Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Brain-Blasting Ballad of Iron Man's Nose

Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Stark,
Fightin' evil in armor and it warn't no lark,
One day whilst a-fightin' baddies under the sea,
His mask got busted an' it made it hard to breathe.

Air that is.
Ain't none.

Next thing you know, Stark's stokin' a fire,
Workin' on a new helmet that was gonna require,
A triangular nose pokin' outta the front,
That'd scare the bad guys he was fixin' to hunt.

The nose, that is.
Lends more expression.
Looks real scary.
Okay, Ol' Groove might not win any Grammys for that ditty, but hey--it's no sillier than the true story behind Iron Man's infamous nose (Iron Man #'s 68-85). In 1974, Roy Thomas was Marvel's Editor-In-Chief, while Publisher Stan Lee was winging his way all over the country speaking at colleges and making deals with Hollywood types. Stan had pretty much left the day-to-day grind at Marvel in Roy's capable hands. Got all'a that? Good, 'cause here's where it gets interesting. The story goes that one day, Stan bopped into the Bullpen and took a look at the art for the latest issue of Iron Man. Evidently, there was a panel or two that showed the Golden Avenger's profile, and Stan, thinking the profile looked too flat for a human face to actually fit under wondered aloud, "Where's Iron Man's nose?" Somebody heard The Man utter that fateful phrase, took it to mean that Stan wanted a nose added to Iron Man's helmet, and viola! Mike Friedrich and George Tuska whipped up a story that explained, ever so melodramatically, the addition of a nose to Iron Man's helmet.

As luck would have it, our hero wound up with a triangle sticking out of the front of his helmet just in time to pose for his first action figure from the folks from Mego.

But that's not all! Months later, Stan was back for another visit to the Bullpen. Evidently he hadn't looked at an ish of Iron Man since his last visit, and when he saw that nose, THAT NOSE sent Smiley into a tizzy. Word came down from on high that the nose had to go, so in Iron Man #85, Len Wein, Roger Slifer, Herb Trimpe, and Marie Severin concocted a tale in which Tony Stark built a new armored suit. This new suit was a quick-change rig that, at the touch of a button, would pop out transformer-like from the chestplate, gloves, and boots, sliding up, down, and across Stark's body to encase him in the familiar golden garb. However, a big triangular nose slowed down (held up?) the quick-change, so it had to go. Thank goodness.

Marvel really blew it with that nose.

(That putrid pun should make you appreciate my poetic skills a bit more, now shouldn't it?)


  1. Hey, Groovy Agent! Great Iron-Man post!

    I just came across your blog today, and really enjoy all the great 70's stuff. I'll definitely be adding you to my blogroll.

  2. Thanks, Mark! I appreciate the compliments and the addition to your blogroll. I dig your blog, too!

  3. Fearsome isn't the first word that comes to mind for this aspect of his character....

    I guess it was just a sinus of the times!

  4. There's a video of Bob Layton discussing Iron Man's nose and what Stan Lee said about the issue. Wish I could find it.



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