“Time for the Avenger to start Avenging. The Armor War begins in Iron Man #225”
Issue 225: Stark Wars
After Iron Man finishes a training session in order to impress a general, he returns to Stark Enterprises. Upon analyzing Force’s armor, Tony discovers that the armor is based in part on his own designs, stolen before his current Iron Man armor was developed. He compiles a list of several armored criminals: Beetle, Shockwave, Doctor Doom, Stilt-Man, the Crimson Dynamo, Controller, Mauler, Professor Power, Titanium Man, the Raiders, and others. After finishing another training session, Iron Man teams up with Scott Lang to find out who stole his designs. Tony uncovers that the Spymaster was the one who sold Tony’s designs to his rival Justin Hammer. Iron Man goes after the Stilt-Man, who is attempting to break into a high-rise office building. Stilt-Man is easily defeated when Iron Man chops off one of his legs, and he renders the armor inoperable with a “negator pack” which destroys Stark circuitry within. A short time later, Iron Man battles the Controller whom he knocks unconscious in front of a crowd and negates his armor. Then, unable to pursue legal means to reclaim his technology, Tony plans to take out every armored warrior who is suspected of having his designs.
The Raiders invade an Air Force plane, drawing Iron Man’s attention. Iron Man defeats the Raiders using negator packs, disabling his stolen technology. Tony finds out one name is missing from Hammer’s database due a glitch in the upload. Tony and Jim Rhodes run a search of other armor-using individuals, which prompts Tony to identify the government-sponsored Stingray as the best candidate, as other known armored heroes and villains are either not advanced enough or would not use others’ designs. Tony’s actions draw the West Coast Avengers’ attention. Tony declines the Avengers’ offer of assistance, saying that his problems are personal. Iron Man travels to the Hydro-Base, where he confronts Stingray and insists that he be allowed to test his armor for stolen circuitry. When Stingray refuses, Iron Man chases him throughout the ocean and releases electricity cybernetically to incapacitate him. He then unsuccessfully attempts to negate Stingray’s armor; Stingray’s armor really was not based on Stark’s designs. Due to this incident, Tony is informed that the Government wants Iron Man to be shut down. Reluctantly, Tony announces that Iron Man’s contract has been terminated. In other words: “He’s fired!”
Issue 227: The Last Mandroid
Iron Man ruthlessly attacks the Beetle as he tries to steal exotic pieces of art. Beetle attempts to escape Iron Man’s wrath, but is defeated and his armor negated. Iron Man returns to his base, where he has a talk with Hawkeye. Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. meets with Tony and demands that Iron Man be handed over to him for attacking a government agent (Stingray). Tony gives Fury Iron Man’s file, having prepared a fake identity for Iron Man as ‘Randall Pierce’ in the event of such a scenario. Tony secretly intends to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Mandroid armors – which he also designed – to prevent their technology being replicated. He tells Fury that ‘Pierce’ has set up a hidden base in New York and suggests Fury dispatch the Mandroids to bring Iron Man in. Tony, as Iron Man, engages the Mandroids and disables all five, much to Fury’s dismay. Tony fakes evidence to suggest that Iron Man knew about their plan because he planted a bug in their equipment. Later, Tony arranges to create a new shield for Captain America.
Issue 228: Who Guards the Guardsmen?
The Captain (Steve Rogers) thanks Tony for the new shield. Meanwhile, the villain Electro is defeated by the Guardsmen and is imprisoned at the Vault, though it was Rhodes who disguised himself as Electro to sneak into the Vault. Iron Man sneaks into the Vault to neutralize the Guardsmen- as with the Mandroids, he seeks to prevent others replicating their technology- but he is caught by two Guardsmen. Rhodes accidentally breaks out all the prisoners at the Vault after he tricks a Guardsman who spotted him earlier. While battling a Guardsman, Iron Man catches the attention of the Captain. Rogers agreed with Tony’s motives, but Rogers calls his methods reckless and dangerous. While trying to save a Guardsman from dying, Iron Man violently knocks him out, rendering the Captain in a coma.
Issue 229: Red Snow
The West Coast Avengers arrives at Tony’s home, where they try to make Tony explain himself. Tony tells them he found out about the armor being stolen after analysing Force’s armor. The West Coast Avengers remained hesitant to tell Tony he’s off the team after he leaves. The Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man meets with the president, who tells them to defend the people of Russia after revealing that Iron Man is going to Russia, but Titanium Man disagrees, saying that Iron Man is too dangerous for anybody to handle, preferring to remain in hiding. Tony invents a modified version of the Stealth armor to sneak into Russia undetected. Iron Man goes after Titanium Man, but he fought back. While Iron Man was distracted by the Crimson Dynamo, the Titanium Man’s pilot dons the armor and leads a double assault on Iron Man. Iron Man defeats the Crimson Dynamo and negates his armor. Distracted, Iron Man is attacked and overwhelmed by Titanium Man. Iron Man tries to escape, but Titanium Man grabs him. Iron Man flies up to space to try to shake Titanium Man off of him. However, Titanium Man’s armor overheated, setting him on fire. The Titanium Man armor explodes, killing the pilot. Enraged, the Russian soldiers try to attack Iron Man, but he escapes. Back at the West Coast Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye states that Iron Man is stripped of his membership as a West Coast Avenger.
Test pilot Jack Taggert demonstrates a flight simulator to the U.S. Government. Edwin Cord, Tony’s rival, tells a general to jumpstart the plan that can defeat Iron Man once and for all. Later, Jack suits up as Firepower to demonstrate the armor’s power. Later that day, Firepower lures Iron Man into a trap, Iron Man having identified Firepower as the result of the name missing from Hammer’s list. Iron Man blasts Firepower, but he strikes back. Iron Man struggles to fight Firepower due to his superior weaponry. In the nick of time, Iron Man escapes Firepower’s wrath with the help of Rhodes. Unfortunately, Iron Man leads a final assault on Firepower. In retaliation, Firepower launches a nuclear missile at Iron Man, seemingly killing Iron Man in the process.
It is revealed that Tony survived the explosion, but with severe injuries. Rhodes attempts to tell Tony to fight back as Iron Man, but Tony refused, saying that the world got their wish and feeling that it is too dangerous to create new armor. Elsewhere, the U.S. Government tries to tell Cord to hand over Firepower, but Cord declined, stating that he’s not done with Firepower yet. Firepower destroys several of Stark related tech, which led Tony to believe that Firepower is behind all this. At the same time, Firepower destroys a truck full of Stark tech, surprising Tony. Firepower reveals to Tony that Cord wants revenge on both Tony and Iron Man for destroying Cord Conglomerate (as seen in Iron Man #145). Angry, Tony invents another version of the Iron Man armor to combat Firepower. Days later, Firepower attacks Stark Enterprises’ San Francisco bureau only to face off against the “new” Iron Man. After a lengthy battle, Iron Man defeats Firepower, but during the fight, Iron Man damaged Firepower’s backpack, which was carrying a neutron bomb. Iron Man disables the bomb, but Firepower claims he is nothing like the “other” Iron Man. Iron Man angrily tears him out of the Firepower suit. That night, reflecting that he will continue as Iron Man due to the dangers that only Iron Man can handle, Tony was glad he could get a good night’s sleep, and he falls asleep, ending the story.