Tales to Astonish 35

Tales to astonish 35

Our latest retrospective takes us to the first appearance of the Ant-Man, Henry Pym. Pym actually made his first appearance in Tales to Astonish 27, where he is called “The Man in the Ant Hill“.

Synopsis

The issue opens with a brief recap of the above mentioned issue. In a nutshell, Henry Pym, a scientist, has invented two serums. One that can shrink objects, and the other that can enlarge objects. When Henry first used the serum, it proved more powerful than he expected, and he was shrunk to the size of an ant, and barely escaped.

We since find out that Pym has hidden the potions in a safe to keep them safe, until the world is ready for them. Since the first experiment, we also learn that Pym has taken an interests in ants more generally. His research led him to developing a helmet that would allow him to communicate with ants, as well as a protective costume.

On the same day, Pym is given a government assignment (to produce a gas that makes people to immune to radioactivity) and four assistants to help him. Some weeks later, in a communist country far away from America, we see an army general report that the anti-radiation formula is nearly complete. Orders are then given to agents in America to obtain the formula.

They storm Pym’s lab and take the assistants hostage. Pym is found at the back, and he informs the assailants that he will not provide the formula, and that his assistants each only know a part of the formula. They decide to search the lab for themselves. Pym fears he cannot escape as he notices a guard outside. But he then remembers his shrinking formula. He dons his costume and helmet, and then shrinks down to the size of an ant. He then propels himself, using a rubber band, out of the window and heads for a nearby ant hill.

Pym enters the ant hill and then notices he can feel strange vibrations. He realises this is the way the ants communicate with each other. The ants notice him and start to close in. Pym turns on his helmet and sends out a countermand communication, which as the effect of calling off the ants…except one. The ant attacks Pym, but he is able to lift the ant and hurl it away. To Pym’s astonishment, he still appears to have the strength of a grown man.

The large ant resumes its attack and manages to bite Pym, but his costume protect him. He incapacitates the ant and then commands the rest of the ants to turn away. It works, but on leaving the ant hill, Pym notices a huge beetle. He digs a hole and lures the beetle in before burying it.

With the ant army now following his commands, Pym makes his way back to the lab. The foreign agents are still there and the assistants tied up. Pym and the ant army enter the lab and he sets about untying his assistants, although they cannot see or hear him.

Once the assistants are freed, Pym commands the ants to attack the agents. He also instructs them to plug-up the agents guns with honey, making them useless. With the assistants free and the agents preoccupied with the ants, the assistants decide to strike back. Pym sees this as his opportunity to leave and then finds his growing serum, allowing him to return to full size.

Comment

This issue is a nice,fun introduction to the Ant-Man. We see the first use of Ant-Man’s communication powers, as well as his super-strength.  And we also get some communist baddies thrown in for good measure! The use of honey is a curiosity however, perhaps Bee-Man didn’t work so well.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – September 1962

Financials

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Tales to Astonish 35 on eBay is £7,618.

Coming next

Star Wars 3

Fantastic Four 6

Strange Tales 101

Journey into Mystery 85

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

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Journey Into Mystery 84

journey into mystery 84

Synopsis

The issue starts with an image of Thor looking at an oncoming army and saying, “Only I and my hammer stand between the Executioner’s legions and … disaster!

We are then taking on a recap of the last issue and how Dr Don Blake found the hammer that transformed him into the thunder god. Back in the present day, we see Dr Blake at work treating patients. He is being assisted by a nurse called Jane, and we find out that Dr Blake is very fond of her, but cannot bring himself to tell her due to his injuries and the fear that she would not feel the same.

However, Jane does feel the same way about him but feels as though he never offers her any affection. Meanwhile, both Dr Blake and Jane are in a car together and Jane is informing Dr Blake of the political situation that occurred whilst he was in Europe (the events covered in the last issue), namely a revolution in San Diablo. We learn that there are warring factions in San Diablo, one democratic and the other pro-communist and run by a vicious warlord known as “The Executioner“.

