Tales of Suspense

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Tales of Suspense is the name of an American comic book series and two one-shot comics published by Marvel Comics. The first, which ran from 1959 to 1968, began as a science-fiction anthology that served as a showcase for such artists as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck, then featured superheroes Captain America and Iron Man during the Silver Age of Comic Books before changing its title to Captain America with issue #100 (April 1968). Its sister title was Tales to Astonish.

Science-fiction anthology

The early run of Tales of Suspense, from issues #1-38 (Jan. 1959 - Aug 1962), began under Atlas Comics, the 1950s forerunner of Marvel, before eventually falling under the Marvel banner. It contained science-fiction mystery/suspense stories written primarily by editor-in-chief Stan Lee, with artists including Kirby, Ditko, Heck, Dick Ayers, Joe Sinnott and Paul Reinman. Issue #9 (May 1960) introduced Chondu the Mystic as an anthological-story character; he would be reintroduced as supervillain in 1970s comics.

Iron Man and the Watcher

Issue #39 (March 1963) introduced the superhero Iron Man, created by editor and plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He starred in generally 13-page but occasionally 18-page adventures, with the rest of Tales of Suspense devoted to the anthological science fiction and fantasy stories the comic normally ran. This issue was reprinted in its entirety in 1994 as Marvel Milestone Edition: Tales of Suspense #39.

After debuting with bulky gray armor, Iron Man was redesigned with similar but golden armor in his second story (issue #40, April 1963). The first iteration of the modern, sleek red-and-golden armor appeared in #48 (Dec. 1963), drawn by Steve Ditko (though whether he or Kirby, singly or in collaboration, designed it, is uncertain). From #53-58 (May-Oct. 1964), the cover logo was "Tales of Suspense featuring The Power of Iron Man".

The first Marvel superhero work by future company editor-in-chief Roy Thomas was his scripting the Iron Man story "My Life for Yours" in #73 (Jan. 1966), working from a plot by editor Stan Lee as well as a plot assist from Marvel secretary-receptionist Flo Steinberg.

From #49-58 (Jan.-Oct. 1964), one anthological story each issue acquired a framing sequence and ran as "Tales of the Watcher", narrated by the namesake cosmic witness introduced in The Fantastic Four #13 and used as a Marvel-universe supporting character since. The final "Tales of the Watcher" story introduced veteran artist George Tuska as a Marvel regular. Four years later, Tuska would become one of Iron Man's signature artists.

Captain America

Tales of Suspense #58 (Oct. 1964). Cover art by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone.

Beginning with issue #59 (Nov. 1964), Iron Man began sharing the now "split book" with Captain America, who had guest-starred in the Iron Man feature the previous issue. Jack Kirby, Captain America's co-creator during the 1940s Golden Age of comic books, had drawn the character as part of the superhero team the Avengers earlier that year, and was now illustrating his hero's solo adventures for the first time since 1941. Issue #63 (March 1965), in which editor-scripter Stan Lee retold Captain America's origin, through #71 (Nov. 1965) featured period stories set during World War II, and co-starred Captain America's Golden Age sidekick, Bucky.

Kirby drew all but two stories, for which Gil Kane and John Romita Sr. each filled-in. Several stories were finished by penciler-inker George Tuska over Kirby layouts, with one finished by Romita Sr. and another by penciler Dick Ayers and inker John Tartaglione. Kirby's regular inkers on the series were Frank Giacoia (as "Frank Ray") and Joe Sinnott, though Don Heck and Golden Age Captain America artist Syd Shores inked one story each.

Tales of Suspense became Captain America with #100 (April 1968). Iron Man went on to appear in the one-shot Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 (April 1968), and then debuted in his own title with Iron Man #1 (May 1968).


A one-shot with a transparent-foil cover, Tales of Suspense vol. 2, #1 (Jan. 1995), featured Captain America and Iron Man in a single story. Another one-shot, Tales of Suspense: Captain America and Iron Man Commemorative Edition (Feb. 2005) merely reprinted the previous month's Captain America vol. 5, #1 and Iron Man vol. 4, #1.

See also