Bodyguard, personal assistant, and chauffeur to Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, Harold Joseph “Happy” Hogan is also a trained boxer and knows his way around the ring, even when it requires him to wear the Iron Man suit to assist his employer.
Down but Not Out
Nicknamed “Happy” because of his perpetually unsmiling demeanor, Harold Joseph Hogan grows up in Brooklyn, New York and receives beatings from his abusive father. As such, Hogan learns how to box and unleash his own pent-up violent streak. Though becoming a talented prizefighter capable of holding his own against fabled champions like Battlin’ Jack Murdock and up-and-comers like Eddie March, Hogan develops a losing streak due to a growing tendency to overly empathize with his opponents. When another boxer, Charlie “Cobra” McCoyle, succumbs to brain damage from too many years of too many blows, Hogan, deeply shaken by thoughts of a similar end, retires from boxing.
Hogan attends the 500-Mile Speedway Classic automobile race, where millionaire Tony Stark participates with his custom-made “Stark Special” racer. Stark, at that time dependent on a breastplate to keep shrapnel from his heart, suffers severe angina and loses control, his car overturning and catching fire. Hogan hurries from the stands and pulls Stark free literally seconds before the car explodes. Impressed by Hogan’s bravery, Stark offers him a reward, but Hogan dismisses his heroism as a “reflex action.” Though he eagerly accepts Stark’s job offer of chauffeur/bodyguard and is even more pleased when he meets Stark’s executive assistant, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, AKA Pepper Pots, who, harboring a crush on Stark, neither appreciates nor reciprocates Hogan’s instant attraction.
Bob and Weave
Under ordinary circumstances, Happy Hogan was an accomplished boxer and brawler, retaining his skills even after a decade or so out of the ring. While acting as Iron Man, Hogan possesses the usual abilities bestowed by the particular armor model he wears.
As the Freak, Hogan can lift at least 10 tons and is impervious to gunfire, although the impact of bullets can cause him pain. During his third transformation, these powers are sufficiently magnified that he can lift from 20 to 50 tons; he also emits cobalt radiation from his skin and can directly discharge it as energy blasts.
Duke It Out
As a boxer, Happy held his own against Battlin’ Jack Murdock and Eddie March. While a bodyguard to Tony Stark, he often ends up being the punching bag against Super Villains like Milos Masaryk, AKA Unicorn, and Titanium Man until Iron Man arrives.
When Stark heals Hogan’s injuries from battling Titanium Man with an experimental procedure involving cobalt rays, Hogan is accidentally turned into a monstrous creature known as the Freak. Iron Man becomes his enemy for a time until Stark turns him back.
While acting as Tony Stark’s bodyguard, Happy harbors a crush on Stark’s assistant, Pepper Pots. Though Pepper seeks the affections of Stark, Happy remains loyal to Stark. But then both Happy and Pepper share a mutual distrust of Stark’s other “bodyguard” Iron Man, and these shared feelings bring them closer together, eventually leading to dating and marriage. They face many crises together, some tear them apart while others bring them back together. After Happy learns Stark’s secret identity as Iron Man, he remains by his employer’s side.
Initially believing he had landed “a nice quiet safe job,” Hogan learned otherwise when he was frozen solid during an attack by Gregor Shapanka, AKA Jack Frost (later Blizzard). Over the next few months, Hogan was outfought by Ebenezer Laughton, AKA Scarecrow, hospitalized by Unicorn, and taken hostage by Nathan Garrett, AKA Black Knight; unable to match such opponents, he fared better in an ongoing battle of rejoinders with Pepper, who came to like him but remained in love with Stark. Despite the love triangle, Hogan remained fiercely loyal to Stark.
When Hogan discovered Simon Krieger’s plan to impersonate and discredit Stark on behalf of Republic Oil (later Roxxon Oil), Hogan, himself disguised as one of Krieger’s mercenary Dogs of War, exposed Krieger’s imposture on national TV, then prevented his escape while Stark defeated the Dogs. The aloof persona Stark assumed as Iron Man alienated Pepper as well as Hogan, and their shared distrust of Stark’s “bodyguard” resulted in a closer friendship and eventually a romance. After she and Hogan were abducted by Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, and Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, Hogan, feeling increasingly useless in comparison to Iron Man, quit and visited family in Ireland, but he was pursued by Iron Man, who, with Pepper’s assistance, persuaded him to return. Although Pepper had turned down Hogan’s earlier marriage proposal, the couple continued to date. Hogan also began suspecting Stark and Iron Man were the same man.
When Boris Bullski, AKA Titanium Man, challenged Iron Man to combat in Alberia, Hogan and Pepper accompanied Stark to the scene. When Iron Man’s armor required recharging during the fight, Hogan rushed the charging device to him but was downed by Titanium Man’s ricocheting energy blast. When Hogan addressed Iron Man as “Boss” before lapsing into unconsciousness, Stark realized his friend had deduced and protected his secret, a realization that galvanized him against Titanium Man, whom he soon defeated.
Returned to the U.S. for treatment, Hogan underwent a cobalt-ray procedure empowered by Stark’s experimental Enervation Intensifier, or “Enervator,” a device that could both channel power into or forcibly withdraw it from a subject. Although it indeed healed Hogan’s injuries, the energies forced into his system mutated him into a monstrous, near-mindless creature. Dubbed the Freak, Hogan escaped hospitalization and rampaged until Stark lured him to Stark Industries; drawn to Pepper despite his mental state, Hogan attempted to abduct her, but Stark rescued her and used the Enervator to drain Hogan’s excess energies, leaving him normal but amnesiac.
After witnessing a second fight between Stark and Titanium Man, Hogan’s memories, including those of Stark’s secret, returned. When a hospitalized Stark’s reliance on his armored breastplate became public knowledge, Hogan diverted public suspicion of Stark’s Iron Man identity by donning the armor and appearing in public, but his well-intentioned masquerade earned him more action than expected when Mandarin mistook him for the true Iron Man and teleported him into captivity, where he remained until Stark, in improved armor, rescued him. Weeks later, Hogan and Pepper eloped and, after revealing their marriage to Stark, left his employ.
Months later, Hogan assisted Stark in constructing new armor but was exposed to a Cobalt-Bombarder in the process, again transforming into the Freak. Stark disrupted the Freak’s second rampage by leading him into an armored car, which was pumped full of anesthetic gas. During the crisis, Pepper realized the Freak’s true identity, but after being restored to normal, Hogan still retained no memories of his transformation.
Later, Taneleer Tivan, AKA The Collector, sought the Freak for his menagerie but refrained from transforming Hogan when Stark obtained the dimension of Luminia’s Solar Sword for him.
When Stark briefly relocated to Detroit, Michigan, Pepper, having reclaimed her assistant job, accompanied him, creating a strain between her and Hogan, who revealed Stark’s secret identity to her in a quarrel before they reconciled.
After Stark phased munitions manufacturing out of his corporation, renaming it Stark International, Hogan became security chief, then again took his employer’s place to pose as Iron Man so Stark’s “bodyguard” could appear with him in public. Forced into action when Ivan Kragoff’s, AKA Red Ghost, Super-Apes abducted Stark, Hogan fought the Apes but was overwhelmed, suffering internal injuries in a fall. After defeating both Ghost and Apes, Stark once more risked the Enervator’s use and once more transformed Hogan, who absorbed additional power from cobalt medical supplies. As the Freak, he fought Stark and nearly achieved critical mass before Stark depowered and restored him. Finally learning of his Freak transformations, Hogan underwent testing to confirm they would not reoccur, but he and Pepper again left Stark’s employ. The Hogans relocated to the Rocky Mountains, where they tried their hand at ranching, then eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Hogan found work as a fight manager and the couple took in a young boy and girl as foster children.
Over a year after leaving Stark’s employ, Happy and Pepper Hogan were abducted by operatives of Obadiah Stane, AKA Iron Monger, obsessed with destroying Stark’s life, but Stark, now operating out of California, rescued them. Weeks later, Hogan visited Stark while accompanying boxer Jake Jordan, who proved to be the first known Spymaster in disguise, having gained Hogan’s friendship precisely for the chance to steal Stark’s secrets for A.I.M. With Spymaster nearly defeating Stark, Hogan kept the villain busy in hand-to-hand combat before being struck down, giving Stark the chance to defeat their foe. Hogan was hospitalized for his injuries, but Stark provided financial support despite Pepper’s concern about his involvement in their lives.
Over a year later, Hogan, along with other men who had used Iron Man armor, was recruited by James Rhodes, AKA War Machine, to don reserve armor suits as “the Iron Legion” to fight gigantic robot Ultimo, although it was ultimately Stark who defeated it. Hogan and Pepper resumed their former positions at Stark’s then-current corporation, Stark Enterprises, but the reunion was cut short when Stark, controlled by Immortus, betrayed the Avengers; apparently slain in action, Stark was replaced by a younger version of himself, who seemingly perished with other heroes battling Onslaught. After Stark Enterprises was bought out by the corporation Fujikawa International, the Hogans did not remain with the newly formed Stark-Fujikawa, and financial crises eventually led to the return of their foster son and daughter to government custody. Following additional crises, Hogan and Pepper finally divorced.
When the seemingly slain heroes returned months later, Stark, alive and restored to his normal age, formed a new company, Stark Solutions, and quickly invited Hogan and Pepper to join him, initially unaware of their divorce. Hogan’s awkwardness while working with his ex-wife was only heightened when he inadvertently allowed a member of Espionage Elite, working for a second Spymaster, Nathan Lemon, to bug Stark’s new offices. In his spare time, Hogan revisited his boxing days via charity work at the Beale Street Gym, and when he rescued bystanders during an attack by Fin Fang Foom, his heroism reflected well upon the Maria Stark Foundation, eventually earning him a new position as liaison for local affairs. Gradually, Hogan and Pepper reconciled and ultimately remarried, remaining with Stark when he launched a new Stark Industries following Stark Solutions’ failure. After conceiving a child with Hogan, Pepper was severely wounded by Stark’s armored enemy Ayisha, suffering a miscarriage before Hogan even knew of the pregnancy.
When Stark, following a disastrous term as secretary of defense, yet again rebuilt his power base with a new version of Stark Industries, Hogan returned to his original position as chauffeur, although his role as confidant was more important to Stark. Pausing at a Stark facility on his way to meet Pepper to celebrate their anniversary, Hogan was attacked by the latest Spymaster, Sinclair Abbott, to lure Stark into a trap. Hogan fought back but was grievously injured and rendered comatose. Learning Stark, at that time possessing cybernetic powers, could directly tap into Hogan’s life support system, the grieving Pepper confided in him about Hogan’s fear of brain damage; after painful deliberation, Stark apparently deactivated Hogan’s life support, allowing him a peaceful death.