The following week, Dr Blake is attending a medical meeting and he learns about the medical crisis that has resulted from the revolution. There is an urgent need for volunteer doctors and Dr Blake puts himself forward. Jane insists on accompanying Dr Blake. Whilst on board a ship heading for San Diablo, they come under attack from fighter plans with orders from the Executioner to prevent the doctors from helping the locals.

Dr Blake notices the attack, and when nobody is looking he taps his cane to transform into the Thor. He flies into the air attacking and destroying all the planes. He returns to the sea and transforms himself back into Dr Blake, before appealing for help from the ship. He is saved and is told by Jane that a handsome god-like figure saved the day.

In San Diablo, the Executioner is informed by an officer of the failure, and is promptly executed. He then orders the rest of his army to make sure they stop the doctors from helping the “sick peasants“. They soon spy the doctors approaching and open fire. Dr Blake taps his cane twice this time, creating a thunderstorm to beat the army back. Once all the doctors are safely through, he taps his cane three time to quell the storm.

The doctors are soon in danger once more though, when tanks start to approach them. Don again turns into Thor and fights them, including using a tree he just upended to lever one of the tanks into the air and onto another tank. The tanks are destroyed but the army manage to capture Jane and take her to the Executioner. Thor changes back into Don and confronts the Executioner, who is unrepentant and orders him to face the firing squad. Jane appeals for his release and the Executioner asks what she would do to save him. Would she marry the Executioner? Jane agrees to but Don is not about to let this happen.

Don calls the Executioner a coward and demands that he is given his cane to fight him. The Executioner gleefully agrees and with one tap, a flash blinds the soldiers before revealing Thor standing there. He throws his hammer to a nearby supply tent, and it returns to him with the tent in tow. He drops the tent onto the soldiers before the Democratic army appears in the distance. The Executioner and his remaining troops flee, but not before Thor taps his cane again – sending lightning bolts at a volcano, causing into to erupt into their path.

In the confusion, the Executioner attempts to escape with bags of gold, but he is seen by the deserting army and in an ironic twist of fate, is executed by firing squad. This allows Don and Jane to finally treat the people of San Diablo. Jane asks Don where he was when all the fighting was happening. He explains he was hiding and Jane ruefully wishes that he was as brave as Thor.

Comment

 

This issue sees the introduction of Thor’s long-time love interest Jane. We also see that Dr Blake is a hero at heart, even if he cannot show it.  And typical of the times, we get a communist villain based in a South American-like country.

As with the Hulk, Thor’s powers are not at their maximum yet. It is particularly jarring that he decides to turn back into Don Blake when Jane is captured rather than fighting as Thor. We’ll put it down to a newbie learning the ropes.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – September 1962

Financials

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Journey into Mystery 84 on eBay is £846.81.

Coming next

Tales to Astonish 35

Star Wars 3

Fantastic Four 6

Strange Tales 101

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect

 

The Incredible Hulk 3

Hulk3

We last left the Hulk in a cave in issue 2, so let’s check in to see what he is up to.

Synopsis

We find the Hulk banging against the walls of his prison, but they are not giving way.  Outside, Rick Jones is hoping that the wall will hold till daybreak, when the Hull will revert back to Bruce Banner. Rick briefly reminisces over the events leading to the Hulk’s self-inflicted imprisonment, before deciding to leave, confident that the wall will hold.

He is soon stopped by military police, and they explain to him that they have been keeping the whole area under surveillance and have orders from General Ross to bring him in. Ross is having a staff meeting , where they are discussing how they will use Rick to bring in the Hulk. Rick enters the meeting and he is told why he must bring in the Hulk… so that they can use him to test a new missile. Only the Hulk can withstand the g-force of the missile when it is fired.

Rick ponders the request and then decides to comply, for his country. He returns to the cave and opens the door. The Hulk smashes through, and seeing Rick thinks he is to blame for holding him in the cell and gives chase. Rick leads the Hulk towards the waiting army.

Rick gets to the missile, and climbs the steps, with the Hulk still in pursuit. He lures him in, and then the signal is given for the door to close. The Hulk is trapped inside and the missile is fired.

