A Change in Color for a Changed Man

First tested against Obidiah Stane and his Iron Monger Armor in issue # 200.

Chameleon Armor. Holographic Armor. Red and Silver Armor. Whatever you call it, Model XII, Mark I, a combat-oriented armor may have been meant for Iron Man James Rhodes, but Tony Stark took this model for himself when he went back into the super hero business to avenge a friend's death and a life and fortune stolen.

The armor was built as something to tinker with, something for Stark to try ideas out on. But it was as much alcohol rehabilitation as it was a "sketch pad" for the recovering alcoholic and inventive genius. It grew out of a special chest plate, one so sturdy it allowed Tony to mainline the power given off by a nuclear reactor. (A parataxic feedback mechanism, utilizing Stark's skills in matrix mechanics, regulated power flow, and allowed Tony to transfer the power of a nuclear reactor to Rhodey's armor without melting down either.) It also helps having a ton of resources and money so you don't need to do any equipment leasing.

The most obvious new design here is the stark departure from the traditional red and gold color scheme. Silver and red, the suit became known as the Silver Centurion, a true classic. Bigger and badder then previous armors, the suit also has a fresh, fearsome cut to it, incorporating an inverted triangular design in the chest and back plates, that angle downward from the broad, crisp lines of the pointed shoulder pads. A backpack allows for more storage than any previous model. In addition, the new look sports a large, oversize hooded helmet and triangular chest beam.

Of course not all of the improvements were cosmetic. A key achievement is the armor's holistic design, which is a fancy phrase for engineered redundancy. The design of the Model XII allows the remaining circuits to take on the workload of damaged ones. This versatility allows IM to thrive even after blasts that would have finished previous armors.

As noted earlier, Stark created a phenomenal energy matrix when building the Silver Centurion Armor. Wide spectrum energy assimilation circuits allow for massive energy assimilation, allowing Iron Man to become incredibly strong. (In # 204, the armor absorbed a million volt charged-plasma beam, adding it to Iron Man's power. He channeled energy from an AIM atomic reactor, which allowed him to lift their massive sub out of the water and fly it 2 kilometers to dry land.) But in its standard operating mode (un-enhanced by drawing upon power reserves or outside energy sources), Model XII amplifies the wearer's strength 90 times.

That said, IM's strength depends on a variety of factors, most importantly how much power he's tapping. (Tony can bench press 200 lbs., multiplied by 90 times it means he can lift approximately 18,000 lbs. or 9 tons--in the un-enhanced mode.) By channeling energy from other systems in his armor or drawing it from outside sources, IM could easily up his strength factor by a factor of 10--putting him in the 90 ton plus range. The suit is highly efficient, utilizing the most powerful integrated suit motors Stark could create.

Besides the increases in strength, the armor flows with much more power. It has a larger standard power reservoir than any previous model. So powerful and so efficient, Shellhead got in the habit of making his long, cross-county trips by rocketing up out of the atmosphere, hovering, and then letting the planet rotate beneath him before jetting down to his destination--making the continental trip in minutes.

As for the power systems themselves, the hardware itself, efficiency, redundancy, and charging all are improved. Specifically on the charging, with this suit it only takes IM a few minutes to fully recharge the armor in the sun's rays from the 1/4 full setting. A power gauge in the left gauntlet compartment lets Tony know how he's doing. Meanwhile, the main power pack is on the back. Jumper cables are stored in a compartment back there, while the collar epaulets flip up for easy power cable access.

This page is copyright 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 Tim Rassbach.

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

The suit's computer matrices were also greatly improved. The creation of an early heads-up display (HUD) screen positions information in front of Iron Man's view and provides holographic pictures and overlays as well. Visual optical scanners can drop down in view inside of the helmet (like sunglasses) to allow for scanning/recording the things Shellhead looks at--like blueprints--into the helmet's memory circuits. Cybernetically controlled, Stark must concentrate to use the armor.

The outer skin of the armor was just as revolutionary as the inside parts. Covered with an incredible refractory coating, the armor's exterior can deflect thermal rays, lasers, and other energy weapons. It also absorbs incoming radar signals, preventing them from bouncing back. Together with a built-in radar reflector (that supplements the radar-absorbing qualities of the refractory coating) the Silver Centurion Armor is almost as stealthy as Stark's Stealth Armor (Model XI).

The outer fabric of the armor can also absorb any form of energy, including heat. Linked to a new thermocouple, this system allows Iron Man to absorb the energy from weapons attacks or the environment for redirection at his discretion (i.e., weapons fire or added energy). The armor can also be magnetized like previous models, allowing IM to stick to metal surfaces or objects.

