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Tales of Suspense #48: Review

Dec 1963
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

The Mysterious Mr. Doll!

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Tales of Suspense #48 Review by (March 7, 2012)
Review: And now, after ten issues, Iron Man finally gets an upgrade to the familiar red-and-gold armor we’ve come to associate with him! And they do make a big production out of it with three pages of the story devoted to explaining how the new lightweight armor snaps easily into place! Anyway the story itself is the usual early Marvel goofiness, with the high-tech hero battling a baddie with a voodoo doll (whose shtick is superficially similar to the FF’s Puppet Master, but without the staying power). And whereas Steve Ditko’s art was obscured by Don Heck’s inks last issue, this time around it is unmistakably Steve bursting through Dick Ayer’s sometime heavy inklines. True, the characters don’t look right (Tony and Happy seem older than they should be) but it presents a fresh look for the now-familiar characters.

Comments: First appearance of Iron Man’s sleeker red-and-gold armor. First appearance of Mister Doll, who was originally called “Mister Pain” but the Comics Code forced Marvel to change it to something less sadistic-sounding. Doll returns, after a fashion, in SPIDER-WOMAN (1978) #3 as the Brothers Grimm, having had his spirit split in half and sent by Django Maximoff into twin wooden statues (origin in SPIDER-WOMAN #12). Charleton Carter happens to be the real name (with a slight variant spelling) of actor Charlton Heston, but it’s just a coincidence.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #48 Synopsis by T Vernon

Tony Stark is surprised when his major steel supplier, Charleton Carter, suddenly cancels his contract with Stark. Tony drives out to Carter’s cliffside castle (!) to see him about the matter; as he pulls up, he spies a sinister horned figure lurking about and dons his Iron Man armor to investigate. From the balcony he watches as the villain, Mr. Doll, threatens Carter with a wax figure bearing Carter’s face. Iron Man learns that Doll has somehow forced Carter to sign over all his wealth to the baddie. Iron Man confronts Doll and the villain alters the face on the wax doll to resemble the hero—and a little squeeze causes Iron Man to suffer severe pain. Attempting to escape causes Iron Man to topple from the balcony and fall into the river, crawling out some distance away. Tony must now rush back to the lab to recharge his armor, and while there he designs a new, lighter, more advanced armor to replace the clunky gold one he has been using.

Meanwhile, the police have reasoned (correctly) that Tony Stark will be the next target on Mr. Doll’s victims list and assign him a bodyguard. To allow him to get away to change into Iron Man, Tony persuades the police guard to let him take Pepper into a private room to ask her for a date. Pepper, unfortunately, takes him seriously and is mortified when Tony explains it’s all a ruse (and acts like she already knew this) to sneak away through a secret door, while Pepper keeps the guard distracted with a one-sided conversation. (What the guard will be thinking if they don’t come out for hours is not specified.) The new and improved Iron Man dismisses the guards (he’s recognized as the real thing by his voice) just as Mr. Doll pays a call at the factory. Doll uses his magic doll to force Iron Man to drive everyone out, and then watch as he alters the face to resemble Tony Stark to torture the millionaire industrialist. It takes all of Tony’s will power to hide his pain so as not to give away his Iron Man identity. The villain orders Iron Man out of the room, and he manages to make his way to the lab, where he risks his life by disconnecting his chest plate—but it will deaden his nerves so that he feels no pain as he devises a weapon against his foe. Emerging to confront Mr. Doll, Iron Man whips out a miniature force beam and uses it to alter the features of the voodoo doll to resemble Doll (or at least his horned headdress). Startled, Doll drops the doll—and is knocked unconscious when it hits the floor. Iron Man turns the villain over to the police and changes back to Tony Stark. Then Happy reminds him that he left Pepper locked in a small room and when they release her, the pert secretary is hardly amused….


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Steve Ditko
Dick Ayers


Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)

Plus: Happy Hogan, Mr Doll.