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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – That Time Radiation Turned Angel Evil and He Beat Up Iron Man

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature.

Today, with Avengers versus X-Men raging on, we take a look at the earliest confrontation between an Avenger and an X-Men, the time that Angel of the X-Men was driven insane from an atomic bomb and then beat up Iron Man.

It is late 1963, the Avengers and the X-Men are so new that the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants has not shown up yet and the Hulk has quit the Avengers so recently that it is not even addressed in Tales of Suspense #49, when Iron Man meets Angel of the X-Men.

And what a meeting!

First, I love the cute opening page of the story…

Wow, thanks editors of X-Men and Avengers!!

Okay, so here is how the story gets going…

You have to love them standing so close to an atomic explosion. Plus, Angel realizing that he is turning evil. Better yet, IRON MAN realizes that is turning evil and yet after one attempt to catch him (which fails), Iron Man just gives up and goes about his day to day life. “Eh, oh well, so he’s evil now.”

Remember, this is pre-Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, so Angel only PRESUMES that there are a bunch of evil mutants out there SOMEwhere…

When his fellow X-Men try to stop him, he handles them easily, even though some of his methods are a bit odd…

I don’t think that would work the way he says it works. But hey, it worked for him, so who am I to judge?

Professor X calls the X-Men for help, but all of them are ignoring their radios. The amusing thing is that all of them have their radios on them in their secret identities, leading to weird things like, you know, Tony Stark getting a distress signal in front of other people…

Ah…the Silver Age. When “What? You didn’t hear anything!” would actually work as an excuse. I guess Happy knew he was so drunk at the time that maybe he WAS hearing things.

Next, we see Iron Man’s delayed sense of justice…

“Now that Professor X has reminded me, I guess I DID sort of cause this.”

Meanwhile, check out Angel’s brilliant plan for getting into contact with other evil mutants…

Maybe they’re on a cruise?! For serious? Did the radiation affect his intelligence, too?

Iron Man is given ten minutes to reason with Angel or else the police will open fire on the winged mutant. Angel then handles Iron Man easily…

They then fight in a warehouse, where Angel locks Iron Man up. Iron Man escapes to find Angel still waiting for evil mutants…

Perhaps this is Stan Lee’s version of “Waiting for Godot?”

Iron Man has a new plan. This time, LET Angel kick his ass….

You gotta love how blase Iron Man is about dying.

And then finally….

Good stuff.

By the way, the X-Men were watching the whole thing…

“Why didn’t you try to rescue me?” “We were wondering what would happen.”

Well done, Silver Age Marvel (the Ditko art was awesome)! If Avengers versus X-Men ends without at least one member of the X-Men (or the Avengers, even) turning evil because of radiation, then I will be sorely disappointed.


Love it!!! In the 60’s radiation was the solution for all of Marvels problems!! Super powers,origins,personality altering!! Talk about a plot device :)

So let me get this straight, when you like a Lee/Ditko story, then Ditko wrote it, but when you don’t like it, then Lee wrote it all by himself. Got it.

That story just screams “Steve Ditko plot” to me, the whole theme of “choosing to be evil/good,” etc.

Radiation:What can’t it do?

Joe S. Walker

June 8, 2012 at 8:24 am

Since when did Ditko present choosing to be good or evil as a matter requiring any personal conflict??

Pete Woodhouse

June 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

Prefer Ditko inking himself, to be honest.

That’s right up there with the Hulk changing direction in mid-leap due to the awesome power of his muscles.

And he left out my favorite bit, where Angel just flies around Jean’s telekinetic attack. Because it’s so easy to spot TK blasts.
When I first read this, I hadn’t realize it was pre-Brotherhood, which makes Angel’s little terror campaign really nutty (even given they’d already met Magneto, Vanisher and Blob). But obviously radiation was impairing his thinking process.
Generally, I think radiation in sixties comics (and a fair number of fifties movies) is one of those technologies indistinguishable from magic as Arthur C. Clarke put it.

I know this is much earlier in Tony Stark’s career, but I still find it hilarious that he can’t outfly a character whose power is being a human-sized pigeon.

So what was the deal with those “thanks to the editors of BLANK magazine” you’d see in the Marvel cross-overs back then? Why were they trying to pretend that these were different companies? I saw one in the issue where Thor fights Magneto where they say “Magneto appears courtesy of the editors of X-MEN Magazine….namely, ourselves!”

