Classic Comic Cover Corner (Polar Vortex Edition) – Tales of Suspense #45

Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Tales of Suspense #45 – September, 1963

Cover art by Jack Kirby

Tales of Suspense #45 - September, 1963
Tales of Suspense #45 – September, 1963

Over the past couple of weeks, every time I turn on the news the top story is about the “polar vortex” that is putting much of the country into a deep freeze. So as I’m sitting in Arizona, with the high temperature in the seventies, the scenes of cars buried in the snow and entire cities being shut down by extreme weather got me to thinking about comic book villains like Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, and the dark elf, Malekith (who once unleashed the “Casket of Ancient Winters” upon the Earth.)

It’s just a matter of time until an astute comic book writer out there snags the “Polar Vortex” moniker for a new villain (or maybe even a hero), but in the meantime we’re going to showcase one of the greatest cold-themed comics ever created, Tales of Suspense #45, which not only features the first appearance of “Jack Frost,” but also introduces us to Iron Man’s famous sidekicks, Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts.

Iron Man #86
Iron Man #86
– May, 1976

In a Stan Lee penned story called, “The Icy Fingers of Jack Frost!”, a disgruntled Stark Industries employee, Gregor Shapanka, develops a suit that creates extreme cold temperature and plans to use it to slow his aging process by lowering his body temperature. But, as usually happens with Tony Stark’s European commie employees (Why does he hire these guys?), Shapanka resorts to using his powers for nefarious purposes.

When the villain makes the mistake of attacking Stark’s secretary, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, and his driver, Harold “Happy” Hogan, Iron Man saves the day with his armor’s built-in heat-ray, which he uses to melt Jack Frost’s icy exterior. But Shapanka would one day return, in Iron Man #86 (May 1976), with a spiffier costume and the fancier name of the “Blizzard.”

The “Jack Frost” of Tales of Suspense #45 isn’t the first time that Stan Lee used that name for a comic book character. Back in August, 1941, when Marvel was still Timely Comics, a young Stan Lee (together with illustrator Frank Giacoia and inker Carmine Infantino) created a very similar fellow, also called “Jack Frost”, who was a secondary hero in U.S.A. Comics #1; and he was one of the first characters every created by Uncle Stan. Now there’s some comic history to warm your soul.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.