Tales to Astonish #51 (01/10/1964)

detail21The last issue of Tales to Astonish ended with the Human Top stating that he needed to get rid of Giant-Man and the Wasp permanently and it then shows him running with a stick of dynamite. Well apparently by the time Tales to Astonish #51 comes around the Human Top has apparently forgotten that plan (although he still has the dynamite, which he then uses to blow up a boat). Well Giant Man and the Wasp be able to stop the Human Top from doing whatever he is planning to do?

Unfortunately the story in this issue is a hot mess. This is mainly because the motives of the Human Top are vague as heck. He blows up a boat to use as a distraction, but it’s unclear for what. As best as I can tell he uses it to steal federal defense plans, which apparently was a trap set by Giant Man, but it’s hard to tell because none of the setup is shown. This in the end makes it really confusing because there’s no connection made. In addition, how the heck did the Giant-Man and Wasp fans find out where they were? I mean that seriously came out of nowhere and made no sense.

While this issue also features the traditional backup stories, the first one was presented as a story the Wasp was telling a group of people, which was a nice touch. The first story, “Somewhere Waits a Wobbow,” which gives a whole new meaning to fool‘s gold and is entertaining for what it is. The second story, “No Place to Turn,” is about another attempted alien invasion of earth and is a pretty lame story.

Rating: 2.5/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colourists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Tales to Astonish #50 (12/10/1963)

untitled.pngTales to Astonish #50 sees the arrival of yet another lame villain with the arrival of the Human Top, who’s powers are to spin really quickly like a top. Apparently, this villain had been committing petty crimes for a while, but Ant-Man/Giant-Man has now decided that it would be worth stopping him, because one of his ants had apparently sensed where the Human Top was planning to strike next. Unfortunately for Hank Pym, becoming giant does not yield an increase in speed and thus it makes it incredibly hard for him to catch the Human Top. Thus, he goes back to the drawing board to make himself faster.

Overall, this is an okay issue, with nothing particularly special about it, other than it is the first issue to end with a cliffhanger. However, I did have a couple of issues with this story. The first being the ant being able to sense what the villain was going to be able to do in the future being explained simply by the phrase “somehow.” That is just lazy writing. The other issue is retconning Janet’s reasoning for becoming the Wasp from wanting to get revenge for the death of her father to one of being in love with Hank Pym.

In addition this issue features the standard two backup stories, both of which end up being pretty lame. The first, The Secret of Sagattus, explores the relationship between a king and a hunchback. The second, “No Ending,” features a dictator having a repeating bad dream.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists:
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Steve Ditko
  • Colourists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Tales to Astonish #49 (11/10/1963)

detail19.jpgAfter having witnessed the awful villain known as the Porcupine, I was really worried when the cover of Tales to Astonish #49 featured the Human Eraser. Luckily this villain is not nearly as bad as the Porcupine is. The reason being is that while it looks like he is erasing people, what he really is doing is transporting to Dimension Z, which definitely saves this character. However clearly the whole “erasing” aspect of this character does not work. Anyways, the character is transporting scientists to Dimension Z because they want them to build an atomic weapon, so at least that’s better motivation than wanting to become a criminal and famous.

In addition to featuring the Human Eraser, this issue also features the first appearance of Giant-Man, another one of Hank Pym’s many, many identities through the years. I think having Pym developing a whole bunch of different gas canisters that can change him to various sizes will help to shake things up and make it a little more interesting. Although I’m curious, when he shrinks down he keeps the same strength, wouldn’t that be the case when he grows big? If so, wouldn’t he be extremely weak as Giant-Man relative to his big size?

Breaking from the usual pattern, this issue only features one backup story, “The End of the World.” This story features a ruler who wants to leave his name in history by creating a bomb that can blow up an entire galaxy, which ends up being pretty entertaining.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Tales to Astonish #48 (10/10/1963)

detail18.jpgI have to admit that I did not have a good feeling heading into Tales to Astonish #48 considering that it proclaims that Ant-Man and the Wasp are going to battle the Porcupine. Unfortunately my misgivings about this issue ended up being completely well-founded, because this issue features the lamest Ant-Man villain thus far, and keep in mind that there is a lot of strong competition for that title in this series.

This issue features Alex Geatry, who invents gear modeled after the porcupine, which basically means it has a bunch of tubes that shoot out an assortment of different things. Naturally, after inventing it he decides to become a criminal and actually names himself the Porcupine. Seriously? I am totally in awe at how dumb of a villain this is. First off there’s the issue of how he looks. Basically he looks like a guy in a gas mask wearing a tiki hut. Second, his power is basically being a giant blow dart gun. Ugh, just talking about this guy is making me irritated. Seriously, what an awful villain. Even his motivation is horrible. Sadly, I have a feeling he’s going to be showing up again.

