Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #68

Credits:

Cover Date: August 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Frank Giacoia

“If a Man Be Mad!”

Plotters: Al Hartley, Don Heck

Scripter: Al Hartley

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Mike Esposito (credited as Mickey Demeo)

“The Sentinel and the Spy!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Frank Giacoia (credited as Frank Ray)

What’s Going On?

Tony Stark is seeing space aliens that aren’t there…or are they?!?

Back in WWII, Captain America has to prevent the Red Skull from obtaining a dangerous weapon.

Details:

In the Iron Man story:

  • In Europe, Tony Stark’s no-Good cousin, Morgan, has gotten into gambling debt with Count Nefaria. The villainous Nefaria offers Morgan a way to clear his debt —- all he has to do is sabotage his cousin!

  • Morgan travels to America and begins his mission to sabotage Tony. The plan is to use Count Nefaria’s Visio-Projector to create outlandish 3D images that attract Tony’s attention; whenever Tony tries to investigate, or get someone else to notice, the images, Morgan makes the image disappear. He is trying to discredit Tony and get him to question his sanity.

  • Morgan repeats this plan a few times, until the police, the press, the military, and Tony himself suspect that he is having mental problems.

  • Morgan outdoes himself, though. Hoping to confound Iron Man as he investigates the area where Tony last saw one of the mysterious images, Morgan draws Iron Man’s attention to the distance…

  • …but instead of sending Iron Man on a wild goose chase, Morgan inadvertently guided the hero to a real-life alien invasion!

  • Iron Man battles the invaders and drives them back to their spacecraft. During the fight, Morgan Stark stumbles into the battlefield and is saved by Iron Man, before the aliens escape.

  • The police arrive soon afterward, and Morgan is forced to admit that he witnessed Iron Man fighting off the aliens. They believe Morgan, and Tony’s reputation is restored.

  • To reward his cousin, Tony gives him a bunch of money and sends him back to Europe…where a very displeased Count Nefaria is waiting for him.

In the Captain America story:

  • Picking up from last issue, a brainwashed Captain America was struggling to disobey a Nazi order to shoot an Allied General. When a Nazi tries to force Cap into shooting, though, the hero snaps out of it and begins fighting back. An undercover Bucky is happy to assist.

  • Captain America is quickly cleared of any blame.

  • Later, another of the Red Skull’s plans is taking effect. He sent an agent into an Allied prison camp, with instructions to find and steal Project Vanish.

  • The agent escaped the prison while Cap (in his civilian guise) was on duty, so he and Bucky investigate. They soon learn that the agent was successful —- he has found Project Vanish, and is ready to use the weapon!

  • After a bit of fighting, Cap tricks the Nazi agent into switching the experimental weapon to full-power mode. This proves to be too much for the device, and it explodes. The end.

Is It Good?

No, it’s not. The Iron Man story is bad in a variety of ways —- logic, artwork, consistent plotting —- and the Captain America story seems to end a promising serial story short, in order to tell a much less interesting tale.

I can’t be the only person surprised and disappointed that Stan & Jack wrapped up last issue’s cliffhanger ending with two quick pages. It’s not that I have a problem with the end result —- Cap was never going to remain under Red Skull’s sway for long —- it just seems odd that they set up this “Cap is brainwashed” plot for two issues, and then end it so abruptly.

The Iron Man story, though…woof, that’s a bad one. Iron Man looks like a fool for spotting spaceships; it is worth pointing out that there have been at least 6 alien races shown in the Marvel Universe at this point, and one of them (the Infant Terrible) even terrorized New York City. I don’t get why people immediately dismiss Stark as a crackpot. And Tony should know that there are illusionists in the Marvel Universe, since he saw Count Nefaria cast 3D images in his first appearance! That plot was already dumb to begin with, but adding on the coincidence of accidentally stumbling upon actual aliens when investigating fake aliens was absolutely ridiculous. It’s just a bad story, all around.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Morgan Stark, Tony’s cousin. Morgan is unemployed and lives a luxurious lifestyle, albeit one that occasionally requires him to beg Tony for more money.
  • This is the first appearance of the Froma alien race. They are large, green, brutish-looking humanoids that apparently live on Earth’s moon. They have cheese-themed names.

  • Count Nefaria is no longer calling himself Dream Master, and he has reverted to his original appearance. The Dream Master persona lasted just one appearance.
  • Senator Harrington Byrd last appeared in Tales of Suspense #66. He is still intent on forcing Stark Industries out of their military contracts.

  • Iron Man needs to charge his armor again.

  • Count Nefaria’s Visio-Projector —- a device capable of projecting realistic 3D images —- appears to be based on the same technology he used in Avengers #13.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • If this spaceship is just an illusion from the Visio-Projector, how is Iron Man able to climb inside it? I admire the writer’s ability to completely dismiss this, but wow, is it a very basic plot mistake.

  • Get it? Edam? Gouda? Moonbeams? The aliens are cheese-themed as a reference to the notion of the moon being made of cheese.

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