Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #62

Credits:

Cover Date: December 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Chic Stone

“Giant-Man versus the Wonderful Wasp”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Carl Burgos

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Carl Burgos (credited as Carlos Burgos)

Inker: Dick Ayers

“Enter…the Chameleon”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: George Roussos (credited as George Bell)

What’s Going On?

In “Giant-Man versus the Wonderful Wasp,” a Giant-Man imposter tries to commit some crimes, and it’s up to the Wasp and true Giant-Man to stop him.

In “Enter…the Chameleon,” the Hulk has to deal with another spy intent on infiltrating the army base and stealing Bruce Banner’s dangerous work.

Details:

In “Giant-Man versus the Wonderful Wasp”:

  • Working in his lab one day, Henry Pym completes a growth serum. He tests it on a plant, and it works!

  • It works too well, actually.

  • Hank manages to slow the mutated plant’s growth, but accidentally knocks himself out in the process.

  • As luck and happenstance would have it, a two-bit crook was watching Pym from his window. The crook climbed in the window, deduced Hank’s name, and stole the Giant-Man suit.

  • “Giant-Crook” decides to do some crimes with his new super-powers —- remember, Hank’s suit currently uses the cybernetic helmet to change his size, so anyone wearing the suit can do the same —- but he’s not skilled with his powers yet and trips a burglar alarm. This draws the police and the Wasp. She quickly realizes that he is an imposter.

  • At the same time, across town, Hank wakes up from his “nap” to find that his out-of-control plant has continued to grow and is enveloping the city.

  • Hank also contacts Janet, who alerts him to “Giant-Crook.” When the two meet face-to-face, Hank punches the villain out cold and recovers his suit.

  • In the end, Hank is able to destroy the plant and make the crook forget his true identity. The end.

In “Enter…the Chameleon”:

  • The Hulk’s capture last issue brings some new players into the ongoing drama. First, Rick Jones leaves the Avengers to help Bruce Banner any way he can.

  • Elsewhere, someone only known as the Leader calls the Chameleon and commands him to investigate the fate of the spy that the Hulk defeated last issue.

  • The Chameleon plans to use the Hulk as a distraction, while he completes his mission. Disguised as General Ross, he offers to free the Hulk from his bonds.

  • While “General Ross” commands the guards to leave the area so he can free the Hulk, the Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner. The smaller Banner slips from the restraints and leaves the area before anyone notices.

  • Rick Jones, who was apparently allowed to roam the base unattended at night, witnesses the transformation and helps Bruce avoid the MPs. Afterward, Bruce confirms that he holds no grudge against Rick for leaving the Hulk to hang out with Captain America.

  • Bruce makes a brief appearance in front of General Ross and Major Talbot, to cool their suspicions for a bit. Soon after, the Chameleon attacks Bruce by surprise and subdues him. Now disguised as Banner, the Chameleon digs through Banner’s lab and finds a gamma bomb grenade!

  • Banner transforms back into the Hulk and breaks his bonds. When he catches up with the Chameleon, “Bruce Banner” threatens to kill Betty and the entire base with the gamma grenade.

  • Knowing the dangers of a gamma bomb all too well, the Hulk decides to keep the soldiers on the base —- who were on high alert —- away from “Banner,” so he wouldn’t be tempted to use the bomb. But “Banner’s” fear of the Hulk only grows as he watches the brute in action. He decides to activate the bomb and run.

  • The Hulk opts to protect others from the blast, rather than escaping unscathed. He throws his body on top of the bomb, shielding everyone around him. The blast transforms the Hulk back into Banner, and the Chameleon escapes in the chaos.

  • Betty Ross helps clear Banner’s name when she explains that the “Banner” that tried to steal the gamma bomb was an imposter. General Ross and Major Talbot are still suspicious of Banner, though.

Is It Good?

The Giant-Man story was, as usual, pretty dull. There was no memorable villain, and if they hadn’t changed the way Giant-Man’s powers work a few issues earlier, there would have been no plot.

The Hulk story was better. The artwork is getting better, which is a big help; George Roussos’ inks are starting to feel better with Ditko’s pencils. The plot had a lot of holes in it —- the Chameleon’s goals and strategies change from page to page —- but I like that Lee and Ditko are treating this feature as a serial story, rather than a collection of stand-alone tales.

There were a couple things that stood out to me in the Hulk story. The first is that the Hulk acted heroically for the first time in this issue; until now, his heroism usually coincided with self-interest or pride. The second is that the Hulk appears to be getting dumb again. I’m not against the Hulk being dumb or savage, but it’s an odd change to make, without comment, in Part 3 of a larger story.

Continuity:

  • It looks like it is finally becoming common knowledge that Ant-Man and Giant-Man are the same hero.

  • It looks like this is the in-continuity debut of Wasp’s new helmet/cowl. It was also seen in Avengers #11, which shares the same cover date.

  • The Avengers have a code to not take human life…if they can help it, wink wink, nudge nudge.

  • We get a diagram of an anthill in this issue. It’s an odd choice of things to detail.

  • Hank Pym apparently has roofies.

  • The villain in this story learned Giant-Man’s true identity, but forgot by the end of the issue.
  • This Hulk story continues from last issue. It is Part 3 of an ongoing tale, which makes it the longest (in consecutive issues, not page count) serial story of Marvel’s Silver Age so far.
  • Rick Jones last appeared in Avengers #11.
  • The Chameleon last appeared in Tales of Suspense #58. No explanation is given for why he is not in prison, after he was captured by the Avengers in that issue.
  • This is the first appearance of the Leader. We don’t know much about him at this point, except that he has now instructed two spies to infiltrate General Ross’ military base. He wears what appears to be a protective mask for unknown reasons.

  • The Hulk is back to being portrayed as somewhat dim-witted. He can still speak like a normal person, but the narration implies that he no longer has much intelligence.

  • We have a Hulk pin-up from Jack Kirby and George Roussos, which is kind of weird. Not only did the current Hulk Artists not do it, but Marvel’s anthology titles usually have enough material to fill an issue without needing filler.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • So…you created something that will make humans age faster? Or do you mean it will make humans larger, like giants? Because giants often live painful lives because the human body isn’t designed for extreme sizes. Either way, I don’t see this being marketable, Hank.

  • The problem with paranoid people is that they get a lot worse if one of their ridiculous theories happens to be true.

  • At first, I was like “Did Hank Pym just invent Rohypnol?” But then he says that this guy won’t even remember that he is a criminal! This is a complete mind-wipe or personality changing drug! And Hank just uses it without a trial or anything? Pym, you are a bad person.

  • Whoops, looks like Stan Lee forgot what book he was writing. That’s supposed to be Betty Ross, not Betty Brant.

  • …and it happens again! I guess that’s why writers shouldn’t be their own editors.

  • Note: the Hulk/Banner transformation has been tied to his pulse rate for only a few issues, and Rick hasn’t seen the Hulk since that change. There’s no way he knows this.

  • We need to bring back the trope of tough men saying “blankity-blank.”

  • How does the Chameleon subdue Banner without knocking him out, before he Hulks out? The panel after this one should show the Hulk wiping a Chameleon-shaped blood smear on a wall, not Banner tied up and helpless.

  • Of course the Chameleon wasn’t more powerful than the Hulk! You do realize that he is just a guy who wears masks, right?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Women: always lying about their intent to murder you.

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