Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) 1962 Year in Review

Image taken from Tales to Astonish #38.

How Many Issues?

I reviewed five; four had superheroes, and the fifth was the early introduction of the superhero in a sci-fi tale.  Issues #27, 35-38, published monthly.

Creative Team:

Writer: Larry Lieber (#36)

Plotter: Stan Lee (#27, 35, 37-38)

Scripter: Larry Lieber (#27, 35, 37-38)

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Was It Good?

Not particularly. There is a certain amount of charm to Scooby-Doo-style mysteries, but this series doesn’t set up Ant-Man in a way that makes the best use of that premise. What exactly is the basis of this series? Ant-Man has spy ants listening for his name, so if someone wants him to solve a crime, he responds? That’s dumb and inefficient, at best — and that is ignoring the fact that ant-sized people cannot solve every crime. This comic feels mostly generic, when the very concept of a tiny hero should give them carts blanche to be weird and creative.

It should also be noted that Henry Pym is the least interesting civilian identity of any Marvel hero thus far. His character has not been developed at all! In his first appearance, it seemed like Pym’s confidence and recklessness would define the character, but since becoming a superhero, he has become extremely bland. He doesn’t even have a love interest yet!

I wonder why, of all the science-fiction stories Marvel churned out in the early 60’s, Stan Lee latched onto Henry Pym. Very few of the characters from those books transitioned to superhero comics, and those were only monsters like Fing Fang Foom (and, much later, Groot). What made Pym so special? Why didn’t that translate into more interesting stories?

Sub-Plots and Continuity:

  • Henry Pym has a chip on his shoulder and a desperate need to prove himself. This leads to him experimenting on himself and…actually, that’s really the only time it comes up. Unless you count the whole “fighting crime as an ant-sized man.”
  • Pym is smart enough to reconstruct his shrink/growth formulas from memory, after they are destroyed.
  • Ant-Man is famous with both the police and the criminal element as a crime solver.
  • Ant-Man’s equipment includes his shrink/growth formulas (originally liquids, but now available in gas canisters), his helmet that can communicate with ants, and boots with springs in them.
  • Ant-Man’s science is so basic that Egghead is able to deduce and replicate Ant-Man’s communication device in a matter of days.

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