Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #70

Credits:

Cover Date: August 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Mike Esposito

“The Start of the Quest!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Gene Colan

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Gene Colan (credited as Adam Austin)

Inker: Vince Colletta

“To Live Again!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Mike Esposito (credited as Mickey Demeo)

What’s Going On?

Prince Namor, the Sun-Mariner, has had his royal throne stolen from him! He must now go on a dangerous quest to prove himself worthy of Atlantis’ crown!

Elsewhere, the Hulk has miraculously survived being shot in the head last issue, and now he must defend the very military that tried to kill him!

Details:

In the Sub-Mariner story:

  • Namor returns to Atlantis to find that Warlord Krang has usurped the throne in Namor’s absence! When Lady Dorma tries to ally herself with Namor, though, he doesn’t act very grateful.

  • In typical Lady Dorma fashion, she betrays Namor for not accepting her affection. She summons the palace guards to capture the prince. With the help of some special weapons, they manage to subdue their former leader.

  • Krang has Namor thrown into the palace dungeons while he plots his attack on the surface world.

  • Despite betraying him only a few pages earlier, Lady Dorma approaches Namor’s cell, willing to help him escape.

  • Namor’s plan to regain his kingdom does not include fighting Krang (not yet, at least). He wants to recover the legendary enchanted Trident of Neptune, which will prove his right to the throne.

  • Since finding a mystical trident of legend seems like a plausible action plan, Lady Dorma breaks Namor out of prison and earns his gratitude.

  • Unfortunately, it seems that Dorma and Namor acted predictably. Krang expected Dorma’s treachery and Namor’s quest. When Namor enters the cave where his quest for the trident will begin, Krang’s men will collapse the entrance.

  • Unaware of Krang’s plan, Namor enters the cave a fights a mighty giant squid. He surprises the squid long enough to seize what he was looking for, only to find his escape path blocked. He is not stronger than the squid that will eventually attack him again, so this looks like trouble for the Sub-Mariner.

  • To be continued…!

In the Hulk story:

  • Last issue ended with Bruce Banner dead from a gunshot wound. Somehow, Rick Jones manages to steal Banner’s body from the Leader’s base (which was absolutely swamped with US military men) and bring the corpse back to Banner’s hidden laboratory. He plans to transform Banner back into the Hulk, hoping that the Hulk can survive the gunshot wound.

  • Remarkably, Rick’s plan works! Banner transforms into the Hulk, only now he has Banner’s intelligence!

  • Elsewhere, the Leader tries to save face with his (presumably Communist) business clients. Since he failed to obtain the Absorbatron for them, he will demonstrate another powerful weapon, in the hopes of selling it to them.

  • That weapon is a 500-foot tall Humanoid, and he commands it to attack the military base where Banner once worked.

  • The gigantic Humanoid appears to be impervious to artillery and rockets, so the army decides to use missiles against it.

  • The Hulk tries to help the military, but General Ross hastily assumes that the Hulk and Humanoid are allies. He fires all of the base’s missiles at them.

  • Remarkably, this is only enough to stun the Humanoid. The Hulk does what he can to keep the creature off balance…

  • …unaware that General Ross has a “super-missile” ready to fire at, and vaporize, them both!

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

I am enjoying the continuing Hulk story. Kirby’s art is fun, and they are doing a lot with the limited pages available to them. I’m not sure how good the story is —- we’re once again changing the nature of the Hulk and giving him a very artificial time limit to his powers —- but it certainly is moving at a brisk pace.

The Sub-Mariner story wasn’t very interesting (or logical), but I did enjoy Gene Colan’s artwork. It has kind of a Golden Age/newspaper feel to it, but it is more suited to superhero comics than, say, Bill Everett. Hopefully, this story eventually makes Atlantis and its denizens more than one-dimensional characters; I don’t have high hopes for this, but I do expect Namor to be more fun in the lead feature than Hank Pym.

Continuity:

  • This is the Sub-Mariner’s first starring feature in the Silver Age, as well as his debut in Tales to Astonish.
  • Namor, Lady Dorma, and Warlord Krang all last appeared in Daredevil #7.
  • Lady Dorma is still obsessed with making Namor love her, because she is definitely emotionally well-adjusted.

  • This is the first Silver Age appearance of King Neptune. His last Golden Age appearance was in Venus (Vol. 1) #12, in 1951. Neptune appears to be a historical god/king of Atlantis.
  • This is the first appearance of Neptune’s Trident, although it is shown only in flashback.
  • The cover corner box has changed to reflect Namor joining the title and Giant-Man & the Wasp leaving.

  • The Namor story takes place immediately after the events of Daredevil #7, where Namor was informed that Warlord Krang had usurped the throne while Namor was on the surface.
  • Lady Dorma has now betrayed Namor’s trust three times in only four appearances.
  • Since Rick saved his life Banner/Hulk declares Rick’s life-debt to him cancelled. Time will tell if this frees Rick to hang out with Captain America and the Avengers guilt-free in the future.

  • If the Hulk transforms back into Bruce Banner, the bullet in his brain will kill him —- for good, this time.

  • Between panels, the Hulk has created a potion that will prevent him from transforming back into Bruce Banner —- and dying —- for 48 hours at a time.

  • The military (or, at least General Ross and Major Talbot) believe Bruce Banner to be dead. Talbot gives Betty Ross the news and she accepts it, but she refuses to believe Banner was a spy.

  • This is the first time it is said that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Lady Dorma is the worst recurring character in Marvel Comics to date. What’s her plan here? In what reality can she hope to “win his heart” after delivering him as a captive to his usurper?

  • Why wouldn’t killing Namor make more sense here? I’m sure there’s a good reason, but I just can’t think of it.

  • This poor guard has a majorly disfigured arm. It’s clearly not bad art.

  • I’m not saying that this makes zero sense, but how does the Hulk know this to be true immediately upon waking? Shouldn’t he have to experiment or do tests or something first?

  • The Leader’s secret base was located very close to General Ross’ missile base. The Leader fled that base just before the army invaded it. His back-up base appears to be…also very close to Ross’ base. That seems odd to me.

  • It’s worth noting that Betty hasn’t even been on a date with Glenn Talbot yet. This guy needs to pump his brakes a bit.

  • Up until now, the military has been unaware of the Leader’s existence and his Humanoids. Apparently, General Ross now knows enough about them to refer to them by name.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • What are the odds? The weakest link in a Stan Lee story is the female character!

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