Original text copyright 2007, 2009 Tim Rassbach.

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

She Was a Little Bitter
The occasional butt-kicking and psychological isolation aside, this time in Stark’s life was otherwise uneventful health-wise—then he met Kathy Dare (#223). Stark’s relationship with young, unstable deb nearly became a fatal attraction.http://www.ironmanarmory.com/bios.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0

After dealing with her stalker behavior and several outrageous stunts, Tony broke it off with her. At the end of #242, the obsessive girl snuck into Tony’s mansion while he was out. When he returned, Kathy surprised him—shooting him with a .38 caliber, nearly killing him.

Although he almost bled to death, doctors were able to pulled Stark from the edge of the grave. Rae Lacoste flew in Dr. Charles Ingwe, the finest microsurgeon in the world (243). He removed the bullet and stabilized Tony. But the bullet tore through the nerves along Tony’s spine. The damage was irrepairable. Tony Stark was alive, but paralyzed from the waist down.

Paralysis was almost too much for Tony to take. The athletic playboy, a man’s man if there ever was one, had a difficult time dealing with his condition. Although he at first put his intellect into solving the problem—building both an incredible hover chair as well as a machine to dress him—Tony just couldn’t take being treated like a cripple. He became despondant and suffered a loss of confidence—especially when Brie Daniels rejected him (244).

He struggled with his handicap so much that he wanted to stop being Tony Stark. (At one point, he almost even gave away his company.) He had already given up being IM. A press release let the world know that Iron Man was off on some mysterious mission. (He had asked Rhodey to be IM again, but he refused.) This left SE vulnerable to competitors, like Roxxon.

One bright spot was his custom-made, hand-control van. It gave Tony a measure of freedom, and it took him to Rae Lacoste. She was able to draw Tony out of his funk with simple acts of kindness. Her friendship and support helped Tony heal—physically and mentally. She treated him like a man, not some guy in a wheelchair. Stark began physical therapy. But more importantly, he began to become optimistic again. At the end of #244, Tony went to work on his armor. He spent days building modifications into his suit to allow him to use it and to walk.

Little Steps
Tony took to wearing his armor as much as possible. As Iron Man, he was powerful, capable and complete. So, once again, the armor became his savior. It was the answer; his fortress, allowing him to keep the problems of the world at bay. And he retreated within it, unable to face his weakness.
Soon enough, Stark discovered a small company that was testing small computer chips capable of repairing spinal damage. In #248, he cajoled the talented micro-surgeon Dr. Erica Sondheim to do the daring implantation. At the end of a thirteen-hour surgery, Tony had a programmable organic computer chip, a biochip for short, in his spine. The chip reconstructed the torn nerves along his spine, re-establishing nerve connections, curing him of his paralysis. Now healthy, Tony Stark used his experience—and the compassion it gave him for the handicapped—to begin and increase research in the field so that all could someday benefit from the cure he found. (The biochip procedure was apparently so incredibly expensive and far too dangerous to be approved for widespread use.) Soon, Stark would wish that he had checked out the technology a little more before inserting it into his body.http://www.ironmanarmory.com/biosoz.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0
Be Careful What You Wish For
In Iron Man #256, Tony began to suffer from back pain. At first he wrote it off as over-exertion or a small injury from his Iron Man adventures. Soon, he found himself having trouble sleeping and plagued by bad dreams when he did get some shut-eye. Then it happened: a brief paralyzation incident. But it wasn’t the return of his crippling condition. It was much worse.
Kearson DeWitt, working for the Marrs twins, used the chip implanted in Tony to turn the billionaire industrialist into a pawn—whenever they flipped the switch. And the paralyzing blow was only a test.
In #259, DeWitt went to the next phase of his plan. Activating the chip, he forced Tony to sleep for three days, but made the handsome player think he’d had a blackout. When Stark woke up in a luxury hotel suite, he thought he’d gone on bender. But that didn’t make sense, and Tony developed the hypothesis that the blackout was a consequence of all the damage he had done to himself over the years (alcohol and otherwise), and he blamed himself.
In truth, DeWitt had loaded the biochip that had cured Tony’s paralysis with a techno-organic parasite. The parasite, or bio-replicant synapse override system, replaced Stark’s nervous system. DeWitt could control 97 percent of Stark’s motor functions, reducing the billionaire hero to a techno-pinocchio with virtual puppet strings.
The only thing that saved Tony was his Encephalo Remote Armor. As the situation escalated, Rhodey had to help a paralyzed Tony into the armor. Inside of it, thanks the same encephalo-control circuitry that allowed him to control the suit from a distance, Stark could move. DeWitt’s plan made him a prisoner in his own body, but with the armor, Stark was free to move—but he was now a prisoner in his own armor. Although he couldn’t even feel his own body, Tony’s mind was free. DeWitt could move and control Tony’s flesh and bone, but his limbs couldn’t fight the armor’s servo motors. This battle for control took a massive toll on Tony’s body. He had another heart attack in #264.http://www.ironmanarmory.com/bioshn.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/bioshn.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/remotearmor.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1shapeimage_6_link_2
It Gets Worse
After he defeated DeWitt and the Marrs Twins, Tony found that his body was wrecked. It began failing him in #267. In #269, Tony found out that his nervous system was not just destroyed, but it was replaced with an artificial one of DeWitt’s construction. What’s worse, the techno parasite had ruined his central nervous system, and the DeWitt one was shot too.
To compensate, Stark created an exo-sheath, a neural web suit (also called electro mesh) to keep his damaged CNS functioning. The suit, also called electro mesh, monitored his health status as well. Soon, he made it portable and covered it with a synthetic pseudo-skin to create the illusion that he was healthy. The suit was risky. Under too much stress, physical or mental, the suit could overload and kill him. Although the armor had some fail-safe measures, being Iron Man became an even riskier choice than before.
Stark continued to use his armor and the electro mesh to fight the effects of the techno-organic parasite. Having exhausted every medical resource in the West, he had only one option left: Dr. Su Yin, the world’s most brilliant neuro-specialist. Of course she lived in Red China, where the Communist Party controlled all access to her services. But when the Mandarin took over one-third of China, the Party was suddenly very accommodating. They would trade Su Yin’s services for those of Iron Man.http://www.ironmanarmory.com/biosoz.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/bioshn.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0shapeimage_9_link_1
The End
In #281, Stark rigged up a neurobooster unit to amplify the electrical signals of his central nervous system—at least long enough to do what he needed to do. The neurobooster was like an electronic amphetamine. It allowed him to walk, to create the War Machine Armor, and to battle for his good name and corporation before death. (His old foe Justin Hammer tried to trash Stark’s image by using the old Stane company holdings to do bad things. Hammer’s dirty dealings caused the Masters of Silence to come calling.) Stark came out victorious, but he burned through whatever time he had left by ish #283.
Inventor extraordinaire Anthony Stark died in Iron Man #284—or at least that’s what the world thought. In reality, Stark had himself placed in cryogenic suspension, frozen at a frigid 40 degrees Kelvin. A team supervised by Abe Zimmer and Dr. Erica Sondheim went to work trying to tame the techno-organic parasite that devoured Tony’s nervous system. In a weird state, somewhere between life and death, Stark battled demons of his own.http://www.ironmanarmory.com/wrmchnarmor.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/bioshn.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/bioshn.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/biosoz.htmlhttp://www.ironmanarmory.com/biosoz.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0shapeimage_11_link_1shapeimage_11_link_2shapeimage_11_link_3shapeimage_11_link_4
To be continued . . . 
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