Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #51


Cover Date: January 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“Showdown With The Human Top!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The Human Top continues to evade the police and Giant-Man. How can our hero catch someone he can’t grab or hold?


  • Picking up where last issue left off, Giant-Man is training himself so he can catch the Human Top. His results have not been promising.

  • When a decrepit boat in the harbor explodes, local news and law enforcement investigate. Giant-Man suspects that the explosion was a distraction, so he heads away from the harbor and encounters the Human Top at work! Once again, Giant-Man cannot capture the Human Top, and he looks bad when he fails.

  • The Top’s evil plan is to sell the Communists defense documents.

  • However, the police are already monitoring the local Communist agent. They bust him as soon as they learn where and when he is to meet the Human Top.

  • Giant-Man ambushes the Human Top at the arranges meeting place. The Top avoids Giant-Man easily, but quickly realizes that there is a plan in place to capture him.

  • With the help of the police cordon and some glue on his gloves, Giant-Man is able to finally capture the Human Top.

Is It Good?

Not really. The Human Top story shouldn’t have taken this long —- although I do like the idea of this title having multi-part stories —- and wasn’t very interesting.  I like seeing heroes struggle to overcome their limits but…come on.  He spins.  They eventually beat him by raising chain link fences.  If Giant-Man can’t handle this guy, why is he on the Avengers?  And why didn’t the Wasp do more?


  • This is the first time Giant-Man is called “High Pockets.” It’s something I associate with Hawkeye saying, but I guess it comes from the Giant-Man/Wasp fan club.

  • Henry a Pym’s new laboratory is in downtown NYC. The last lab we knew about was in New Jersey, the one that was damaged when he first became Giant-Man (Tales to Astonish #49).
  • This issue marks the debut of the “Wasp Tells a Tale” backup series. These are standard science fiction stories, but the framing device is the Wasp telling the story to a crowd. I’m guessing this was just a way to use up some of their inventory science fiction/fantasy short stories before transitioning to having a back-up superhero feature in this title.  I’m not going to review these in detail, but I will point out any silliness I see in them.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • The Henry/Janet dynamic is getting weirder every month.

  • Giant-Man and the Wasp have a fan club. What makes that weird is that the club invaded Pym’s secret headquarters. How’d they find it? Does someone know the secret identities of our heroes? Those questions are left unasked.

  • These are actual thoughts from a very real woman.

  • Remember how, in the year 2000, we constantly had to deal with space mercenaries?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Women aren’t for listening to! They’re for [checks notes] ogling and talking about like they aren’t in the same room as you!

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