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Tales of Suspense #53: Review

May 1964
Don Rico, Don Heck

Story Name:

The Black Widow Strikes Again!

Review & Comments

3 stars

Tales of Suspense #53 Review by (March 17, 2012)
Review: Well, that was fast. Stan Lee must have liked writing for the Black Widow since she’s back already and headlining her own tale. She comes off a lot better here—as a competent agent and a serious threat (with or without magic levitating device) rather than as a sexy distraction. Which makes up for a plot that can’t stay consistent with the scientific rules: the levitated guard stays in the air after Black Widow leaves, which suggests the anti-grav ray is permanent until it wears off some time later, but breaking the beam causes a levitated object to fall, implying an object stays in the air only so long as the beam is on it—and why doesn’t the person who broke the beam levitate when he stands in the way of the ray? And finally, both happen at once as the mountain stays in the air while the BW turns the beam on the tanks—but Iron Man breaks the beam, dropping the tanks to the ground, while the mountain stays in the air until the device is completely destroyed. And this is what I came up with off the top of my head; imagine what would happen if I put some serious thought into it! Fortunately for you, I don’t have any serious thought!

Comments: Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #34; part one appeared last issue. Story earlier reprinted in TALES TO ASTONISH #37. Fourth story: With this issue, “Tales of the Watcher” becomes a series about Uatu and his people, starting with the origin of the Watchers.

Comments: We do not learn what story Natasha told Tony that convinced him to overlook her being a Commie spy. The cover presents Black Widow as shooting the anti-gravity ray from her hands, which is a more dramatic image but not faithful to the story.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #53 Synopsis by T Vernon

In his private lab, Tony Stark is working on an anti-gravity device; it succeeds in lifting a heavy piece of machinery into the air but Happy Hogan, entering at that moment, thinks Tony’s life is in danger and pushes him out of the way. In the fall, the circuitry of the anti-grav device fuses—the machine still works but it cannot now be duplicated. The next day, Tony demonstrates the device for Pentagon officials but a press photographer manages to sneak in and take a picture of a levitating tank. Soon the story is in all the newspapers, and the Black Widow conceives a plan to get back into the Kremlin’s favor by stealing the anti-gravity ray. Madame Natasha arranges a meeting with Tony Stark at his office. She shows remorse and Tony, womanizing fool that he is, believes her and tells her all about the anti-gravity ray. When he gives her a demonstration, she gasses him and makes off with the new weapon. Pepper and Happy find the paralyzed Tony in his office and revive him; they search the grounds until they come to a levitated security guard; Tony then dons his Iron Man armor and follows the trail of the Black Widow but he can find no trace of her.

Meanwhile, the beauteous spy contacts Premier Khrushchev to tell him she has obtained the “new toy” and asks to be taken back into his good graces. And in Washington, Congress blames Tony Stark for the loss of the weapon. Iron Man is at a loss as to where to find her but the Widow makes it easy for him: she uses the anti-gravity ray to destroy Stark facilities throughout the area. The hero no sooner heads to one to repair the damage than she strikes at another. Soon, a team of agents sent by Khrushchev arrives at her apartment bringing orders to destroy Iron Man and rob Fort Knox. One of the Red thugs tests the device by levitating a car and Iron Man, who was (rather conveniently) nearby, spots it and overpowers the spies. But Madame Natasha gets her hands on the ray and uses it to levitate the hero—and then to raise and drop the building on him. By the time he digs his way out, she’s gone. He adjusts his radar to pick up the frequency of the anti-grav device and follows her to Fort Knox. There, the Black Widow levitates the mountain that stands over the gold vault as well as the army tanks that guard the facility. Iron Man arrives in the nick of time, breaking the anti-grav beam and intercepting the tanks as they fall to the ground. He then uses a proton beam to destroy the anti-grav device in the Widow’s hands and rushes to save the Red spies from being crushed by the falling mountain—an act which surprises the bad guys. The Black Widow escapes in the confusion and the military is grateful that Tony Stark has Iron Man around to clear up his messes.

“The Magician [Part Two]”
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Unknown.
Synopsis: Continued from last issue: A page at a television studio helps a sorcerer return to his own future world and is rewarded with a suit that enables him to perform magic!

“The Omen”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: George Roussos. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.
Synopsis: Warlord Lokar sees a bright light in the sky as an omen that he should invade their neighboring planet Parthea but the light is a falling star that destroys his world, leaving Lokar and his people refugees seeking help on Parthea!

“The Way It Began…” 
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Paul Reinman. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: The Watcher describes the origin of his people: their civilization was a utopia so they decided to share their blessings with other worlds. Creating a method for them to transform into living energy and so pass quickly between planets, emissaries visit a neighboring world and offer them the benefits of nuclear energy. But the inhabitants turn this marvel to military uses and the planet is wiped out through nuclear war. Uatu’s people chose then to become a race of Watchers, forbidden to interfere in other world’s affairs!

Don Heck


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)


Plus: Nikita Kruschev, Senator Byrd.

> Tales of Suspense: Book info and issue index

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