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Tales of Suspense 60
"Suspected of Murder!"


(Originally Reviewed 08/22/01)

Written By The King Of Comi-Drama: STAN LEE
Illustrated By The Master Of Panoramic Spectacle: DON HECK
Inked By The Prince Of Line Design: DICK AYERS
Lettered By The Sultan Of Shaky Borders: SAM ROSEN
Reviewed By The Rajah Of Rampant Reviews: STEVE CHUNG

In the aftermath of his battle with The Black Knight, Tony Stark finds that his heart requires additional transistor power in his armor to sustain his injured heart, which means that he has become a prisoner of his own armor, for if he dares to remove it, he may die, and in his mind's eye, the millionaire industrialist sees himself contained within a trapped tube held in place by his masked alter-ego, whose grinning mask seems to hold his death in its unblinking gaze!

Frustated that he dare not remove his armor, Tony Stark dare not even remove the power pods from his belt, and he hasn't the nerve, as he recalls how near to death he was in the battle with The Black Knight! Since he's wearing the powerful armor, Tony makes a shambles of his lab equipment, knowing that with his injured heart, he cannot gamble with his life and remove his armor! (Holy Shell Game, Batman!)

Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan are racing around town in one of Tony's high-speed cars, in search of him, while Happy knows how much that Pepper loves the boss, a man whom he'd give his right arm for! They drive back to the factory in hopes of hearing from Iron Man about Stark's whereabouts. Within the plant, there has been no word, but the bodyguard is sure that the millionaire industrialist is fine. Pepper stares at him and asks how this can be so since Shell-Head is his bodyguard, and many spies would love to capture Tony to acquire his inventions! (Well, we know that Pepper would love to spend some time with Tony Stark!) When he tells her that Stark told him that he'd be away, Pepper asks him where, and Shell-Head knows that he can't tell her about his usual places since they would call everywhere!

Anything that he'd tell her would be checked out in minutes, and he knows that he must tell Pepper something which cannot be disapproved of. Happy and Pepper listen as Iron Man tells them that Mr. Stark went away on secret business, but didn't say where. Pepper wonders if Iron Man could have harmed their boss, while Happy agrees, and Shell-Head is adamant that Stark is unharmed. When he insists that he hopes that Tony returns soon as possible, Happy pokes his finger on Iron Man's armor, indicating that if he ever comes out of that armored shell, he'd find some way to make the bodyguard talk! Pepper warns Happy not to anger Iron Man, and Happy emphasizes that he won't rest until he finds out what happened to the boss, while inside the armor, Tony can only appreciate in silence their loyalty to him. When he leaves, Pepper asks Happy if Stark is in danger, and the chauffeur wonders why Iron Man's identity is a secret, a fact which has bothered him for no end!

Another fact is why someone as strong as Shell-Head would be working for Tony Stark? (Well, it is Tony's technology and Iron Man could be someone who he trusts implicitly, such as James Rhodes.) In his private office, Iron Man writes a note from Tony Stark to allay their fears, and is amused that he's come to regard his identities as two separate people. Since he's low on cash, Shell-Head decides to take some from the safe, just as Happy and Pepper arrive with the police! Happy believes that Iron Man is stealing from Tony Stark, while Pepper likens him to a cornered animal, who may turn on them at any moment. The policemen are confident that nothing will occur with them on the scene. When asked to explain his actions, Shell-Head points out that the safe wasn't broken into, and he does have the combination, given to him by Stark, himself, with permission to open it whenever he wished. He also hands over the note which he says was in the safe, which tells them that Tony Stark in on a secret government mission, leaving his bodyguard in charge while he's away! (Holy I.M.F., Batman!)

The police take the note to have it examined, and at headquarters, it is analysed, but the lack of fingerprints on the note, as well as the shaky handwriting would seem to imply that Stark wrote this note against his will! If Tony Stark had written the note, why aren't his fingerprints on it? (Holy Fingertips, Batman!) Shell-Head had neglected to remove his gloves when he wrote the note, which also had made his writing shaky, as well. Stating that he's tired of the endless questions, the bodyguard takes his leave and soars through the window, with the police firing on him, but to no effect. They know that there's no concrete proof that a crimes been committed, and that Iron Man has done anything wrong. Since he cannot remove his armor, Tony Stark cannot reappear to allay suspicions. On a solitary spot overlooking the sea, Iron Man suddenly remembers an Avengers meeting this evening...

Using a minature two-way radio, he requests permission to be absent from the meeting, and onscreen, The God of Thunder grants permission, but his expression remains grim, as he asks about the disappearance of Anthony Stark, then asks if Iron Man has betrayed him! On his honor as an Avenger, Shell-Head tells Thor that he has not, and The Son of Odin tells him that Earth's Mightiest Heroes expect him to remove the cloud of suspicion as soon as he is able. (Holy Willard Scott, Batman! Lifting clouds are Goldilocks' specialty! Shell-Head would rust!) In a suburb outside of the city, The Black Widow and Hawkeye listen to further news about Tony Stark's disappearance and Iron Man's implication in the alleged crime. She turns to Hawkeye and tells him that it's now his chance to enter Stark's factory and acquire his plans for the newest weaponry, but Hawkeye draws the line at treason! Madame Natasha tells him that she serves the cause of international peace, while thinking to herself how this bowman is putty in her hands. (Holy Play-Doh, Batman! Clint Barton should change his name to Putty Knife!)

