Tales of Suspense (1959) #45 – After an impressive debut in issue #39, Iron Man’s adventures have been hampered somewhat by uninspired villains as well as strange story choices such as sending the hero back to Ptolemaic Egypt. While the antagonist of “The Icy Fingers of Jack Frost!” still leaves something to be desired, this story sees the introduction of Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts, giving Shellhead a much needed supporting cast. Potts suffers a bit from the typical ‘60s Marvel poor treatment of its female characters — she doesn’t do much but pine after Tony — but Hogan livens up this story immediately. His personality might not be a far cry from that of the everlovin’ Thing, but the blunt, everyman quality of the pugilist is a welcome addition to a book that is still trying to find its way.
Tales of Suspense (1959) #46 – After facing off against quite a few forgettable foes, Iron Man finally comes against one with some staying power. The Crimson Dynamo comes hot on the heels of Hogan and Potts, adding to the feeling that this character has a future in the Marvel Universe. The Russian equivalent of Tony Stark’s armored alter ego may not be his greatest nemesis, but he’s the first one to appear that actually seems like an appropriate antagonist for Iron Man. At the very least, Dynamo is an improvement over Kala, Queen of the Netherworld!
Tales of Suspense (1959) #47 – … and then there’s The Melter. With a name like that, you wouldn’t expect him to stick around long, but he does, in fact, for a little while. This story has interesting credits: “Written by: Stan Lee / Interpreted by: Steve Ditko / Refined by: Don Heck.” It’s presented with the typical spin — “combine their famous talents” — but you know there was some kind of drama going on. Despite his silly name, The Melter manages to seem like a genuine threat when he melts the arm of Iron Man’s armor; it’s the first time something like that has happened and Stark seems convincingly vulnerable. This antagonist has a credible motivation, as well, having been a competitor that lost out to our playboy businessman. Perhaps they felt they were finally onto something with Iron Man as this is the longest story yet. Of course, the next issue features Mr. Doll… but you can’t win ‘em all.