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Tales of Suspense #39: Review

Apr 1963
Larry Lieber, Don Heck

Story Name:

Iron Man is Born!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales of Suspense #39 Review by (February 28, 2010)
The bomb that puts the shrapnel near Stark's heart leaves the rest of him miraculously unscathed. Another miracle is the ready supply of transistors, and other techie stuff, in the middle of the Vietnamese jungle. But these are accompanied by more usual comics miracles such as Stark controlling the Iron Man armour with his brain. Transistor was a miracle-word in those days. These days we'd say quantum, or invoke extra dimensions. As is often the case, Wong-Chu and Yinsen aren't as dead as this issue claims. They turn up again in Iron Man v3 #32 and Annual 2000.

Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #36, later reprinted in TALES TO ASTONISH #54-55. Third story: This overused plot resolution is now called a “shaggy god story.”


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #39 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Wealthy playboy industrialist Tony Stark has used the miracle of transistors to produce small, light, powerful weapons that can be easily carried through the jungles of Vietnam. While personally overseeing their first use in combat, he trips a boobytrap bomb. The bomb lodges shrapnel dangerously near his heart. The shrapnel will gradually work its way closer to the heart, and kill him in a week.

He is taken prisoner by communist guerillas led by physically strong Wong-Chu. Wong-Chu wants Stark to build him a powerful weapon, with the unwilling help of Chinese Professor Yinsen, in return for a promise to have a surgeon remove the shrapnel. Instead they build an iron suit, with extensive use of transistors. The suit includes a pacemaker to keep Stark's heart going after the shrapnel reaches it.

The suit is ready just as Stark's heart is about to give out. Yinsen gives his life to buy time for the suit to power up.

The original suit is a clunky grey affair, controlled by Stark's brain. It has air-pressure boot jets, and various attachments such as suction cups and powerful transistor-powered magnets. And of course it is strong and bullet-proof.

Calling himself Iron Man, Stark scatters the guerillas, blows up the base and Wong-Chu, and heads back to civilisation.

He already knows he won't be able to take the pacemaker breastplate off. In fact at this point he thinks he will have to keep the whole armour on forever.

“The Treasure”
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Unknown.
Synopsis: A sickly boy takes in a stray dog which he claims can grant wishes! No one believes him but the dog heals the boy from his illness!

“The Last Rocket!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Gene Colan. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Ray Holloway.
Synopsis: Scientists discover that the sun is burning out and the world will be doomed to desolation within a year. The populace builds rockets and flies to other planets to settle but one couple decides to remain behind. A nova creates a new sun so the couple renames the planet “Earth” and reveals they are Adam and Eve!

Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A sailor is shipwrecked on an island and discovers a band of Vikings also marooned, cursed by their captain Gundar a thousand years ago. It turns out that the sailor is a descendant of Gundar and he can lift the curse, freeing the Vikings!

Don Heck
Don Heck
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Professor Yinsen, Wong-Chu.

> Tales of Suspense: Book info and issue index

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