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Tales of Suspense #39, March 1963

Volume: 1
Issue: 39
Month: March
Year: 1963


1st Story:[]

Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Stan Lee and Larry Leiber
Pencils: Don Heck
Inker Don Heck
Colourist: Stan Goldberg (Not Credited)
Letterer: Art Simek
Cover Art: Jack Kirby and Don Heck


1st Story:[]

"Iron Man Is Born!"
In a closely guarded lab, Anthony Stark shows off a new invention to US military defense officials. He has developed transistorized magnets that are super-powerful, strong enough to pull open a thick metal door from a distance. They increase magnetic force a thousand fold! Stark impresses the military brass with his new inventions, while at the same time impressing the ladies of the international jet set with his dashing good looks and incredible personal wealth.

Across the globe, the evil Red tyrant Wong-Chu takes over another small village in Vietnam, defeating its strongest men in contests of judo. Meanwhile, Tony Stark has arrived in Vietnam to observe the testing of one of his new inventions for the US Military. Accompanying a squad of soldiers equipped with his weaponry on a patrol through the jungle, he accidentally triggers a trip-wire that detonates a landmine. The wounded Stark is captured by Wong-Chu’s forces and taken to his nearby headquarters. Wong-Chu realizes his prisoner is a "famous Yankee inventor" and he decides that even though doctors determine he only has days to live before "shrapnel reaches his heart," he will put him to work in service of the communist insurgency.

Wong-Chu declares that he will have a surgeon save Tony Stark’s life if he will agree to develop new high-tech weapons for him. Stark agrees, but only in order to try and save his own life with his technical abilities. Given access to scrap metal and tools, Stark promises he will deliver a "fantastic weapon," but sets out in building a mechanism that will help stop the shrapnel from penetrating his heart. He is given an assistant named Professor Yinsen, a famous physicist whom Stark had read about while he was in college. Working together, the two finalize work on Stark's project: they have invented an iron body-suit with a chest-plate that, through use of transistor-powered magnets, will keep the shrapnel at bay inside Tony Stark's heart.

Just as Stark has donned inside the life-saving suit and begun to power it with electrical current from a generator, Wong-Chu senses something is wrong and comes in to check on him. Professor Yinsen rushes out into the hallway shouting at Wong-Chu and is shot dead by armed guards, buying the precious seconds Stark needed to fully charge the armor. Tony Stark, as Iron Man, hears the murder of his friend and swears he will avenge his death. He tries to rise and steady himself in the Iron Man armor, but discovers it is like learning to walk again. He quickly gets the hang of operating the armor and evades detection from Wong-Chu by leaping to the ceiling and holding himself there using suction cups. After the tyrant leaves the room, he heads outside to "amuse himself" with his "favorite sport", terrorizing the local villagers.

Iron Man descends from the ceiling and finds a coat and hat with which to covers his armor, and wanders outside to find Wong-Chu tossing people around in the judo-arena. Iron Man challenges Wong-Chu, then takes off his coat and hat to reveal the shocking visage of Iron Man! The metal monster walks up to Wong-Chu, picks him up and twirls him around before tossing him into the brush. Wong-Chu demands that his guards open fire at Iron Man, but the bullets just bounce off the armored figure’s metal chest plate. Iron Man then uses “Reverse Magnetism�? to redirect the bullets back at his opponents. Wong-Chu races away in fear, but Iron Man, low on energy and too weak to continue pursuit, uses his armor’s lubrication system to launch a stream of oil towards an ammo depot near the fleeing Wong-Chu. He then sets fire to the oil stream with a miniature torch, causing the ammo dump to explode, killing Wong-Chu.

2nd Story:[]

"The Last Rocket!"
A married couple refuses to leave the planet with everyone else when their sun starts to burn out. After the last rocketship leaves orbit, there is a giant flash of light and a new sun forms behind the old one. They pledge to start the human race anew as a breed that will love the the planet as they love it. It is then we find that they are Adam and Eve.

3rd Story:[]

A man is lost at sea in a small boat when he sees an island in the distance. He lands to find that it is inhabited by vikings awaiting the coming of Gundar, "the cruelest, most hated captain of all!"

Centuries ago, Gundar was ambushed by his men, thrown into a boat and left out to sea. As he stood there, he cursed them with immortality to Odin, never to leave the cursed island they were to find themselves stranded on until he came back.

After the vikings tell the man their story, they start to vanish one by one believing Odin had forgiven them. The man is then found to be a descendant of Gundar and is rescued by ship.

  • Iron Man (Tony Stark)
  • Ho Yinsen - First Appearance; Dies this issue.
  • Wong-Chu - First Appearance
  • Unnamed US Army General
  • Wong-Chu's village, Somewhere in South Vietnam
  • Iron Man Armor MK I - First Appearance
  • Lightweight mortars


  • The lightweight mortars that Tony Stark designed for the US Army look suspiciously like M-79 Grenade Launchers.


  • Don Heck, Iron Man's original artist, based Stark's look on the 1930s movie actor Errol Flynn.
  • Iron Man's helmet was deliberately designed to resemble a skull.
  • This issue has been Ranked #29 in 100 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time list

Recommended Readings:[]

  • Iron Man appears next in Tales of Suspense #40 (Next Issue).
  • The story featured in this issue is continued in Iron Man #144, which tells of Iron Man's journey back to the US defense perimiter and how he first meets downed American helicopter pilot James Rhodes.
  • Wong-Chu appears next in Iron Man (Vol 3) #32.
  • The Sons of Yinsen, a group of Professor Ho Yinsen's followers, appear in...

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