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

Strange Tales #115 (12/10/1963)

detailOnce again, this issue of Strange Tales #115 is once again split between a solo Human Torch story and a Dr. Strange tale. As has been the norm up to this point, the solo Human Torch story is wildly inconsistent and poorly written. For one, I just love how the other members of the Fantastic Four are usually too busy to actually fight villains. In Strange Tales #115, for instance, Mr. Fantastic is too busy to assist with the Sandman because of an experiment and the Thing and Invisible Woman are too busy writing a report. Seriously? Over fighting a villain? What kind of superheroes are they?

Another concern with this issue is Lee didn’t even try to come up with a creative way of having the Sandman escape, rather he was just placed in a regular prison cell. That’s just plain lazy writing. The confrontation between Sandman and the Human Torch was okay, but it’s beyond me how the bottom half of the Human Torch gets wet, but his top stays dry when the ceiling sprinklers come on. Luckily for the Human Torch he is now a judo master and is able to toss Sandman around like nothing. Really a poorly thought out story.

Luckily, the Dr. Strange tale is much better, which is the first telling of Dr. Strange’s well-known origin story. The tale opens with Dr. Strange traveling to India to seek the aide of the Ancient One in healing him. It is through the Ancient One’s peering into Dr. Strange’s mind that we learn of his past as an arrogant surgeon and the accident that damaged the nerves in his hands. It’s a very short, but effective story. Now if only the Human Torch stories could get on par with the Dr. Strange ones this series would be much better.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

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

 

Avengers #2 (11/10/1963)

detail.jpgAvengers #2 sees the Space Phantom coming to Earth to take out the Avengers, because if he can do that then he apparently that means that nothing would be able to stop his species from conquering the Earth, because apparently the Earth is a highly desirable planet for aliens. At first I have to admit that I was a little leery of having yet another shapeshifting alien trying to conquer the world, but the Space Phantom kind of grew on me as the story progressed. I thought the whole whoever’s form the Space Phantom takes is sent to limbo until  he takes on another form was a very interesting twist on what was becoming an overused gimmick. However, I’m not sold on the Space Phantom’s design, as he looks like a very cheesy Count Dracula.Why the Space Phantom has targeted the Avengers, a newly formed superhero team isn’t really made clear, and doesn’t really make sense given that there is the Fantastic Four, who have been around much longer.

After impersonating the Hulk, the Space Phantom is able to cause the Avengers to basically turn on each other and start fighting amongst each other, which at least provides an excuse for some fun fights between the heroes. Unfortunately, the story is dragged down by the interjection of Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade. In addition, the story ends on an extremely weak note, especially when you consider the fact that the Space Phantom is an alien, which makes the ending make even less sense.

Also, having the members of the Avengers have secret identities between them just makes no sense and is a bit of a stretch that they wouldn’t be able to figure this out. And while I’m at it, the interactions between them at the beginning was just not really written that well, and that’s not to mention Lee’s handling of Wasp. Seriously, does every female character have to be guy crazy?

In the end, probably the biggest takeaway from this issue is that the Hulk decides to part from the Avengers as a result of the encounter. The story is mediocre at best and the resolution of the conflict really, really hurts the issue. Also, fun error in the issue, the Hulk’s secret identity is mixed up with that of Thor’s.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Paul Reinman
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors:

 

 

Journey Into Mystery #98 (11/10/1963)

bbJourney Into Mystery #98 sees the fallout from Jane Foster leaving Dr. Blake’s practice in the last issue. Thus, this issue open up with Thor basically throwing a temper tantrum before being summoned by Odin for what really was a pointless encounter. After Dr. Blake decides that he needs to take a vacation, the scene shifts to India and the lab of Professor Shecktor, where he and his assistant about discover the antidote for a snake bite. Apparently, his assistant decides he wants to take credit for the discover himself and decides to get a cobra to bite him and the professor, but only he will be able to take the antidote in time. I’m not really sure why Klaus thought that such a discovery would be a big deal or why he needed such a complex plot.

Anyways, it turns out the snake was radioactive and thus that factor, combined with the antidote he took, causes him to gain the powers of a cobra. Unfortunately after this point the story falls completely apart, starting with Thor arriving to Professor Shecktor’s side, who he knows naturally, and he’s informed of Klaus’ deeds and that Klaus is basically a worthless con. However, flash forward to when Thor actually catches up to him and the Cobra has basically developed his own stingers, indestructible cord, and gas canisters. Not too bad for a worthless con.

Probably the biggest problem with this issue is that the Cobra just does not come off as ever being an actual threat to Thor. He’s just not in his league in anyway. In addition, another fault with this issue is that the resolution between Jane and Dr. Blake occurs way too fast and it occurs out-of-sight, which I can’t fathom why they did that. In addition, to the main story, there’s another short story featuring Tales from Asgard, which features Odin taking on Ymir, the frost giant. This story was entertaining for what it was, but it’s way too short to have too much depth to it. Still, Odin splitting a mountain is just badass.

