Ian shows his iron to the Japs. Artist: Sam Glanzman.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1967
Creators: Will Franz (writer) and Sam Glanzman (artist)
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The Iron Corporal could dodge every bullet in hail of machine gun fire, wade into a throng of enemy soldiers swinging his rifle like a club and come out unscathed, and perform all the other amazing feats Sgt. Fury was capable of over at Marvel or Sgt. Rock at DC. But he did it at Charlton, where creator page rates and (not unrelatedly) editorial standards were drastically lower than at DC and Marvel, and that meant his exploits …

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… weren't as much fun to read about — which impacted circulation, but Charlton, where expenses were cut to the bone, could get by with fewer copies sold.

Sometimes, calling somebody "Iron" this or "Iron" that merely means the guy is tough and strong, like Iron Vic or Iron Fist. But in comic books, it often means there's an actual component of some hard, metallic substance, analogous to iron, somehow involved with the person's characteristic make-up up, like Iron Skull or The Iron Ace. That was the case with The Iron Corporal, who, like Iron Man, wore a metal appliance on his chest for medical reasons.

This was an artificial ribcage, replacing his real one, which had been pulverized in a brutal mugging that took place just before he got involved in the war. It was flexible like a watch band, and he built himself up to where he could run, jump, and do everything just like before — except tread water. The point was made early on, that if he got dunked in water over his head, he'd sink like a rock. But the advantages of having a virtually impenetrible chest compensated for that.

The man with the metal ribs was Ian Heath, scion of an American steel magnate, serving as a volunteer in the Australian army because he felt a debt to Australia, where his reconstructive surgery had taken place. As the series opened, he'd just assumed command of his unit following the death of its ranking officer. Despite the 20-odd years that had passed since the end of the war by the time of the series, Ian was as jingoistic as any propaganda victim of the time, seeing his Japanese antagonists as scarcely human.

That series opening took place in Army War Heroes #22 (November, 1967). The story was written by Will Franz (The Lonely War of Capt. Willy Schultz) and drawn by Sam Glanzman (Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle, U.S.S. Stevens). It continued to appear in Army War Heroes as long as that title lasted — which was until #38 (June, 1970). The stories were reprinted a couple of decades later, in Charlton's Iron Corporal #s 23-25 (October, 1985 - February, 1986).


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.