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Tales of Suspense #51: Review

Mar 1964
Stan Lee, Don Heck

Story Name:

The Sinister Scarecrow

Review & Comments

3 stars

Tales of Suspense #51 Review by (March 17, 2012)
Review: Let’s face it, the Scarecrow at first was kind of a silly villain—an evil contortionist, really? Batman revived his 1940s villain of that name a few years after this (BATMAN #189 in February 1967) and made him far more sinister—the master of fear—and he went on to be a regular member of the Dark Knight’s Rogues’ Gallery. This guy tended to hang out with losers like the Eel and Porcupine, so it isn’t surprising they made some changes later (see Comments) to make him scary. They also made him smarter since moving to Cuba wasn’t a great idea in 1964. One thing in the story’s favor: Don Heck’s art is much better than in the last issue. And he shows his strength in drawing attractive women: Pepper is a knockout.

Comments: Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from MARVEL TALES #150.

Comments: First appearance/origin of the Scarecrow, whose real name is Ebenezer Laughton. Later, he would become mainly a Captain America villain and in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #280 he will be reinvented as a psychopathic killer; even later in the pages of GHOST RIDER he will be further revised into a supernatural being and become a primary foe for Ghost Rider 2 (Danny Ketch). First mention of Iron Man working for Tony Stark as a bodyguard. The Cuban gunboat was in American waters illegally, which is why Cuba would not make a big stink about an American agent sinking it.

Sorry about referring to Don Heck as Don Hack in the review below; he was anything but a hack. My SpellCheck hates me!


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #51 Synopsis by T Vernon

One day when Iron Man is flying through the city on an unspecified mission, he spots a crook holding up the box office of a theater. He pursues the hood into the theater where and escape artist billed as the Uncanny Umberto is doing his act. Umberto, who is also a contortionist, rolls into a ball and bowls over the fleeing robber and Iron Man thanks him for the assist. This gives Umberto the idea to turn his special abilities to criminal purposes as the world’s greatest burglar. He steals a scarecrow outfit from a costumer and filches the trained crows of another vaudevillain and teaches them to obey his commands. And to kick off his nefarious career, he plans to rob millionaire playboy Anthony Stark….

At Tony Stark’s office, his glamorous girlfriend Veronica Vogue arrives to see him, but Pepper Potts lies, telling Veronica that Tony is out of town. Enraged at Tony’s “rudeness,” Veronica storms off. When Tony arrives, he figures out what went on but doesn’t mind (!). At the end of the working day, Happy Hogan drives Tony home, where they catch the Scarecrow in the act of burglary. The villain’s acrobatic ability enables him to make short work of Happy but it gives Tony enough time to don his Iron Man armor. Scarecrow’s crows wrap the hero in drapery and when he frees himself he follows the fleeing villain out the window—but it was a trick. Scarecrow was hidden in the apartment and rifles Tony’s safe at his leisure then escapes Happy by having his birds fly him to the ground….

At home, the Scarecrow realizes he has the plans for some new weapons designed by Tony Stark and calls Tony with an offer to sell them back. Tony plants a mysterious device in the briefcase full of money and meets the villain at the rendezvous. Scarecrow takes the cash but keeps the plans and heads to Cuba in his speedboat. Meeting up with a Cuban gunboat, Scarecrow hands the briefcase with the plans over to the captain; Iron Man appears and snatches the case away by the magnet he had placed inside earlier. He then sinks the boat with a hand drill but the villain is pulled away to Cuba by his crows. Iron Man can’t follow as his jets are out of power (he needs to design better batteries). Tony returns to the office where he produces the Broadway tickets he bought for Veronica Vogue—and he gives them to Happy to take Pepper. Meanwhile, the Scarecrow broods in exile….

“The Recipe”
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Unknown.
Synopsis: Teenaged Josie buys a used cookbook which turns out to be a book of witches’ spells, causing havoc in the kitchen; the big surprise is that Josie and her mom are fairies in a place where witchcraft is forbidden!

“The Green Thing!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Matt Fox. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A farmer discovers a strange plant in his hothouse which is an alien bent on conquering Earth. The creature challenges him to a battle for the fate of the planet; the alien plant has a lot of powerful mental abilities but it is carried off and eaten by a crow!

“The Primitive!” 
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: George Roussos. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.
Synopsis: The Watcher relates a tale: An explorer travels through space, hoping to discover a civilized race; after reaching a remote planet and finding a primitive tribe, he gives up his quest, unaware that the stone-age culture is the result of a nuclear war!

Don Heck


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)


Plus: Scarecrow (Ebenezer Laughton).

> Tales of Suspense: Book info and issue index

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