Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #48

Credits:

Cover Date: December 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“The Mysterious Mr. Doll!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

Some wealthy industrialists have recently signed all their wealth away to a mysterious Mr. Doll. This villain compelled them to give up their money with the help of a voodoo doll; if he would torture his targets by harming the doll. This tactic even worked against Iron Man! Now, Mr. Doll is targeting Tony Stark’s fortune. How can Iron Man defeat someone with mystical powers?

Is It Good?

It’s okay.  Mr. Doll is another dumb villain — did we really need a low-rent Puppet Master? — but having Tony finally wise up and design some armor that doesn’t need to recharge all the time was much appreciated.  Tony’s insensitive treatment of Pepper’s feelings also helps flesh out his character a bit more; I get the impression that Stan Lee was oblivious to what a jerk he made Tony look like in this issue, so this will probably just be subtext until a later writer decides to pick up on it.

Sub-Plots:

  • When Iron Man first confronts Mr. Doll, the villain quickly re-sculpts his doll to look like Iron Man. When he squeezes the doll’s head, Iron Man feels an intense pain!

  • Iron Man is defeated by Mr. Doll, but he managed to escape by falling off a cliff. However, Tony’s chest plate ran low on power (again!) and he nearly died before he could recharge.

  • Tony finally realizes that having to recharge so often is a problem, and he briefly considers quitting the superhero game before doubling down and making new armor.

  • Ultimately, Tony uses his inventiveness to create a device that turned Mr. Doll’s doll against him.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Mr. Doll. He has a malleable doll that, if he can change the face to match his target, he can manipulate to cause his target pain. It’s like a cross between a clay sculpture and a voodoo doll, I guess. He can sculpt faces in a few seconds.

  • This is the first time Tony’s company is named: Stark Industries.
  • Remember when Iron Man’s armor rusted after getting wet (Avengers #2, cover dated November 1963)? That is not a problem here, even though Iron Man fell in the ocean.
  • We have new Iron Man armor! By my count this is armor number three (the original armor —- which was later painted gold —- the aluminum armor used to defeat the Melter, and now this).

  • Iron Man’s new armor is lighter and sleeker, but just as strong as his old armor.

  • One of the main features of the new armor is how it assembles through magnetism.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • The same month the Human Top debuted, we are also blessed with Mr. Doll and his hilarious headgear! It looks like his head got stuck in a piñata, or maybe he’s off to cosplay Skyrim.

  • I like to think that Mr. Doll is concealing his identity behind his speech bubble, and this isn’t just poor writing/word balloon placement.

  • Just how expressive does Iron Man think his eyes are?

  • The (unusually competent) police send an officer to keep Tony Stark under close guard. To slip away from the guard, Tony pretends that he wants some romantic alone time with Pepper, but doesn’t let her know that it’s a trick. Tony Stark is a jerk.

  • Iron Man defeats Mr. Doll by creating a ray that can sculpt Mr. Doll’s voodoo doll remotely. I very much want a detailed scientific explanation for how this works.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Happy’s “Women are inscrutable” bit makes my eyes roll, but Tony’s statement is just obnoxious. He absolutely knows why Pepper is pissed off, and yet he’s acting like she’s being unreasonable. Not only that, but he places Pepper in “a class by herself” with regards to being volatile and needlessly emotional! Tony, you are an asshole.

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