Iron Man EXTREME

Continuing our examination of the worst fashion moments in the history of the Avengers in honor of the movie release, we turn our attention this week to Iron Man.

Possibly the super hero with the largest and most varied wardrobe in all of comics, Tony Stark as Iron Man changes costumes seemingly with each new dawn. From the original gray turtle to the classic gold and red to armor specially made for the Arctic to the deep sea, I would wager most of the profit from Stark Industries goes to suit storage fees. So many variations exist that multiple fans have been driven to build databases just to keep track of them all.

The Silver Centurion armor from his West Coast Avengers days was always my least favorite:

I thought it looked so much clunkier and chunkier than the sleek red and gold model, from the oversized helmet to the massive underwear to the pasty white color (it never came across as “silver” to me, just white). I hated it.

But while looking into the Cap costume I featured last week, I came across an EXTREME version of Iron Man that to my shock is even worse. MUCH worse:

This was from the Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld “Heroes Reborn” project in 1996, also known as “When Marvel went insane in their pursuit of money and whored out their most popular characters to the people that ruined comics”. (Fun fact, Liefeld’s company was actually named “Extreme Studios”. You can’t make this stuff up!)

Apparently Jim Lee was in charge of the Iron Man redesign, and I think you can see why so many of us Old Farts crapped ourselves when it was announced he was going to bring this same level of vision to the Justice League.

Let’s start with the basic question, “Why does Iron Man need smoke stacks coming out of his back? Is he Steampunk Iron Man and I missed the memo?” Let’s ignore the fact that those things are the worst idea in aeronautics since the Hindenburg met static electricity and would get ripped off at the velocities Shellhead is capable of reaching.

No, let’s stick with saying they just look flat-out ridiculous, a completely unnecessary and aesthetically unpleasant add-on that does nothing for the design except make you want to spit it out like an accidental bite of gristle when you thought you were eating steak.

I think the chest piece sums up “The Jim Lee approach to costume design”, which is to take a clean and simple element and add unnecessary lines to it. We went from the original simple circle, eventually to a triangle, and now to a hexagon. Complexity is good! I hope to eventually see the Jim Lee Dodecahedron Armor. And if six sides aren’t enough lines for you, never fear, because we can jam a whole frigging circuit board into that thing! More lines, stat!

On a side note, I have to admire Lee for being willing to introduce “Flower Power” to Iron Man’s boot jets. Nothing says confidence in martial ability like flying around on a pretty blue lily.

Another great Jim Lee hallmark is the introduction of the armored belt pouches. I have been trying to figure out what the heck Iron Man would keep in there that’s important enough to tote along but not important enough to build directly into the armor like everything else. Passport? WD-40? Condoms?

Judging by the Iron Banana Hammock, I’d bet it’s the latter. Seriously, that thing looks like it walked right off a European beach and into my face. Tony, my man, if you’re going to advertise the merchandise, don’t undersell yourself!

Finally, I can’t help but wonder how he even walks around in that armor with the massive thigh shields. He’d have to waddle like a Sumo wrestler. Why armor only the middle of your thighs? Is that middle third somehow super vulnerable while the upper and lower parts are naturally resistant? It makes no sense.

In short, I’m going to have to declare that my vote for “Worst Iron Man Costume Ever” goes to this Jim Lee Steampunk European Beach Iron Banana Hammock Hexagon Uni-Beam With Unnecessary Fiddly Bits And Belt Pouches version over the West Coast Avengers design. Any time you’re in a contest with both “West Coast Avengers” and “Worst Costume” in the title and you lose, you’re into some pretty epic territory.

30 Responses to Iron Man EXTREME

  1. The only use for those belt pouches I can think of is so Tony can have a mini-bar with him wherever he goes! Now that is a dedicated Alcoholic folks !!!!

  2. Oh and those things protruding from his shoulder ? Obviously a pair of Beer bongs!!!, that’s the Party Version of the Iron Man Armor.

  3. oof. I had forgotten how bad this was. Although, it still is a thousand times better than what Liefeld did to Thor. And hey, at least this one didn’t have rollerskates.

  4. I love Jim Lee’s artwork but this design is just plain silly. Liefeld Silly.

  5. You didn’t mention the washboard abbs. How exactly does power armor get a six-pack?

  6. I Am Iron Borat.

    From the pages of “What If Sacha Baron Cohen Made an Iron Man Comic?”

  7. William Peterson

    First, I think the Wasp still holds the “World’s Largest Closet” award… Or, she would, if, you know, it wasn’t for Pym Particles! Not only does she have more different costumes than Shellhead, but it’s not like there was ever a practical difference for any of them!
    And, Tony’s used Belt pouches for storing things, like the ever-popular Rocket Roller Skates, or the Ionic Pistol (took out Titanium Man’s power supply in one shot!)…
    But, yeah, this one’s pretty bad.
    On the other hand, back then, these WEREN’T Marvels most popular characters! Prior to the Movies, the Avengers were all considered excess baggage…
    So, Marvel decided to become the X-Company, and “kill off” all the non-Mutant characters (even Doctor Doom!) they had, so they could be ALL Mutants, ALL the time!
    So, yeah, this may well have been the worst decision Marvel ever made!

  8. Nerd fight alert!

    First, Janet’s costumes are made of cloth. Tony’s are giant, hulking suits of armor. I’m pretty sure that, Pym Particles or no, the Stark closet is way, way bigger than anything in The Wasp’s hive.

    Second, I’m pretty sure the Iron Man Roller Skates were built into retractable receptacles in his boots, not carried around externally to be strapped on.

