A powered armor – popularized by sci-fi and comicbooks – is a powerful and high-tech upgrade of the traditional medieval armor; it does not only serve as a very tough defensive exoskeleton but is also capable of other functions like providing artificial super-strength to the wearer; flight (by means of rocket techs); and being equipped with weapons like laser guns and missile launchers, and “Swiss knife-esque” variety of gadgetries. Among those superheroes that don’t possess any superhuman or supernatural power or trait , some makes use of powered armors so they may be able to hold their own in an environment filled with superpowered individuals. This is a list about that particular kind of superhero; it’s probably quite obvious where this list is going to, but I hope you would still find the rest of the ride interesting.
10.) THE BOX
Roger Bochs is the brilliant engineer who built the Box armor and wields its identity (Bochs=Box, a pun?). What is unique with this powered armored hero is that he doesn’t wear the armor at all, but has to phase into it and merge with it. Bochs would have a psychic bond with the armor whenever he merges with it, which is a disadvantage since any damage the Box armor receives would register to Bochs as pain to his own body. The Box is a member of the Canadian superhero group, Alpha Flight.
9.) CRIMSON DYNAMO
The Crimson Dynamo – just like the more popular Titanium Man – is a cruder, Soviet version of Iron Man. Just like with the “Titanium Man” name, several had been “Crimson Dynamo”; just like with “Titanium Man”, the code name is dependent on the armor and whoever wears the armor possesses the right to carry the code name. But unlike Titanium Man, one of those that donned the Crimson Dynamo persona and armor became part of the good guys – Dmitri Bukharin. Dmitri is arguably the most popular Crimson Dynamo, considering that though he is not the first and last to carry the identity and armor, he was however the longest to do so. He has been part of the Soviet superhero team Soviet Super Soldiers, which would become Supreme Soviets and would later become the People’s Protectorate (after the Soviet Union was dissolved). There was also a time that he used the superhero name (with a non-Crimson Dynamo armor) “Airstrike.”
8.) ROCKET RED
DC’s Rocket Red greatly reminds me of Crimson Dynamo. Like Crimson Dynamo, Rocket Red is also from the Soviet Union and several have carried the identity, depending on who’s wearing the armor. However, unlike Crimson Dynamo, Rocket Red has been associated with the good guys all along, right from the start. As far as I’m aware, all Rocket Reds have been part of the Justice League during each one’s respective time as Rocket Red.
7.) MACH V
Abner Jenkins was one of the first members of Thunderbolts, a superhero team made up of former supervillains. While he was still a villain, he was one of Spider-Man’s foes, the Beetle. Once he turned away from his criminal life, become a Thunderbolt, and started operating as a hero, he first used the code name Mach-1 and as he continued upgrading his armor, he would revise his code name with each upgrade; he became Mach-2, Mach-3, and Mach IV until he finally ended up with the current “Mach V” name. What struck me most about him is being badassly described at one time with having “the flight speed and firepower of a human fighter plane.” A human fighter plane! (Note: the image above is his Mach-1 armor)
Before Tony Stark had his “Bleeding Edge Armor” – in which nanobots are hidden in Tony’s bloodstream and would assemble immediately into an Iron Man powered armor at moment’s notice, mentally commanded by Tony – I encountered this awesome concept first with Triphammer, a recurring character in Powers.
I really like this hero’s very amusing origin story, so I just have to make him number six. Fenton Crackshell was the accountant of Scrooge McDuck and has the habit of saying the expression “blathering blatherskite.” One day, on a visit to the workshop of the genius inventor Gyro Gearlose, Fenton would find a robot suit called GizmoDuck lying around. This armor is designed by Gyro to activate when the word “blatherskite” is spoken –a word that Gyro assumed is not part of an average person’s vocabulary. But fate meant for Fenton and the GizmoDuck armor to bond, and in that fateful occasion, the accountant uttered his favorite expression, and the rest is history. From then on, he became the superhero Gizmoduck. Later, he would even team up with Darkwing Duck and assemble a superhero team with him.
