Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #55


Cover Date: May 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky

“On the Trail of the Human Top!”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

After breaking out of jail, the Human Top steals Giant-Man’s growth pills. Giant-Man barely stopped the Human Top when he was the size of a normal man —- how will he fare against a super-sized Top?


  • The Human Top has escaped from prison!

  • The Human Top’s first move was to rob a bank. Giant-Man and the Wasp got to the bank quickly, but the Top was already gone when they arrived.
  • The Human Top hadn’t gone too far from the scene of the crime, though. He spotted Giant-Man and the Wasp walking back to their lab, and followed them.
  • Once the heroes were at ease in their lab, the Human Top made his move. He stole Giant-Man’s belt (which contains all of his size-changing pills) and took a growth pill.

  • Even with his increased size, the Top still was able to maintain his super-speed. He easily defeated the heroes; he kidnapped Wasp and left Giant-Man locked in a closet before leaving.
  • Giant-Man wasn’t trapped for long. His insect communicator is part of his mask now, so he had some ants being him a shrinking pill from his spare belt.

  • Giant-Man went after the Human Top, even though he was outmatched. However, Giant-Man had a plan: he had Wasp and some termites weaken an area of the roof that Giant-Man and the Human Top were fighting on; when the Top landed hard on that section, he fell through the roof and was knocked silly long enough for Giant-Man to capture him.

Is It Good?

No, but it’s not bad for a Giant-Man story. We hopefully have some progress with the Henry/Janet romance, and the villain is someone that provides a legitimate challenge to Giant-Man’s skill set. That’s almost enough to ignore the many contrived moments in the plot. Almost.


  • The Human Top last appeared in Tales to Astonish #51.
  • The Human Top can spin so fast that he can appear almost invisible.

  • The Human Top can also fly now.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Apparently, Giant-Man and the Wasp review newsreels of their victories with their fan club. That kind of outreach is pretty cool, but I just have a hard time believing that this many people are in the fan club, and that they have embroidered sweaters.

  • I need to start tracking who the Wasp finds handsome. There’s nothing wrong with her being vocal about her attraction, but it’s her default character trait right now.

  • The Human Top escapes prison by spinning in his cell so fast that the guard couldn’t see him. The guard opened the cell door, saw the Top was missing, and then sounded the alarm, leaving the cell door open; the Human Top then escaped. Even if I believed that the Human Top could spin fast enough to become nearly invisible (I don’t), shouldn’t the guard have noticed the wind generated by the Top’s spinning?
  • There’s just something about superheroes strolling around a city in their costumes that I find absolutely adorable.

  • The Wasp was trapped under a glass tumbler. Why didn’t she change back to her normal size?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • I am glad to see Stan Lee trying to get Janet some respect from the readers here, but it would be way more effective if he hadn’t been writing her as a man-crazy ditz since her debut. Don’t tell us that she’s smart and brave, Stan —- show us.

  • Remember: Janet is intelligent and brave, but that doesn’t change the fact that she is pining away for someone that would love her, if only she would change her personality.

  • From “The Wonderful Wasp Tells a Tale” feature: Henry Pym needs to stop being a condescending prick.

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