Tales of Suspense (Vol. 1) #69

Credits:

Cover Date: September 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Don Heck, Mike Esposito

“If I Must Die, Let It Be With Honor!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Don Heck

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Vince Colletta

“Midnight in Greymoor Castle!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby (layouts), Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

Has Iron Man met his match with the Titanium Man?

Will Captain America and Bucky be shrunk down to doll size by a traitorous scientist?

Maybe?

Details:

In the Iron Man feature:

  • Comrade Bullski, a cruel mid-level Soviet officer, aspires to power. He decides to have some scientists at a work camp design special armor for him, so he can defeat Iron Man.

  • With his new armor, Bullski becomes Titanium Man! His armor is significantly larger and heavier than Iron Man’s, both to house Bullski’s bulk and because the enslaved scientists could not miniaturize as well as Stark Industries can. Titanium Man also has a disintegrator beam equipped in the armor.

  • Titanium Man then issues a challenge to Iron Man, care of Stark Industries.

  • Despite concerns over his occasionally malfunctioning chest plate, Iron Man accepts the challenge — for the pride of America, and to keep Senator Byrd from harassing him. They will battle in the Central European nation of Alberia, to a large crowd; the fight will be televised around the world.
  • When it comes time for the battle, it appears as though it will be a fair fight. Titanium Man appears to be stronger, but Iron Man is much quicker. However, Titanium Man has several booby traps set up in their battlefield. He forces the unsuspecting hero into a minefield and…to be continued!

In the Captain America back-up feature:

  • A British scientist working with the Nazis, Dr. Rawlings, has devised a way to use radiation to shrink plastic models of Captain America and Bucky! He plans to use this on the heroes whenever the Red Skull manages to capture the heroes.

  • To draw Cap and Bucky into a trap, some Nazis sabotage the military base where Steve Rogers and Bucky happen to be staying. As luck would have it, though, Steve was out on a mission when the saboteurs struck, so Bucky tried to hunt them down alone. It didn’t go well.

  • Steve’s mission took him to a Nazi communication hub, where he found a telegram reporting Bucky’s capture. Steve immediately abandons the mission to save his partner.

  • That may prove costly, though, because it appears that Steve’s task force is about to be cornered by Nazi reinforcements.

  • As Captain America rushes to save Bucky, the teenage sidekick is being subjected to Dr. Rawlings’ shrink rays.

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

No, it’s not good. We’ve already seen this plot before for Iron Man —- it’s very similar to the Crimson Dynamo’s first appearance, but with additional unnecessary male bravado. The Cap story focuses too much on Cap’s civilian identity (without actually building his character at all), and winds up being the first part of a larger science fiction story.

The artwork is only okay in this issue. Don Heck doesn’t surprise, but he can tell a story and there’s something appealing about his fairly unembellished Titanium Man design. I do not particularly like Dick Ayers working off of Kirby layouts in the Cap story, though. I’m not a huge fan of Ayers’ pencils, but he knows how to tell a simple story. Following Kirby’s layouts forces him to draw some goofy action scenes, and that’s not his strong point.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Boris Bullski, the Titanium Man. He has armor similar to Iron Man’s in concept, but it is much heavier and bulkier because the Soviets cannot create transistors as small as Tony Stark can. Titanium Man has a disintegrator beam equipped in his armor.
  • This is the first appearance of Countess Stephanie de la Spiroza. She has sworn to avenge her pride when Tony Stark denied her advances. But how will she do it?

  • Tony is still pining after Pepper Potts, but refuses to share his feelings due to something something his heart condition.

  • Pepper still has the hots for Tony, and Happy has a crush on Pepper. Happy and Pepper are going on occasional dates, but I guess they aren’t serious enough to defuse their love triangle.

  • Iron Man, once again, charges his armor…dramatically!

  • This is the first appearance of Dr. Cedric Rawlings and Celia Rawlings. Apparently embittered by the loss of his left hand in a past scientific experiment (no thanks to his sister, Celia), this British lord has decided to aid the Nazis in World War II.

  • This is also the first appearance of Major Uberhart, the Nazi officer tasked as a liaison between the Red Skull and Dr. Rawlings. How he gets in and out of England while dressed in full Nazi gear, I don’t know.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Stan Lee loves to make Commies unsympathetic.

  • I like the idea of a little-known soldier sending an obnoxious challenge to a famous superhero by sending every newspaper everywhere a notice. I also like Tony’s pause as he instructs Pepper to open the telegram…and read it!

  • Yes, America will lose face when a private citizen refuses to get into a pissing match with an unknown Russian nobody. Good point, Pepper.

  • This sort of motivation is absolutely foreign to me.

  • Pulling an all-nighter < the average person’s average work week. Stop fetishizing billionaires, Stan.

  • Science fact: there is no significant scientific difference between humans and plastic.

  • It’s one thing to take a teenager to fight enemies too dangerous for regular soldiers. It’s something else entirely to let that teen fight in a war. Apparently.

  • I thought the whole schtick with Steve Rogers in WWII was that he pretended to be a bumbling buffoon. How is he on a “crack ranger task force”?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s