1. The original Iron Man armor. It's clunky and has a funky skirt...but it's still cool. It actually looks like a suit of armor, unlike later iterations, which were more in line with the typical 'skin-tight' costume look. It reminds me of a robot from an old sci-fi movie. And it looked pretty awesome in the Iron Man film!
2. Iron Man 'classic'. Ah, the classic red and gold look. Less bulky than the original, more streamlined than the previous pointy-helmet version...this was the look Iron Man sported from the late 60s til the early 80s.
Karen: Same here. This is "my" Iron Man, although I admit I like the way he looks now too. But this is pure nostalgia for me.
3. The Stealth Armor. Introduced in issue 152, this sleek black armor was used by Tony on missions where he wished to avoid detection. Of course, this issue came out at the time that Stealth technology in aerospace had become known to the public and was the cutting edge of engineering. And it looks really cool too.
Doug: Yep, the Stealth bomber. I remember the first time I saw it on the news. Wow. Only stands to reason that Tony Stark would know all there was to know about that technology, and make it his own.
Karen: Bob Layton and David Micheline really made you feel like Stark could exist in the real world. They brought much more real tech (or nearly real tech) into the title. I think the movies owe them a big debt.
4.Thorbuster armor. From issue 64 of volume 3, when Thor went power-mad and needed to be stopped. Utilizing a mystical Asgardian crystal as its power source, it also looked a heck of a lot like the Destroyer, which gives it instant coolness points.
5. Extremis Armor. Artist Adi Granov's fantastic work has redefined Iron Man and now he really looks like a guy wearing armor, instead of just another hero in a skin-tight suit. I love the metallic appearance of this suit. Obviously, this was a huge inspiration for the Iron Man films.
Doug: To me, the best thing about recent evolutions of the armor is it seems so much more true to movement -- any of the above suits would not allow the dynamism that is human movement. The special effects guys in the films have understood this, and in an effort to bring this great-looking costume to a sometimes-novice public they've crossed the bounds of unbelievability to make the casual observer at least say, "Hmmm....".
Karen: I think that's one of the reasons no one questions the "costume" for the movies - hey, he's just a guy in a suit -it could happen! people are willing to believe in it.
Honorable Mention: The Nose. Ah yes, you gotta love the strange sudden appearance of a nose on Iron Man's helmet in the mid-70s. All because an artist misunderstood a comment from Stan Lee. The nose is so goofy, but such a part of Iron Man history, you can't ignore it.
Doug: Short-lived, but oh so practical! This was the Iron Man that was appearing in the pages of The Avengers when I started collecting comics. And you couldn't have picked a more ridiculous panel to make your point!!
Karen: This was a close runner-up for me - I just liked the Thorbuster outfit a wee bit more. What has he got on his shoulders? hub caps??
Doug: And if I could be so bold as to add another honorable mention, I'd like to offer the above-mentioned Hulkbuster armor, simply on the grounds of its sheer bulk. How powerful would the "transistors" in this baby have to be just to stand in it??