Tales of Suspense
Tales of Suspense #1 (January 1959).
Cover art by Don Heck
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
Publication dateJanuary 1959 – March 1968 (becomes Captain America)
No. of issues99
Main character(s)Iron Man
The Watcher
Captain America
Creative team
Written by

Tales of Suspense is the name of an American comic book anthology series, and two one-shot comics, all 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 (cover-dated April 1968). Its sister title was Tales to Astonish. Following the launch of Marvel Legacy in 2017, Tales of Suspense was once again resurrected at issue #100, featuring the Winter Soldier and Hawkeye in a story called "The Red Ledger".

Publication history

Reported circulation[1]
Year Circulation
1960 148,929
1961 184,735
1962 126,140
1963 188,110
1964 207,065
1965 222,060
1966 252,239
1967 257,342

Science-fiction anthology

Tales of Suspense and its sister publication Tales to Astonish were both launched with a January 1959 cover date.[2] Initially published under Atlas Comics, the 1950s forerunner of Marvel,[3] it fell under the Marvel banner with issue #19 (July 1961), the first with a cover sporting the early "MC" box.[4] It contained science-fiction mystery/suspense stories written primarily by editor-in-chief Stan Lee and his brother, Larry Lieber, with artists including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck. Issue #9 (May 1960) introduced Chondu the Mystic as an anthological-story character; he would be reintroduced as a supervillain in the 1970s.[5]

Iron Man and the Watcher

Issue #39 (March 1963) introduced the superhero Iron Man, created by editor and plotter Lee, Lee’s brother scripter Lieber, and artists Heck and Jack Kirby.[6] 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.

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 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". Two months before the debut of the sorcerer-hero Doctor Strange, Lee, Kirby and scripter Robert Bernstein, under the pseudonym "R. Berns", introduced a same-name criminal scientist and Ph.D., Carl Strange. Making his sole appearance in the Iron Man story "The Stronghold of Dr. Strange" in Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963), the character gained mental powers in a freak lightning strike.[7] The Mandarin debuted in issue #50 (Feb. 1964) and would become one of Iron Man's major enemies.[8] The Black Widow first appeared in #52 (April 1964)[9] and Hawkeye followed five issues later.[10]

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 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.

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

Captain America

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.[11] 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.[12] 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, James Buchanan Barnes aka Bucky. Sharon Carter was introduced in issue #75 (March 1966) and later became a love interest for Captain America.[13] The Red Skull, Captain America's major nemesis in the World War II era, was revived in the present day in issue #79 (July 1966).[14] MODOK first appeared in #94 (Oct. 1967).[15]

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).[16] Iron Man appeared 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 Tales of Suspense one-shot (Jan. 1995) which had a cover with a clear plastic overlay, featured Captain America and Iron Man in a single story written by James Robinson and drawn by Colin MacNeil.[17] Another one-shot, Tales of Suspense: Captain America and Iron Man Commemorative Edition (Feb. 2005) reprinted the previous month's Captain America vol. 5 #1 and Iron Man vol. 4 #1.[18]

Collected editions

Iron Man


Captain America

In other media

See also


  1. ^ Average monthly data from publisher's annual "Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation", as compiled at The Comics Chronicles. Circulation data first included in Statements for 1960. Title became Captain America in early 1968.
  2. ^ Brevoort, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1950s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 72. ISBN 978-0756641238. January [1959] saw the birth of two titles that would each have a place of importance in the coming age - Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Tales of Suspense at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Cover, Tales of Suspense #19 at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Christiansen, Jeff (November 17, 2006). "Chondu the Mystic". The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2013.
  6. ^ DeFalco, Tom "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 91: "Set against the background of the Vietnam War, Iron Man signaled the end of Marvel's monster/suspense line when he debuted in Tales of Suspense #39...[Stan] Lee discussed the general outline for Iron Man with Larry Lieber, who later wrote a full script for the origin story. Don Heck...designed the new character."
  7. ^ Christiansen, Jeff (May 11, 2002). "Doctor Strange". The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  8. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 99: "Following the tradition of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu and Atlas' own Yellow Claw, the Mandarin first appeared in Tales of Suspense #50 in a story written by Stan Lee and illustrated by Don Heck."
  9. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 100: "The Black Widow was a Russian spy assigned to capture American industrialist Tony Stark...Her story was plotted by Stan Lee, written by...Don Rico, and drawn by Don Heck."
  10. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 101: "A case of mistaken identity led the police to assume {Hawkeye] was part of [a criminal] gang. The Black Widow saved him from capture but also tricked him into fighting Iron Man"
  11. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 103
  12. ^ Daniels, Les (1991). Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 120. ISBN 9780810938212. Jack Kirby threw himself enthusiastically into Cap's new adventures, including an action-packed series of stories that flashed back to World War II.
  13. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 115: "Sharon Carter became an agent of SHIELD...Code-named Agent 13, she specialized in undercover work. She and Captain America were often paired together and eventually fell in love"
  14. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 116: "Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to resurrect the original Red Skull in this issue, after having featured him in Cap's recent World War II series in Tales of Suspense."
  15. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 124: "MODOK, the 'Mental/Mobile/Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing' could use his brain to control or destroy anyone. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, MODOK was used as a guinea pig for a human/computer hybrid by the subversive organization called AIM."
  16. ^ DeFalco "1960s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 128: "Hailing 1968 as the beginning of the 'Second Age of Marvel Comics,' and with more titles to play with, editor Stan Lee discarded his split books and gave more characters their own titles: Tales of Suspense #99 was followed by Captain America #100."
  17. ^ Tales of Suspense one-shot at the Grand Comics Database
  18. ^ Tales of Suspense: Captain America & Iron Man #1 Commemorative Edition at the Grand Comics Database
  19. ^ Englestein, Brant (writer); Trilling, Lawrence (director) (January 19, 2016). "The Lady in the Lake". Agent Carter. Season 2. Episode 1. ABC.