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Firestorm & Iron Man Costume Similarities

In addition to being a fan of Firestorm in the 1980’s, I was also a big fan of Iron Man.  I used to play with my Super Powers Firestorm action figure side-by-side with my Secret Wars Iron Man figure.  As many kids do, I would also draw pictures of my favorite superheroes.  While drawing Firestorm and Iron Man one day, I noticed both costumes used the same colors.  In fact, upon further inspection the colors in their costumes were almost mirror images of one another.

Take a good look at the costumes below.  Here are a few things to notice:

  • Firestorm has a yellow torso, boots, gloves, and briefs.  The same areas on Iron Man are red.
  • Firestorm has red leggings and sleeves.  The same areas on Iron Man are yellow.
  • Both characters have protruding shoulder accents.  Firestorm has pointed shoulder pads, while Iron Man has raised metal bands at the shoulder joints (though not very prominent in the image below).
  • Firestorm has a prominent red circle on his chest.  Iron Man has a prominent yellow circle on his chest.  Both characters have multiple circles on their chest.
  • Both Firestorm and Iron Man have red headgear framing their faces.

For the record, I’m not honestly suggesting that Firestorm creators Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom based the Firestorm costume on Iron Man.  I’m just stating that there are some similarities in costume colors and design elements.  Given that red and yellow are primary colors, it’s not surprising to find costumes using these colors in similar/opposite ways.  There are only so many combinations before you find a mirror counterpart.  Additionally, in comics it’s quite common to see the torso piece of a superhero suit contrast with the leggings and sleeves.

It is interesting to note that about a year before publication of Firestorm #1 [Mar. 1978], writer Gerry Conway completed a run on Iron Man [Iron Man #91 (Oct. 1976) – Iron Man #97 (Apr. 1977)].  However, this is merely coincidence as artist Al Milgrom and Editor Jack C. Harris supposedly developed the look for Firestorm (see “It’s BobRo, the Answer Man” column for Jack C. Harris’ quote on this).  Also, the pieces of Firestorm’s costume that really stand out are the flaming hair and chest emblem; there really isn’t any resemblance to Iron Man in either of those.  The elements of Iron Man’s costume that really stand out are the face-plate and that the entire suit is made of metal; again no overlap with Firestorm in either of these areas. 

Just for fun, check out the covers to Firestorm #1 (Mar. 1978) and Iron Man #110 (May 1978).  These comics were published just a few months apart.  Look at Firestorm and Iron Man’s pose.

Finally, here are the Super Powers Firestorm and Secret Wars Iron Man figures side-by-side.

The Secret Wars Iron Man image comes from the Toyriffic blog.  Check out their excellent review of the Iron Man figure by clicking here.

In conclusion, this is just an interesting coincidence surrounding two popular characters.  Just a crazy observation that has been rattling around in my brain for the last 20+ years.  Nothing more.

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  1. Luke says:

    Wow, I never noticed that before. Looking at it now, it’s pretty darn obvious!

    The main difference, of course, between Shellhead and Firestorm is that Shellhead would beat the pants off the Nuclear Man any day of the week and twice on Sundays.


    Just because I’m biased doesn’t mean it ain’t true! :)

  2. Shag says:

    WHAT!?!?! Are you serious? One nuclear transmogrification blast later and Tony Stark is wearing a nice suit of Jello. Oh yeah, then his heart would stop.

    Winner… Firestorm! :)


  3. Luke says:

    Bah I say, bah! Tony would lose the first meeting but then engineer a way to defeat him! I subscribe to Bob Layton’s theory that given enough time, Iron Man can defeat anyone. :)

    The Iron Man Secret Wars toy was a favorite of mine growing up, along with (oddly) The Falcon. I still have them both!

  4. rob! says:

    Didn’t Prof Stein have a drinking problem storyline at some point, or am i crazy? He and Tony can go to AA meetings together!

  5. cj says:

    That’s interesting. I used to find it odd that my favourite characters, Firestorm and The Flash, both had yellow and red costumes.
    Mind you, there was no doubt that it helped to see Firestorm get mini-stories in the back of Flash comics back in the day. I used to love seeing those two team up. My favourite was the one where they went head-to-head against the Atomic Skull, and Ronnie had absorbed so much radiation that he was in a drunken haze from it. Barry took good care of him though.

  6. Shag says:

    rob – Good point! I can totally see Martin and Tony together at AA! :)
    You know, the sad part is that Martin turned to alcohol because he kept having “black outs”. Those black outs were actually him turning into Firestorm, but he couldn’t remember. And his good buddy Ronnie didn’t bother to tell him the truth. Now there is a pal for life!

    CJ – I love those Flash back-up stories. And the one you mentioned is one of my favorites! I plan to review those Flash stories sometime in the future.

    Thanks for commenting!


  7. Van says:

    Awesome article, Shag!

    Two comments.

    1: If I recall correctly, George Perez even had Iron Man and Firestorm matched up in the original, 1980s AVENGERS/JLA cover pic that was never published. (I have that pic somewhere on but am not in the mood to hunt it down right now.)

    2: Here’s another oddity– while he looks more like Iron Man, it seems like he actually has something major in common with another classic Marvel hero: Captain Marvel! After all, didn’t Firestorm have a second person “in his head” that he talked with, a la Rick Jones and Mar-Vell?

    And his power always reminded me of Element Lad, even though his look gives you the impression he’d just blast the crap out of you with fire, like the Human Torch or something.

  8. Shag says:

    Van – Great points! I didn’t even think about the unpublished JLA/Avengers crossover, but there was definitely an Iron Man vs. Firestorm plot thread!

    Also, good analogy of Captain Marvel/Rick Jones and Firestorm/Martin Stein.

    Keep up the great work over at Avengers!


  9. Latinegro says:

    Great Site, thanks for letting me know about. I am sure to talk about firestorm again on my blog…

  10. sara says:

    I have all of the firestorm comics in plastic, or at least the first 30, what are they worth?

  11. Andy C. says:

    In yet another strange coincidence, note the color similarities when both characters made a major visual change: the “elemental” Firestorm (discounting the color of the fiery mane, wrists and ankles) and the “Silver Centurion” Iron Man suit that defeated Obadiah Stane (aka Iron Monger). Both feature major red areas and silver on arms, legs & face plus a spot of silver/white on chest/front torso.
    And if that wasn’t enough, around the time the new Firestorm Jason Rusch showed up in his first incarnation/costume (with the strange glowing piping around the face) I think Sean Chen (and George Perez, over in the pages of the newly rebooted Avengers book )was drawing Iron Man with glowing neon like highlights on his helmet and suit.

    Too weird!

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