We pick up again with Tales of Suspense #84. Tony Stark is set to tell all to a Senate committee, when we are suddenly reminded of what makes him different from other heroes; that he's secretly an invalid. After he collapses during his opening remarks:
Note again the layered characterization of Senator Byrd. He may at times be an antagonist in the plot, but he's not a villain. Overall I find him a much more nuanced and sophisticated version of J. Jonah Jameson.
Anyway, they open Stark's shirt and discover his metal chestplate (although, conveniently for the plot it's not the distinctive yellow and red armor of Iron Man). Still some reporters make the obvious connection and in the hospital later, Tony denies that he's Iron Man. He was all set to admit it, but after his heart attack he's changed his mind.
Pepper once again is all lovey-dovey:
Happy, having recovered from his amnesia, now remembers that Tony Stark is secretly Iron Man. When he learns that the media are reporting the rumors to that effect, he tries on one of Tony's Iron Man costumes to quell the talk. Although he performs somewhat ineptly, he is successful enough to fool the Mandarin, who transports him to China.
Tony must go after him, but after checking himself out of the hospital, we see him creating stronger armor. And we see that he appreciates Senator Byrd's trust in him:
I like the characterization there a lot. Iron Man then rides a rocket to China, and interrupts the Mandarin just as he is about to execute Happy. Iron Man and the Mandarin battle it out, and in the end, a missile that the latter had sent towards the USA is diverted by Iron Man to return to the Mandarin's castle, destroying it and with it the villain as well. Fortunately Happy has already been saved.
In Tales of Suspense #87, Iron Man faces one of Marvel's more ubiquitous villains of the 1960s, the Mole Man. Stark is working on a new earth-boring machine, but when several buildings disappear into the ground spontaneously, the public begins to mutter that perhaps he is behind it. But when his factory is sucked hundreds of fathoms underground, Iron Man discovers who's really responsible. Unfortunately Pepper was in the factory as well, which means that she's ready for hostage duty.
The Mole Man plans to use the earth-borer to launch the invasion of the surface world he's long planned (since FF #1, actually). But he doesn't realize that the machine has not yet been fully tested, and it explodes as Iron Man jets with Pepper out of the subterranean area.
Comments: A good set of stories with strong characterization; what's not to like? Well, for starters, the battle with the Mandarin only lasts a few pages. And there's still the annoyance of realizing that Pepper's returned affection for Tony Stark was never explained. But aside from those problems, this is another solid run of stories.