Tuesday, October 11, 2011

153: Tales of Suspense #55

Tales of Suspense #55
April 9, 1964

  • And so concludes the Mandarin two-parter we left Iron Man in last time. Regrettably, it turns out that most of the interesting bits were in the story's setup in part one; this really is just an action piece by comparison. Iron man manages to break free of the Mandarin's trap (of course) and then they fight for a bit - with M using disintegrator rays, illusions, tractor beams and more. Really, the most notable point is at the climax, when Tony smashes all of the villain's equipment before he leaves - America's stolen missiles reclaimed - and the Mandarin, thwarted, swears ever-lasting vengeance. Finally we see the beginning of the Mandarin's obsession, and the first few steps on his road to becoming Iron Man's "big bad".

    I suppose this is comedy?

  • But wait, there's more! In addition to the 13-page feature story, this issue also boasts five pages of "insider info"! And this is significant, because it means that the 5-page filler stories in Tales of Suspense are no more; starting next month, Iron Man's page count will bump up to 18 pages! Well, at least for the next few issues, until the format of the magazine changes once again, and quite dramatically....

    Um ... now that we know Stark's aware of the chemistry
    between Happy & Pepper, this really is churlish behavior.

  • Unfortunately, the bonus feature this month is really just a lot of filler in its own right. The first page is just a splash, with a shot of Iron Man standing in front of various of his villains. This is followed by a two-page explanation of donning his armor - which would be more interesting if we hadn't already seen that very thing just a few issues ago. A one page "more info about" does actually give some better insights into the man and the machine, but the piece is then rounded off with a "Pepper Potts' Pin-up Page", showing nothing more than Potts posing for Happy Hogan on a beach. Unusually, the text itself acknowledges the change in her appearance: "When first introduced in "Tales of Suspense" Pepper had been a perky, pug-nosed, freckle-faced imp! But, after she realized how Tony Stark feels about glamorous females ... Pepper went to her beauty parlor and 'shot the works!' Today she's one of the most gorgeous females in comics or anywhere else!"

    Notes on the machine.
    (Click to enlarge.)

  • Meanwhile, the backup "Tales of the Watcher" is amusing. One day, while the Watcher is gazing at the Earth from his home on the moon (now identified as his temporary domicile, definitively clearing up a bit of confusion), a bug-eyed alien lands and explains his plan to steal the Earth's sun, needed to replace his homeworld's star which is now dying out. Aware of the Watcher's oath to not interfere, the alien happily answers all his incessant questions, knowing there's nothing the enigmatic being can do to stop him. As it turns out, however, the Watcher had realized that the alien had parked his craft on a bog (a bog?? On the moon??), and was delaying him just long enough for the ship to sink - taking with it the alien's sun-stealing apparatus, as well as all his communications. Desperate, the creature begs the Watcher for help, explaining that without his ship he can't call home for help, and will die when his limited air supply runs out - but the Watcher, unmercifully, reiterates that there's naught he can do ... but watch.

    The Watcher pulls a filibuster.