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Tales of Suspense 74
"If This Guilt Be Mine --!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND February, 1966

Story: As Only The Fabulous STAN LEE Can Tell It!
Art: As Only The Fantastic ADAM AUSTIN Can Draw It!
Inking: As Only The Flamboyant GARY MICHAELS Can Delineate It!
Lettering: As Only The Frantic ARTIE SIMEK Can Scribble It!
Reviewing: As Only The Fanatic STEVE CHUNG Can Type It!
(Originally Reviewed On 12/31/01)

In the previous issue, a hospitalized Happy Hogan was abducted by the villainous Black Knight, intent on luring The Invincible Iron Man into a trap, but despite the fact that Shell-Head survived the ordeal, the cost of his victory may be too high, indeed, for his transistor power is fading fast, and he needs a re-charge, with only mere minutes left!

Through the pain and fear of mortality beckoning him, Tony uses his transistors for a radio message, with the built-in sender running on a penlight battery, as he contacts his laboratory! (Holy Windows 95, Batman!) At the lab, Pepper Potts hears the message for help from Iron Man, and for help to come to the address on Valley Road Drive...

The message fades, but Pepper runs out the door, intent on saving The Golden Avenger, and praying that she's not too late. Taking Tony's sportscar, she wonders where her boss is at this moment, while his valiant employee may be dying, and wondering how she could ever have loved the millionaire industrialist at all. Seeing herself as a fool for possibly falling for his looks, the glamor, and his wealth, Pepper believes that Tony has been using Iron Man for all the dangerous jobs, while he took all the credit, and refuses to divulge his identity since the playboy wants the glory all for himself! She arrives at the castle, where the authorities picked up Happy, and realizes that Iron Man must still be inside!

Intent on helping The Golden Avenger, Pepper seeks to atone for believing that he was attempting to harm Tony some months ago, and whoever is behind the iron mask, whatever he looks like, that's the man she loves, and the realization has come at long last! Hearing the door opening, Iron Man believes that The Black Knight has returned to finish him off, but he is pleasantly surprised to find Pepper Potts at his side, while she's stunned to see him in such a helpless state! Asking what she can do for him, Shell-Head tells her to get him to the car, which she does by dragging him, since his armored form is so heavy, and she fears that he may not survive the hour's drive to the city!

Outside, Iron Man rises and moves to the car, while Pepper cautions him to conserve his strength and attempts to help him, but Shell-Head knows that every second counts! Knowing that there's an emergency c charging wire fitted into the dashboard cigarette lighter, he reaches for it, and soon feels the current reaching his transistors, which will keep him stabile until they arrive at the lab. Hearing the strength returning to his voice, Pepper complies, and at the factory, she helps him along the way, and Iron Man notes the tenderness in her voice, which she used to sound to Tony Stark. Telling her which circuits to connect for the strongest charge, Iron Man asks about Happy's condition, and Pepper tells him about the new surgical technique the doctors are using, known as an enervator... none other than Tony Stark's latest invention! Hearing this, Iron Man is determined that the device not be used, while Pepper tells him that without it, not enough power can be generated for the cobalt ray machine! Shell-Head knows that the device is untested, and may convey dangerous side-effects on the subject...

Iron Man knows that the cobalt ray machine may alter the patient and make him a freak, but without the extra energy the enervator provides, Happy would have succumbed to his injuries. The Golden Avenger understands that the device must be used, but why on his best friend? Ten minutes have passed, and although he requires twenty more minutes for a full re-charge, Iron Man tells Pepper to turn off the current. She sees that he's still woozy, but Shell-Head is confident that his head will clear in a moment. The ringing of the phone calls their attention, with Pepper believing that Mr. Stark is on the other end, but Iron Man knows better...

Calling it a hunch, Iron Man believes that it may be the hospital with news on Happy's condition, but it's Senator Byrd, who wants both he and Tony Stark to appear before his military committee and give information concerning his armor. When Iron Man seeks to postpone the meeting, the harried senator tells him that he will arrive from Washington with a subpoena! Pepper sees that the phone call has unnerved him and asks if it was Senator Byrd, to which Shell-Head nods, but Happy's welfare is his main concern, and he thanks Pepper for her kindness, sounding to her as if he doesn't expect to return, while he notices the warmth in her voice. Flying from the factory, Shell-Head remembers how it took months to make Pepper hate Tony Stark, which he did because of his weak heart, but if she loves Iron Man, then he's back to square one, and wonders if it would be best if he didn't come back...

In the operating room, the enervator is being used on Happy, keeping him alive through the surgery, the device meant to be researched by the doctors, not used on a patient without testing. Happy's pulse and respiration begin to get stronger, while the surgeon wonders aloud if there'll be any unforeseen side-effects on the pugilistic chaufferer?

Happy's strength continues to grow at an alarming rate, and the doctor orders all power to be shut off, while the others wonder why, especially since he's recovering? Lifting the visor from Happy's face, the doctor points out that Happy's strength has been multiplied a hundred-fold, and just what will happen when the rest of his body follows suit...? Happy's very atoms have been affected by the enervator, with his eyes... his hair... and facial structure beginning a radical change, and soon, the figure on the operating table no longer bares any resemblence to their patient, for Happy Hogan has become... a Freak! The startled doctors watch, as he begins to move...

The transformation of his body has also affected Happy's mind, as he shoves aside the surgeons, who note how easily The Freak is holding a half-ton oxygen tank in one hand! One of the nurses races outside for the authorities, while The Freak raises the operating table above his mishapen head... Iron Man has arrived at the hospital and wonders how Happy's condition has fared...

The Golden Avenger sees The Fearsome Freak, and knows that the looming figure before him used to be Happy Hogan, the man who saved his life, and who now is consumed with mindless hatred, which will enable him to take that life if Shell-Head isn't careful! The Freak doesn't heed Iron Man, who tells him to stay back, and a iron gauntleted punch fails to faze The Freak, but the same can't be said for Shell-Head, whose freakish opponent is his exact match in terms of strength! The Freak must be stopped, but beneath the surface is the soul of Happy Hogan, and how can Tony Stark bear to battle his best friend? Knowing that the enervator is his invention and that the device did this to Happy, makes it his responsibility to stop The Freak, who has just smashed through a wall, and who is now out in the open...

Soaring after him, The Golden Avenger is determined to keep The Freak from leaving the suburbs and entering the city! At the power station, The Freak continues to lumber forward, while Iron Man is forced to land nearby, regretting that he hadn't fully charged his transistors, and he doesn't have the power for a prolonged battle with this bizarre foe! The blame is his, as is the responsibility to stop his friend, and the sacrifice must be his alone, as he strides forward, and the man beneath the iron mask prays that his friend can forgive for what he is about to do...

The art of Adam Austin and Gary Michaels, aka Gene Colan and Jack Abel, gives us not only the transistorized titan known as Iron Man, but the fearsome Freak, and the fiery redhead, Pepper Potts.

Poor Shell-Head! Pepper doesn't like him as Boss-Man Tony Stark, and loves him as the Stark Industries employee of the month. And Jimmy The Wolf-Man thought he had troubles...

You'd think that Iron Man would ask Ol' Wing-Head to smooth things over for him with Senator Byrd. Or for that matter, why doesn't Nick Fury take the senator for a ride in The Heli-Carrier?

The enervator would change Happy Hogan into The Freak once more, when he substituted for Tony as Iron Man in the '70s.

In the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, a device which was also called an enervator was used by Curt Connors to save The Wall-Crawler, when his life-energy was used to revive The Kingpin's son, but the feedback also caused the doctor to become The Lizard once more! This occured in 1976 in the #160s of Spidey's mag. It was in 1979, in the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man, that the enervator also caused Peter Parker to become The Spectacular Spider-Lizard, a much more primitive version of Doc Connors' alter-ego, and the beleaguered scientist had to hunt his friend in the sewers beneath New York in order to cure him, from a story by Bill Mantlo, I believe. The story occurred around #39 - #42 of Spidey's newer mag.

Cobalt radiation was used in Power Man #42 (or thereabouts) to save Lonnie Carver, whose brother was once a member of the streetgang known as The Thunderbolts (Daredevil #69, where Horn-Head and T'Challa helped them out when they first appeared), Lonnie's brother was shot by a hitman, while Lonnie, himself, took on the killer, both men wrestling for the gun when lightning struck it, killing the hitman, and leaving Lonnie in critical condition. The cobalt radiation (from a device provided by Stark Industries) saved Lonnie, imparting him with super-speed and super-quick reflexes. Making a costume and intent on finding his brother's killers, Lonnie Carver became The Thunderbolt, whose career would be short, because the cobalt radiation also caused him to age at an extreme rate (ten years for each month or so) and before he died, his brother was avenged.

Cobalt radiation also played a part in the creation and destruction of The Cobalt Man from X-Men and The Hulk, where the scientist sought to destroy part of Australia, only to be thwarted by The Green Goliath (around Incredible Hulk #174 or so)

The Black Knight fell into a moat and was discovered by his nephew, Dane Whitman, who would become the heroic Black Knight upon his uncle's death-bed confession, and who would wield The Ebony Blade of his noble ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia. (Nathan Garett's death and Dane's start was shown in Avengers #48 (?))

Iron Man's foe is his friend, and vice-versa. Not an easy one for Shell-Head this month.

The Freak is my favorite type of villain, one with an alter-ego, such as Mr. Hyde, and another Iron Man foe, The Crusher, who would appear in a Daredevil story by Tony Isabella in the '70s.

This Review Is Dedicated To My Fellow SAR Listers (SAR being what Rich Morrisey refered to at one time as Steve's Amusing Reviews and I hope to continue to provide more for your reading pleasure)

May all of us hopefully have a happier new year in 2002 and God bless you all.

Steve Chung
"If This Review Be Mine --!"