Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #54

Credits:

Cover Date: April 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“No Place to Hide!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Don Heck

Inker: Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Giant-Man and the Wasp head to a Central American nation to investigate how a Communist got elected president.

Details:

  • In world news, the normally democratic small Central American nation of Santo Marco has just elected a Communist leader: El Toro!
  • The US government asks Giant-Man and the Wasp to investigate the Santo Marco election. The Americans believe that the Communists rigged the election.

  • The two are immediately deemed suspicious by the Santo Marcan police. Janet gets arrested, but Henry manages to escape.

  • Henry changes into Giant-Man, but El Toro and the police manage to prevent him from saving Janet. Unfortunately, the rest of Henry’s shape-changing capsules are in Janet’s purse, which means he is stuck being Giant-Man as the police hunt him down!

  • Giant-Man manages to evade the police by hiding in the countryside until nightfall. Then, with the help of some ants, he is able to locate and rescue Janet. Now together and reunited —- with each other, as well as their size-changing pills —- the heroes take the fight to El Toro.
  • The heroes make short work of El Toro, and quickly find documents proving that he falsified the election results. El Toro is ousted, and Santo Marco has a new election. This time, they picked a democratic (read: capitalist) leader.

Is It Good?

No, this is beyond stupid. The core obstacle in the plot —- Giant-Man is stuck being giant-sized —- is a decent one, but it’s handled poorly here. The rest of the story is just dumb. Since when are Giant-Man and the Wasp so cavalier about their secret identities? Since when are they on a government payroll? Why are they the ones to look into election fraud, and what right does the US have to interfere?

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of El Toro. He can run head-first into things.

  • Apparently, Giant-Man and the Wasp don’t care about keeping their civilian identities secret —- they seem fine with their fan club seeing them without their masks.

  • Since Giant-Man and the Wasp fly to Santo Marco in civilian clothes, presumably the US government knows their secret identities. El Toro and the Santo Marcan government may or may not know; it is unclear whether or not Henry and Janet traveled under their own passports, or if the US government gave them fakes.
  • This is the first time Giant-Man has been described as fast. In fact, his lumbering pace was a plot point in Tales to Astonish #50-51.

  • Ants still call Henry “Ant-Man,” regardless of his size.

  • This is the first time Henry has asked Janet on a date. Apparently, their dinner in Tales of Suspense #49 didn’t count.

  • Janet’s secret identity is known to the boy she is babysitting in “The Wonderful Wasp Tells a Tale,” and presumably also his entire family.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Yes, it is perfectly normal for a news broadcast to refer to a democratically elected foreign dignitary by a nickname. It is also normal to show him in clothes that are not a suit.

  • Maybe because the Santo Ricans wanted universal healthcare?

  • Why didn’t Jan shrink the test tube, too? That seems like a much easier way to carry it.

  • That is an awful plan, Janet.

  • If Henry is this flirty, and Janet’s main character trait is her flirtiness towards Henry, why aren’t they a couple yet?

  • Let’s be honest, Janet: you’ve never been to Santo Marco before. You have no frame of reference.

  • The president of a nation obviously micro-manages immigration and possible espionage. He clearly wouldn’t have people to do that for him.

  • When the police arrest Janet, Henry runs away to out on his costume and become Giant-Man. That’s some A+ protection of his secret identity. I’m sure no one will connect the American that Janet arrived with and the American hero trying to save her.

  • I want to know more about how this works. Did Giant-Man rent the boats? Did they both leave their keys in the ignition? Can Giant-Man’s fingers actually manipulate normal keys? What kind of crazy knots did he have to tie to be able to steer each boat with a single rope?

  • If that is how big his head is compared to the window, there is no way Giant-Man could reach his arm into that room to grab the shrinking pills. None.

  • Yes, someone who stole an election would definitely keep records of it in an easy-to-find spot, and random people on the street would be able to recognize their newly elected leader’s handwriting.

  • This is Janet babysitting a friend’s child. No, that is not a haunted doll in the bed; that is a child. Yes, Jan wore her Wasp costume to babysit. No, she clearly doesn’t care about her secret identity.

  • That seems like a pretty legit question, Wasp. No need to break the fourth wall over it.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Oddly enough, this is the second consecutive month that a Marvel comic has referenced the Huntley-Brinkley Report.

  • It’s weird that the only female character Giant-Man has physically confronted is Janet, right? Playful or not, this is kind of creepy.

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