Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #56

Credits:

Cover Date: August 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“The Uncanny Unicorn”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Tony Stark tries to shirk his duty as Iron Man, only for his friends to pay the price. In this issue, he battles the Soviet agent known as…the Unicorn!

Details:

  • Iron Man is throwing himself a little pity party.

  • Frustrated by his medical condition and despairing for his future, Tony decides to give up super-heroics and to live the rest of his life to the fullest.

  • His first action is to find a date to have fun with. This upsets Pepper.

  • While Tony is out being selfish, a new villain called the Unicorn attacks one of Stark’s industrial plants. Happy tried to handle it himself…

  • …but it doesn’t go well. The Unicorn hurts Happy badly with an energy blast. The villain then kidnaps Pepper.

  • When someone finally finds Tony and tells him the news, he abruptly cancels his date and rushes to the hospital to see Happy.
  • After the hospital, Tony reflects on his true feelings for Pepper.

  • As Iron Man, Tony tracks down the Unicorn. He begins to fight the villain, but they appear to be evenly matched. Iron Man manages to stun the Unicorn, and he takes that opportunity to quit the fight and take Pepper to safety.

  • But is anywhere really safe? The Unicorn announces that he has set up a time bomb somewhere in the factory, and it will explode in 15 minutes…unless Iron Man surrenders and returns to Russia as a prisoner!

  • Unable to defeat the Unicorn quickly or locate the bomb, Iron Man agrees to surrender, in exchange for the bomb being deactivated.

  • Iron Man follows his promise to the letter, if not the spirit. As soon as he boards the Unicorn’s Soviet plane, he depressurizes it and causes it to crash.

  • The Unicorn manages to escape in the ensuing chaos, but all’s well that ends well because Happy Hogan is finally on the mend.

Is It Good?

No, it’s not. Tony is whining throughout the issue, and he is the least sympathetic hero in the Marvel Universe when he whines. The last few issues have had him silently crushing on Pepper Potts, but when he decides to go on a romantic date in this issue, he doesn’t even think about her…until later in the issue, when he’s wracked with guilt. That certainly doesn’t make me want them to get together! It doesn’t help that the Unicorn is A) hilariously named for being a Soviet agent B) a Crimson Dynamo knockoff and C) stupid-looking.

Continuity:

  • Remember when the Avengers were mad at Iron Man for blowing them off (in Avengers #7)? This is why.

  • This is the first appearance of the Unicorn. He is a Soviet agent, whose costume was designed by a pre-defection Crimson Dynamo. He wears a special helmet and harness that allows him to lift objects, establish a force field, and/or shoot destructive energy from his helmet’s “horn.” His suit also has jet packs for flying.

  • The Crimson Dynamo appears in a flashback.  His last appearance (and death) was in Tales of Suspense #52.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It’s nice that, after pining for Pepper for the past few issues, Tony immediately forgets about her when he wants to find a date.  Making her hand him his little black book is a nice touch, too.  Tony Stark is a jerk.

  • Continuity, Exhibit A: the Avengers kind of shrug off the fact that Iron Man doesn’t answer their phone calls. After all, they all have lives to lead.

  • Continuity, Exhibit B: in Avengers #7, which has the same August 1964 cover Date as this issue, the Avengers think Iron Man missing their phone calls is a BIG DEAL.

  • The reason the Avengers were calling Iron Man was to give him a lead on a bad guy that needed to be handled.  He never answers their call, so they all shrug and go their separate ways?!?  That’s not how delegation (or super-heroics) work, Avengers!
  • I don’t see how this will help Iron Man track down the Unicorn, unless the villain is either covered in semen, or else is really high and wants to show off his velvet wall poster.

  • Reverser ray? That is some generic bullshit right there.

  • Also, in case you are wondering, Iron Man’s armor can tear and look like clothes because the yellow arms and legs are a form of chain mail.
  • “And by “your,” I of course mean the Royal “Your,” because I certainly don’t know that you are secretly the owner and inventor of these things!” *Phew.* Saved it.

<<<Tales of Suspense #55

>>>Tales of Suspense #57

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