Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Classics: Tales of Suspense #73

It's amazing to realize that I bought this comic 47 years ago - and I remember that day.

I was riding back in the car from my Grandmother's house with my Mom and I asked her if I could stop at our hometown newsstand to buy a comic. I remember finding this issue of Tales of Suspense on the spin rack and being captivated by the cover, which was by an artist I didn't recognize.

Don Heck had been drawing Iron Man almost non-stop since his first appearance (Steve Ditko drew a few issues along the way, among others), so it was a bit of a shock to find a new artist - some guy named Adam Austin.

I loved his artwork. It had a realistic edge to it, a fluid style unlike any other artist in the business. Little did I know that the artist was operating under a pen name - it was Gene Colan tackling one of his first superhero titles (I think).

He was a natural, with a cinematic, exciting style that fit right into the Marvel Universe.

The story by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas wasn't quite up to the standards of the art - it's a soap-ish tale that has a depowered, injured Iron Man going up against a vengeful Black Knight. The bad guy had a great look, but didn't really provide much of a threat.

I believe this was the character's final appearance (in action) as a villain - he'd be replaced by a heroic version of the character.

The second story in this split book featured the second chapter in a three-part story pitting Captain America against the menace of the Sleepers, which were giant robots left behind by the (presumed dead at this point) Red Skull.

The Sleepers were a terrific menace that would return several times, but never in a better, more edge-of-your-seat story than this one. It's an over-the-top tale that only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could create.

The art features George Tuska inking over Kirby's layouts, and for those (like me) who are fans of Tuska, it's a real treat.

So not an incredible issue, but one seared into my memory, thanks to a powerful cover, a great new beginning for Iron Man, and a dynamic, classic adventure for Cap.

Thank goodness Mom decided to let me go to the newsstand on that wintry day in 1965!

Grade: B+



Billy Hogan said...

I always enjoyed Don Heck's art. My favorite Gene Colan art was inked by Don Palmer.

Chuck said...

Tom Palmer, yes - definitely the best on Colan (and many others).