Y'know, when I write these, I've been picking on the Silver Age of comics, pointing out how they sometimes got so far ahead of plot logic in an effort to write an exciting story, they wound up writing something just plain crazy. Back then, comics were just an ephemeral entertainment medium for kids, and nobody took it too seriously, so crazy stuff slipped by without being questioned.
Today, we're going to look at the so-called "Copper Age" of comics, and ask, "So...what's your excuse now?"
Exhibit A for the Prosecution is: Teen Iron Man. That's right, every comics fan just simultaneously winced in pain, because this is the story of how Marvel decided that Tony Stark was too hard to get behind as a character. Iron Man needed a sales boost, an alcoholic bi-polar control freak with a heart condition didn't seem as relevant as it did in the 1960s, so what was to be done?
The answer, of course, was obvious to any editor in the 1990s--kill him off. Or, more accurately, turn him evil, then kill him off. (This was, of course, the default response to any title that needed a sales boost in the 1990s, which is why 'The Death of Jughead' sold 2.7 million copies.) Marvel did a big "event" storyline in its Avengers books in which it was revealed that Tony was being brainwashed by Kang, dictator of the year 5000. His attempts to resist the brainwashing were what caused his alcoholism (sure, Tony. My uncle tried the same line.) But now it had fully taken hold, and he was helping to destroy the Avengers from within and crush all opposition to his rule. (Sort of like Bob Harras. *Rimshot*)
Obviously, there was only one man to stop a genius like Tony Stark--Reed Richards!
...er, obviously, there were only two men to stop a genius like Tony Stark--Reed Richards and Victor von Doom!
...er, obviously, there were only five men to stop a genius like Tony Stark--Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, Henry Pym, Bruce Banner, and Professor Charles Xavier!
...er, obviously, there were actually something like twenty men and sixteen women to stop a genius like Tony Stark, including but not limited to She-Hulk, Jean Grey, the Beast, Doctor Strange, Dracula, and Magneto, but the Avengers decided to borrow a time machine, travel back a decade or two, and grab a younger version of Tony Stark out of the past and pit him against his older, more experienced, savvier self. Who was also wearing a suit of far-more-technologically-advanced power armor that young Tony hadn't even dreamed of yet, let alone invented. And who'd been brainwashed into being a ruthless killer.
The fight went about as well as you'd expect--young Tony took a repulsor blast to the chest, and wound up on the brink of death within about the first fifteen seconds. Luckily this jumpstarted old Tony's conscience, and he sacrificed his life stopping Kang's scheme. The Avengers nursed young Tony back to health (save for the fact that he now had to wear a giant metal corset non-stop or he'd die instantly of heart failure), and suggested that he join the Avengers in the present day rather than return to his native time and live a long, healthy life. (Presumably, this didn't create a time paradox because young Tony came from a different reality than old Tony. On the other hand, that world no longer has an Iron Man and never did, which presumably means a wide variety of horrific things for the human race. Then again, they were spared "Civil War".)
Young Iron Man became the headliner in the Iron Man comics for about seven issues, by which point it became clear that this was one of the biggest blunders in Marvel's long history (and yes, I include 'Street Poet Ray'.) Teen Tony flew into the 'Heroes Reborn' universe, and when he came back out a year later, he was classic Tony again, nobody ever asked why, and the Teen Iron Man era died without even a small, pathetic whimper.
Fun Fact: Marvel is two years away and counting from needing to throw everyone into the 'Heroes Reborn' universe again!