Tales of Suspense #48 (12/10/1963)

xx.jpgTales of Suspense #48 features the first appearance of Mr. Doll, who may just be the worst villain up to this point. I’m not a big fan of the Puppet Master to begin with and Mr. Doll is just a poor man’s version of that villain, with an even lazier backstory of having stolen a voodoo doll in Africa. Also, his powers make no sense. He changes the doll to be able to control the victim. Fine, but how does changing the doll’s face to that of Iron Man control him? It’s an iron suit and not his actual face.

Beyond this poorly thought out and obviously lazy attempt at a villain, the story itself also makes no sense. Mr. Doll is controlling wealthy individuals to sign over the assets to him, because financial institutions are going to accept someone called Mr. Doll. Also, it seems like Mr. Doll needs to be in the presence of his victims. Finally, the way Iron Man defeats Mr. Doll was beyond stupid.

In the end the only saving grace of this issue is the introduction of Iron Man’s classic red and gold armor. Also, Steve Ditko’s accompanying panels of him putting on the new armor was just awesome. Great stuff, too bad the rest of the issue is crap.

Rating: 1.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colourists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Strange Tales #115 (12/10/1963)

detailOnce again, this issue of Strange Tales #115 is once again split between a solo Human Torch story and a Dr. Strange tale. As has been the norm up to this point, the solo Human Torch story is wildly inconsistent and poorly written. For one, I just love how the other members of the Fantastic Four are usually too busy to actually fight villains. In Strange Tales #115, for instance, Mr. Fantastic is too busy to assist with the Sandman because of an experiment and the Thing and Invisible Woman are too busy writing a report. Seriously? Over fighting a villain? What kind of superheroes are they?

Another concern with this issue is Lee didn’t even try to come up with a creative way of having the Sandman escape, rather he was just placed in a regular prison cell. That’s just plain lazy writing. The confrontation between Sandman and the Human Torch was okay, but it’s beyond me how the bottom half of the Human Torch gets wet, but his top stays dry when the ceiling sprinklers come on. Luckily for the Human Torch he is now a judo master and is able to toss Sandman around like nothing. Really a poorly thought out story.

Luckily, the Dr. Strange tale is much better, which is the first telling of Dr. Strange’s well-known origin story. The tale opens with Dr. Strange traveling to India to seek the aide of the Ancient One in healing him. It is through the Ancient One’s peering into Dr. Strange’s mind that we learn of his past as an arrogant surgeon and the accident that damaged the nerves in his hands. It’s a very short, but effective story. Now if only the Human Torch stories could get on par with the Dr. Strange ones this series would be much better.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Dick Ayers
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colourists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

 

Tales of Suspense #46 (11/10/1963)

detailThe Tales of Suspense series is on a bit of a roll in regards to the quality of villains. Last issue featured the Crimson Dynamo, while Tales of Suspense #47 features the first appearance of the Melter. In fact this issue wastes no time, pretty much opening with Tony Stark getting cold cocked by the Melter. After which, there’s an awkwardly placed flashback to the Melter’s origin. It turns out that the Melter is really Bruno Horgan, a competitor of Stark’s who went out of business due to Stark exposing his use of inferior materials. Thus, the Melter, who has the interesting power to melt metal via a beam, has decided to sabotage Stark’s own contracts.

I like the fact that the Melter has a personal connection with Stark and deeper motivation than just the generic I want to take over the world. However, the Melter’s design is just goofy. Why does he need a cape? Despite the goofy design, Melter definitely comes off as a credible threat to Iron Man. In fact their first encounter had a pretty cool image of Iron Man’s arm being melted off. Great stuff. I also, liked the fact that the encounter also caused Tony Stark to start doubting himself if he would be able to beat someone who has the power to melt metal. In addition, I also like that this issue also shows repercussions of the sabotaging, with the Congress informing Stark that he needs to get his act together.

