April 9, 1963
- From time to time we've discussed how frequently and blatantly Stan & co. would recycle stories - sometimes as short as a single month apart! But this small, 13-page story really takes the cake for the number of elements it reused. First offender: the villain, Kala, Queen of the Netherworld. Except here, "netherworld" means "underground". Yup, Kala is a monarch who lives beneath the Earth, now determined to rise up and attack the surface world ... just like Tyrannus, and the Mole Man before him. It's no surprise that most of her (incredibly few) appearances after this would be in stories that involved all three.
- Recycled element two: Atlantis. "But wait!" you object. "With Namor, Atlantis is now an accepted part of the Marvel story; wouldn't this fall under 'developing an idea' rather than 'recycling plots'?" And you'd be right ... if this weren't astoundingly, bizarrely, a completely different Atlantis! Kala tells Tony Stark that at some point in Earth's past, her ancestors in the fabled paradise were menaced by enormous tidal waves, which eventually sank the domed city to the bottom of the ocean. Okay, fine; we can make the unstated connection ourselves and conjecture that this city later gave rise to Namor's race. At least until the next panel, when we're implausibly told that "each year, Atlantis sank more deeply into the earth until eventually, it reached the core of the globe, where it exists now as the Netherworld!" Um ... "core of the globe"? For the first time, scripter Robert Bernstein has pulled a boneheaded move worthy of some of Larry Lieber's.
- Okay, so stop me if you've heard this one before: This villainous dictator, bent on invasion and conquest, captures Tony Stark because of his reputation as a genius weapons designer. So they give him a bunch of metals and materials, lock him in a room, and tell him to design for them an incredibly powerful weapon ... but instead, he uses those raw materials to build a weapon for himself - a powered suit of armor made out of iron! Okay, I'll admit: The original idea is a compelling one, and one that could stand to be revisited every once in a great while ... but a mere four issues later?! (Oddly, this time he appears to have had gold paint on hand as well, and didn't have to free himself in a drab gray....)
Ah, but see? Maybe it's intentional! Thematically, each one of these duplicates
represents an existing Marvel story that's being copied in the current tale. No...?