Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #53

Credits:

Cover Date: March 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“Trapped By the Porcupine!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The Porcupine has returned, and he wants revenge on Giant-Man! And what better way, than to learn the hero’s secret identity?

Details:

  • While entertaining the general public with an exhibition of their super-talents, Giant-Man and the Wasp are attacked by the Porcupine! As a result, Giant-Man suffered a foot injury. The villain was hidden when he attacked, so no one saw him.

  • Porcupine infiltrated the local Giant-Man and Wasp fan club, posing as a fan. He suggested that the club dress up as villains and go to Giant-Man’s lab to cheer him up. The Porcupine’s goal is to get close enough to Giant-Man to use a special sleeping gas to incapacitate the hero.

  • The Porcupine’s plan worked…sort of. He was able to release his sleeping gas, but Giant-Man managed to blow it away and not fall asleep.

  • Porcupine managed to escape the hobbled hero and capture the Wasp at the same time. His new plan is to figure out Giant-Man’s secret identity, which will somehow help make him the “king of crime.” It is possible that the Porcupine doesn’t have a firm grasp on how crime works.

  • To learn Giant-Man’s secret identity, the Porcupine lets the Wasp escape, but tracks her movements electronically.

  • Porcupine follows Wasp to Giant-Man’s secret lab. In the ensuing fight, he manages to grab some of Giant-Man’s size-changing pills. He had hoped to become truly gigantic, to better crush Giant-Man.  Unfortunately, he swallowed several of the shrinking pills by mistake. Whoops.

Is It Good?

Not really, but it’s not bad for a Giant-Man adventure. I liked the resolution and the trickery of using the fan club for an attack. There was too much nonsense to be actually good, but at least it wasn’t boring. It really bugged me, though, that they made Giant-Man’s injury sound serious, right up until he started to ignore it, so the story could wrap up. That’s just lazy storytelling.

Continuity:

  • The Porcupine last appeared in Tales to Astonish #48.
  • The Porcupine is aware that Giant-Man and Ant-Man are the same hero. Last issue raised a question of how widespread that knowledge is; apparently, the answer is “at least somewhat.”

  • The general public knows a lot about Giant-Man and Wasp’s adventures, even the ones that weren’t in front of a crowd. I’m going to take this as implied proof that their adventures are being published in a comic in the Marvel Universe; we know the Fantastic Four and Hulk’s comics exist in the MU, so this isn’t much of a stretch. It’s the only way to explain fans dressing as Torgo or the robot Cyclops. It doesn’t explain why someone would wear a Doctor Doom costume in the Giant-Man and Wasp fan club, but whatever.

  • This is the second time their fan club has walked into Giant-Man’s lab. Apparently, the location is not a secret, and there is no security.

  • Henry Pym’s lab/home in New Jersey was not destroyed in Tales to Astonish #49. He and Jan apparently split their time between their publicly-known NYC lab and this secret base of operations.
  • The Porcupine knows where Henry Pym’s house is. If he ever returns to his natural size, he should be able to deduce Giant-Man’s secret identity.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Teenagers needed better hobbies in 1964. Or better heroes.

  • I love it when Silver Age comics have cosplay.

  • Is he, Giant-Man? Is he really? Or are you just impressed by suction cups?

  • The Wasp: I’m not going to waste a growth pill! [the very next page] Here I am, after clearly using a growth pill!

  • Giant-Man: I can’t shrink down, or else my ankle will shatter! [later, that same day] Shrinking sure is useful, and has no drawbacks!

  • How do villains not use fly paper more often against these two? Oh, because she could easily use a growth pill to escape, but just…doesn’t here?

  • The back-up “Wonderful Wasp Tells a Tale” feature has a philosophical gem: “Mortals May be evil, but supernatural powers are not!” I think Loki of Asgard would disagree.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • That’s funny…last issue had Jan fall and lament that she was out of shrinking pills and could not fly to safety, but in this issue, the same thing happens and she basically asks “what good would a shrinking pill do?” It’s almost like her intelligence and helplessness are treated as forgettable and irrelevant by the writer!

  • Imagine that! Someone is annoyed when they learn that you’ve been ignoring them while they’ve been talking! It must be because she’s a female. Gosh!

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