Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #52

Cover Date: April 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Crimson Dynamo Strikes Again!”

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Don Rico (credited as N. Korok)

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Russian agents Boris and the Black Widow are sent to America to kill Professor Vanko, the former Crimson Dynamo, and Tony Stark. But when the combined machinations of the two Russians proves too much for Iron Man, it is up to Vanko to save the day!

Details:

  • After Professor Vanko (AKA the Crimson Dynamo) defected to America and started working for Stark Industries, the Russian government was upset. The Black Widow and Boris are sent to America to get revenge.

  • While the Black Widow poses as a traveling socialite, susceptible to Tony Stark’s charms, Boris sneaks into Stark’s labs and captures Professor Vanko.
  • Wearing the Crimson Dynamo suit, Boris causes an explosion at Stark Industries. When Iron Man arrives to help manage the damage, Boris surprise-attacks him and takes Iron Man prisoner; Iron Man has thought that Vanko was in the Crimson Dynamo armor.

  • It doesn’t take long for Iron Man to recharge his armor and escape with Professor Vanko to challenge the Crimson Dynamo again. While Iron Man is more powerful than the Crimson Dynamo armor, Boris is able to hold his own.

  • Professor Vanko sacrifices his life to destroy Boris and the Crimson Dynamo armor.

  • The Black Widow escapes in the explosion, but does not return to Russia. She knows that the price for failure is death.

Is It Good?

It’s okay. Vanko’s story arc is a little too heavy-handed for my tastes, but it’s handled fairly well for this era, and that alone makes this a better-than-usual Iron Man story. I don’t like the Black Widow being a Mata Hari-type spy, though, and Boris was just a dumb cartoon character, so it wasn’t all good. It also seems weird that two scientists (Vanko and Professor Yinsen) have now sacrificed their lives for Tony Stark.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of “Natasha” Romanoff, the Black Widow (her last name is not given here). She did not exhibit any special abilities in this appearance; she is referred to as a “Mata Hari,” though, so it’s implied that she uses sex to steal secrets.

  • Iron Man carries a spare extension cord in his armor for emergency charging.

  • Iron Man’s suit is still not water-proofed. How this will electrocute him when falling in a lake did not (Tales of Suspense ##47), I don’t know.

  • This issue has Anton Vanko’s (AKA the Crimson Dynamo) death. His armor was also destroyed. He previously appeared in Tales of Suspense #46.
  • The Crimson Dynamo is the first superhero to die in Marvel’s Silver Age. There have been a few other heroic deaths (Professor Yinsen and Junior Juniper come immediately to mind), but this is the first costumed hero to die.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Thanks for the science lesson, Stan!

  • It is worth noting that, until this issue, Professor Anton Vanko’s lifelong passion was the study of electricity, not lasers.
  • What is it with Marvel scientists and recklessly experimenting on themselves?

  • So…is Vanko trying to build a laser-resistant suit, or is he trying to make a dangerous laser weapon? I don’t see why a laser that could blast through his Crimson Dynamo suit would be considered a failure. (The answer is “because the laser is so dangerous that it would kill the operator,” but they do a poor job explaining it here)

  • I don’t care who the government leader is —- if you lifted their desk up like this, you would get shot in the face by some guards.

  • Any time Stan Lee wants to give Happy or Pepper some actual character development, that would be fine with me. I’m getting tired of them being one-note sitcom characters.

  • What is that supposed to mean, Tony? Are you a werewolf?

  • That is some mighty fine pseudoscience right there.

  • Um…actually, you took away the charge from Iron Man’s transistors. Giving him electricity should not stop him.

  • She introduced herself as Boris’ sister, Iron Man. Of course she’s working with him.

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