It is clear once opening the front splash page of The Invincible Iron Man #160 why Steve Ditko believes Iron Man to be an “anti-hero” as he clasps a broken bottle and shouts “don’t mess with me!”.
Because the remainder of the issue follows a more polite and reformed Tony Stark (who has been sober for more than a year) it sparked an explosion of thought as to why he did not pencil this first opening page. Was it because of the violent and clear “anti-hero” subject matter that Ditko didn’t agree with and then refused to draw? Or was it added later to replace another ‘unapproved’ splash by Ditko or fill in an extra missing page? All is speculation but the discrepancy makes it a more interesting and thought provoking issue.
Ditko’s Iron Man dates back to his time spent on the ‘Tales of Suspense’ series while working directly with Stan Lee. Ditko is an important figure in the development of Iron Man for his design of the yellow & red suit.
This issue, #160, is the only issue Ditko did for Iron Man’s own series. Although the story stinks and the villains suck the art does not disappoint! Here are some highlights showcasing Ditko once again tackling IRON MAN: