Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #66

Credits:

Cover Date: April 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Bob Powell, Chic Stone, Frank Giacoia

“The Menace of Madame Macabre”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Bob Powell

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Bob Powell

Inker: Frank Giacoia (credited as Frankie Ray)

“The Power of Doctor Banner!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Vince Colletta

What’s Going On?

Giant-Man and the Wasp face the size-changing powers of Madame Macabre, a protege of the Mandarin!

The Hulk fights the Soviets behind the Iron Curtain.

Details:

In the Giant-Man & Wasp story:

  • Madame Macabre is getting publicity for her use of Eastern sciences to shrink or enlarge objects —- not too different than what Giant-Man can do. However, she is limited to objects made of a special type of material, and cannot impact living things. She decides to obtain Giant-Man’s secrets so she can control the living.

  • Madame Macabre meets with Giant-Man in his lab and explains her abilities. He is impressed. She takes this as a sign that he will want to team up with her to (somehow) conquer the world. She misread the situation.

  • Since Giant-Man will not join her, Madame Macabre sees him as an enemy. She arranges to have Wasp kidnapped, and when Giant-Man comes to rescue Wasp, a trap is sprung!

  • Giant-Man is trapped inside a box that Madame Macabre can control the size of! He is forced to shrink down to a tiny size to survive.

  • The Wasp saves the day when she accidentally learns that Madame Macabre’s powers are controlled by a wig stuffed with electronics! Janet manages to free Hank, and the two heroes quickly capture the villainess.

In the Hulk story:

  • Picking up from last issue, the Hulk is in a Soviet prison, about to be attacked by one of the prison guards. However, one of the fellow inmates sacrifices his life to save the Hulk.

  • Curiously, the Hulk —- who isn’t typically the nicest fellow —- takes exception to the inmate’s death. Since the inmate was kind to him, the Hulk is enraged and lashed out.

  • The Hulk does a lot of damage to the prison, but his rage triggers his transformation back into Bruce Banner.

  • Back in America, intelligence reports indicate that Banner is behind the Iron Curtain. The military sees this as a threat —- Banner either has to be rescued or silenced! Major Talbot volunteers to go behind enemy lines to “do what must be done” to Banner, but his request is formally denied.

  • Meanwhile, Bruce Banner scrambles for his life while Soviet bombers attacked the prison wreckage. While trying hide, Banner notices the dead body of the scientist that sacrificed himself for the Hulk.

  • The memory angers Banner, which starts to transform him back into the Hulk —- just in time, too! At that moment, a bomb hit near Banner, and if he had not changed into the Hulk just then, he would have died.

  • The Hulk then destroys the bombers and spots some tanks coming his way. The issue ends with the Hulk getting good and mad before fighting the tanks.

Is It Good?

The Giant-Man & Wasp story was just awful. The villain was bad and underdeveloped. The problem seemed easy to overcome. The art was not impressive (although it thankfully didn’t have racist undertones). It is just a bad story.

The Hulk story, on the other hand, was pretty good. I am enjoying the ongoing adventure of the Hulk, even if not a whole lot happened in this particular issue. Ditko’s art is fun, and he’s drawing the Hulk in a rampage —- it’s good times.

Continuity:

  • The Mandarin appears in a flashback, where he is shown mentoring Madame Macabre 10+ years ago. He last appeared in Tales of Suspense #62.

  • Hank got a haircut. Let’s see if any other artists notice.

  • Chameleon last appeared in Tales of Suspense #64. Not only does he work for the Leader, the Leader considers him a top lieutenant.
  • Major Talbot and General Ross still suspect Bruce Banner if being a spy. Betty is not convinced.

  • The Leader continues to develop his theory of a connection between Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

  • Bruce Banner apparently has access to Hulk’s memories. We haven’t seen much of that before. Bruce usually seems dazed and unaware of what the Hulk has done.
  • Hulk’s transformations can take place almost instantaneously. That hasn’t been shown before. This almost looks like it’s the Hulk acting to save Banner’s life, too, which is interesting.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • There are very few situations where making yourself gigantic is the best way to investigate a mystery. I just wanted to point that out.

  • Why is this even a problem for Hank? He’s shown in recent issues that he can change size rapidly, all the way down to being ant-sized. Why doesn’t he just keep shrinking and walk out?

  • First of all, this is just a plastic toy that has been enlarged. It’s not going to have a steering wheel connected to the wheels. Second, I get that Madame Macabre can change the size of her toys, but how does she send it after the heroes without touching it?

  • This dialogue makes it worth pointing out: this is Madame Macabre’s only appearance.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Janet, you need some self-esteem.

  • “Exotic-looking”? She’s just Chinese, Jan.  Get a grip.

Behind the Scenes:

  • The cover to this issue is interesting. It is generally acknowledged that Jack Kirby drew Giant-Man and Hulk, but Madame Macabre and her assistant are actually repurposed interior art from this issue (by Bob Powell and Frank Giacoia). Per Nick Caputo, it looks like Giant-Man’s portion was supposed to take up the top half of the cover, but someone realized that the concept (Hank is too big for a room!) was used on the previous issue’s cover. We’ll never know for sure, but last-minute changes would explain the use of previously existing artwork to fill out the rest of the cover. Compare this zoomed-in look at the cover…

…with these panels from the interior art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s