Badass Panels Volume 6: IRON MAN #200
This book is a masterpiece, coming at you from 1985 courtesy of Denny O'Neil and Mark Bright. It's one of those great anniversary issues that manages to wrap up storylines from the past, while at the same time being all about the character's future and, much like last week's Mighty Marvel Milestone, Incredible Hulk #300, it can be read completely on its own.
And it also has what is probably the single most badass moment in Iron Man history. Admittedly, during his first appearance, Iron Man was in imminent danger of being defeated by a filing cabinet full of rocks, but trust me: It's awesome.
This particular issue is the final battle between Tony and corporate rival/Lex Luthor simulacrum Obadiah Stane, who by this point had been playing the deadly game of kicking Iron Man around for about four years. He staged a hostile takeover of Stark Industries that Tony was fully able to prevent just by signing a piece of paper, but Tony was indisposed that day, as you might imagine, passed out drunk in a flophouse while Captain America lectured him on responsiblity.
But now, Tony's sober, and when Stane blows up a couple of his friends for kicks, Tony decides that he's had enough... and he goes to the basement.
See, when other super-heroes like, say, your Ultimate Spider-Man types go to the basement for an hour, they're going to come out with puffy eyes and an empty box of Kleenex. But when Tony Stark goes to the basement, he's coming out with a brand new pair of Nuclear-Powered Underpants.
Nuclear-Powered Underpants. No man can stand against their fury.
Needless to say, this is not exactly what Stane had in mind for his masterstroke. He was picturing more of a "groveling in the gutter" sort of reaction, and less of a "brand new suit of armor that makes my old one look like a heap of crap." Ah, but Stane has a trick up his sleeve, too: an old suit of armor from the "It Lives! It Walks! It Conquers!" days, refitted and beefed up for the sole purpose of destroying Tony Stark. And just in case you didn't get the idea from the fact that his name is Obadiah Stane, he gives himself a badass super-villain codename to go along with it:
So Tony busts into Obadiah's office at Stane (Formerly Stark) International, unwittingly blundering into what may be the most convoluted deathtrap in the history of Marvel comics. I'm not going to get into the details, but suffice to say that it involves Tony's old secretary Mrs. Arbogast, suspended animation, motion sensors, and Stane kicking back with a glass of Cristal to enjoy the predicament. It doesn't work out, as these things are wont to do. But it was a noble effort.
What follows, though, is pure awesome. With his deathtrap defeated and realizing that his armor is no match for the new Iron Man, Stane is forced to go with his backup plan:
Why? Because every good Marvel anniversary issue should feature ridiculous child endangerment.
I'm not really sure where Stane got the baby, but the script makes it seem like he had one laying around for just such an occasion, and that is the beauty of it: Crushing an infant is Stane's idea of PLAN B. That's awesome. I mean, the Joker might put some kids in danger, but this guy built an escape plan around it.
Unfortunately (well, for Stane, not the baby), Iron Man's able to get around that problem as well, taking out the power source that guides the Ironmonger armor and dropping the kid off somewhere (presumably) safe. Stane, meanwhile, careens off a few walls and finally comes to a stop, removing his helmet and resigning himself to being bested by Iron Man.
But he's not going to let Tony take him in and enjoy his humilation the way Stane enjoyed Tony's. Stark won't win the game that way--because Stane won't let him.
So he blows his own head off with a repulsor ray.
In just about any other comic, the villain blowing his own head off would be the most badass thing to happen in the entire issue. But not in Iron Man #200, kids. Tony turns from the sight and walks through a wall of fire, emerging on the other side only to be asked what happened. Well brother, I'll tell you:
Damn, Tony. That is cold as ice.