Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #45

Credits:

Cover Date: September 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck

“The Icy Fingers of Jack Frost!”

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Robert Bernstein (credited as R. Berns)

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

 

What’s Going On?

Iron Man thwarted a Stark employee’s attempt at stealing the secrets of Tony Stark’s transistor technology. Tony Stark chose not to press charges against the employee, Professor Shapanka. The Professor was not grateful for this break. Instead, he decided to weaponize a cryogenics project he was working on, and take his revenge on Tony Stark and Iron Man.

Is It Good?

Yes and no. This issue thankfully introduces a supporting cast to the book, so I hope we will have fewer generic plots going forward. The story is pretty dull, though. On the bright side, Don Heck’s art looks unusually good in this issue. Heck is known for his “house style,” but there were some panels where his finishes were highly detailed, which was an unexpected (and nice) change of pace.

Sub-Plots:

  • While in a car race, Stark wrecked his vehicle because his chest plate needed to be charged. Harry “Happy” Hogan was in the crowd and pulled Stark from the wreckage.
  • Hogan refuses large one-time payments as a reward for his good deed. Instead, he accepts a chauffeur/bodyguard position for Stark.

  • Pepper Potts is in love with Tony Stark, but is largely ignored by him. Happy is instantly attracted to Pepper, and lets her know it; she does not reciprocate.

  • Professor Shapanka builds a suit that will help give him long life, and also project freezing cold on others, as he sees fit.

  • Shapanka, nicknamed “Jack Frost” by the media, tries to destroy Tony Stark’s factory and inventions, but is stopped when Iron Man uses a heat ray against him.

Continuity:

  • Tony’s chest plate needed another recharge.

  • This is the first appearance of Happy Hogan, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, and Jack Frost (Gregor Shapanka).
  • Per Brian Cronin, Don Heck modeled Pepper Potts’ appearance after actress Ann B. Davis.
  • We get a page of Iron Man taking inventory of his armor’s parts. I thought the chain mail was an interesting detail; it shows how far this is from the “classic” Iron Man armor.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Jet-powered skates will never cease to amuse me.

  • Tony had Happy Hogan drive him to his hotel instead of the hospital, and then instructed Happy to leave him alone in his hotel room. Five minutes later, Tony has recharged his chest plate and appears healthy again. How does no one in this comic suspect that Tony is a junkie?

  • Also, it only takes five minutes to charge Tony’s chest plate? How has this genius not developed a battery for it by now?
  • Professor Shapanka works for Tony Stark, is well-regarded by Stark, and yet decides to steal Stark’s transistor technology to fund his experiments in cryogenics. Why doesn’t he just try to interest Stark in his theories?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Nothing dates a comic like a pop culture reference. It seems weird that Happy uses “Kildare” as a synonym for “doctor,” though, doesn’t it?

Behind the Scenes:

  • The Marvel Wikia listed Kirby, Ditko, and Heck as the cover Artists for this issue. That seemed odd to me, so I checked a few other sites, and found this information on the GCD: the background pencils and inks are tentatively identified as coming from Steve Ditko (pencils) and Don Heck (inks), but Iron Man was cut-and-pasted from an earlier Jack Kirby issue. Compare Iron Man on this cover…

…to the Iron Man from the splash page of Tales of Suspense #43.

Does this count as an art swipe? I don’t think so…swipes usually involve masking that the art is from someone else, and the only changes I can see are coloring and the addition of Jack Frost’s cold ray. I’m guessing that Stan Lee didn’t like Ditko’s Iron Man cover at the last minute and had someone cover it with Kirby’s work on the fly.  It seems bizarre now to think that any of Kirby or Ditko’s art was seen as substandard by anyone, much less Stan Lee!

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