Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #71

Credits:

Cover Date: September 1965

Cover Artists: Gene Colan, Vince Colletta

“Escape to Nowhere!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Gene Colan

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Gene Colan (credited as Adam Austin)

Inker: Vince Colletta

“Like a Beast at Bay!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby (layouts), Mike Esposito (credited as Mickey Demeo)

Inker: Mike Esposito (credited as Mickey Demeo)

What’s Going On?

Namor continues his quest for Neptune’s Trident, and the Hulk gets cornered by the army.

Details:

In the main Namor feature:

  • Picking up from last issue, Namor is trapped in a cave with a giant squid. He manages to use Neptune’s shell to fight off the sea creature.

  • Afterwards, the shell projects an image of King Neptune, who tells Namor that the next step of his quest is in the “forbidden deeps.”

  • Namor digs his way out of the cave to continue his quest, and encounters some of Warlord Krang’s men. The Sub-Mariner handles them quickly and talks trash about how little of a challenge they posed.

  • Meanwhile, Krang is viewing Namor’s actions remotely. Krang pledges to continue trying to sabotage Namor, even though it is against tradition to interfere with the quest for Neptune’s Trident. He does this because he knows he can never win Lady Dorma’s heart, as long as Namor lives.

  • Elsewhere, we see how Warlord Krang’s leadership is impacting the citizens of Atlantis. Hint: it’s not all sunshine and lollipops.

  • While that is happening, Namor reaches the next challenge on his quest: a seaweed man, capable to crushing the Sub-Mariner!

  • To be continued…!

In the Hulk back-up feature:

  • Last issue, the Hulk was fighting a 500-foot tall Humanoid, trying to keep it from destroying General Ross’ military base; unbeknownst to the Hulk, General Ross has launched a “super missile” to destroy both the Hulk and the Humanoid.
  • This issue opens with Rick Jones warning the Hulk of the incoming missile. The Hulk grabs Rick and jumps them both to safety.

  • The missile strikes the Humanoid, making it inoperable. Before the military can examine it, though, the Leader hits the self-destruct button.

  • The Hulk takes Rick back to his hidden laboratory in the desert to re-up his gamma radiation (or else the Hulk will revert back to Bruce Banner and die). Unfortunately, the army was able to follow them.

  • Having cornered the Hulk, General Ross threatens to attack with nuclear weapons! The Hulk is willing to risk a fight, but doesn’t want to endanger Rick’s life.

  • The Hulk pushes Rick out of the lab, hoping he will be able to get to safety before the army begins to bombard the lab. Then, unexpectedly, the Leader beams an image of himself into the lab and offers to teleport the Hulk to safety —- but only if he agrees to serve the Leader!
  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

Not really. The artwork on the Namor story is pretty good, but the story is pretty blah. It’s a shame, really. I’m liking Gene Colman’s pencils, but it feels like they’re being wasted on this dumb quest and its bland villain.

The Hulk story continues its breakneck pace, but the plot is beginning to become incoherent. It doesn’t help that Jack Kirby only does layouts in this issue; Demeo is okay as an inker, but his house-style pencils aren’t very attractive here.

Continuity:

  • This is Part 2 of Namor’s ongoing story.
  • This is the first appearance of the Seaweed Man.  Apparently, he appears here and in next month’s issue, and then 17 years later in the pages of Rom.
  • This is also the first appearance of Vashti Cleito-Son.  He’s an unnamed peasant in this issue, but he will later become a frequent background character in Atlantis.

  • This is Part 12 of the Hulk’s ongoing story.
  • Apparently, General Ross has free reign to detonate atomic weapons on American soil.
  • We have another atomic bomb detonation! There’s no lingering radioactivity, though, because it’s a prototype bomb.

  • Despite having (allegedly) Banner’s intelligence, the Hulk appears to have developed a more violent personality.

  • The Leader has access to technology that allows him to project a 3D image of himself just about anywhere and he can also hear whatever subjects he is viewing remotely.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Last issue, the issue ended with Namor facing a giants squid that was far too strong for Namor to tame or overpower. This issue, he defeats it by throwing a sea shell.  Last issue, he was trapped in a cave, unable to dig his way out. This issue, he digs his way out.  Look, I don’t expect Namor to die inside an underwater cave, but at least show him struggling with the concrete obstacles you put in his way for more than a page or two, writers.
  • Sure, Namor’s strength is useless to break through these rocks. Obviously, the solution is to use his strength to drill through the rocks. That is totally different and more believable.

  • What is the best way to win someone’s love? According to Krang, it is hunting and killing the person that your love interest has feelings for. I wonder if he ever thought to maybe buying her flowers or something?
  • It’s also worth noting that Krang plans to kill Namor now. Last issue, he refused to kill Namor when the Prince was his prisoner.
  • Lady Dorma might be the most legitimately frightening character in the Marvel Universe.

  • How could the Hulk’s speed increase as he gains altitude? Does the Hulk have thrusters in his butt?

  • I guess you couldn’t show accurate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation between two men in the 60’s, huh?

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Yeah, I’m sure Rock Hudson never struggled with living dual lives or being able to present his true self to the world.

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