Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #55

Credits:

Cover Date: July 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“No One Escapes the Mandarin!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

“All About Iron Man”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Iron Man was captured by the Mandarin last issue. Will Iron Man be able to escape his evil clutches and return to America in one piece?

Details:

  • At the end of last issue, Iron Man has been captured by the Mandarin, and his armor had run out of power. Desperate, he tries to bluff the Mandarin for time, telling him that Tony Stark is somewhere in the building, sabotaging the Mandarin’s missiles.

  • The Mandarin leaves to hunt down Tony Stark, unaware that Stark is truly Iron Man! This gives Iron Man enough time for his backup generator to recharge the armor and get free of the Mandarin’s trap.

  • Now freed, Iron Man takes action to prevent the Mandarin from capturing another American missile.

  • In the process, Iron Man wrecks a bunch of Mandarin’s machines. This upsets the Mandarin.

  • The Mandarin doesn’t limit himself to using just his power rings to attack Iron Man. He uses machines to cast illusions…

  • …to keep Iron Man off-balance.

  • Ultimately, it only takes Iron Man a few moments to slip away from the Mandarin, sabotage his missile-tractor-beam-thingie and hitch a ride back to a US army base.

  • Upon his safe return to the United States, Tony again quietly longs for Pepper Potts, which again makes Happy Hogan jealous.

In “All About Iron Man”:

  • A few pages are spent answering reader FAQs and showing off Iron Man diagrams.

Is It Good?

It’s pretty good! The Mandarin is coming across as a legitimate foe, and not someone Iron Man can outwit in a few pages. I’m not a huge fan of Don Heck’s artwork normally —- he’s a solid storyteller, but his action scenes don’t thrill me —- but I like that his portrayal of the Mandarin doesn’t have exaggerated features, like Kirby’s cover version does.

I’m less thrilled with how Iron Man escaped. The Mandarin is ridiculously overpowered, and he relies on gadgets to fight Iron Man instead of his power rings. I don’t need him to use a disintegration ray all the time, but an explanation for why he doesn’t would be much appreciated!

We also see the Tony/Pepper/Happy love triangle continuing in this issue, and it’s just not working for me. I dislike Tony’s abrupt switch from completely ignoring Pepper to quietly pining for her, and I don’t like the dynamic between Happy and Pepper. This title needs a scene where Tony realizes something special about Pepper, something to explain why she’s suddenly important to him.  And an explanation for why Pepper likes the womanizing, workaholic Tony would be exceedingly welcome, too.

Continuity:

  • This story continues from Tales of Suspense #54.
  • Iron Man now has an electric generator in his armor. Presumably, this will lead to fewer crises where he needs to charge his armor to live.
  • This is the first time we’ve seen the Mandarin use his Disintegration Beam ring.
  • To date we’ve seen the Mandarin’s rings emit a Black Light Beam, Disintegration Beam, a Force/Impact Beam, a Paralysis Beam, and a Sound Beam. We’ve also seen him operate electronic devices with his rings, so that could be electric beams, a low-intensity Impact Beam, or an electric beam.
  • Here is the current layout of Iron Man’s armor and weapons:

  • We have Iron Man diagrams/cut-away views!

Comics Are Goofy:

  • How does the Mandarin know he’s smiling under that mask?

  • IF YOU HAVE A BACKUP GENERATOR, WHY DO YOU KEEP RUNNING OUT OF POWER???

  • Is Iron Man guest starring in a Looney Tunes cartoon?

  • It’s weird that Tony is breaking the Fourth Wall here, right?

  • This makes it sound like the only reason Tony isn’t in a committed relationship is because he feels like death is imminent, and he doesn’t want to cause his lover pain. This is significantly different that the reasons he’s given in the past, which all revolve around “I’ve got to wear this chest plate at all times and don’t want to have to explain things.”

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • The good news is that Don Heck doesn’t draw the Mandarin with exaggerated, racist features. The bad news is that Jack Kirby drew the cover, and hasn’t seen an Asian character he didn’t like to give oversized teeth.

  • Remember, ladies: if you have freckles or a “pug nose,” you just need to “shoot the works” at the beauty salon to be a valued member of society.

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