Essential Iron Man—Volume 1

essential iron man volume 1 cover trade paperback
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10

The introduction to the classic Marvel comic character

Never was a huge Iron Man fan

Comic Info

Comic Name:  Tales of Suspense

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Writer:  Stan Lee/Larry Lieber/Robert Bernstein/Don Rico/Al Hartley

Artist: Don Heck/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko

# of Issues:  34

Release Date:  2008


Tales of Suspense #39

Reprints Tales of Suspense #39-72 (March 1963-December 1965). Industrialist and playboy Tony Stark is injured by an explosion leaving a piece of shrapnel headed to his heart. To save himself and avenge his ally Professor Yinsen, Tony Stark must create a suit of armor and becomes a hero. Now posing as his own bodyguard, Tony Stark is Iron Man!

Written by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Robert Bernstein, Don Rico, and Al Hartley with illustrations by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck, Essential Iron Man—Volume 1 collects the first part of Iron Man’s run in Tales of Suspense #39-72 before the character got his own title. Like all Essential volumes, the title is presented in black-and-white with more newsprint style paper than other higher grade trade paperbacks.

Iron Man was never my favorite character, and these early collections are rather simple stories like many of the early Marvel comics. The character has of course changed over the years since his origin originally has him injured in Vietnam.  With the issues split between Iron Man and other tales and then Iron Man and Captain America beginning in Tales of Suspense #59 (November 1964), Iron Man doesn’t have very long issues to develop.


Tales of Suspense #57

This collection does feature some good guest appearances from the X-Men’s Angel and Captain America and some first appearances of classic characters. Kala in Tales of Suspense #43 (July 1963), Jack Frost aka in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963), the Crimson Dynamo in Tales of Suspense #46 (October 1963), the Melter in Tales of Suspense #47 (November 1963), The Mandarin in Tales of Suspense #50 (February 1964), the Scarecrow in Tales of Suspense #51 (March 1964), Black Widow in Tales of Suspense #52 (May 1964), the Unicorn in Tales of Suspense #56 (August 1964), Hawkeye in Tales of Suspense #57 (September 1964), and Titanium Man in Tales of Suspense #69 (September 1965) all make their first appearances serving as enemies in this volume. Iron Man allies Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan both first appear in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963) and become big players in both the lives of Iron Man and Tony Stark. Plus there is another villainous Doctor Strange in Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963)…of course he never caught on.

Some of these first appearances are good…some aren’t, but issues like Hawkeye and Black Widow (who were first villains when they premiered) are fun.  The Mandarin also quickly jumps to the top of Iron Man’s villains since he had more personality than other characters like the Melter or Unicorn.  Iron Man also does well with other “armored” villains like Titanium Man or Crimson Dynamo who have both changed over time with changes in the political atmosphere.

Essential Iron Man—Volume 1 is better than I expected to be since I’m not a huge Iron Man fan. If you like the Iron Man films (which I like more than the character) or The Avengers, it is fun to see how Hollywood has updated and modified Stark for today’s world. As the title implies for Marvel’s fans, it really is an essential…unlike others in the line.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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