Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #61

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“Now Walks the Android”

Writer: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

“Captured at Last!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

In “Now Walks the Android,” Egghead devises a new way to threaten Giant-Man: a psychically-controlled mannequin!

In “Captured at Last,” the Hulk story continues from last issue. The Hulk is still fighting a spy wearing super-powerful armor, but now the army is getting involved.

Details:

  • Egghead has broken out of prison, and all he cares about is defeating Giant-Man!

  • His plan involves stealing a mannequin and giving it super-powers (obviously).

  • Egghead covers the mannequin in a special clay and uses a fancy science ray to make it grow to proportions that rival Giant-Man’s. Egghead also exposes himself to the same ray to give himself the ability to mentally control the giant mannequin.

  • Egghead writes Giant-Man a letter, pretending to be a TV producer that wants to do a show about Giant-Man’s adventures. When Giant-Man and the Wasp show up to the “studio,” they realize that they have walked into a trap.

  • Egghead (who, I guess, has a speaker inside the mannequin) introduces his giant death mannequin and reveals that there is only an hour’s worth of oxygen in the room.

  • The mannequin can change its weight, to the point where it is either lighter than air, or so heavy and dense that Giant-Man hurts himself when he hits it.
  • Giant-Man notices that Egghead seems to feel things that the mannequin experiences, and that gives him an idea.

  • Giant-Man grabs the mannequin when it weighs very little, and begins to spin it very quickly. This makes Egghead so dizzy that he agrees to let the heroes go free. The mannequin winds up in the bottom of a river.

In “Captured at Last”:

  • At the end of last issue, the Hulk was about to take a pounding from an unknown spy wearing a Bruce Banner-designed power armor.
  • Hulk manages to escape from the spy, by falling down a mountain.

  • Feeling confident enough in the power of the armor, the spy doesn’t follow the Hulk. After all, he’s proved that he has nothing to fear from the Hulk. Hulk transforms back into Banner and builds a device to track the armor. Meanwhile, the spy stumbles across Banner’s secret lab and starts to build a missile.

  • Back at the base, Major Glenn Talbot arrives, at the request of General Ross. Apparently, Ross suspects that Bruce Banner is up to something, and sent a report to Washington. Talbot did some research and agrees.

  • Banner is able to track down the armor, and he Hulks out to face the villain. He still isn’t strong enough to dent the armor, but he is able to knock it into a deep pit.

  • Hulk does this with enough time to prevent the spy’s rocket (which he had aimed at the army base) from hitting anything.

  • The Hulk gets knocked out in the ensuing explosion, and the army finds him and binds him.

  • With the Hulk incapacitated, the army aims guns and tanks at him, ready to fire at the least provocation. Almost as bad, General Ross and Major Talbot suspect that Banner has a connection to the Hulk!

  • To be continued…

Is It Good?

Not really. Egghead’s plot is pretty horrible, and the growing mannequin is just…awful.

The Hulk story is different, though. It’s not very good, but it is part of a continuous story, and that’s something different. This is the second part of a larger story, at a time where no Marvel story has gone beyond two explicitly connected parts. I’m still disappointed in the artwork — this does not have the look or feel of Ditko’s other work — but it’s not outside of the normal Marvel “house” style.

Continuity:

  • Egghead last appeared in Tales to Astonish #57.
  • Giant-Man and Wasp have a “Converti-Car,” which appears to be an ugly mini-jet.

  • “Captured at Last” continues from last issue’s Hulk story.
  • This is the first appearance of Major Glenn Talbot.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Why didn’t they use Puppet Master for this story? Was the “doll-making and mentally controlling bad guy” such a popular villain prototype that Marvel needed a second one?

  • You can really tell that Stan added the dialogue to this story late. “Egghead unlocks a door with a gun because…uh…it vibrates the lock? Sure. And he can use the ray gun to lift things because…it’s a multi-use gun! Obviously, it should be able to reduce the weight of things, too!”

    Egghead puts a layer of some weird, clay-like substance, all over the mannequin; he then exposes it to an “ultra-beta beam,” which makes it increase in size. I could maybe buy that the “ultra-beta beam” can make the clay expand, but why would the mannequin change size?

  • This ray just turned Egghead’s mannequin into a giant. But when he exposes himself to the ray, he…gains mental control over a particular mannequin? How does that work? And what made Egghead confident enough to experiment on himself?!? The odds of this working out exactly how he wanted it to must have been slim.

  • That’s density manipulation, not weight-loss or -gain. You’d think a scientist like Egghead would know that.

  • Glen or Glenn? They can’t keep it consistent, even in back-to-back panels.

  • “Bottomless pit”??? Hulk really doesn’t share Bruce’s scientific mind, does he?

  • Yes, this is what readers want to see. The Incredible Hulk, facing off against a foe his equal in power, and surviving by falling down a hill.

Behind the Scenes:

  • According to the Grand Comics Database, Joe Orlando was supposed to draw the Giant-Man story in this issue. Actually, he did draw it, but Stan Lee demanded several changes. Orlando refused, so Ditko and Roussos were brought in at the last minute to redraw the issue. So, if you were wondering about this odd note from the editor on the first page, there’s the explanation!

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