The missile soon enters the atmosphere and is then bathed in sunlight, causing the Hulk to turn back into Bruce. But the missile continues, and then enters a radiation belt, causing Bruce to once again be bathed in rays of intense radiation. The missile then escapes the radiation belt and keeps on, whilst Rick looks on from the ground below.

Rick returns to the control center and hears the army personnel congratulating themselves for getting rid of the Hulk. He quickly realises that it was a trick. Rick decides to take action in his own hands and moves to the control panel. As he touches the switch, radiation is fed back from the missile to the base causing Rick to recoil in pain, and unbeknownst to him, creates a link to the Hulk.

As a result of the switch being pressed, the rocket package drops away from the missile and crash lands back on earth. Rick rushes to the scene as the rocket crashes down, and is astonished to see the Hulk emerge into daylight. And not only has he emerged, but he is also now a glowing green colour.

The Hulk again blames Rick for his predicament and effortlessly picks up the rocket and throws it at him.  He then gives chase and once he corners Rick, vows to take revenge. Rick pleads for the Hulk to stop, and amazingly he does. He then gives a series of instructions and the Hulk follows them. He appears to be under his command. He instructs him to take him down from the rocks where their chase ended.

Rick returns home and climbs into bed, but before doings so orders the Hulk not to move. But only a few moments later, he hears something and awakes to find the Hulk no longer there. Rick follows the trail of destruction to find the Hulk in the middle of the town causing mayhem. The state troopers arrive but are not able to stop him. Rick intervenes and tells the Hulk that they have to get out of there. The Hulk scoops up Rick and leaps away, almost flying.

They land miles away, on the outskirts of the town. Rick realises that the pressure of controlling the Hulk is too much, so leads him again to the underground cave and orders the Hulk inside. We then get a brief interlude where the origin of the Hulk is retold, before we are introduced to a new villain, the Ringmaster!

The story takes us to a deserted town called Plainville, that was bustling a mere 24 hours earlier. We find two FBI agents driving through, and they explain that Plainville is just like two other towns they have visited, where every resident appears frozen in time. Not only that, but the town has also been ransacked and the bank vaults emptied.

Then, one of the agents notices a poster for a circus on the wall and remembers that he saw similar posters in the other towns. We are then taken to the circus, where the Ringmaster is centre stage and hypnotizing the entire audience. Once under his control, the Ringmaster orders his men to rob the audience of their possessions. Once they have robbed the audience and the entire town, the circus moves on in the night.

Meanwhile, once Rick is satisfied that the Hulk is safe, he decides to visit his aunt to get some food and wash up. After dinner, Rick pops into town and notices that the circus is performing that night. He heads in and the Ringmaster soon performs his hypnotic act. Rick is about to be cast under the spell but is still able to think and calls for the Hulk to help in his mind. The Hulk senses this and escaping his cell, runs straight for the circus.

The circus performers try to stop the Hulk and manage to tie him up in rope. They decide that the Hulk should become part of their act, drawing in even more crowds. The Ringmaster is about to perform his hypnosis again, when he is interrupted by the FBI. It would appear that once the victims of the earlier towns snapped out of their hypnosis, they told the FBI everything. Rick is also there and hearing his voice snaps free from his chains.

They try and fail to capture the Hulk again, and sensing defeat, the Ringmaster makes his escape. The Hulk notices this and manages him to catch him before the army appear. They point their guns at the Hulk, bur Rick orders the Hulk to jump. He leaps through the circus tent and away into the distance, leaving an infuriated General Ross behind.

Comment

A story of two halves here, the first following on from the end of issue 2 culminating in the Hulk’s powers changing, and the second introducing the Ringmaster.

As we can see here, the Hulk is now green and is not affected by the moon. However, he appears to be under the control of Rick. We also see the famous Hulk jump for the first time although his powers are still considerably weaker than what we are accustomed to, with the circus performers able to overpower and capture him.

Details

Writer – Stan Lee

Artist – Jack Kirby

Cover date – September 1962

Financials

Cover price – 12c

At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for The Incredible Hulk 3 on eBay is $3,450.

Coming next

 

Journey into Mystery 84

Tales to Astonish 35

Star Wars 3

ComicRetrospective 2016

@comicretrospect