Essential Iron Man Volume 5 hit the stands yesterday just in time to catch (hopefully) a little of the attention the next Iron Man movie will garner among the general populace and comics fans. It's an unlikely collection of stories, from one of Marvel's oddest periods during the Bronze Age when lots of comics seemed to be drifting both creatively and editorially. But there is something about this particular collection which makes it of potential interest to fans. Included in this volume are ALL the main Iron Man issues featuring Shellhead's awesome nose addition.
The saga of Iron Man's Nose is both curious and funny. The story goes that Stan Lee, the Kahuna of all things Marvel, then mostly situated on the West Coast and away from the day-to-day production of Marvel's comics, noticed in one comic almost certainly drawn by Shellhead mainstay artist George Tuska that Iron Man's mask seemed oddly flat against his face leaving no room for a nose. He made some offhanded comment that in his opinion the mask needed room for a nose. This pronouncement from the "Moses of Mighty Marvel" led the editorial gerbils then employed at the joint to scurry and before you could say "proboscis", Iron Man's mask had a big old honking nose feature.
Iron Man #68 makes a big deal of pointing to this startling change. So Iron Man had a nose for a few years until Stan Lee noticed that he had a nose and commented it looked rather silly. The gerbils then scurried again and in issue #85 the nose is disappeared with much ballyhoo on the cover about this startling change.
It's a funny cautionary tale about the lack of communication in large endeavors and how the smallest comments can lead to offbeat changes. In the modern era when Iron Man's armor alters quicker than many folks change pants, the notion of this change even being noteworthy is laughable, but in the Bronze Age when such costume alterations were verboten, this was earthquake stuff. The marketing folks must have been very confused indeed.
To see all the covers of issues included in this volume see the gallery below. The saga of Iron Man's nose awaits.