In the end, Journey Into Mystery #97 is an entertaining read, with villain that feels out of place and a really poor ending. Also, I can’t tell, but it looks like the Cobra basically flies at one point. Maybe not, but that’s sure what it looks like, which doesn’t help things in regards to resolution of the conflict.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors:

Amazing Spider-Man #6 (11/10/1963)

detail.jpgAfter featuring a Fantastic Four villain in the last issue, Amazing Spider-Man #6 features the first appearance of another classic villain, the Lizard. This issue opens with basically the Daily Bugle goading Spider-Man into facing off against the mysterious Lizard who is terrorizing the Everglades. Of course the only problem is that the fact that Spider-Man is really Peter Parker it means that he is too broke to be able to get down to Florida. It’s little problems like this, which cannot be solved with super powers, that make Spider-Man such an interesting series. Eventually, Spider-Man is able to basically beat J. Jonah Jameson at his own game and got him to pay for Peter Parker to photograph the Lizard.

Upon arriving down in Florida it’s not long before Spider-Man runs into the Lizard and has his butt promptly handed to him. Luckily, the Lizard isn’t just some generic villain who just wants to take over the world. In fact, the Lizard actually has an interesting backstory, as he is actually Dr. Curt Connors, a former surgeon who took up studying reptiles after he had lost his arm in the war. Unfortunately, Dr. Connors gets caught up in his quest to regrow his arm and takes his untested formula, which at first causes him to grow his arm back, but then comes the side effect of turning him into the Lizard.

Overtime, Dr. Connors begins to lose his humanity and becomes more and more reptilian. The Lizard is definitely a credible physical threat to Spider-Man, with him being stronger than Spider-Man, with a naturally thick hide, and the ability to scale walls as well. However, in addition to that, the Lizard has that extra layer of essentially being a good guy that’s trapped inside of a monster, which just makes the character that much more interesting. In addition, Ditko’s depiction of the Lizard is just fantastic as well. There’s just something about Ditko’s art style that works really well with Spider-Man.

The plot is well-paced and the confrontations with the Lizard actually taking place over three different occurrences, which is a nice break from the one big confrontation that is so common with Silver Age issues. That’s not to say there aren’t some issues with the story, such as gator guards and Spider-Man pontoons, they’re just so minor that they really don’t detract from the overall story. In the end, Amazing Spider-Man #6 is a fantastic read, that adds yet another interesting rouge to Spider-Man’s gallery. In addition, this issue continues to lay the groundwork of the relationship between Betty Brant and Parker.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Steve Ditko
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Steve Ditko
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Fantastic Four #20 (11/10/1963)

detail28.jpgFantastic Four #20 features the story, “The Mysterious Molecule Man,” which features the first appearance of the Molecule Man. “The Mysterious Molecule Man,” centers around, as the name would suggest, the origins of the Molecule Man, who gains the powers to manipulate inorganic molecules when he is in an accident. This issue also features the Watcher, who is the one that actually warns the Fantastic Four of the impending danger.

“The Mysterious Molecule Man” is a fun origin story of a villain with interesting powers. Clearly, the Molecule Man is a threat worthy of the Fantastic Four. In addition, Kirby’s artwork does a good job of capturing the powers of the Molecule Man. The fight panels between the Molecule Man and the Fantastic Four are also well done. I also thought it was humorous that the Thing ended up being rescued by the dastardly Yancy Street Gang.

However this issue does have some downsides. Probably the biggest one is really the motivations of the Molecule Man. He’s upset that no one notices him, but somehow that leads him to wanting to conquer the world? I would think he’d rather just show off his powers or something. Also, I’m not quite sure if his powers are in the wand or if he just channels it through the wand, I’m thinking the later because the wand is deemed no longer dangerous.

Final Fantasy #20 is another classic Fantastic Four story that fans of the series or of Marvel Comics in general will enjoy.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Creators:

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

Tales of Suspense #46 (10/10/1963)

detailnnmTales to Suspense #46 is definitely a throwback to the Cold War Era. This issue opens up behind the Iron Curtain with Nikita Khrushchev walking in to see what the Soviet’s top scientist in electricity, Professor Anton Vanko, has been up to. Well, it turns out that Professor Vanko has been up to is creating a suit that can manipulate electrical components via what is admittedly a pretty badass suit, almost like a walking EMP. Naturally Khrushchev views this as a potential way of getting rid of Stark and Iron Man and setting the Americans back in the military technology. While effectively showing, versus just telling a villain’s powers, this intro also really highlights that this issue is a product of the ’60s, with Khrushchev really portrayed in a cowardly and deceitful light.

Eventually, the Crimson Dynamo makes his way the U.S. and begins to sabotaging Stark’s plants all across the United States, which begins to threaten Stark’s contracts with the U.S. government. This was by far the best part of the issue and I wish that more time had been spent developing this part of the story, such as having Stark actually trying to figure out what was happening and having to answer to Congress for what was going on. However, as is often the case in these early issues, the need to cram a whole story into one issue often causes the pacing to be way too fast.

In addition to pacing issues, the confrontation between Iron Man and the Crimson Dynamo was wholly unsatisfactory, as Iron Man comes off way too well prepared for having to never encountered this person before and the method used to stop the Crimson Dynamo was way to big of a stretch. Also, the ending was also pretty anti-climatic and really comes off as a propagandist piece.

In the end, Tales of Suspense #46 is a pretty solid issue that is dragged down a bit by Cold War propaganda, which leads to characters being boiled down to simplistic good and bad terms. Despite the flawed encounter, the Crimson Dynamo is definitely one of the better Iron Man villains up to this point.

Rating 3.5/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
  • Writers: Stan Lee, Robert Bernstein
  • Pencilers: Don Heck
  • Inkers: Don Heck
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Artie Simek
  • Editors: Stan Lee