    Third, the idea that the Avengers were “all considered excess baggage” prior to the movies is pretty hard to justify. Granted, when they started out in the Sixties they included some third stringers (Wasp and Ant-Man particularly), but Cap, Thor, and Iron Man were all major players in the Marvel publishing line for a long, long time before the movies ever came out. Granted, anything non-Mutant and non-Spider-Man is sort of by default in the second tier at Marvel Comics, but calling them excess baggage is pretty far out there.

    Finally, as much as I like making fun of the Onslaught experiment with outsourcing possible reboots to outside companies and pocket universes and however bad parts of it are (witness this armor), it nonetheless made so much money it helped stave off bankruptcy for Marvel, which was in major, serious financial trouble at the time.

    So in a way, without Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld taking on these characters, we might not have Marvel Comics at all, much less an awesome Avengers movie.

  9. cavalier: You didn’t mention the washboard abbs. How exactly does power armor get a six-pack?

    Beat me to it.

  10. The thing that really gets to me is how his legs don’t even look like legs so much as bunched up coils of metal. I remember seeing an action figure version of this armor in a toy store when I was a kid. Since I wasn’t aware of Heroes Reborn at the time my first thought was that they must have changed Iron Man from a guy in a suit to a guy piloting a remote control robot. Because that’s what I thought it had to be; a robot. Like maybe they stole the premise of Darkhawk where the hero swaps places with a super-powered robot body hidden in another dimension.

  11. cavalier:
    You didn’t mention the washboard abbs.How exactly does power armor get a six-pack?

    To be fair, most of the earlier designs had that too (so do a lot of the later designs for that matter). Though you’re right in that this one really exposes the ridiculousness of the concept. There’s no possible reason they should be there other than “someone thought it would look cool”.

  12. I think he looks like a giant bug. Seriously, something between the faceplate, the segments of armor, and those stupid smokestack things looking kind of like insect wings, Tony managed to make himself look like a bug. And it hurts my eyes.

    Yeah, this is about 50 times worse than the Silver Centurion.

  13. Darn. I was going to mention the armored abs too. Well, going with Myro’s bug theory, they look kind of like armored eggs/eggsacks.

    Also, his fingers are ribbed for her pleasure.

  14. Oh, FRAK! That faceplate looks monkey-like. And together with the chubby, short fingers… UGH! This is IronChimp!

  15. My favorite was the classic Stealth Armor.

  16. Worf:IronChimp!

    I’d read that.

  17. ProwlerKnight

    Does anybody else notice the crosshairs in his palm? and the repulsors are on the BACK of his hand?

  18. ProwlerKnight:
    Does anybody else notice the crosshairs in his palm? and the repulsors are on the BACK of his hand?

    oh sweet jesus, I think you’re right. This armor just gets worse the more you look at it.

  19. DariusDemetrius

    oh holy crap, he can’t walk!!! there is no articulation at the ankles!!! Solid armor stright down….Infact I’m not sure he even can have ankles how much those armored boots slim down

  20. ProwlerKnight

    How is he suppose to bend his arms too?? The gauntlet it one solid plating up to his Bicep, no seperations or anything, I mean for a man who loves to draw lines he sure missed the places where the lines are NEEDED.

  21. ProwlerKnight

    And his kneepads even have repulsor!!? I mean what the F*** would Iron man be doing soo much on his knees that he needs repulsors!? And then whats next? Repulsor buttocks and even a little one on the Bannana Hammock?? I mean it might not be repulsors but usually when it comes to Iron man circular shapes means a beam comes out of it so i’m just going by that.

  22. DariusDemetrius

    I could actualy see repulsar knees being decent blast as he knees someone in the gut… Thats about the only value I can see in that… But seriously as a whole this armor is so restrictive and just utterly horrible it could only be a drone suit… There is no way to fit a man inside it, not even a little person.*

    *Poster means no offensive to anyone of the vertically challenged persuasion.

  23. ProwlerKnight

    Well I read the very first edition of this series (have a marvel comic app on my Ipod touch, and this was free) and when they test piloted the suit the first time it actually killed the first test pilot, but then when Tony used it of course it worked fine.

  24. Also note the cheap gradient fill on the Iron Man logo. Nothing says metallic like default gradient settings on photoshop.

  25. Once, I lived in a happy little world where I knew nothing of this fellow, Liefeld. I enjoyed comics without considering things like anatomy. Then, I started coming here. Now I can’t even look at Cap on my son’s Marvel heroes bed cover without gritting my teeth and growling, “LIEFELD!” Yes, ignorance was bliss. Now I just see mouths with way too many teeth yelling me.

  26. My son loves Iron Man. I showed him the “Extreme” version of him and said who’s that, he just stared real funny like. I said its Iron Man, hes said no no daddy. Then I showed him the old picture and his face lit up and he was all there’s Iron Man! LOL

  27. Not only does the bananana suit looks bad, the cabled arms and legs on that c^@&&y suit are a safety hazard. If one of those get broken, he’ll electricute himself. At least it looks better than the one they came up with for the kids show.

  28. ProwlerKnight

    TOOL: My son loves Iron Man. I showed him the “Extreme” version of him and said who’s that, he just stared real funny like. I said its Iron Man, hes said no no daddy. Then I showed him the old picture and his face lit up and he was all there’s Iron Man! LOL

    Your son probably thought you lost your mind when you said this “Extreme” version was Iron man lol Kids know when heroes have been ruined

  29. ProwlerKnight: Your son probably thought you lost your mind when you said this “Extreme” version was Iron man lol Kids know when heroes have been ruined

    Yeah he’s 2 and loves Iron Man, he told me that wasn’t him. LOL

  30. dblade:
    I Am Iron Borat.

    From the pages of “What If Sacha Baron Cohen Made an Iron Man Comic?”

    LOL funny! I think all he needs to be a Cohen costume would be if over top of this get-up he wore the green rubber band speedo thing he wore in Borat over top. If someone photoshopped that in and posted it you would see I’m right.