Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #44

Credits:

Cover Date: August 1963

“Iron Man Faces the Menace of the Mad Pharaoh!”

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Robert Bernstein (credited as R. Berns)

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

Tony Stark is visiting Egypt to assist a friend with his archaeological dig. Together, they discover the tomb of King Hatap, the Mad Pharaoh. However, the Pharaoh’s mummy quickly vanished from the site — because King Hatap is not dead!

Hatap uses his black magic to transport Tony Stark and himself back into the distant past, so he can usurp Cleopatra’s throne. Hatap has sole control over a device that can transport Tony back to the future; will Tony (and Iron Man) help the Mad Pharaoh change history, or will he fight with Cleopatra and risk returning to his proper time?

Is It Good?

There are plot devices that don’t lend themselves particularly well to Iron Man stories. Time travel and magic are two of the big ones. This is not a good issue.

Sub-Plots:

  • Tony still needs to change his pacemaker/chest plate pretty regularly.

  • The Mad Pharaoh did not die in battle against Cleopatra’s forces. He took a potion that placed him in suspended animation for 2000 years.

  • Hatap quickly learns that Tony Stark is a weapons genius, so he forces Tony to travel back into the past with him. Tony is more incredulous with the situation than you might think.

  • Once in the past, Tony changes into his Iron Man armor and pledges himself to Cleopatra’s side.

  • Naturally, Iron Man defeats the Mad Pharaoh and returns to the present day.

Continuity:

  • Iron Man changed the timestream.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • In case you are wondering, there was not a historical Pharaoh Hatap. Rome didn’t battle Cleopatra until she wed Mark Anthony, and was generally sympathetic to her claims to the Egyptian throne.
  • Why would anyone ask this? And if you’re going to ask about legendary beauty, shouldn’t it be Helen of Troy?

  • Yes, Iron Man is coincidentally in the exact country I need him to be in at any given time. No need to be suspicious!

  • I am definitely looking forward to the “Iron Man is Stark’s bodyguard” era, because this casual friendship between Iron Man and Stark makes for some dumb story moments.
  • I don’t think palm-sized drills would work quite like this, but if that’s what I have to put up with to take to bask in the hilarity of Iron Man wearing goggles over his helmet, so be it.

  • Hatap put himself in suspended animation for 2000 years. His plan was…um…to wake up in the future, and then travel back in time to face his enemies in battle again? And not take any future weapons with you? And definitely don’t bring a new army? I think it’s fair to question Hatap’s military prowess.
  • Hatap wakes from his 2000 year slumber and quickly learns English and correctly estimates the value of Tony Stark as a creator. Stan Lee is not above random mind-melds or witchcraft to explain things, so it feels weird that he expects readers to accept this nonsense at face value.
  • I like that Iron Man takes a side in this historical battle with no regard to changing history.

  • Iron Man earlier in this issue was well aware of how frequently we needed to charge his pacemaker. Iron Man, faced with the possibility of being trapped in the past long before electricity was easily harnessed: “That’s cool because Cleopatra is hot.”

  • To be fair, Hatap, your underling only has your word that you have been in the future. To him, it probably looks like you only took a few weeks off.

  • Imagine how much more they would have been impressed if Iron Man has done literally anything cooler than adding roller skate wheels to his armor. I don’t buy that Iron Man can skate across a sandy desert.

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