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Tales of Suspense #54: Review

Jun 1964
Stan Lee, Don Heck

Story Name:

The Mandarin’s Revenge!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales of Suspense #54 Review by (March 25, 2012)
Review: Another armor redesign this issue, with the faceplate “horns” removed and the helmet looking like a single riveted piece. Never particularly liked the face on this one, as the rivets put a large Y on the face and make Iron Man look like a scarecrow with a sewn burlap look. Plus, the decision to save the reveal for the splash panel led to that horrible cover where the Mandarin seems to be disintegrating Iron Man’s head. As for the story itself, it’s a fast-paced, mostly action epic too cool to contain in one issue. And no slide rules were harmed in the karate fight. Plus, rocket-powered roller skates!

Comments: Second story: Text story, reprinted from MYSTIC #43. Story earlier reprinted in TALES TO ASTONISH #42.

Comments: First two-part story. Tony switches to Iron Man every time he needs to travel any distance and changes back when he arrives; shouldn’t this lead some of the Pentagon brass to suspect his secret identity?


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales of Suspense #54 Synopsis by T Vernon

Iron Man is flying around New York, testing his new lighter helmet when he gets an urgent call from Pepper Potts. Immediately he heads into the secret entrance to the hidden tunnel and jet-skates his way back to the office, where he changes into Tony Stark. Pepper tells him he is wanted at the Pentagon at once, and he insists on going alone, and he sends Happy Hogan on an inspection tour of his factories over the hulking chauffeur’s objections. Tony then switches to Iron Man and flies and skates his way to Washington. There, he meets with high-ranking military officials as Tony and learns that his remote-controlled missiles being used in Vietnam have all either crashed or disappeared. He promises to investigate personally. Shortly thereafter, an ICBM is launched with an unsuspected rider on the outside and soon Tony is at a missile base in the East where he discovers that all the downed rockets have been pulled to Earth by a force beam coming from the vicinity of the Mandarin’s castle. As Tony he drives out to meet with his old enemy and is captured by the guards. Their attempt to open the briefcase containing his armor only releases a knockout gas, so Iron Man is able to enter the castle to face the villain. A duel breaks out as the Mandarin uses his power rings, electrical charges, karate, a huge sword, and miniature rockets against the Armored Avenger but Iron Man defends himself against them easily. But the Mandarin’s next attack succeeds: a black light ring beam plunges the hero into total darkness while magnetized steel cables ensnare him and hold him fast. As he discovers that his power is too low for him to snap the cables, Iron Man realizes that this may be the end. He will never see Happy and Pepper (surely he must know some other people…?) again and he is determined to show the Mandarin how an American faces death….

“Secret Mission”
Writer: Unknown.  
Synopsis: A government agent tracks down and defeats a mad scientist threatening the world with a sonic ray—but it’s all the dream of a meek (and bored) bookkeeper!

“Skrang Strikes Tonight!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Dick Ayers. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: An alien invader lands on Earth with plans of conquest but the sight of an old lady causes him to panic and flee for home. Skrang’s planet is dominated by the Fox-People and the sight of the old lady’s fox collar convinced him that the human race is much too powerful to challenge!

“Hands Off!” 
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Chic Stone. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: Uatu observes a planet send a load of radioactive waste into space; as it drifts toward a cluster of inhabited worlds, Uatu wonders whether he should interfere to prevent the poison from reaching an inhabited planet. A nova hurls an uninhabited planet into space where it collides with the waste cloud, destroying them both. Uatu realizes that the planet was saved only because he did not interfere!

Don Heck


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)


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