For all the positives, the ending of this issue just doesn’t do it for me. It just seems incredibly anticlimactic to me. However, despite this flaw, Strange Tales #46 is still a fun read and features a great villain. Hopefully this trend continues on into the next issue as well.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Journey Into Mystery #98 (11/10/1963)

bbJourney Into Mystery #98 sees the fallout from Jane Foster leaving Dr. Blake’s practice in the last issue. Thus, this issue open up with Thor basically throwing a temper tantrum before being summoned by Odin for what really was a pointless encounter. After Dr. Blake decides that he needs to take a vacation, the scene shifts to India and the lab of Professor Shecktor, where he and his assistant about discover the antidote for a snake bite. Apparently, his assistant decides he wants to take credit for the discover himself and decides to get a cobra to bite him and the professor, but only he will be able to take the antidote in time. I’m not really sure why Klaus thought that such a discovery would be a big deal or why he needed such a complex plot.

Anyways, it turns out the snake was radioactive and thus that factor, combined with the antidote he took, causes him to gain the powers of a cobra. Unfortunately after this point the story falls completely apart, starting with Thor arriving to Professor Shecktor’s side, who he knows naturally, and he’s informed of Klaus’ deeds and that Klaus is basically a worthless con. However, flash forward to when Thor actually catches up to him and the Cobra has basically developed his own stingers, indestructible cord, and gas canisters. Not too bad for a worthless con.

Probably the biggest problem with this issue is that the Cobra just does not come off as ever being an actual threat to Thor. He’s just not in his league in anyway. In addition, another fault with this issue is that the resolution between Jane and Dr. Blake occurs way too fast and it occurs out-of-sight, which I can’t fathom why they did that. In addition, to the main story, there’s another short story featuring Tales from Asgard, which features Odin taking on Ymir, the frost giant. This story was entertaining for what it was, but it’s way too short to have too much depth to it. Still, Odin splitting a mountain is just badass.

In the end, Journey Into Mystery #97 is an entertaining read, with villain that feels out of place and a really poor ending. Also, I can’t tell, but it looks like the Cobra basically flies at one point. Maybe not, but that’s sure what it looks like, which doesn’t help things in regards to resolution of the conflict.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors:

Amazing Spider-Man #6 (11/10/1963)

detail.jpgAfter featuring a Fantastic Four villain in the last issue, Amazing Spider-Man #6 features the first appearance of another classic villain, the Lizard. This issue opens with basically the Daily Bugle goading Spider-Man into facing off against the mysterious Lizard who is terrorizing the Everglades. Of course the only problem is that the fact that Spider-Man is really Peter Parker it means that he is too broke to be able to get down to Florida. It’s little problems like this, which cannot be solved with super powers, that make Spider-Man such an interesting series. Eventually, Spider-Man is able to basically beat J. Jonah Jameson at his own game and got him to pay for Peter Parker to photograph the Lizard.

Upon arriving down in Florida it’s not long before Spider-Man runs into the Lizard and has his butt promptly handed to him. Luckily, the Lizard isn’t just some generic villain who just wants to take over the world. In fact, the Lizard actually has an interesting backstory, as he is actually Dr. Curt Connors, a former surgeon who took up studying reptiles after he had lost his arm in the war. Unfortunately, Dr. Connors gets caught up in his quest to regrow his arm and takes his untested formula, which at first causes him to grow his arm back, but then comes the side effect of turning him into the Lizard.

Overtime, Dr. Connors begins to lose his humanity and becomes more and more reptilian. The Lizard is definitely a credible physical threat to Spider-Man, with him being stronger than Spider-Man, with a naturally thick hide, and the ability to scale walls as well. However, in addition to that, the Lizard has that extra layer of essentially being a good guy that’s trapped inside of a monster, which just makes the character that much more interesting. In addition, Ditko’s depiction of the Lizard is just fantastic as well. There’s just something about Ditko’s art style that works really well with Spider-Man.