At the factory, a fence is not a barrier to one such as The Marksman, who intended to use his abilities for mankind, but now serves only The Black Widow, who makes his life meaningful, but now, he must concentrate on the task at hand! Entering the hallway, Hawkeye hears a footstep behind him, then turns, just as the security guard fires a warning shot at him! The guards hold their fire, as they see Hawkeye enter Stark's private office, where he'll be trapped, but Pepper Potts is inside! (Holy My Girl Friday, Batman!)

In the office, Pepper turns and sees Hawkeye, who has her give him the key to Stark's private lab,a nd inside, he sees incomprehensible machinery and nothing that he can take with him, while Pepper insists that Mr. Stark keeps his plans in his head and never leaves them on paper (knowing that her fears about foreign spies have been realized), just as Hawkeye has her call for a car for his escape, but she refuses! Outside, the guards and Happy are listening on the open communicator, with the chauffeur insists that they do as he says! Iron Man receives a call from The Avengers, as Giant-Man tells him about Hawkeye holding Stark's secretary hostage, and then asks if The Avengers should take over, but Shell-Head knows that Hawkeye might panic and injure her! He resolves to deal with the situation in his own way!

Even though he is under suspicion, The Golden Avenger could not stand by and let Pepper Potts come to harm! In the suburbs, The Black Widow prepares to aid Hawkeye, while Shell-Head makes his entrance through the roof, to Hawkeye's dismay. In the suburbs, Madame Natasha has been seized by Sergi Amkov, the head of the Iron Curtain in North America, who seeks to have her interrogated, while in the factory, Hawkeye is unaware of these developments and is unleashing his awesome arrows against Shell-Head, who uses his jets to dodge the powerblast arrow! First on his things to do is to get Pepper to safety...

Iron Man hurls an improvised steel shield to cut off Hawkeye from Pepper, enabling her to get away. Hawkeye races away, with Shell-Head in pursuit. Moments later, he sees Hawkeye firing a power-blast arrow at their new Uranus II rocket! The archer knows that this will keep him busy, while to Iron Man, the structure represents years of research and labor!

Using every bit of his transistorized power, he gently sets it on the ground, while Hawkeye lines up another shot with a steel cable arrow, but Shell-Head seizes the line before it surrounds him, and pulls Hawkeye from his perch, his transistors beginning to run low. Hawkeye is aware of this fact and is intent on distracting Iron Man before he can recharge, then uses a stun-flash arrow! Since he lacks any more power-blast arrows, Hawkeye takes his leave, knowing that Iron Man is too powerful for him to face without weapons.

With the building surrounded, Hawkeye heads for the roof, where he spots a low-flying jet taking off from La Guardia and uses a suction-tip arrow to hitch a ride across the waters, unaware that The Black Widow is on the plane, and wondering if she'll ever see him again. At the factory, the guards spot Iron Man and ready the anti-armor proton gun, but just as they take aim, Pepper Potts tells them that Shell-Head hasn't been formally charged with a crime, and when asked about their boss's disappearance, she tells them that they can't be sure that his bodyguard had anything to do with it, plus he did save her life! When Iron Man starts to thank her, she tells him that she only did it for Tony's sake, and hope that since if he's innocent, Shell-Head may be the only one to save the millionaire industrialist. Iron Man takes his leave, unable to look at Pepper any more, with her concern for him. Happy and Pepper watch him soar away, and he wonders if she did the right thing, while Pepper is confident that there's something about Iron Man that she can trust, something which she can't explain, and in his private lab, Tony Stark has removed his helmet, striving to find a way so that he can remove his armor, which makes him at once one of the most powerful beings on the Earth, and one of the most tragic!

Stan Lee cleverly emphasizes Tony's predicament about his source of power also being a source of weakness, with his armor sustaining his life, and with his inability to not remove it, costing him his identity, as well as casting suspicions on his identity as Iron Man.

His friends do not trust him, not knowing that the bodyguard is actually their boss, who is fighting for his life, as well as theirs.

Daredevil killed off his other identity in his own mag, Spider-Man uses his other identity to take pictures and sell them to The Bugle, Thor has to contend with the loss of being Don Blake when Odin stripped him of his godlike powers, but left him his strength, instead.

The cameos by The Avengers were appreciated, particularly Don Heck's Thor, who retains a regal appearance and solemn stature, indeed.

Hawkeye proves to be a resourceful foe, while The Black Widow finds herself ensnared in the web of The Iron Curtain.

This Review Is Dedicated To Kevin Grady

Steve Chung
"Suspected Of Review!"