Stark Contrast: 6 Iron Man/Spider-Man stories to study before Spider-Man: Homecoming
The interwebs have become the tangled webs of Spider-Man in the days since the first trailers dropped for Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Presented by: Matthew Funk
There were tons of great moments, with Tom Holland nailing it as Peter Parker, Michael Keaton making for a menacing Vulture, and Spidey preventing a boat from splitting in half. But one of the moments that really threw the internet into a frenzy came at the very end, when Iron Man and Spider-Man swooped across the screen together, classic team-up style.
The film will continue to develop the student-mentor relationship that Peter and Tony established earlier this year in Captain America: Civil War, and audiences will even get to see the armored avenger suiting up in Spider-Man’s movie.
While the movie versions are close, the comic book counterparts haven’t been quite as cordial until fairly recently. Before teaming-up with Iron Man for the first time a decade after their creation, the closest Spidey came to meaningfully interacting with him was when he tried out for the Avengers. Aside from a handful more appearances in Marvel Team-Up and various large-scale crossovers, most of the pair’s interactions have come in the last twelve years or so since they became teammates on the New Avengers. Since then, the characters have become very close and grown apart again, though almost always with some semblance of respect between them. The relationship has been that of a mentor and pupil, of an employer and employee, of a pair of trusted friends and colleagues, and of two men of science. While a more recent focus, the two obviously have a chemistry worth exploring.
But, since we’ll have to wait until July to see them team-up on the big screen, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with a deep dive into the long boxes to find the best team-ups of the Invincible Iron Man and the Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve gathered my six favorites here, but I’m sure there are plenty more that I missed, so be sure to let me know your favorites in the comments below!
MARVEL TEAM-UP (1972) #9 BY GERRY CONWAY AND ROSS ANDRU
Despite being created only a few months apart, Iron Man and Spider-Man’s first proper team-up didn’t happen for about ten years. The two had popped up in the same issues a couple of times for big battle royales, but they’d never interacted in any meaningful way. That changed with this 1973 story, the first of a three-part time travel epic that also featured the Human Torch and the Inhumans.
The story kicks off when Peter Parker see Iron Man on the news trying to break down a force field around the Avengers Mansion. He begrudgingly heads over to help, but it’s not wanted by old shellhead. A hole opens and they tumble through into a strange limbo, after which they are whisked away from to the 23rd century to do battle with the forces of Kang, the Conqueror. The two heroes spend the majority of the issues bickering with each other, so it isn’t surprising that they also kind of get their butts kicked.
MARVEL SUPER HEROES SECRET WARS #1-12 BY JIM SHOOTER, MIKE ZECK AND BOB LAYTON
One of the quintessential Marvel events, Secret Wars brought together most of the biggest heroes in the universe, so it could really qualify as a significant team-up of these two heroes and a lot of people. For those unfamiliar with the story, it involved a cosmic entity known as The Beyonder plucking the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man out of their timestream and dropping them onto an artificial planet called Battleworld, along with a small horde of their corresponding villains.
While Iron Man and Spider-Man don’t have terribly important interactions with one another, it is a notable time of change for both of the characters. The man piloting the Iron Man suit for the story isn’t Tony Stark, it’s James Rhodes — later and better known as War Machine — who assumed the mantle after Tony’s lapse into alcoholism. Spider-Man on the other hand donned his iconic black suit later in the story. A good early crossover featuring both heroes prominently, and a must-read for Marvel fans.
NEW AVENGERS (2004) #1-6 BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS AND DAVID FINCH
The initial arc of the blockbuster relaunch of the Avengers franchise made the wall-crawler a regular member of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first time. Spider-Man was one of the first heroes to respond to a massive jailbreak on the Raft, a maximum-security island prison for supervillains, rushing into battle alongside Captain America, Spider-Woman, and Luke Cage, who were already on the island. Iron Man joins in shortly after and later is convinced by Captain America to help restart the Avengers with the group. In the first arc they’re joined by the Sentry and Wolverine and take on everyone from the Purple Man to Electro to Sauron in a widescreen, globetrotting adventure.
Spidey and Iron Man have a great banter between them in this arc, my personal favorite moment being when they argue about whether it’s possible to land in the Savage Land without crashing. Cap and Iron Man act as the mentors and co-leaders of the team in this first arc, and they each have their moments getting to know the new team. This lays the groundwork for many years of stories between Peter and Tony that saw Peter, MJ and Aunt May move into Stark Tower when he was part of the team. Tony even came ready with some housewarming gifts…
MR. PARKER GOES TO WASHINGTON
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #529-531 BY J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI, RON GARNEY AND TYLER KIRKHAM
Shortly before the opening shots were fired in the first Superhero Civil War, Tony took Peter to Washington, D.C. with him on a trip to lobby before Congress on behalf of the superhuman community in the hopes of delaying the legislation that would cause them to go to war. Tony Stark’s a co-lead in this arc, but he doesn’t suit up at all, instead letting Spider-Man have the fun of armoring up. Tony designed a high-tech, upgraded version of the Spider-Man suit, complete with red and gold armor, mechanical arms, camoflauging capabilities and much more, which Peter got to take out on a test run for the first time against an Iron Man villain called Titanium Man who’d bee hired to assassinate Stark.
This story seems like it will be essential reading for those looking forward Spider-Man: Homecoming, because it focuses on the mentor relationship that Tony has with Peter, his making him a new suit, and takes place in D.C., where at least part of the movie will take place, given the trailer.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2008) #7 BY MATT FRACTION AND SALVADOR LARROCA
This single-issue story is the epilogue to “The Five Nightmares,” a landmark Iron Man storyline that saw the maniacal genius Ezekiel Stane return to wreak havoc on Tony Stark and Stark Industries. The latter he left in a smoking crater, and Peter Parker is sent to take photos of it. Despite being an unregistered superhuman in the post-Civil War Marvel Universe, circumstances arise that forced him to become Spider-Man, and it was only out of kindness that Tony — the acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. — didn’t arrest him. Peter is persistent in his desire to help, though, and follows Tony.
This is the cap to one of the most cherished Iron Man stories ever, but reads just as well as a singular story, but whichever way you read it, as they go up against the notorious and perfectly-named villain Big Wheel and search for leads on Stane’s allies. The two have a very tense but respectful relationship in this issue that makes for one of their more interesting and satisfying team-ups.
ROAD TO CIVIL WAR II
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2015) #8 BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS AND MIKE DEODATO
If this list teaches us anything, it’s that an Iron Man/Spider-Man team-up is an omen that bad things are about to go down in the Marvel Universe. Civil War, Dark Reign, and now most recently, Civil War II. In an issue of the most recent volume of Invincible Iron Man, the pair joined forces in Tokyo in a story leading in to this year’s divisive mega-crossover.
In another one-issue team-up, Tony calls in Spider-Man as emergency back-up to help him search for Rhodey, who went missing while searching for some tech-ninjas that are working for Madame Masque. This is an interesting status quo for the two to team-up during because Peter is a billionaire CEO of Parker Industries now too, which makes the two more alike than different, a pretty foreign dynamic for them. Plus It has Iron Man, Spider-Man and War Machine whupping on some ninjas, so it’s obviously an essential team-up.