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Tales of Suspense #43: Review

Jul 1963
Robert Bernstein, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Kala, Queen of the Netherworld!

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Tales of Suspense #43 Review by (February 29, 2012)
Review: Some impressive art by Jack Kirby (inked by Don Heck) laying out an underground kingdom is the main selling point of this issue, marked by casual sexism (“a woman has no business being in charge of a country!”) and a plot that falls seriously out of continuity. Really—the Netherworld is the modern version of Atlantis? Then what is that place the Sub-Mariner calls home? Fauxlantis? One thing’s for sure—they must have great air conditioning since no one ever sweats that close to the Earth’s molten core! And Tony Stark misses the greatest business opportunity of his career: since the air of the Netherworld can reverse Kala’s rapid aging, a little research should enable him to create the Fountain of Youth!

Comments: Kala returns as an ally of the Mole Man in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #127-128.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #43 Synopsis by T Vernon

One day at Anthony Stark’s private lab, the wind tunnel malfunctions and the machinery runs out of control, creating hurricane-force winds inside the building. Security notifies Tony who tells them Iron Man is visiting at just that moment. Donning his armor, Tony heads to the lab as Iron Man and spins in the opposite direction to the giant fans, causing them to break apart. Iron Man leaves and returns as Tony Stark to inspect the damage. Suddenly, a guard named Jim vanishes, followed by a scientist, Evans. Then Tony himself is encased in a faceted crystal and drawn into the depths of the Earth. Passing through all the rock strata he finds himself in a futuristic city at the center of the Earth. He is freed from the crystal by Kala, Queen of the Netherworld, and reunited with Jim and Evans. Kala explains that Tony was their intended target and gives him a brief history of the Netherworld: it was originally Atlantis but when it sank to the bottom of the ocean (fortunately after they had enclosed it in a dome for just such an emergency) it kept sinking through to the center of the Earth. Now she is plotting to conquer the surface world. Kala’s top general Baxu shows off all of their advanced weaponry and explains that they learned English from monitoring the surface world for years. Now what they need from Tony is a method of transporting their weapons to the surface—and they threaten him and his companions with death. When Tony warns them that Iron Man will be a formidable obstacle to conquest (so would the Fantastic Four and Thor but this ain’t their comic book), Kala threatens to reverse the planet’s rotation and devastate the surface. Tony reluctantly agrees and is shown to the lab; on the way he learns that Baxu a) thinks the invasion is a bad idea, and b) hates taking orders from a woman. Tony, locked in the lab, builds himself an Iron Man suit and escapes, suggesting Baxu seize power. Shellhead defeats all the weapons they can throw at him (and generates multiple illusions of himself using mirrors) and finally carries Kala to the surface by tunneling at high speed. Once they are on the surface, the atmosphere causes Kala to age rapidly into an old crone. Disheartened, she begs Iron Man to return her to the Netherworld. There, with her aging reversed (somehow), she agrees to marry Baxu and let him be king. Iron Man heads home with Jim and Evans.


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Jack Kirby
Don Heck


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Baxu, Kala.