Why Iron Man Created Hulkbuster Armor in the Comics

Today, we take a look at the circumstances behind the introduction of Iron Man’s ‘Hulkbuster’ suit of armor in the comics, years before it made its Marvel Cinematic Universe debut.

This is a feature called “Written in the Book.” It is basically the reverse of another feature of mine called “Follow the Path,” where I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. Nowadays, there are so many comic book films and TV series out there that we can spotlight examples of TV and film adapting specific and less famous comic book stories to other media (so no “Spider-Man lifts up debris” or stuff like that) .


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WHAT WAS THE HULKBUSTER ARMOR LIKE IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE?

One of the major themes of Avengers: Age of Ultron is the idea that Tony Stark is so obsessed with protecting the planet that he sometimes loses sight of whether he has become sort of leaning on the fascist side of things. That is especially evident when the protective system he devises for the planet gains sentience and decides that the greatest threat to the planet is, well, you know, HUMANITY. So Iron Man accidentally created the deadly villain, Ultron, which was a very bad thing, but even before that point, we see that Iron Man’s view of the world is highly cynical (perhaps not unreasonably so, of course, as the world CAN be a cynical place, but it still speaks to the way that he looks at things) by virtue of the fact that he had secretly been working on a suit of armor that could take down his own Avengers teammate, the Hulk.


This was put into practice when the mysterious Wanda Maximoff showed up and used her ability to “hex” people (mess with their minds) to turn the Hulk into a rampaging beast. Iron Man showed up with his “Hulkbuster” armor and took on his own teammate in a brutally awesome fight…

Is it not particularly unfair to think that there might be a time where the Hulk would go rogue and need to be stopped? Of course not, but at the same time, it’s a bit hard to trust a teammate who is constantly looking for ways to take you down (see Batman and the “Tower of Babel” storyline in JLA for another example of this sort of thing).


In any event, that’s how the “Hulkbuster” armor debuted in the MCU. How did it come about in the comics?

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WHAT WAS THE HULKBUSTER ARMOR LIKE IN THE MARVEL COMICS UNIVERSE?

Recently, I did a Comic Book Legends Revealed about a legend involving the Hombre de Hierro “Crash and Burn” storyline. So let’s recap what “Crash and Burn” was about, via that CBLR…

“Crash and Burn” was the storyline that followed up the anniversary 300th issue of Hombre de Hierro (the final storyline pairing Kaminski with Kev Hopgood, who was his main creative partner on his run to this point)….


(Hopgood, by the way, also drew the cover for my second book, just throwing that out there).


You see, during Denny O’Neil’s run on Hombre de Hierro In the 1980s, Tony Stark lost his company to the villainous Obadiah Stane as Tony fell into a downward spiral of alcoholism. Eventually, Tony recovered his company, but in “Crash and Burn,” he learned that during the time that Tony was gone, Stane got up to some nasty stuff with the company that now is kind of Toy’s responsibility since it technically was done by HIS company. In an interview with Patrick Daniel O’Neill in Wizard Magazine #30, he noted, “One of the things that has always made me uncomfortable with Iron Man is that he’s a multibillionaire head of a giant corporation – and he’s a good guy. Usually, in the real world, those guys are not the good guys – although I’ll admit that portraying them as bad guys is something of a cliché in comics these days, as well. he himself is a good guy.”


The idea of ​​the story was also to cleverly work in guest appearances by other Marvel characters and, hey, if it could increase Hombre de Hierro‘s sales via these guest stars showing up, then so be it (as I noted in a piece recently, the 1990s were ALL about sales boosting guest stars, even if some of them were of dubious sales boost value, like Thunderstrike).

When Peter David first started writing the Incredible Hulk, the set-up of the series was that Hulk/Bruce Banner, Rick Jones and rogue SHIELD agent Clay Quartermain went on a road trip, of sorts, to collect a shocking hidden collection of Gamma Bombs around the country. Tragically, before they could find them all, the Leader used one of the bombs on a small town as an experiment to see what would happen to the survivors of the blast (to see what interesting Gamme-driven powers they might develop).

Well, in Hombre de Hierro #304 (by Len Kaminski, Kev Hogood and Steve Mitchell), it turns out that Stane International was behind the production of those bombs and while they were SUPPOSED to destroy the factories that made them, they instead decided to just put the production on hold . When people found this out, ecological groups were angry, but Iron Man was more worried about something else…


Later that night, the Hulk (who, at the time, was in a situation where Banner was merged with the Hulk, so he had Banner’s brains, the Hulk’s power but also a bit of the Hulk’s edge to him, as well) shows up , wanting to dismantle the factory…


and Tony is ready for him, with his Hulkbuster armor!


After they start to fight in the next issue, in the middle of the punching and the blasting, Iron man asks the Hulk why they can’t just reasonably agree on a schedule to dismantle the planet and the Hulk shocks him by saying “Okay”. ..


As it turns out, the Hulk wasn’t there to fight (unless Iron Man wanted to fight). He just wanted to make sure the plant was dismantled. He and Iron Man then did so (no time like the present, right?)…


And before he left, Iron Man apologized for the fight, but the Hulk made Tony feel even worse by telling him that he should really apologize to himself for building a weapon and then basically planning to use it BECAUSE he built it…


HARSH. I wonder if that speaks to the MCU version of Tony at all, as well. Good stuff by Kamniski.

If you have any suggestions for future Written in the Book installations, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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