Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #51


Cover Date: March 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Sinister Scarecrow”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

The Scarecrow wants to prove that he has what it takes to be a master thief, so he targets Tony Stark. Will Iron Man be able to stop the villain from selling weapons secrets to the Cubans?


  • When Iron Man spots a vaudeville show being robbed, he chases the thief into the theatre. There, a performing contortionist decides to step in and help catch the criminal! However, instead of being pleased with the extra attention, he takes this as a sign to become a criminal.

  • The contortionist stole a costume and some trained crows to become the Scarecrow! With his contortionist skills and lock-picking abilities, he decides to be a master thief. His first target? Tony Stark!

  • The Scarecrow managed to escape with some of Stark’s top secret transistor blueprints. His plan is to sell them back to Tony Stark —- but this time, Stark plans for Iron Man to surprise him!

  • As it turns out, the Scarecrow’s real plan was to take Stark’s money and then sell the blueprints to the Communists. Iron Man shows up, sinks the Cuban boat, and recovers the blueprints.

  • Unfortunately, the Scarecrow managed to escape, by having his crows tow him to Cuba.

Is It Good?

Not really. There are some key plot moments that don’t make much logical sense, and the Scarecrow’s use of birds has no basis in reality. It’s not awful, but the characters aren’t likable enough to make up for the sloppy storytelling.

What really bothers me, though, is the Tony/Pepper/Happy love triangle (if you can call it that) going on in this title. I can’t tell if Tony is being nice —- and is oblivious to Pepper’s distaste for Happy —- or if he is doing these things on purpose to annoy Pepper. Either way, it is making all three characters less likable. Pepper is turning into a shrew, Happy is is now a dumb-guy punchline, and Tony is…curiously unaffected. If Tony was doing this for a laugh, at least the writers would be developing his character. If he was trying to hook up a couple of lonely hearts, he might be sweet (or condescending). I just have no idea what the writers want readers to think about Tony in these scenes.


  • This is the first appearance of the Scarecrow. He is a master contortionist, as well as an escape artist and lock-pick specialist. He also had trained crows that obey his commands.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I really like that the Uncanny Umberto witnessed a criminal being captured, and concluded “Crime DOES pay!”
  • Post-makeover Pepper is much pettier than she used to be.

  • The Scarecrow jumped out of a building, and used three birds to break his fall? That sounds plausible.

  • Iron Man recovers the blueprints by triggering a hidden magnetic device he planted in the suitcase before giving it to the Scarecrow. Here’s the thing, though: the suitcase was supposed to be filled with Tony’s cash, since he was buying the blueprints back from the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow went from his meeting with Tony directly to the ocean; did he stow the cash, even though he was trying to defect to Cuba? Why did he reuse the suitcase at all? Was the cash in the briefcase with the blueprints? If yes, why?
  • Crow towing is not a real thing.

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