The plot is well-paced and the confrontations with the Lizard actually taking place over three different occurrences, which is a nice break from the one big confrontation that is so common with Silver Age issues. That’s not to say there aren’t some issues with the story, such as gator guards and Spider-Man pontoons, they’re just so minor that they really don’t detract from the overall story. In the end, Amazing Spider-Man #6 is a fantastic read, that adds yet another interesting rouge to Spider-Man’s gallery. In addition, this issue continues to lay the groundwork of the relationship between Betty Brant and Parker.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Steve Ditko
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Steve Ditko
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Tales to Astonish #48 (10/10/1963)

detail18.jpgI have to admit that I did not have a good feeling heading into Tales to Astonish #48 considering that it proclaims that Ant-Man and the Wasp are going to battle the Porcupine. Unfortunately my misgivings about this issue ended up being completely well-founded, because this issue features the lamest Ant-Man villain thus far, and keep in mind that there is a lot of strong competition for that title in this series.

This issue features Alex Geatry, who invents gear modeled after the porcupine, which basically means it has a bunch of tubes that shoot out an assortment of different things. Naturally, after inventing it he decides to become a criminal and actually names himself the Porcupine. Seriously? I am totally in awe at how dumb of a villain this is. First off there’s the issue of how he looks. Basically he looks like a guy in a gas mask wearing a tiki hut. Second, his power is basically being a giant blow dart gun. Ugh, just talking about this guy is making me irritated. Seriously, what an awful villain. Even his motivation is horrible. Sadly, I have a feeling he’s going to be showing up again.

In addition this issue also features to backup stories, which were pretty decent. The first story, Grayson’s Gorilla, features a man who desires to gain the strength of a gorilla. The second story, “The Little Green Man,” centers around a man who makes a deal with a green alien to make his plane travel faster.

Rating: 1.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky
  • Writers: Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Journey Into Mystery #97 (10/10/1963)

detailJourney into Mystery #97 starts off strongly enough, with Thor quickly leaping into action to rescue a pilot knocked out in a fighter jet. This opening was also helped out by Kirby’s fantastic artwork. However, things quickly shift gears as Dr. Don Blake’s mind quickly goes back to thinking about Jane Foster and telling her how to feel. Unfortunately, for Dr. Blake he is unable to do so due to Odin still forbidding it. Fair enough, so far, but things quickly get derailed in terms of plot when Jane decides that she is done waiting on Dr. Blake to tell her how he feels towards her and takes another job.

The problem with this is there has been no hints that she had any idea about how Dr. Blake felt about her, and in fact was concerned that he might not like her, so the idea that she already knows and was just waiting for him to say something really comes out of nowhere. It would have been nice if some seeds of this plotline had been planted a little earlier, because it really just comes off as jarring here. Eventually Thor catches wind of Lava Man coming to town, because there are a lot of volcanoes near New York City.

Unfortunately, Lava Man is really a one dimension character, simply trying to take over the surface because humans are weak, which is definitely a motivation that Lee has used more than one time for the below the surface dwellers. It is quickly revealed that Loki was the one responsible for bringing Lava Man to the surface. However, he initially did it just for his own amusement rather than to get revenge on Thor in particular, which was a nice touch and was really in line with what the character would do. Also, apparently there is a whole race of lava men under the ground, adding yet another civilization to an already crowded underground. Anyways, while the battle between Thor and Lava Man was entertaining enough, it was far to short and ended more on a whimper than a bang.

In addition, for whatever reason, they decided to divide the issue into two stories, which really means that there isn’t much page space to story development. The second issue does do an effect job telling the origins of Bor Burison, Buri, Odin and Ymir and introducing Surtur, and some other aspects of Norse mythology, all of which will start to gain greater importance as the series matures.

In the end, Journey into Mystery #97 is worth a read because it introduces some important Norse mythology aspects, as well as the interesting, but poorly executed tension between Jane and Dr. Blake. It’s too bad that Lava Man isn’t able to live up to his full potential.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: