Tales Of Suspense #69-71 (Iron Man)
Issue(s): Tales Of Suspense #69, Tales Of Suspense #70, Tales Of Suspense #71 (Iron Man stories only)
The design is based on the the fact that it will be worn by Bullski, whose great strength will do some of the work that Iron Man's transistors do for him. This makes Bullski much more of a badass than Stark, no matter what else happens.
Stark receives a telegram from behind the Iron Curtain (Stark refers to it as "Commieland!") issuing a challenge to Iron Man to fight the Titanium Man in a neutral battleground (Alberia). Worried about his health, Stark debates accepting the challenge while the rest of the world wonders if Iron Man is a coward. Eventually he does accept...
...and while Titanium Man has the upper hand for the first half of the battle...
...things get really bad when Iron Man is tricked into a minefield. Yes, Titanium Man has a suit made out of better armor and natural super-strength, and he's also a cheater.
In the recap for the next issue, we see a panel that did not appear in the reprint of the previous issue. It is a scene with "the stunning, sultry" Countess Stephanie De La Spirosa, thinking to herself how she is going to make Tony Stark pay for something he has done in the past. Later she just seems to be trying to get his attention.
The battle allows for a 15 minute break, and in that time period Iron Man tries to upgrade his armor, but De La Spirosa has taken a necessary transistor. Iron Man asks Happy to find her and get the device back and then returns to the battle where he is beaten on pretty badly. Happy finally does get the device and runs to the battlefield. Iron Man heroically dodges an attack that instead hits Happy.
As Happy 'dies', he reveals that he knows that Stark is Iron Man.
With that, Iron Man returns to the battle. Iron Man has the upper hand in the second round...
...and this time Titanium Man's greater bulk is made out to be a weakness instead of an asset.
Of course, Titanium Man continues to cheat, exploiting Stark's decadent innocence (surely an oxymoron?).
But the device that Happy delivered allows Iron Man to turn the tables a final time.
Meanwhile it turns out that Happy is still alive, and the fact that Stark isn't showing up to be there for his injured friend doesn't sit well with Senator Byrd or Pepper.
After the fight, a doctor saves Happy's life, but he's still in critical condition.
Despite being not too different than the Crimson Dynamo (or Iron Man), the Titanium Man is an enduring character, and i usually enjoy his appearances, especially thanks to his size. This televised contest was an interesting take on the usual "commie attacks!" plotline, although the Communists are still conniving and one dimensional.
The secret identity stress is frustrating (i really don't see the harm in Stark revealing his identity to Pepper). But this was a fun fighting contest, even if Heck's art doesn't really lend it the grandeur it deserved.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Stark says that the problems he's been having with his chest piece are one the reasons that he recently left the Avengers. This takes place concurrently with Avengers #19 & #20 because in those issues the Avengers remark on Iron Man's current battle with Titanium Man.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: Marvel's Greatest Comics #27, Marvel's Greatest Comics #28, Marvel Masterworks: The Invincible Iron Man vol. 3
Inbound References (6): show
I never considered Bullski a mutant with super strength. I always put him down as one of those "normal" humans in the Marvel Universe that nonetheless have extraordinary physical powers. Bullski, the Kingpin, and the Ox would all be representatives. To be honest, so is probably Bullseye and to a lesser extent anyone whose physical skills and talents are probably beyond the capabilities of actual people like the rest of the Enforcers, Batroc, Shang Chi, etc. Much the same way that ordinary people can be super smart. I simply accept it as part of the genre of superhero comics and its pulp antecedents.
I agree with you that there's room for "ordinary" extraordinary people in the Marvel universe.
But i wanted to revise my original thought that Bullski might be a mutant. I've now read Suspense #81-83 where he says that the Kremlin's been pumping him full of hormones. So he's actually the Ivan Drago of the MU.
is Senator Byrd related to J. Jonah Jameson cause his irrational hatred of Tony Stark makes him spout all sorts of crazy sauce talk.
and Pepper's a bit of an idiot - if the Countess hadn't stolen Stark's upgraded transistor in a pathetic bid to make him chase after her, Happy wouldn't have needed to be on the battlefield to get it to Iron Man, and he wouldn't have been shot. but, the Countess easily deflects Pepper's anger by the clever argument of "Don't blame me! It's all Tony Stark's fault!".
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