Yeah, focussing on the armour is all well and good. But pulp-era Iron Man really seems to be overshadowing pulp-era Tony Stark here. I get the feeling that Iron Man is something Tony Stark is reduced
to in this era, not quite the pillar of virtue he is several decades later. Think about the time he's in, the tail end of prohibition, the beginnings of the red-scare, the explosion of organized crime and the onset of the second world war. These were not good times to be a forward-thinking man of science with a weakness for drink.
As Iron Techie has mentioned, you can take Tesla's life as a model and see Stark as a maverick scientist hindered by industrial corruption and government interference. Capone and the mob should take a backseat to the ambitions of the american and nazi governments or his rival tycoons in appropriating weapons technology years ahead of its time. Something a high-profile public figure like Tony Stark could never manage to do in public, but may be able to bathed in streetlight and clad in metal armour.
I also love the non-lethal weapons. However, I think the armor could be modularized to be able to include a tommy gun or something like that in IJ's drawing. And the overcoat and fedora are just icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned.
I'd like to see something a little less extreme. Something akin to the sleeve-gun rig from Taxi Driver
, Tony could be outfitted with a mechanism that launches two sidearms into his hands. The image is so pulp it hurts.
I don't really like the ideas of vacuum tubes. Those things were so fragile, they'd shatter if you breathed on them wrong. You couldn't have IM fighting some villain, getting thrown into some sidewalk vendor's fruit and vegetable stand only to have about 4 vacuum tubes bust and then change the tubes during a fight. He'd have to have about 2 dozen backups of the things.
Basically the equivalent of Spider-Man's web cartridges and everybody seems to love them. I agree that it's a stupid hinderance, but it's hard not to see it appeal to people on the same level.
Besides, were vacuum tubes around in the 30s?
Yes. And for many years prior.
You could still incorporate the supporting cast, as has been mentioned. Happy could be his bodyguard, Pepper could still be his secretary, too. She doesn't have to be his nurse. Either would work, though. Rhodey could be his driver or manservant or whatever, in keeping with the times. Of course, Tony would be the progressive where, even though he has a black manservant, it's only for show and he treats him as his equal. (Or am I living in a delusion because I want Tony/IM to be morally righteous?)
Well, manservant is some pretty volatile nomenclature, I'd advise against it. The sad fact is that for Rhodey to be there at all, he'd have to be there in a service capacity at best. Tony being a progressive is a no-brainer though, a man smart enough to pull superscience out of his ass is probably at least smart enough to see through the prejudices of the time. Behind closed doors, Rhodey would be a friend and advisor, perhaps Stark recognizes his intelligence and wisdom or maybe he just has an appreciation for loyalty. All that aside, I can still see him being unintentionally sexist in his treatment of Pepper. If written well, it's something that could be played for laughs instead of making him look like a misogynist.
The other thing that would be interesting to tackle would be Tony's alcoholism in a time of Prohibition. Would he be a teetotaler? Or would he break the law and be a moonshiner? That would be a really good story line on it's own. Would he be helping Eliot Ness and the Untouchables take on Al Capone and his speakeasies and gin joints? Would he own his own speakeasies or gin joints? Serve both interests? It's something that could be taken many different directions.
Sober in public, a bottle of scotch in private. That's what I'd imagine his stance on prohibition to be. I still maintain that the mafia is beneath his attention and a buffoon like Ness certainly doesn't need any more sympathetic portrayals. Unless we're talking a realm of total fantasy here.
All that aside, I agree with you. There's plenty of material there for a few fun romps through the pulp era with a marvel superhero. Is that all due to Iron Man or is it the era that lends itself so well to outrageous plots and settings? Who knows.