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:

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:

 

 

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:

Avengers #1 (09/10/1963)

mmAvengers #1 tells the tale of how the Avengers came to be, although how that story unfolds might come off as a bit of a surprise and then a disappointment to most people, because this story has all kinds of problems going on with it. This issue opens up with a very familiar way, which is namely Loki, yet again, looking for revenge on Thor from afar. If the opening is familiar, the panels depicting  Loki’s eyes floating across the Earth in search of a way to threaten Thor was pretty cool. Eventually, Loki spots the Hulk and it is short work for the god of mischief to create an incident that causes the Hulk to be painted in bad light. Up to this point, while being overly familiar, the Hulk rampaging would be a pretty significant threat to Thor.

However, the scene shifts to the Teen Brigade, who sends out a call via ham radio to the Fantastic Four to help. The Teen Brigade is just a little bit too much Silver Age cheesiness for their own good. Hopefully they don’t make too many more appearance. Anyways, eventually the Teen Brigade’s call reaches the ears of Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp, while the Fantastic Four decided to pass on it, based on the fact that Mr. Fantastic somehow knows the call will be answered by others. Eventually they all converge on the Teen Brigades headquarters, I guess? Although Thor is soon tricked into going back to Asgard to confront Loki.

The issue the cuts to the Hulk pretending to be a robot dressed as a clown juggling circus animals in a circus. First of, not only is this is just beyond goofy, but just plain comes out to nowhere. This also highlights the problem with the early Hulk, which is what kind of Hulk are we getting? Hulk with Banner’s mind? Dumb Hulk? Hulk that changes during day and night? I couldn’t say because this issue doesn’t make it clear, although the fact that he was able to come with a plan to hide suggests there is some Banner present. Eventually, the reader is treated to a confrontation between Hulk and Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, as well as a confrontation between Thor and Loki and some trolls. Both of these battles are pretty cool and are definitely a positive for this issue.

Unfortunately, the battles aren’t enough to make up for the weak conclusion of this issue. First off, it’s starting to become apparent that Lee has a hard time wrapping up a battle in a satisfactory way. In addition, there is a complete lack of rationale for the heroes to form a team. It’s almost like Lee forgot to lay the ground work for why the heroes would want to team up until the last couple of panels of the issue. Also, the Wasp is not treated well in this issue at all and is the target of a lot of sexist comments from Ant-Man. Still, this issue is worth checking out just for the historical significance of the issue. Beyond that and the battles there isn’t much to recommend about this issue.

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Creators:

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