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Tales of Suspense 64
"Hawkeye And The New Black Widow Strike Again!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND Powerful Script By: STAN LEE
Poignant Art By: DON HECK
Punchy Inking By: CHIC STONE
Polite Lettering By: SAM ROSEN
Plenty Of Kibitzing By: THE BULLPEN GANG!
Repeat Review By STEVE CHUNG

Within his lab near the site of the 1964 World's Fair, Tony Stark is putting the Shell-Head of Iron Man to the test, determined to make it stronger so that he can live on to fulfill work which may go unfinished! (Holy Head of The Class, Batman!)

Through the dark streets strides a lithe female form, who moves with great certainty up the side of an apartment building, where in the darkness, none will see her cast her nylon cord, whose suction tip will adhere to the nearby wall, that she may swing across! Within the apartment building, Hawkeye The Marksman is testing his latest weapon in his arsenal... a new acid-spray arrowhead, which is capable of blasting through three-inch steel pipe! (Holy Timothy Leary, Batman!) No sooner does this occur, that a figure comes crashing through the window...!

His visitor greets him, and Hawkeye recognizes her as Madame Natasha, who has now donned new attire and tells him how she was taken behind the Iron Curtain for her failure to defeat Iron Man,while The Marksman believed that she deserted him! She remembers the plane trip, and how the comrade leader, prior to his fall from power, refused to have her shot since it would prove that his plan was a failure, and when she defies his command to battle Iron Man again...

Her parents are threatened in her stead, while her father tells her to not fear for their safety and to do what she believes to be right. Comrade Scientist Brushnev tells her that the code name Black Widow will soon have much more significance for her, as she dons heavy boots designed for walking on any surface, as well as a bracelet, which sends a nylon line with a suction tip! The thin line is enough to hold her.

She is now ready to return to America and renew the battle with Iron Man, and is eager for Hawkeye to be her partner, while the Marksman doesn't wish to betray his country, but relents when she tells him that her only mission is to defeat Iron Man. Later, on a romantic drive down a moonlit lane, Happy Hogan is eager to tell Pepper Potts how he feels about her and how he wishes to marry her, while she tells him that she needs more time, and thinks to herself how she can't get her mind off of Tony Stark, while an arrow emits a blinding flash of light in their path, and Happy Hogan grips the wheel!

The car crashes against a tree, leaving Happy stunned, which Pepper sees Haweye and a costumed woman, who introduces herself as The Black Widow, and tells her that they are to be hostages in the battle with Iron Man. On the north shore of Long Island, Hawkeye guards the prisoners while The Black Widow places a call to Tony Stark, and when Pepper realizes that the millionaire industrialist is unaware that Hawkeye will be there, she reaches for the phone, and is struck by the odd fact that they aren't keeping her from warning him! She is bound to a chair next to Happy, while Haweye tells her that it was just what they wanted, and Stark will no doubt send Iron Man now! The Golden Avenger is to head to the railroad loading yards three miles away in one hour's time!

Five minutes to the hour finds Happy and Pepper being led along the railroad loading yards, while The Black Widow and Hawkeye have their guards posted, while rationalizing that with the two prisoner, Tony Stark will have ordered Iron Man not to use his great power on them. (How times have changed...) The hour has come and one of the guards sees a figure approaching... Tony Stark, himself! When asked by The Black Widow why he came in his bodyguard's stead, the millionaire industrialist tells them that he was unable to reach Iron Man, and offers new weapons designs to secure the hostages' release! Tony is led to a nearby building to have his plans scrutinized, but the millionaire industrialist surreptiously removes a clip from his belt buckle, which strikes the ground...

