M. O. of the Modular Armor

...in concept and design, taken into battle against Ultimo little more than 90 minutes after HOMER fabricated it in issue 300. But before he could wear it, he had to get out of his hoverchair and walk.

The Modular Armor, Model XVIII, Mark I is the 1994 Model Iron Man. When it was built it was the most sophisticated model to date and probably remains the most versatile armor Stark ever created. While inventor extraordinaire Tony Stark had taken the concept of powerful armor as far as it could go, with the Modular Armor, he rethought the basic design paradigm. Instead of a single, integrated suit, Model XVIII's design was based on a modular component system. The armor's capabilities could be reconfigured by swapping in and out sub-systems like boots, gloves, helmets, weapons or scanners--whatever IM needed for his mission at the moment. Plug-in points all over the armor's surface allowed for plug'n'play of a wide array of auxillary systems.

Model XVIII remains the sleekest and most streamlined armor Stark ever designed (most likely because the suit depended on the interchangeable modules, and as a result, is not overstuffed). The chosen color scheme was also a departure. While still red and gold, the suit was mostly red. Red shoulder pieces, gauntlets, and legs, with golden forearms and midriff/back section produced an armor that looked unlike anything we've ever seen from Tony Stark. Other design changes included a liftable faceplate, an inverted pentagon-shaped chestbeam, and a prominent belt buckle.

Although the module concept took up the lion's share of the new design overhaul, we can assume that Model XVIII contained the regular computing hardware and software upgrades. Having yet to lick the EM pulse vulnerability, this suit, too, required six minutes for the all the systems to reboot from optical ROM. Tony improved his sensor arrary as well, most notably the audio sensors and his ultrasound imaging system.

An new refined refractory coating on the armor's skin was able to absorb almost an entire optic blast from Ultimo. It also supplements the armor's Camouflage Mode, which allowed Shellhead to blend in with his surroundings.

Stark continued his love of all things magnetic by integrating and boosting his magnetic powers throughout. Electro-Magnetic Attention circuits in the skin allowed Iron Man to pull things to his armor. Palm and sole magnets allowed him to become a wall-crawler at will (presumably only on steel surfaces though, although earlier armors contained suction cups in the boots . . . ).

The special feature on this suit: The Modules themselves. Utilizing both snap-on devices and compact inserts, Iron Man could reconfigure his armor as the mission dictated. A Railgun or Scanalyzer could be popped onto waiting gauntlet ports while a half dozen or more yellow, compact utility modules could be snapped onto the outer leg/arm portions of the armor. They could also be slipped into compartments within the armor.

Larger Modules include: Full Spectrum Scanalyzer (capable of firing an adamantium tipped rocket probe), Magnetic Railgun Launcher (capable of firing explosive rounds as well as an Energy Dampening Semi-Fluid Polymer Compound, which bonds in seconds and drinks up energy like a sponge), Magnogravetic Field Generator pack (cancel the gravity of whatever object it is attached to), LEM Field Generator, a Cryogenic Compact Module (unleashes a liquid nitrogen blast).

More below . . .

Another set of handy modules Iron Man had for this suit were the Image Inducers (packs slipped into wrist and shin compartments), in conjunction with the Camo Mode, the modified holo-generator created both illusionary projections and tactile feedback through tensor fields--allowing Iron Man to look and/or feel like anyone. The device also gave off tranceiver signals.

Another important suit extension was the microsurgery equipment Shellhead clipped on to implant a bio-chip in Captain America. In the palm of his left gauntlet IM had a retractable hypo-spray injector (IM carried a stock of pure adrenaline as well). After downloading Gray's Anatomy into his navigation system, to use as a guide, Iron Man shrunk down and went inside Cap to perform the delicate procedure ala Fantastic Voyage.

Of course the ultimate module is The Hulkbuster Armor, an exo-suit that wraps around the Modular Armor.

Armaments: Repulsors (gauntlets could fire phased-plasma streams), Chestbeam, and a Doc Oc-like metal cable (which shoots from the left wrist) rounds off the list of built-in weapons, but several other weapons can be hot-swapped as needed (see Special Feature above). A holographic projector works as both an offensive and defensive weapon. Iron Man can also fire a Polybond Adhesive Compound, capable of gumming up the most daunting opponents.

The Modular Armor was trashed by Slag in #318. Tony repaired the suit, even though Slag left some physical graffiti carved right into the outer shell.

In #313, Tony reconfigured his helmet, changing the earpieces from a vented design to more of the standard circular piece found on previous armors.

This page is copyrighted 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 by Tim Rassbach.

Iron Man and all associated characters are the property of Marvel Comics.

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