Did the editor thanking have to do with Marvel being run like so many shell companies back then, so maybe it was a legalese they included to seem above-board?

Man I love Ditko.

@Mike.T: “In the 60?s radiation was the solution for all of Marvels problems!!”

Actually, given that this is an Iron Man story, it’s usually “TRANSISTORS!!” that explain everything.

Yeah, this story has so many holes in it (it almost) feels like a DC Silver Age comic instead! (except, you know, more DRAMATIC! XD ) My “favorite” part is how the whole thing began with a nuclear test… in UPSTATE NEW YORK! (That’s where the X-Men’s school is, and Angel can’t fly far enough to come in from another state.) XD

guess marvel back then after using it for the hulk good not let something liker radiation tests go off and change a character. and also surprised that the thing turned out to be a test also by xavier even back then he was some piece of work

Matthew Johnson

June 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

“What’s keeping the evil mutants? Why don’t they join me?”

I hate to tell you, Angel, but they all went to the malt shop without you…

Based on that last panel, you have to wonder if Xavier wasn’t involved somehow in making Angel turn evil.

Cory!! Strode

June 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

“Did the editor thanking have to do with Marvel being run like so many shell companies back then, so maybe it was a legalese they included to seem above-board?”

Yes, Marvel did that all the time during their very early years because Goodman was still playing shell games with his publications.

Of course today if Angel had pulled similar stunts, the MU government would have him locked up as a mutant terrorist.

sandwich eater

June 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm

A couple comments. Regarding Iron Man’s attitude towards death: this was the era when his heart was in constant danger of failing and he had to wear his chest plate under his clothes to stay alive (which I guess meant he couldn’t have any more one-night stands with debutantes); I think that he would develop a blase attitude towards death under those conditions. Also, by this point the X-Men had encountered evil mutants so Angel knew they were out there even if he didn’t know about the Brotherhood. I guess Angel assumed Magneto learned his lesson from X-Men #1 and was assembling his own team of mutants to counter the X-Men.

So Tony Stark is in the habit of testing atomic bombs inside his own factory? How does he manage to keep any staff?

Not transistors, “gizsmos.”

I sort of hope Lee wrote this, he could at least use the excuse he had to turn it out during a lunch break or something and did it in ten minutes. Ditko would have had to sit there drawing for however long and still be unable to come up with better dialogue.

How much did Tony weigh in that armor, anyway? Angel caught him with one hand!

Perhaps this is Stan Lee’s version of “Waiting for Godot?”

Ha! Well done sir. Well done.

What I love is that Iron Man couldn’t just pretend his jets ran out earlier in the fight so that he could save himself if necessary. He absolutely had to let his boot jets run out for real.

I think you meant Xavier tries calling the Avengers on the radio, the article says the “X-Men”.

But man, I always loved how hokey this story is. It makes me appreciate why Apocalypse’s Horseman programming was so deeply seated in Warren. He’s tempted to evil with just a splash of radiation. He probably pushed him back over the edge by offering a Klondike bar.

Todd Spangrud

June 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Whatever Paul Reinman was in the Golden Age is up for discussino,but he sure was a major hack in the Silver Age.Between The MLJ books and his horrid Marvel inking,this guy either couldnt see or just couldnt draw anymore.UGH!! You could hardly see that Ditko had anything to do with that book.
The cove to this book is outstanding.Kirby and Ayers or Stone???

Boy, this story brings me back. I first read this story when I was 9 years old when it was reprinted in an issue of Giant-Size Iron Man, the first Iron Man comic I ever bought. One of those early comic collecting experiences where I can even remember the store where I found it on the newsstand. Thanks for the fond memory!

Michael Howey

June 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Anyone could beat anyone back in those days. Although I’m pretty sure Moon Knight recently beat Count Nefaria so…


June 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I don’t recall ever seeing that Iron Man armor. Was that just Ditko’s version?

Unless I am mistaken, Ditko was the first guy to draw the version that didn’t look like a large robot, and also looks closer to the Iron Man that we know today.

It seems like they put the thing about the X-Men and the Avengers as an extra bit of advertising; at the time, there was no guarantee that the newsstands were carrying every title, and if this was pre-Brotherhood, then both titles were fairly new on the stands. This comic was likely written partially as an advertisement for those comics, to gets kids interested in them.

As the world’s biggest Angel fan I always loved this story. Only in the sixties could Angel ever beat Iron Man in a fight, lol.

