365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

T-shirt #301 - Iron Men

T-shirt #301 - Iron Men

Wax and wane. Wax and wane. Like the moon, which was full the other night. Have you been waiting for the content my pretties? It seems a Herculean task sometimes to just stay caught up let alone ahead on the blog. But then, often it's my own expectations for my content. I could just write a short note and be done with it. I doubt anyone would complain if the blog was SHORT. After all, the main complaint I get (granted, just from my wife) is that the blog entries are too long.

My other dilemma is that content builds up, like the ice in my driveway. Started with a thin sheet, then snow and rain and freeze, then thaw, then freeze, and so on, until we have an uneven bed of ice that even a bit of salt will not dispense.

Same with the blog.

I have stacks of comic books to review, a folder full of links, several ideas about other content, and then these damn expectations of mine.

After all, I have really only written about Iron Man, at least as the main shirt subject, once, in T-shirt #260. Did I cover the subject adequately?

Want to learn some weird synchronicity? When I wrote T-shirt #260, I used Clark Gregg's introduction from Avengers: Endless Wartime (by Ellis/McKone) as a springboard. Clark Gregg plays Agent Coulson in the TV show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I had not watched an episode since the second one, which I watched in Hawaii. I watched one today (and by today I mean Friday, which is the day I am writing this sentence, even though this blog entry was published on Thursday). Okay, I think that's an interesting coincidence since I had quite forgotten about my little rant in T-shirt #260 until I looked at it again.


Today's post is about Iron Man since my shirt is taken from the classic cover to Iron Man volume one #174, drawn by Luke McDonnell and inked by Sam De La Rosa in 1983. Th is is also significant to me personally because this issue was published a little over a year from when I worked at Marvel, and I got to watch the colorist, Bob Sharen, work his magic on Iron Man comics when I was there. He had a set of colors in small bottles and talked to me about the process as he marked areas of the pages with four color codes for CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key/Black).

Despite my personal connection to that time period in Iron Man's history, the shirt also appealed to me because I like the idea of Iron Men, plural. It makes sense that if Tony Stark could make one suit. He could make two. Still, it was years before anyone but Tony Stark wore any of these suits. But Tony Stark could fund and equip a whole army of Iron Men. It was during this time that Tony's friend James Rhodes wore the suit and carried on as Iron Man. These stories were written by Denny O'Neil, who had Tony relapse into alcoholism (a story line started by David Micheline five years previously) after losing his family's company to Obadiah Stane (who was used as the main villain in the first Iron Man movie).  These issues may be my favorite run of Iron Man issues in volume one.

Dumping the armor in the ocean to be found Atlanteans was brilliant (see cover to the right). Also, taking Tony out of the suit for TWO YEARS was brilliant. It's these kinds of shake ups that re-vitalize comic books that might otherwise tread water. Interesting story-telling does not result from the same old, same old.

Dennis "Denny" O'Neil was one of the best writers in comics for many years. From the 1960s through the 1990s, he wrote some of the best comics for both DC and Marvel, including great runs on Batman and the classic Green Arrow/Green Lantern comics all drawn by Neal Adams.

At Marvel, around the time he did these Iron Man issues, he also wrote Daredevil as well as some strong issues for Amazing Spider-Man.

Iron Man is my favorite of Marvel's Franchise heroes since I cannot select the Fantastic Four as a hero. But I like Iron Man better than Spider-Man, Thor, Wolverine, the Hulk, or Captain America. If Daredevil is a a Franchise hero, then he edges out Iron Man.

Yesterday in Fanfare, I was recapping my recent Darth Vader vs. Batman post (T-shirt #294), and I was making the argument that people do not aspire to be Darth Vader, meeting with some opposition by my friend Jeffery. I argued that people aspire to be Batman not Darth Vader. The new guy, Carmen, chimed in that people aspire to be Iron Man, which is true. I added Green Lantern as an aspiration, which is the subject of the next (tomorrow's T-shirt). NOTE: Tomorrow's shirt is actually TODAY'S shirt as I write this. I am falling behind again. Do you get tired of this saga?

It's funny because I wrote the above text yesterday and it's now the next day (Saturday), and I am still not done with this posting.

Still, Carmen had a point. Iron Man is cool because he is a billionaire, a playboy, attractive, and gets chicks. His "super power" is a suit that he can put on and take off (or "don" as says in this classic cover to the left.
But those things are not what make Iron Man a cool character.


As I discussed in the post for Daredevil (T-shirt #287), Stan Lee (and the artists with whom he worked many of whom are mainly responsible for the creations) worked with tragedy. All the early Marvel heroes had angst from tragedy. Some of this text bears repeating:
Starting with Spider-Man (atoning for the guilt of not preventing his uncle's death), Stan Lee gave almost every hero in those early years a tragic origin. The Thing was trapped in a hideous body while Mister Fantastic lived with the guilt of how his hubris damaged his friend. Doctor Strange found magic and became a sorcerer after searching the world to find a way to heal nerve damage that would allow him to continue his career as a surgeon. Iron Man could only keep a piece of shrapnel from his heart by wearing his armor. The Hulk makes Bruce Banner's life a living Hell of blackouts, rage, and destruction, much like an alcoholic's existence (thinking of the movie Flight here, which I just watched). The mutants of the X-Men are hated and feared by the world and often must hide frightening elements of their mutation which bring their own handicaps, such as Cyclops' optic blasts and special glasses. Captain America is a man out of time, awakened in a modern world in which he does not feel he belongs. Silver Surfer is trapped on Earth for defying Galactus. Thor is being taught a lesson by his father Odin by sharing his existence with a handicapped mortal.
And Daredevil the blind man with the super radar sense, who has had more tragedy heaped on him than any other Marvel hero.

But as I wrote above, the original concept for Iron Man kept him in his armor to keep him alive, to keep the shrapnel from his heart. He must wear the armor breastplate at all times, which really hinders his playboy activities. This trope of how Tony Stark must suffer, in a sense, trapped in his armor fit the original concept of the character and the art by Gene Colan in the early issues in the late 1960s. But when Stark later has an artificial heart transplanted in his chest, his angst and suffering is mitigated. To continue to make him an interesting character, the alcoholism disease is introduced for added pathos. But once he licks the alcholism demons, then what? What angst is there to propel him?

Warren Ellis introduced the Extremis enhancile, a techno-organic virus, to save Stark's life. The resulting stories (Volumes four through the current issues) have bred the most fertile and captivating stories of Iron Man's long career.

But it's the tragedy, the long suffering hero, that Marvel creators have often forgotten in today's comics. Though Tony Stark suffered again for a time, he is back at the top of his game, and though the stories are interesting, the character needs more work.

This is why I find the volume one stuff among the most compelling and memorable as seen in many of the classic covers that I share in my cover gallery.


Iron Man Vol. 1 is Iron Man's first ongoing solo series. The series was launched following the success of the Iron Man stories in Tales of Suspense and continues from the one shot Iron Man and Sub-Mariner which picks up the story arc from Tales of Suspense #99. Many of the classic story lines and characters that are part of comic history today originate from this volume. The series started in 1968 and lasted all the way to 1996.

Continues in Iron Man Vol.2. Created by writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby, Iron Man's first appearance was in Tales of Suspense #39 (COMIC VINE).

My comments on volumes: I am restricting myself in this blog to Iron Man volume one. I sharing a cover gallery from volume one. I love the other volumes (not all of them), but I have to limit the scope of this Iron Man entry or I will never finish, especially since I behind already as I type this.

I loved Warren Ellis' run, which lead off volume four, and Matt Fraction's run that comprised volume five. Kieron Gillen's also doing a bang up job in the current set of issues. I am less thrilled with volume three, and I would rather not even discuss volume two.

So, just volume one today folks. Sorry.












It's a shame. I have meant to review Batgirl #26 for a month, and now, issue #27 is out. As of this writing. I am up through the Spider-Man issue. I was disappointed in the wrap-up to the Fantastic Four story. Notice that Velvet has jumped to the top of the stack, beating often top ranked Fantastic Four. It's that good. I will have more to say in forthcoming reviews. I promise to catch up!! Also, I am planning a big reading day tomorrow for my birthday (which is Sunday January 19th but I am behind in completing these entires as this is Thursday's entry), and I may just skip ahead and read all the Astro City. It's long overdue, and I do like the book a lot.

COMICS FOR 1401.15

Velvet #3

Fantastic Four #016

Daredevil #035

Amazing X-Men #003

All New X-Men #021

Uncanny X-Men #016

The Superior Spider-Man #025

Superman/Wonder Woman #4

Justice League of America #11

Alex + Ada  #3

Thor God of Thunder #017

God is Dead #5 (of 6)

Batgirl #27

World's Finest: Huntress and Power Girl #19

Nightwing #27

Thunderbolts #020.Now

Nova #012

Secret Avengers #014

Miracleman #1

Suicide Squad #27

Inhumanity: Superior Spider-
Man #001

Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates #003


Astro City #8

FREE COMIC - Deadpool : The Gauntlet


Locus #636 Vol. 72 #1


These are all my favorite volume one covers not counting ones I shared in T-shirt #260. I shared the first issue of Iron Man volume one in T-shirt #260. I clearly remember that the week that Iron Man #1 came out so did Sub-Mariner #1. There must have been some other issue that was an automatic (probably Fantastic Four) because I had to choose between Iron Man #1 and Sub-Mariner #1. Despite this post being about Iron Man, I chose Sub-Mariner, whom I liked much better at the time for some reason. I was fond of shouting "IMPERIUS REX!" just like Sub-Mariner. I did this once in third grade, flinging both arms behind me as Namor did in the comic to smash two pillars. But I did not know that Tammy Nash was behind me and quite knocked the wind out of her. I felt terrible.

In any case, Iron Man #9 was my first issue of Iron Man.

Gene Colan - my first issue
of the Iron Man comic vol.1

Sal Buscema

Gil Kane!

Gil Kane!

George Tuska

George Tuska

George Tuska

Bob Layton

Bob Layton

John Romita Jr

Luke McDonnell

Luke McDonnell

Luke McDonnell

Luke McDonnell

Luke McDonnell

Barry Windsor Smith

John Romita Jr.

COUNTDOWN TO END OF THE BLOG YEAR - 64 shirts remaining

- chris tower - first publication - 1401.16 - 19:32
- final publication - 1401.18 - 21:24

Does this look too much
like a pacifier?