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:

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:

Tales of Suspense #46 (10/10/1963)

detailnnmTales to Suspense #46 is definitely a throwback to the Cold War Era. This issue opens up behind the Iron Curtain with Nikita Khrushchev walking in to see what the Soviet’s top scientist in electricity, Professor Anton Vanko, has been up to. Well, it turns out that Professor Vanko has been up to is creating a suit that can manipulate electrical components via what is admittedly a pretty badass suit, almost like a walking EMP. Naturally Khrushchev views this as a potential way of getting rid of Stark and Iron Man and setting the Americans back in the military technology. While effectively showing, versus just telling a villain’s powers, this intro also really highlights that this issue is a product of the ’60s, with Khrushchev really portrayed in a cowardly and deceitful light.

Eventually, the Crimson Dynamo makes his way the U.S. and begins to sabotaging Stark’s plants all across the United States, which begins to threaten Stark’s contracts with the U.S. government. This was by far the best part of the issue and I wish that more time had been spent developing this part of the story, such as having Stark actually trying to figure out what was happening and having to answer to Congress for what was going on. However, as is often the case in these early issues, the need to cram a whole story into one issue often causes the pacing to be way too fast.

In addition to pacing issues, the confrontation between Iron Man and the Crimson Dynamo was wholly unsatisfactory, as Iron Man comes off way too well prepared for having to never encountered this person before and the method used to stop the Crimson Dynamo was way to big of a stretch. Also, the ending was also pretty anti-climatic and really comes off as a propagandist piece.

In the end, Tales of Suspense #46 is a pretty solid issue that is dragged down a bit by Cold War propaganda, which leads to characters being boiled down to simplistic good and bad terms. Despite the flawed encounter, the Crimson Dynamo is definitely one of the better Iron Man villains up to this point.

Rating 3.5/5.0

Creators:

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

Tales of Suspense #45 (09/10/1963)

detailTales of Suspense #45 opens in an almost James Bond-like way, with Iron Man jetting along the highway on his rocket skates because he late to participate in a racing event as Tony Stark. I have to admit, I’m still not used to see Iron Man skating every where versus, you know, flying. Anyways, eventually Iron Man reaches Tony Stark’s car out in the middle of the woods for some reason and is off to the race track. Unfortunately, in the middle of the race Stark realizes that his battery is winding down on his life-saving chest plate, which causes him to crash his car somehow. Naturally, Stark the car then catches fire and is endanger of blowing up, Hollywood style.

Lucky for Stark, Happy Hogan was on the scene to yank him out of the car before it’s too late. Naturally, facing the dilemma of having to explain his chest plate to any medical responders, Stark offers to pay Hogan off to take him to his hotel room, no questions asked. While some people may have a problem with the plausibility of this part of the plot, this actually makes sense given Stark’s social economic class. Anyways, instead of accepting payment, Hogan is able to convince Stark to give him a job, and this where things get weird, because, really, a really long way of introducing the supporting character of Hogan, this part of the story really does not relate in away to the other part of the story.

Anyways, the story eventually picks back up at Stark’s lab, where we’re introduced to Pepper Potts, who at this time is pretty much a carbon copy of Jane Foster, which means that she, of course, has an unrequited love for her boss. Really, one thing that stands out to me at this point in the reading order is that Lee is an inability to write a strong and interesting female character. In addition to introducing the reader to Potts, the reader is also introduced to Professor Gregor Shapanka, who is caught trying to break into Stark’s vault and thus is fired and removed from the premises. Naturally, after a very oddly written interaction between Stark and Shapanka, he vows vengeance on Stark.

This of course leads to a bizarre origin sequence and the creation of Jack Frost, which makes no sense, but at least it ends with one of Iron Man’s better villains thus far. Jack Frost, aside from the horrible name, has interesting powers, which is basically a suit that allows him to produce and manipulate ice, as well as preventing aging, for some reason. From here on the story issue is pretty entertaining, paint-by-numbers affair, which includes another trapdoor. I seriously think Lee must have had some weird kind of fascination with trapdoors.

In the end, Tales of Suspense #45 is an average issue that is also worth checking for the first appearances of Potts and Hogan, who are two important supporting characters in the Iron Man series.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Don Heck
  • Writers: Stan Lee, Robert Bernstein
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: Stan Lee