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 of Suspense #48 (12/10/1963)

xx.jpgTales of Suspense #48 features the first appearance of Mr. Doll, who may just be the worst villain up to this point. I’m not a big fan of the Puppet Master to begin with and Mr. Doll is just a poor man’s version of that villain, with an even lazier backstory of having stolen a voodoo doll in Africa. Also, his powers make no sense. He changes the doll to be able to control the victim. Fine, but how does changing the doll’s face to that of Iron Man control him? It’s an iron suit and not his actual face.

Beyond this poorly thought out and obviously lazy attempt at a villain, the story itself also makes no sense. Mr. Doll is controlling wealthy individuals to sign over the assets to him, because financial institutions are going to accept someone called Mr. Doll. Also, it seems like Mr. Doll needs to be in the presence of his victims. Finally, the way Iron Man defeats Mr. Doll was beyond stupid.

In the end the only saving grace of this issue is the introduction of Iron Man’s classic red and gold armor. Also, Steve Ditko’s accompanying panels of him putting on the new armor was just awesome. Great stuff, too bad the rest of the issue is crap.

Rating: 1.0/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Steve Ditko
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • 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:

Uncanny X-Men #2 (11/10/1963)

nn.jpgUncanny X-Men #2 unfortunately does not offer any improvements in regards to the flaws that were found in the first issue of the series. In addition, I would argue that this issue is actually a step backwards from issue one. While the training was a clever way of introducing the characters’ powers in the last issue, in this issue it’s wholly unnecessary and overly long, especially when you consider that they show off their powers as they’re rushing to get to Professor X’s side. Also, what is the deal with Ice-Man being all icy except for his boots? Noticeably missing from these early issues is the fear that non-mutants have towards mutants, which is readily lacking during the X-Men’s run through the city.

Replacing Magneto in this issue is the Vanisher, who basically has an incredibly weird intro. I mean I literally read it several times and I still don’t fully get why the police officers not only lead him to the bank, but basically let him rob it. Seriously, it makes no sense to me. While Vanisher’s powers are interesting, his outfit and the fact that he has flock of goons at his side are definitely a negative. Also, his motivations are pretty much the exact same as Magnetos. While the fight between him and the X-Men was fun and draw extremely well, as well as it offered a chance to see Professor X in action, the extremely generic henchmen were a bit overkill.

In the end, this issue really doesn’t offer any growth over the last issue. In fact, it’s pretty much the same exact issue, just with a weaker villain and plot. The X-Men are still pretty generic characters, Jean Grey is still pretty much being drooled after, and Iceman is still a rip off of the Human Torch. Instead of spending so many pages on training, spending some on character development would’ve been nice.

Rating: 3.5/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Paul Reinman
  • Writers: Stan Lee
  • Pencilers: Jack Kirby
  • Inkers: Paul Reinman
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: Stan Lee

Strange Tales #114 (11/10/1963)

detailStrange Tales #114, as the cover shows, features the return of Captain America or at least it would seem so to the reader back in 1963. However, pretty much every modern reader would know that Captain America made his reappearance in Avengers #4, which is still a few months off. Also, why would you open a story by basically stating that there is a twist coming at the end? That was just plain stupid. Anyways, our tale opens with the Human Torch doing his still incredibly goofy looking training when it is soon interrupted by his friends, who are excited to inform him that Captain America is coming to town. Naturally, the Human Torch was a big fan of Captain America back in the day and is curious to see what he’s been up to for all these years.

Unfortunately, that’s where the decent part of the story ends. Soon, the story descends quickly into that pure Silver Age cheese. It all begins with a pair of car thieves deciding that parade is the best time to steal a car, and that a tommy gun was also apparently necessary. Anyways, this clumsy event is used to have the Human Torch run into Captain America as they both leap into action to stop the criminals. This leads to Captain America informs the Human Torch that he’s getting in his way and to stay out of it. Naturally, this causes the Human Torch to become butt hurt.

The next scene is where the story comes completely off the wheels, with Captain America breaking out the criminals so that they can be decoys while he robs the bank. Now, why wouldn’t he had just done that the first time around? It seriously makes zero sense. In addition, as is way to common in this series, the Human Torch’s powers are way too inconsistent. For example, he’s taken out by a mop, but a few panels latter he’s able to basically blow out the seams of an asbestos lined truck? And don’t get me started on that truck as a plot device.

In the end, the main thing going for this story was its surprise surrounding the apparent return of Captain America, which unfortunately is no longer available to hold this story up. Take that away and you basically have story that is pretty pointless and adds nothing to the Human Torch as a character or any new elements to his story.

This issue also sees the return of Dr. Strange, as he once again must battle the dreaded Baron Mordo. The story opens with Dr. Strange being called by someone claiming to be Lord Bentley in need of help. Naturally, Dr. Strange leaps to action to give assistance and quickly springs a trap laid by Baron Mordo. What ensues is an interesting mystic art battle that has a number of gaping holes. Probably the biggest one is Baron Mordo goes straight up Bond villain and decides to leave the room so that Dr. Strange can escape the trap. In addition, the ending just made zero sense and makes what proceeded it make zero sense. Still, this story is definitely better than the Human Torch story.

Rating: 2.5/5.0

Creators:

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

 

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

Strange Tales #113 (10/10/1963)

njnj.jpgStrange Tales #113 opens with Johnny Storm facing his most difficult challenge thus far: a woman who doesn’t think he’s God’s gift to women. I have to say this definitely caught me by surprise to find a female character that doesn’t immediately swoon at the sight of the Human Torch. While, I found it funny that Johnny Storm was struggling so mightily over the fact that Doris is not taken with his magnificent self, went on far too long (two whole pages even).

After this, the scene switches over to Samuel Smithers, the gardener who had previously been fired by Doris father previously because apparently he was more concerned with trying to make plants smarter than actually cutting them. Naturally, this leads to a vow of vengeance by Smithers. Luckily for him, a lightening bolt struck his shear-like instrument, which successfully increases the intelligence of plants and also allows him to, conveniently, also control the plants and have them follow his every order. While the way Smithers obtains his powers is typical silver age cheesiness, the power is at least interesting. Although, I think it probably would’ve been more effective if it was Smithers rather than the shears that was actually the source of power.

Unfortunately, Smithers is no Poison Ivy and that becomes readily apparent when he dubs himself Plantman and goes about framing Doris’ father and thus enacting his vengeance, which was actually a pretty straightforward and sound plot. Unfortunately, things basically take a massive dump after this point. It all starts with the Human Torch running across the Plantman, at which point Plantman just shout out that he was the one who did the frame job for no reason at all. What then unfolds over the next seven pages is probably the lamest battle that I have yet seen in these pages; especially when you think about that fact that with the Human Torch’s power over fire should make this a one sided affair. I mean after all the Human Torch has been able to flame on under the ocean, so some damp seaweed shouldn’t give him any problems, right?

In the end, Strange Tales #113 manages to accomplish two things. The first is it introduces yet another villain who wants to take over the world, which makes you wonder if they ever read about how that turns out for all the previous villains. The second thing it does is it continues to cement the Human Torch as being an incredibly egotistical character who thinks he is the greatest thing to happen to women. Really, this issue is just incredibly forgettable and it really lacks any kind of satisfying conclusion.

Rating: 1.5/5.0

Creators:

  • Cover Artists:
  • Writers: Stan Lee, Joe Carter
  • Pencilers: Dick Ayers
  • Inkers: Dick Ayers
  • Colorists:
  • Letterers: Sam Rosen
  • Editors: