Hugh Hazzard and his Iron Man debuted in SMASH COMICS #1 (August 1939). Although, technically, it wasn't Hugh's Iron Man. The Iron Man was created by the mad scientist Dr. Von Thorp. After using the Iron Man to defeat Von Thorp, Hazzard discovers that the police have sent the robot, along with a boatload of confiscated guns and weapons, out to sea to a watery grave. So Hugh heads out on his own boat and steals the robot!! He then tells it "-instead of fighting on the side of crime, you're now going to be its worse enemy - with Hugh Hazzard!" How's that for an auspicious beginning?
Although, I guess Hugh did have some karmic comeuppance: He got booted out of the title of his own strip!! The episode in SMASH COMICS #12 (July 1940) was titled Bozo the Robot featuring Hugh Hazzard. With SMASH COMICS #13 (August 1940), the strip became simply Bozo the Robot through the end of it's run in SMASH COMICS #41 (March 1943). Hugh's role wasn't diminished much, just his importance of selling the feature.