Tales of Suspense #69: "If I Die, Let It Be With Honor!"

Tales of Suspense #69
"If I Die, Let It Be With Honor!"
September, 1965

Story By STAN LEE The Idol Of Millions!
Art By DON HECK The Toast Of Two Continents!
Inking By V. COLLETTA The Pride Of The Bullpen!
Lettering By SAM ROSEN The Last Angry Letterer!
Reviewing By STEVE CHUNG The Past Roving Reviewer

The Invincible Iron Man has won many victories in his career, thanks to
his transistorized power.  What happens when Shell-Head must battle a
much stronger and deadlier foe?  Tony Stark has been working on a
sub-miniature reverser for several weeks, but still has to perfect it.
This is a time when Iron Man's might can do no good where the
industrialist's inventiveness is needed.

Tony is thankful that this work is distracting him from other matters.
He knows that he can never tell Pepper Potts how much he loves her.  Only
he knows that if his chestplate should fail, his own heart would stop
beating.  The time has come for another recharge, and after seating
himself, lifesaving current flows through the vital chestplate once more.
Work on the reverser must wait, as the businessman must check in on his
factory.  Happy Hogan is asking Pepper if she wants to go dancing at the
Frug A-Go Go, and the lovely red-haired secretary agrees.  As she starts
to talk about her new discotheque dress, Happy sees that the boss has

Having heard their conversation, Mr. Stark offers them the use of his
limousine for their date tonight.  When Pepper asks if he'd like to join,
the boss declines.  Hogan is far from happy, and wonders if the girl will
ever get over her crush.  At a communist work camp near Siberia, Comrade
Bullski has arrived to serve as the new commissar.  Rumor has it that
Bullski had been transferred because he had inspired fear in the Premier.
The Commissar is shown the main laboratory, where the imprisoned
scientists labor.  Seeing them, Bullski orders the scientists to work
harder with three more hours each day.  If any fail to do so, they will
be dealt with.  Commissar Bullski will crush their wills as easily as he
can crush an iron pipe.  In his quarters, it seems that the new commissar
is not happy with his new position.  He is determined to prove himself
worthy of becoming dictator by defeating the greatest enemy of
Communism... Iron Man.

After reviewing the records of various captive scientists, the Commissar
orders his chosen ones to report to the yard.  Bullski offers each man
his freedom if they follow his commands.  They are to build him a
titanium armored suit.  The scientists, aware that titanium is even
stronger than iron, agree.  In the laboratory where the Crimson Dynamo
had built his own armor before his defection, the men are instructed to
build a suit even stronger than Iron Man's.  Since they lack the
knowledge of miniaturizing transistors, the Commissar will be forced to
wear a bigger, heavier suit of armor.  As the scientists begin their
task, Bullski reviews films of the armored Avenger.  Since he is bigger
than his foe, the Commissar is confident that he will prevail. 

As the impatient Commissar waits, the scientists are ready to pour the
titanium core, and produce the necessary transistors.  Bullski's armor
will be big enough to carry a disintegrator ray.  As he heads for the
laboratory, the Commissar tells his aide to send the men to another camp
with no laboratory.  It will be their reward for being foolish enough to
trust him.  This will be done after he's done testing the armor.  Bullski
is ready to don the massive armor.

The Commissar is able to move with ease while wearing the armor.  He even
refuses the power-assisted controls within the armor to ease his
movements.  All that remains for him to do is to challenge Iron Man.
After the American hero uses his weaponry upon the Titanium Man in
failure, Bullski shall smash his foe.  With his defeat, the world shall
see the superiority of Communism.

A telegram arrives for Tony Stark from the Iron Curtain.  Pepper Potts
tells her boss that the letter is for his bodyguard.  The Titanium Man
challenges Iron Man to a fight at a neutral site.  Copies of the letter
have been sent to newspapers all over the world.  The millionaire
industrialist knows the toll he has taken with his chest device, even so
far as to consider leaving the Avengers.  When Pepper insists that
Shell-Head accept the challenge... or admit weakness, her boss turns
away.  He tells them that only Iron Man can make this decision.  Senator
Byrd in Washington,  D.C. has heard that the armored Avenger has not yet
accepted the challenge.  Figuring that the industrialist doesn't want to
lose his bodyguard, the Senator demands that a letter be set to Stark.
When asked what would happen if Iron Man were to be defeated, Byrd knows
that this is a risk they must take.

