate...

(Waitaminnit, now that I think about it, I think Kirby did half of the Subby/Iron Man battle I'm talking about, cause Colan came down with the flu, or vice versa! In any case Iron Man by BOTH Colan and Kirby! Even better!
I'll second the positive comments on Essential Iron Man Vol.2. The end of the Don Heck run on the series where Iron Man battles Titanium Man for the first time (in Essential Vol.1) is pretty good but Gene Colan took Iron Man to a whole new level. Gene the Dean portrayed emotion and movement that neither Kirby or Heck had managed in their versions of IM. Essential IM 2 features the storyline where the government is pressuring Stark to reveal the secret of his armor which results in a heart attack for Tony and sets up Happy Hogan as Iron Man. With Tony Stark hospitalized after his heart attack, Happy makes a quick appearance as Iron Man to quell any suspicions about the true identity of the man behind the mask. The Mandarin doesn't realize he is dealing with a substitute when he engineers the capture of Iron Man. And then the trouble really begins. This was prime work from both Gene Colan and Stan Lee.
Gene Colan leaves with Iron Man#1. Never seen #2-11 so I have no idea what they're like. I vaguely remember the Tuska/Craig issues, mostly because #24, where Craig drew and Tuska inked instead of the other way around, creeped me out as a kid and I never forgot the images of the minotaur, his crazed father, and Madame Masque with her face bandaged up, having a weird nightmare where Iron Man turned into the bull creature. I'm guessing Man-Bull was made because the minotaur was popular but it was decided not to bring him back (since he wasn't a villain, he was half insane from turning into a monster and letting his father talk him into doing things he knew were wrong.) The next issue opened with what turned out to be a film with Iron Man saying he was the last living human and in less than an hour (half an hour?) his armor's oxygen would run out and he'd die as well. This led to another epic battle with Namor.
Then of course there was the Supervillain War which came to a sudden and disappointing ending when it turned out the Black Lama was a good guy that had been warped by Earth's atmosphere, and Iron Man had to leave his planet fast because he was starting to go crazy as well. After that he had his 100th issue, fought the Frankenstein Monster, and then...well I kind of lost interest after that.

I was a big fan of the `Tales of Suspense era.  Sure, the O'Neill era had it's moments, and Michelinie/Layton was a lot of fun. Still, I think the formative years were the best.

Having wondered what Madame Masque would have looked like under her mask if the Comics Code had permitted showing someone hideously disfigured in 1970, I thought, since she was first drawn disfigured by George Tuska and Johnny Craig, she probably looked something like this:

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