In addition this issue also features to backup stories, which were pretty decent. The first story, Grayson’s Gorilla, features a man who desires to gain the strength of a gorilla. The second story, “The Little Green Man,” centers around a man who makes a deal with a green alien to make his plane travel faster.

Rating: 1.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky
  • Writers: Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Tales to Astonish #47 (09/10/1963)

detail17After reading Tales to Astonish #47 I’m reminded of another issue that I’ve had with this series: recycling enemies more often than a Mortal Kombat game. In this issue we are introduced to Trago, a jazz musician who’s trumpet is able to hypnotize people into doing his bidding. Does that sound familiar? It should, because he’s pretty much a rehash of a villain introduced back in issue #42 named Jason Cragg, who had the ability to hypnotize with the sound of his voice. Sadly, issue #42 is far more compelling as well, which is not saying much.

I also have some serious problems with how Trago got his powers as well. He goes back to India and he’s taught how to hypnotize people by basically a wise man character, which is fair enough, because students turn against the teachers all the time. However, in those cases the teacher doesn’t know the student is bad beforehand. In this case the teacher sees that right off the bat and teaches him anyways. Lame. I am really hoping this series turns it around and shows some of the Marvel magic, because right now it’s stuck between subpar and average.

The back up stories in this issue are also kind of bottom of the barrel in terms of their twists as well. The Smiling Gods is an okay tail about the power of Gods over corrupt government officials. The second story, Target Earth, features the mightiest warrior targeting the earth and it also features a pretty lame twist.

Rating: 2.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: John Duffy, Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Tales to Astonish #46 (08/10/1963)

detail16.jpgUnfortunately Tales to Astonish #46 continues the backslide back into mediocrity that has plagued this series since the initial appearance of Ant-Man. With the appearance of the Wasp, I was hoping that the series would continue to maintain its momentum with the introduction of a new character. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. In this issue, lacking crime to fight, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne head off on a vacation to Greece, where they stumble across a cyclops and aliens abducting ships and their crews.

This issue really highlights the three main issues that have been plaguing this series. The first is a lack of compelling villains. Most of the villains in the series so far have been either generic criminals or generic aliens wanting to conquer the earth for some reason. This ties into the second problem with the series, which is a lack of stakes. Because the villains are laughable at best nothing ever feels at stake. Finally the third issue is there zero character growth. In many ways Hank Pym has been a stagnant character that is pretty much the same since his first appearance. In issue #44 Pym was given some back story and I thought maybe that would’ve lead somewhere, considering how the Wasp reminds him of his wife, but sadly that has not been the case.

Once again, in addition to the Ant-Man story, there are two backup stories, which I think are demonstrating they are running out of Twilight Zone like twists. The first one, “The Secret of the Swamp” centers on a cursed swamp, while the second one, “The Most Dangerous Weapon,” concerns the theft of the most dangerous weapon.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors:

Tales to Astonish #45 (07/10/1963)

detail15.jpgTales to Astonish #45 continues the adventures of Ant-Man and his new partner, the Wasp. This issue features the return of Egghead, who sadly is one of Ant-Man’s better villains, who is seeking revenge against Ant-Man for his defeat last time. Naturally Egghead targets the Wasp as a means to get to Ant-Man, because, you know, this is the ’60s and women can’t really do anything themselves.

I must say Egghead definitely sets up a pretty elaborate, but easily escapable trap, which also involves an anteater and a big lizard. You know for a smart guy, who was able to crack Ant-Man’s communication frequency, you would think that by now he would realize by now that Ant-Man is also pretty strong as well. In addition, Egghead don’s a disguise, but I’m not sure how that would work given that he literally has an egg-shaped head. I mean how many people have an egg-shaped head? Also on a completely unrelated note, at first I thought Egghead kept calling his henchmen ape as a way to be condescending, which would have been in line with his character, but I think one of them might have actually been named Ape.

In addition to the Ant-Man story this issue goes back to the normal formula, which means it features to backup stories. The first one, “Bronson’s Brain,” features a super smart man who leaves earth in search of his intellectual equals and is a pretty entertaining story. The second one, “It Walks like a Man,” centers around the relationship between a little girl and a robotic clown, which also ends up being another entertaining story.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee, H.E. Huntley
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: