Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #54

Credits:

Cover Date: June 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“The Mandarin’s Revenge!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Iron Man travels back to “the Orient” to battle the Mandarin! And he loses!

 

Details:

  • Tony Stark is called in to the Pentagon because some missiles he sold them are failing.

  • Tony notices that the rockets are failing near the Mandarin’s base of operations, so he logically concludes that the villain is responsible. Soon, Iron Man is invading the Mandarin’s castle stronghold.

  • The two fight, and the Mandarin is impressed with Iron Man’s strength and bravery. He offers to team-up with Iron Man as allies, but Iron Man turns the villain down.

  • Eventually, Iron Man’s batteries start to wear down, and he is captured by the Mandarin. What will the villain do to our hero? We’ll find out…next issue!

Is It Good?

Yes, this was pretty good. I like that the Yellow Peril aspects of the Mandarin —- which are, admittedly, still present here —- are toned down here. With significantly less obvious racism, the Mandarin is much easier to enjoy seeing on the page. It helps that he is the only Iron Man villain to date that can overpower the hero.

I don’t like the idea of a Happy-Pepper-Tony love triangle, but it is nice to see Tony emoting about something that isn’t his chest plate.

Continuity:

  • The Mandarin last appeared in Tales of Suspense #50.
  • New corner cover box alert! And the cover date/issue number are near the corner box for the first time ever!

  • This issue *might* contain the first time anyone calls Iron Man “bullet-head.” I’m not going to go back and check, but I’m pretty sure about this.

  • Iron Man debuts a new helmet design in this issue. It’s…uglier, while still being very close to the original.

  • This is the first time Iron Man is referred to as Tony Stark’s bodyguard.

  • Roller skates! We have another appearance of Iron Man’s skates!

  • This is the first time Tony has displayed any sort of romantic interest in Pepper.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Get it? Women like to change their hair! Hilarious!

  • Also, that blurb reminds me…we haven’t seen anyone call Iron Man “shell-head” yet. “Bullet-head” is close, though.
  • If Iron Man is Tony Stark’s “bodyguard,” then why is Happy Hogan still employed? He was originally hired (in Tales of Suspense #45) as a chauffeur/bodyguard, but Tony doesn’t let Happy drive him anywhere, and now he has Iron Man to (ostensibly) guard him.

  • “Flexible” iron? Well, at least they didn’t insult their audience by coming up with a bullshit explanation about how that could possibly be.

  • “Modest Marvin?”

  • Apparently, you can view the curvature if the Earth from outside the Mandarin’s castle.

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