Sunday, June 22, 2014

Marvels: Tales of Suspense #47

"Iron Man Battles the Melter!" by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko & Don Heck
(November 1963)

With the last few issues, Stan's really been trying to give Iron Man a decent shot at an arch-enemy. Jack Frost was a man who also invented a super suit. Crimson Dynamo was the Soviet version of Tony Stark. And here we're introduced to Bruno Horgan, a former competitor of Tony's. It seems that Horgan was ruined when Tony Stark exposed him to the Pentagon for doing substandard, cheap work on his military contracts. With nothing left, Horgan accidentally created a beam capable of dissolving iron, and has turned it into a power beam worn at the chest (much like Iron Man's power beam), and is now out for revenge as the Melter.

Corporate espionage is the other theme we return to. Last issue, the Crimson Dynamo was sabotaging Stark plants to make it look like Stark was a Soviet agent. This issue, the Melter is just sabotaging Stark plants out of revenge. And once again, Tony finds himself in front of a Congressional committee headed by Senator Harrington Byrd. Once again, his contracts are in danger of being cancelled. These moments are always some kind of dark night of the soul for Tony.

The final showdown occurs in one of Tony's factories, with the Melter unable to dissolve Iron Man's suit. Confused, he flees through the sewer system and escapes. It turns out Iron Man had built himself a suit made out of aluminum which, apparently, can't be melted? Plus, Senator Byrd demanded proof of the Melter, but Iron Man failed to apprehend him. But the end is treated as a victory.

I don't know, at least it's over.

Stray observations:

:: "Iron is the most important metal on Earth! By being able to melt it at will, I become the most powerful man in the world!!" I always immediately dislike these low-tier villains who think their new invention is the key to world domination. You know, being smart helps. You're basically a one-trick pony.

:: This is another issue where the story probably would have been resolved more easily if people knew that Tony Stark was Iron Man. Instead, he leaves the people who can help him--most obviously Happy and Pepper--in the dark, even about his life-threatening heart condition. Let people in, Tony. They just want to help. Keeping all the secrets to yourself, typical capitalist.

:: "Look, Joe! That was Tony Stark, the millionaire playboy, in that custom-built sports car, who just went by!" Got to love that naturalistic dialogue.

That car is definitely worthy of notice, though.

They're really trying with Iron Man, but the comic's just not there. Iron Man remains my least favorite of the Marvel heroes.

Next time: mutants on the White House lawn!

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