As worstblogever says,
“Professor X calls the X-Men for help”
should read
“Professor X calls the Avengers for help”.

If swapped “radiation” for “black ops”, “running out of power” for “mortally wounded with a “bladed weapon”, removed 75% of Pepper’s clothing and extended it over 12 issues of three different titles, then I am pretty sure this story could have run as late as the ’90s. Add an artist that was tracing over photographs instead of drawing and who knows …

Anyway, it is amazing how effective the six-panel grid is. That first page is an absolute clinic on superhero action. You get an establishing shot of Angel flying onto Stark property. Then, you move over his shoulder to see Iron Man trying to wave him off. Then, you get a medium shot of what Iron Man is saying that Angel can’t hear from the distance that was established in the prior shot. Then, you get a two shot of Iron Man flying at Angel. Then, you get a reverse angle on the same shot as Iron Man finally gets within earshot. Finally, you get a close-up of the explosion.

That is an effective page. The problem (Angel can’t hear Iron Man warning him) is simple and relatable. Lee & Ditko use it to build suspense over a handful of panels. It resolves itself with the inciting incident (the detonation of the bomb) by the end of the first page. It leads naturally to the next page and its simple, relatable goal.

It is silly, but the storytelling is top notch.

Great comment Dean. I think people are unfairly harsh toward old stuff, although many of the goofy plot holes Brian points out are inexcusable even for the era. My only real problem with this are Reinman’s inks. He ruins everything IMO, apologies to any fans he may have out there among silver age enthusiasts.

So after six weeks, we’re back to “That Time…” titles?

@ T.


Everyone is always so eager to talk about how revolutionary those early Marvels were that it seems like their basic technical competence gets glossed over. Lee, Kirby and Ditko knew how to tell a story using comics as a medium. To me, that is the main difference between Marvel and DC stories of that vintage.

Julie Schwartz was perfectly capable turning Hawkman evil having him fight, say, Adam Strange. It was a common trope in the Weisinger era Superman titles (e.g. JIMMY OLSEN #53). However, that first page would be reduced to maybe two static panels of info dump. Panel #1 – Look, a mysterious device that turns people evil. Panel #2 – Uh oh, Hawkman has randomly picked up said device.

Lee and Ditko break things down into smaller chunks. They also add minor key goals that carry the reader through the page. Page #1 is essentially “Look, Angel is flying into a bomb test” and Page #2 is “Uh oh, the explosion turned Angel evil.” It is not so different from the DC version in that regard.

What Marvel did differently was those little one-page goals and obstacles. On Page #1, Iron Man wants to stop Angel, but Angel can’t hear him. On Page #2, Iron Man wants to catch Angel, but runs out of gas. It is stuff that anyone reading could comprehend.

“Panel #1 – Look, a mysterious device that turns people evil. Panel #2 – Uh oh, Hawkman has randomly picked up said device.”

That made me laugh.

“So, to recap: smarter + craftier + slyer = eviler. Not that we’re anti-intellectuals here in the ol’ Bullpen, mind you. But seriously, Ben Grimm or Reed Richards – who would YOU trust with your wallet?”

professor x was behind it all? he wanted to test angel?

Forget “upstate New York”, Stark’s facility was on Long Island! Even allowing for all my plot rationalization powers (it was over the ocean, at high altitude, there was a very strong wind blowing out to sea [which is why Angel couldn’t hear Iron Man] and barely trace amounts of radiation because they just wanted to generate enough to see if their new equipment was capable of tracking it in the atmosphere), that’s extremely dicey. However, the rest isn’t so bad.

It’s not surprising that Angel is looking for other “evil mutants” since in X-Men #1, Professor X’s pitch about the necessity of the X-team is that there are probably lots and lots of mutants in the world, and a good chunk of them might be evil. Angel’s already had this confirmed through encounters with individual evil mutants; he doesn’t have to have met a specific “Brotherhood” to look for more.

I don’t have a problem with Angel catching Iron Man; he doesn’t have super-strength per se, but those big-ass wings must provide a heck of an updraft when he’s flapping them. He can probably lift a good deal…does anyone who has read the early X-issues know if they ever clarify this? (Obviously, he can’t carry weight for very long, because of the strain on his shoulder muscles, but pulling Iron Man out of the fall and quickly setting him down I don’t mind.)

And that “we thank the editors of ‘X-Men’ and ‘The Avengers'” bit was a pretty sly way to push the existence of their TWO brand-new team books right at the start of this one. Well done, Stan.

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