Tales of Suspense Issue 40, Photo Credit: Marvel, Writers: Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein, Artist: Jack Kirby

The second appearance of Tony Stark as Iron Man further expands on what he is capable of while also giving him a new challenge.

At the start of the issue we are shown Tony leading a triple life. His first life is as a man of science who is not only honored for his accomplishments in Micro-transistor research but also is vital to stopping communists from taking over America. How is he going to stop them? With the invention of super fast roller skates. Yep, that’s his big innovation in this issue for the army. These skates can allow each soldier to travel at up to 60 miles per hour. The General presented with this invention is pretty excited though. He realizes these skates mean they can move troops without trucks this way and calls Stark a genius. While the Iron Man we know from the MCU would quickly agree with that statement, the Anthony Stark presented here is a lot more humble. He says, “No General… just a scientist who realizes that the boundaries of science are infinite…”

Stark’s second life is more in line with the MCU as he is shown to be a millionaire playboy whom women adore. We see him on a date but he makes excuses to leave as soon as his date suggests a swim. Tony can’t take his shirt off in public because he has to constantly wear an iron chest plate which sustains his heart. Basically, Iron Man is the first character who needs an electronic pacemaker. A bit of an exaggerated one, but that’s basically what this is. This really does make Anthony Stark stand out because he is one of the first heroes who might be described as having a disability of some sort. It’s not kryptonite that can kill Anthony, it’s basic biology, just like the rest of us. We do get this amazing line of narration here, “Tony Stark has left the party for a most unusual date with… an electric cord!

After charging himself up, we see Stark has been busy since we last saw him. He takes on his identity as Iron Man and we see that in the past he has stopped gangsters and madmen of science who seek to rule mankind. We only get a few panels to show all of this action but it’s surprising how quickly Stark is established as a hero.

While on a date at a circus, the animals in the circus break loose and cause havoc. Thinking quickly, Tony tells his date Marion to head out of the area while he goes to phone the police riot squad. He has a suitcase with an x-ray proof secret compartment that holds his collapsed Iron Man suit. He throws it on so he can save the day. As he goes through the crowd, people comment on how terrifying his appearance is. After using a few gadgets in his suit to subdue but not injure the animals, Tony realizes he needs to redesign his suit. He doesn’t want women and children to be frightened of him.

Tony returns to his date who mentions the ugliness of the Iron Man suit and suggests a modern day knight in shining armor would wear gold metal instead of dull grey armor. Sure enough, Anthony Stark paints his suit with untarnishable gold paint.

The next week Tony is set to pick up his date from the airport only to find out the Granville airport she should have travelled from was shut down three days ago. Apparently Tony is too busy being a hero to listen to the news and he hasn’t gotten around to inventing the cell phone just yet. Regardless, the town seems to be cut off from the world. Literally cut off. As in, a whole wall was built around the city and no one can get in or out. So, of course, Iron Man heads over there.

While the wall is formidable, Iron Man just digs under it. As soon as he digs up into the city he is told the town can’t answer why the wall is there by order of someone named Gargantus. If they disobey him, they die. The crowd is so worried about Gargantus they even start attacking Iron Man. The crowd is so frenzied they erect a statue of Gargantus and start bowing before it. Tony notes how the statue looks like a Neanderthal yet people are worshipping whoever this is. To solve the problem, Tony tosses a ten ton truck into the statue but the crowd still seems to be bowing to it even after it is smashed. It seems the whole town has been hypnotized. This is definitely not the first Marvel 616 story where a whole town is hypnotized and it’s far from the last. In comics at the time, hypnotizing the public gave the writers the freedom to have crowds do whatever they wanted to slow a hero down.

Iron Man basically challenges Gargantus to a street brawl in front of the crowd. Gargantus shows up and Tony tosses a few high powered magnets around Gargantus. Turns out Gargantus was a robot the whole time.

Not only that but Gargantus was being controlled by a spaceship hiding in a dark cloud. Iron Man again hurls magnets in the direction of the ship and the aliens scurry off, realizing they are no match for the Iron Men of Earth.

It’s only Iron Man’s second appearance and he’s already driven off aliens. Basically, all Marvel heroes in the 616 universe have done that at this point, with the exception of Spider-Man. Spidey will, of course, have his chance but not just yet.

Next up on the reading list we will be checking in with the Norse God of Thunder himself, Thor in Journey Into Mystery #92!

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