Sunday, August 10, 2014

Marvels: Tales of Suspense #49

"The New Iron Man Meets the Angel!" by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko & Paul Reinman
(January 1964)

These panels up here are about all you're going to get in the way of subtle plot machinations. It's like no one really cares what happens in this story, and it's so bad and perfunctorily written, that you shouldn't, either.

How's this for story? Stark Industries is performing an atomic bomb test right there at their facility in the middle of New York. Angel happens to be flying by, and Iron Man tries to stop him from getting too close to the explosion. The entire Eastern seaboard is too close to the explosion, Tony! Iron Man's armor shields him from the effects of the atomic blast, but Angel gets caught up in it and instead of, I don't know, dying instantly or dealing with his flesh sloughing off his body, he... turns evil!


So he goes back to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and tells them all to shove it because he's joining up with these Evil Mutants we keep hearing about, and then Iron Man decides to fight Angel, and that's all that happens here. It's mostly just to show off Iron Man's new suit some more and throw in some of its various capabilities, and also to try and get Iron Man fans to read X-Men. There's a general tone here that if Angel is evil, we should all be terrified, but guys... he's the Angel. His whole power is that he has wings. That is literally it. And while, only two issues in, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby have been very creative in finding ways to use them to fight enemies, all it should really take for Iron Man to take this knucklehead out is a well-timed energy beam. Angel doesn't have super-strength, and he's not exactly a genius, he's just a handsome rich kid with wings, end of story. Put up a window and see if he flies into it, but don't waste my time with what is clearly meant to be an epic battle, but is actually supremely boring. Sub-Mariner vs. the Human Torch this ain't.

Iron Man defeats Angel by appealing to the good that's still in him; he stays in the air fighting Angel until his boot jets run out of juice, and then simply falls to his death. At the last minute, Angel realizes he's a good guy after all and saves Iron Man from hitting the ground.

Not worth your time, yet it goes on for 18 excruciatingly long pages. It's probably not the worst Marvel Comics story we've endured so far. Probably. I can't think of another one, but...

Stray observations:

:: Hey, it's the Iron Man 3 poster.

Everything in superhero pop culture was invented by Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko.

:: Stan is clearly overworked. So is Steve Ditko, although his art doesn't suffer, I just don't think Paul Reinman is the most expressive inker for Steve's pencils. Stan once accidentally refers to Anthony Stark as "Anthony Blake." He's also apparently forgotten or doesn't care that the Hulk isn't in the Avengers anymore, as he's one of the team members Professor X attempts to call for help.

:: It really is sad how hard this story tries to pull suspense out of this battle and totally fails to be anything more than irritating. The creatives really want us to worry that Tony's going to die, but it feels more like an 18-page plea to give X-Men a chance.

:: Hey, did you know inker Paul Reinman's career stretches all the way back to the Golden Age? I don't know if I've mentioned that before. He was inking Human Torch comics in the early days of Timely. He also drew the Tarzan comic strip for two years.

:: This issue features the first story in a series called "Tales of the Watcher." Do you remember how in old horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, the Crypt-Keeper would introduce and narrate all of the tales? This is like that. Tales of Suspense remains an anthology book, but someone (I assume Stan Lee) has decided to dust off this device and frame the back-up stories that usually appear here as stories being told to you by the Watcher. It's to get those who might skip them to read Larry Lieber's twist stories about aliens and stuff, by nominally putting them in the Marvel Universe. Unless they directly impact the Watcher himself or events in the Marvel Universe, I'm going to skip these stories as I've been doing already.

Bad issue all around, guys.

Next time: back to that fight between the Human Top and Giant-Man.

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