John Henry Irons was a brilliant and successful weapons engineer, but became dismayed of the destruction his weapons causes that he decided to fake his death to live a simpler life. He decided to work as a humble construction worker in Metropolis, and one day, he fell of the skyscraper that he was working on after saving a co-worker from falling. Midway his fall, he was caught by Superman. John was so full of gratitude that he wanted to repay Superman, and the iconic hero advised him that he can do so if he will “live a life worth living.” He took this advice to heart; after the “death” of Superman, he built a powered armor, and carried the insignia of Superman and adopted Superman’s nickname of “Man of Steel”, in an attempt to fill the “late” Superman’s role as Metropolis’ heroic champion and to honor him. Later on, “Man of Steel” was shortened to just “Steel.” Aside from a powered armor, Steel also wields a sledgehammer – a reference to his namesake, the folk legend John Henry.
3.) WAR MACHINE
Lt. James Rhodes was a close friend of Tony Stark, the Iron Man; when Tony was struggling with alcoholism, he asked Rhodes to take his place as Iron Man. Later on, after Tony returns as Iron Man, he gave a Rhodes a new Iron Man-type powered armor. James would opt with “War Machine” (which is a proper name once you see the design of the armor) as his superhero name. What I liked most about War Machine is being a “battle-tank” version of Iron Man, since it’s as if, basing on appearance, that he has more offensive raw firepower than Iron Man.
I dig more the design of the Ultimate version of War Machine than the original, since it’s closer to the “battle-tank” perception that the name “War Machine” inspires:
Yes, Spider-Man. Though, he was never been a traditional powered armored-type of superhero, there have been several times he wore a powered armor. And those instances were all noteworthy as a powered armored superhero. (Besides, this is my list anyway. I can’t put anyone I like and won’t apologize for it. Hehe.)
The first time Spidey donned an armor was in Web of Spider-Man #100, when Peter had to create an armored Spider suit so that he can be greatly defended when he clashed with the heavily-armed Enforcers. It wasn’t fancy at all; it doesn’t have different gadgetries since it was merely intended for the primary purpose of defense.
The second Spider-Man armor was a high-tech one since this was a gift from Tony Stark; this was dubbed as the “Iron Spider.” At that time, Spider-Man had just been “born again” from death – where he gained additional powers (which were taken away after the “One More Day” retcon). So with these additional new powers and his Iron Spider armor, this was the time Spidey was at his most powerful (with the exception of the time Spidey became Captain Universe). The Iron Spider armor was equipped with multiple cool functions, including “Waldoes” – mechanical spider limbs on the back that can be extended at command and had cameras and pseudo-fingers on their tips. Spidey got rid of this armor and returned to his old costume after he changed sides during the superhuman “Civil War.”
The third and most stylish Spider-Man armor was his “Anti-Sinister Six” armor.
Just as the name suggests, this was an armor built by Peter Parker that had functions that are useful for neutralizing the abilities of the Sinister Six. Some of these functions are: a.) a customized echolocator which can detect Chameleon’s heartbeat, allowing Spidey to recognize him no matter how perfect his disguise is; b.) a holographic visor that can see through Mysterio’s illusions; c.) electro-proof function against Electro’s electric attacks; d.) an OctoHelmet, which can control Dr. Octopus’ octo-bots; and e.) brain-wave detector and radioactive dye, to pick out the Sandman’s “queen bee” particle (the grain sand that tells the other grain of sands in his composition what to do).
1.) IRON MAN
As I’ve said in the intro, it’s quite obvious where this list would end up with. I’m not sure if he was the first, but he’s certainly the epitome of the powered armored superhero; almost all armored superheroes are analogous to or borrowed character elements from Iron Man. With his genius intellect and tech savvy, Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor design is continually evolving through the years, making him remain relevant and awesome. Moreover, the Iron Man character right now is at his most popular to date, thanks to Robert Downey, Jr. and the successful trilogy of Iron Man movies (plus the Avengers film).