A thick cloud of smoke surrounds them, and in the next two seconds, Tony reaches his attache case, then dons his armor in less time than it would take to button a shirt! (Holy Button Your Fly, Batman!) The guards are ready to fire blind in the smoke, but a familiar crimson gauntlet grabs one by the scruff of the neck, and sends him flying! The Golden Avenger asks nonchalantly why the guards' guns are trembling so, and as one orders the other to fire the armor-piercing shells, the gunman is shaking because Iron Man is walking fearlessly towards him, then grabs both barrels and bends them out of shape! (Holy Rifleman, Batman! I wonder what that's a metaphor for?) The others charge Iron Man, whio effortlessly leaves them in a pile of unconscious bodies...

Hawkeye unleashes an arrow, which Iron Man easily dodges, but the boomerang arrow circles him... faster and faster... emitting an ear-splitting shriek, which attack his very nervous system, and enables Hawkeye to set up for a power-blast arrow, but The Golden Avenger uses one arm to electrify the rail, stunning The Marksman!

The Black Widow urges Hawkeye to rise and to finish Shell-Head off with an arrow, but he is still dazed! Madame Natasha sends a railcar at full speed towards Iron Man, who notices that Happy and Pepper are located right behind him, and if he dodges the railcar, they will be crushed! Using his prodigious transistorized strength, Shell-Head lifts the rails and stops the railcar in its path, then frees Happy and Pepper, who warn him that Hawkeye has fired another arrow!

Striking his shoulder, the arrow instantly begins to dissolve his armor, and Hawkeye knows that Iron Man will be powerless in minutes, while The Black Widow is shooting at him, as well! Shell-Head crashes into a brick wall to put a barrier between him and Hawkeye, while spotting The Black Widow's sniper's perch, and surprises her by snatching her rifle! Hawkeye sees Iron Man and readies another shaft, while Shell-Head has a plan of his own, involving a burrowing device... (Holy Groundhog's Day, Batman!)

The Golden Avenger executes a power dive, then goes through the ground, while Hawkeye's arrow flies harmlessly above him! Emerging from the ground, Iron Man and Hawkeye exchange taunts and shots, with Shell-Head taking a page from Hawkeye's book and firing a repulsor ray at The Black Widow, who is stunned, and leaving Hawkeye to fire wildly in his concern for Natasha! The Marksman races to her side, and ignores her command to continue his attack on Iron Man, taking her away in a car so that she can be healed! When Happy tells Iron Man that he can still catch them, The Golden Avenger soars away, his armor to be removed at once, and Pepper wonders why that should matter that he'd keep his identity a secret from them? (Holy Comic Code, Batman!) Minutes later, Tony Stark arrives on the scene, telling them that Shell-Head sent him to call the police, and Pepper rushes towards him, grateful that he wasn't taken prisoner by them, but as she embraces him, Happy Hogan knows that she loves Tony Stark, while a nobody like him hasn't a chance against the millionaire playboy, and Tony sees that Happy's heart is breaking!

It's always a treat to see Tony upgrade his armor, and the art by Don Heck and Chic Stone is to be savored, indeed! Their work continues to amaze and entertain even though they are sadly no longer with us.

Hawkeye gets new arrows and The Black Widow gets her first costume, in a series, second only to The Wondrous Wasp.

Later in The Silver Age, it was said that Natasha's husband was threatened, not her parents. He would turn out to be The First Red Guardian, who'd save her from the Psychotron, a device used by The Reds to enslave her will to serve them again!

I'm impressed at how fast Tony is able to change into his armor, faster than a fanboy at a convention, indeed!

The boomerang arrow would be used again in Avengers Special #2 against The Hulk, while the corrosive arrow would bring down an alternate version of Shell-Head in the same issue.

A comment was made that the stories by Lee and Heck were akin to romance than to super-hero, but I for one, appreciate the fact that The Marvel Super-Heroes had time for the agony and the ecstasy of love, with its repercussions, both pretty and not-so.

This Review Is Dedicated To Fellow Shell-Head and Don Heck Fan Steve Cohen From The Other "Steve C"

Steve Chung
"Hawkeye And The New Black Widow Reviewed Again!"