The armor comes with the full range of sensors including thermal, radioactivity (an alarm function alerts him of dangerous conditions, like the presence of plutonium), neutron detector, also targeting/tracking, and telemetric sensors. A new Detection Unit is capable of picking up outside radar-tracking devices that lock on or "paint" him (e.g., incoming missiles), while a psionic tracer can detect and track even small traces of psionic energy. Ultra-sonics allow for an early form of ground-penetrating radar (for finding underground chambers, etc.). Helmet optics include an energy detection unit that can sense power sources, power cables, and so on. The on-board Navigation Computer allows IM to preprogram destinations into his flight plan (aided by an autopilot feature) or get a fix on his location with ease. Advanced Audio Receptors allow for eavesdropping and can detect people sneaking up on him. They also allow Iron Man to isolate individual human heartbeats. The integrated Sound Scanner is capable of
separating out the frequency of all other noises, even a single whisper under tons of ruble. Meanwhile cooling systems maintain climate control inside the armor.

Boot jets feature a dual-source propulsion system that works in and out of the atmosphere (on Earth, in space) and also underwater. The power system lets him skyrocket out of the atmosphere and still have plenty left to fight. The Model XII Armor can easily reach speeds of 500 m.p.h. while going straight up and maintaining extremely precise maneuvers and turns. Emergency boosters provide extra oomph when needed, but the repulsors can also be used in combination with the boot jets to propel Iron Man forward, adding even more thrust.

As mentioned, this model has an underwater mode. While good, it is not as efficient or dependable as the single-tasked Hydro Armor. It can withstand the pressure of sub aqua environments, but the suit uses up the oxygen reserves faster at greater depths. Mouth and eye slits close for underwater actions. (Space worthy, too, re-entry friction is handled by the armor's refractory coating.)

Each piece of the suit has a limited power supply that can be used even when not attached to the whole. Not only can the units polarize to iron toughness, but the boots can fly and each repulsor has a one blast reserve. With his cybernetic controls, the helmet can work the armor, even the force field, when the armor is off/unassembled. The mask on this model can slide up into the helmet to reveal Tony's face.
The standard Communications Unit works primarily through the helmet's receiver, which picks up a broad range of signals and transmissions, including TV and radio reception. An external speaker allows Iron Man to address people in a modulated (i.e., fake) voice.
Also included in the communications array of the Model XII is a early version of the cellular phone.

The defenses of the Silver Centurion Armor are augmented by a six-second force field capable of protecting the armor from even direct missile strikes perfectly. The powerful field does put a big strain on the power cells so it is used sparingly.

Armor is vulnerable to electro-magnetic pulses. If blasted by an EM-pulse, it takes six minutes for the systems to come back online.

The special feature on this suit:The so-called Chameleon Effect, a device that allows Iron Man to blend into the background by projecting holograms of the background over the surface of the armor. Scanners register the surrounding environment on the fly. These images are then flowed through a holographic projector matrix, which wraps around the entire armor, making it blend in or disappear into the surroundings. The refractory coating's radar-absorbing ability and other stealth tech is key to the armor's Chameleon Effect, which all but prevents visual or electronic sightings. (But if you look real close and carefully you might see the outline of Iron Man move across the background.)

The energy fields produced by the "chameleon" technology began causing Tony Stark nausea and muscle twitches--the first symptoms of degenerative nerve damage. Eventually the detrimental effects on his nervous system caused Stark to remove the system. (Stark added an improved, non-lethal hologram projector, but it was not as effective as the Chameleon Effect.)

Armaments: improved Repulsors (can fire negatively charged plasma, too); Pulse Bolt gauntlet cannons
(get stronger the farther they travel; can be focused until they reach disintegration intensity); Disrupter Field (allows for directed interference of electrical systems); Thermal Beam (melting heat beam); Unibeam (first multi-functioning triangular design allows for higher intensity; has searchlight mode, concussion beam, and is capable of projecting many wave lengths of variable light, including UV); Sonic Weapons; Variator Rays (can magnetize opponents, stick them to things or each other); basic and magnetic Tractor Beams; Concentrated-Heat Lance (from right palm); Pencil Lasers (one in each index finger); armor can also utilize reverse magnetism offensively. The gloves can emit radio waves and electromagnetism for offensive and defensive purposes. They can also fire a freon stream from the right index finger capable of freezing the air.

Status: Model XII was destroyed by Firepower in #230. Out-gunned, Tony sent the suit out by remote control in its polarized state to be thrashed and trashed. He even filled it with blood packets to fake the death of Iron Man.

Like previous models, the red and silver suit's arm sections zip into the gauntlets for storage, while the legs go into the boots, leaving Tony with just a few parts to stow in his custom-designed, high-tech briefcase (with extra secure thumbprint locks): a helmet, chest piece, gloves, boots, and "shorts." (The attache case attaches to the back of the armor magnetically, allowing IM to carry it as needed.) The back power pack splits in half and comes off. This allows the chest piece, with a hinged release at the shoulders to open at the sides and slide it off.