After receiving Senator Byrd's telegram, Tony Stark must make a decision.
Should he risk his life with an unknown foe while his chest device may
give out at any moment?  Would it be better to lose than be considered a
coward?  He must find a way to perfect his chest device long enough to
fight the Titanium Man.  While the rest of the world wonders if the
armored Avenger will accept the challenge, the "playboy" struggles with a
way to bring himself to full power.  At the crack of dawn, Tony Stark
gets an idea, and heads off to reinforce his chest device.  After the
preparations have been made, Iron Man now feels the power coursing
through him, and knows that the Titanium Man will be getting his wish.
After receiving the reply, Commissar Bullski orders that the traps be
made ready.

The following morning finds Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan being invited to
accompany their boss to Europe to see the fight.  Happy can't help but
wonder why Stark will be going, but with Pepper there, he can't blame the
man.  The site of the battle will be in Alberia, and will be overseen by
an international committee.  Tourists have gathered in Alberia for the
upcoming fight, which will be televised.  A single telestar satellite is
in orbit, to monitor the upcoming battle.  A battlefield from World War
II will be the chosen arena.

Inside the international hotel of Alberia, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts
see the Countess De La Spiroza.  The secretary is aware that the Countess
is an old flame of Tony Stark.  Happy can hear the jealousy in Pepper's
voice from where he's standing.  Stephanie meets with Tony, having been
boarded in the Riviera.  Pepper begins to frown at the sight of the two
of them together.  When Happy innocently asks why should she care, the
secretary's frown intensifies.  The Countess wants to invite the playboy
upstairs for a nightcap, but the industrialist will be calling it an
early night.  He will in fact be working on his Iron Man armor.  Having
been jilted once by Tony Stark, the Countess De La Spiroza vows to make
him pay for that.

The fateful meeting occurs at dawn, with the Burgomaster of Alberia going
over the rules set down by the international committee.  As Iron Man eyes
the height of his opponent, the Titanium Man is eager to begin their
battle at once.  The Communists are hoping for a propaganda victory when
their champion prevails.  With the field cleared, the two armored men
face off against one another.  ZAT!  Figuring that all it will take is a
single blast, the Titanium Man fires his weapon, but Iron Man is able to
fly out of the way.  WHOOOM!  A repulsor-ray burst from the armored
Avenger sends his opponent down a hill.

WOK!  As he strikes the Titanium Man, Shell-Head knows that his punches
are not hurting him as they should.  The larger figure uses magnetic
attraction to snare Iron Man, then gloats as the cameras are recording
their battle.  As the Titanium Man pulls him down towards the ground, the
armored Avenger musters up enough strength to perform a maneuver, and
jets away to safety.  As his opponent begins unleashing blast after blast
towards him, Iron Man begins to run, but unknowingly towards his doom.  A
secret mine field has been prepared, and Shell-Head suffers from the
treacherous attack.  BAROOOM!  Watching one of the many television
receivers are Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts.  As Pepper gasps at the
Titanium Man's trickery, Happy wonders why their boss isn't there to see
what's happening. 

The mind-staggering menace of the Titanium Man is introduced in Tales of
Suspense #69.

Unfortunately for Iron Man, he is the one sent staggering into a mine
field by his treacherous opponent.

When it comes to the reverser, the smaller, the better.

The dance craze at the time was the Frug. 

Although Pepper has got a crush on her boss, it's Happy Hogan who's
feeling the pain.

Commissar Bullski is able to crush an iron pipe with his bare hands.

Is it me or does Bullski bear some resemblance to Bluto?

Is titanium stronger than iron?  If it is, why is this so?

Although the Commissar is bored by the pictures of Iron Man, I was quite
happy to reread this story, and appreciate the work done by Don Heck and
Vince Colletta.

Likewise, when the Titanium Man envisions Iron Man's defeat at his hands,
Heck and Colletta keep it interesting.

Senator Byrd regards Stark as a conceited playboy, but in reality, the
industrialist must make a most fateful decision.

Even with his health at stake, Tony finds a way to make sure that his
chest device will last through the fight with the Titanium Man.  In
overcoming this handicap, he has this reader's sympathy, and I'm rooting
for him to win.

For a guy nicknamed "Happy," Hogan seems glum much of the time.

While the Countess and Tony Stark are all smiles, Happy Hogan is nervous,
while Pepper Potts has a frown that could burn through steel.

It is a credit to artist Don Heck that he makes these scenes interesting,
and by looking at the facial features of each character, we can pretty
much tell what's on their mind without having to read the word balloons.

Vinnie Colletta was an excellent choice to ink Heck, as their
collaboration complements one another quite well.

The lumbering Titanium Man vs. the sleek and agile Iron Man.

Although he has it on his foe on mobility, the Commissar has got
Shell-Head on brute strength.

Unfortunately for the armored Avenger, Bullski had plenty in mine along
the arena.

Steve Chung
"If I Die, Let It Be With Review!"