- "He's a technical genius and a legend among heroes. Anyone should be honored to fight by his side."
- — Arsenal
Ethan Drake was only a kid when he helped to change the world. Though it was a small act it still had lasting effects. By saving Tony Stark's life from the Chrell he insured that the legacy of Iron Man would continue.
- "At first I didn't really like him. He seemed arrogant and bossy. But now I see the weight he carries by leading this team. If he doesn't make sure things get done properly, then who will?"
- — Daredevil
When Ethan Drake was sixteen years old a fleet of invaders, calling themselves the Chrell, attacked Earth. In one day, most of the planet's super population was destroyed. Leading the group of heroes in his neighborhood during the invasion was none other than the original Iron Man. The Golden Avenger fought against the aliens valiantly, but in the end their numbers overwhelmed the strike force. Iron Man took a massive hit that short circuited his armor. Drake, without regard for his own safety, located the fallen, unconscious hero and dragged him into a warehouse to hide him from the Chrell.
Though Ethan had saved Tony Stark's life that day, Iron Man had ceased to exist. That final hit from the Chrell energy weapons had paralyzed Tony from the neck down. Despite this handicap, Stark was happy to be alive. In appreciation for what Drake had done for him, he bought the boy and his mother a penthouse, allowing them to move out of their small apartment. He also arranged for Ethan to attend one of the best private schools in the city. Later, Tony paid, in full, for all of Ethan's college.
Ethan and Tony worked closely together during Drake's college years. Stark taught him all he knew about the business world. Ethan eventually obtained a masters degree in numerous technology sciences, including electrical engineering, which was a specialty of Tony's. Together they even designed and built the next generation of Iron Man armor, which was red and silver instead of red and gold, effectively making the nickname Golden Avenger useless. Tony had always intended Ethan to become the next Iron Man as well as CEO of Stark Enterprises. However, Drake was never comfortable with the idea of replacing the original Iron Man.
However, on several occasions Ethan had practiced using the armor in the combat simulator located on the top floor of Stark Tower. Ten years after the Chrell invasion Tony Stark died due to medical complications. Ethan always felt it had been an unfitting end for such a great man. Everything Tony had owned passed to Drake via Stark's will. Though Tony was gone, Ethan still did not take up the role as Iron Man. It wasn't until five years later when a Chrell commander named Revak attacked New York that Ethan would dawn the guise of Iron Man to aid the failing heroes. It was shortly after Revak's defeat that Iron Man along with Arsenal, Spider-Man, and Daredevil would form the new team of Avengers.
- "Iron Man was the ultimate hero. We would all be lucky to be half the man he was."
- — Arsenal
After several small missions the Avengers received a distress signal from Washington D.C.; not far from the White House. A meteor had struck down and the military had requested the presence of the team as a precaution. Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Arsenal responded upon Iron Man's orders. When it was discovered that the meteor was actually a ship tensions rose. The extra terrestrial vehicle opened and Tryax, the World Conqueror, stepped out. Though at first he seemed almost peaceful, he very quickly turned hostile by attacking the White House in an attempt to kidnap the President for information. Luckily enough, Spider-Man had been stationed at the White House while Daredevil and Arsenal inspected the crash site. The wall crawler was able to keep the President safe long enough for the other two to arrive. In what seemed like a hopeless battle the three Avengers were joined by two new members, Thor and Wolverine. Thor managed to temporarily drive off the alien while the others took down the military troops under Tryax's control. Upon returning to New York, Iron Man was able to discover what Tryax was after. It was a godlike weapon called the Infinity Gauntlet. They discovered its location at a military installation in the Nevada desert. The entire team of Avengers went to intercept Tryax before he could obtain the gauntlet. It was during this epic encounter that Tryax took the life of Iron Man when the golden Avenger flew in front of Arsenal to take the full brunt of one of Tryax's energy blasts. The other Avengers managed to get to the gauntlet before Tryax. Arsenal himself picked it up and used its immense power to drive Tryax from the planet. He then took the weapon into space, keeping just enough power to return to Earth, and threw it into the sun, hopefully destroying it. Iron Man's funeral was held in New York City and hundreds upon hundreds of people, heroes and civilians alike, showed up to pay their respects to one of the greatest heroes to have ever lived.
Iron Man does not actually have any real powers. Though his current suit, the Iron Man Armor Mk IX, grants him many abilities.
- Super Strength: The armor magnifies Ethan's strength to superhuman levels, enabling him to lift 80 tons.
- Flight: The Mark IX armor can reach speeds above Mach 4.
- Self-Contained Life-Support System & Environmental Protection: The suit can be completely sealed for operations in vacuum or underwater, providing its own life support, and is shielded against radiation.
- Repulsors: Concussive force bolts that are fired from the palms of his gauntlets.
- Pulse Beams: Electromagnetic beams that affect technology and machines.
- Rocket Launchers: The armor contains four anti-tank rockets that can be fired at a moments notice.
- Point Defense Laser: A defensive laser on his left shoulder shoots down and disables incoming projectiles.
- Tasers: The armor contains non-lethal tasers that are effective in taking down normal thugs with ease.
- Personal Shield: Iron Man's personal shield is second only to Iron Lad's. It is able to take several direct hits from high powered missiles before it fails.
- Particle Beam: A weapon capable of firing streams of particle energy at enemies.
- Flame Thrower: A wrist mounted flame thrower can be found in the Mark IX armor.
- Uni-Beam: Projects an extremely powerful stream of energy from his chest. This weapon is capable of destroying tanks and sinking aircraft carriers.
- Power Cells: The armor is powered by a combination of solar converters, electrical batteries and an on-board generator that uses beta particle absorption as a fuel source.
- Energy Conversion Power Recharge: The suit is also able to convert nearby energy sources, such as heat or kinetic energy into electricity, or even drain electrical energy directly into the batteries for recharge.
- Genius-level Intellect: Ethan Drake is an inventive mechanical engineering prodigy, constantly creating new technology and looking for ways to improve it. Furthermore, this extends to his remarkable ingenuity dealing with difficult situations such as difficult foes and deathtraps where he is capable of using his available tools like his suit in unorthodox and effective ways.
- Genius-level Computer Expert: Iron Man is an expert in the field of computer science, demonstrating genius-level aptitude for programming, modifying, and diagnosing almost any computer system; even those of unfamiliar human and extraterrestrial origin.
- Multi-lingual: Iron Man is fluent in many languages including English, Japanese, Spanish and French.
- Business Sense: Iron Man is also a talented businessman whose wealth ranks him in the mid part of the Fortune 500 list.
- Tactical Training: Iron Man is a skilled strategist and has more than a rudimentary knowledge of hand-to-hand combat.
Iron Man is susceptible to all human limitations when out of his suit. His suit itself is not invincible and there are a number of ways it can be damaged or drained of power. For example, on his first time out the villain Revak all but ripped the armor off of him. It was almost damaged beyond repair.