Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #73



Credits:

Cover Date: November 10, 1965

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Mike Esposito, Vince Colletta

“By Force of Arms!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Gene Colan

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Gene Colan (credited as Adam Austin)

Inker: Vince Colletta

“Another World, Another Foe!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Pencillers: Jack Kirby (layouts), Bob Powell

Inker: Mike Esposito (per GCD https://www.comics.org/issue/19613/ )

What’s Going On?

Namor continues his quest for Neptune’s Trident, while the usurper Krang must handle a rebellion back in Atlantis.

Meanwhile, the Hulk survives a bullet to the brain, only to wind up on another planet!

Details:

In the Sub-Mariner feature:

  • Picking up from last issue, Namor’s strength is being sapped by the Diamonds of Doom.
  • Namor can’t only be worried about the Diamonds, though. The Demon of Diamonds is drawn by Namor’s struggle, and is prepared to attack the weakened Sub-Mariner.

  • Luckily, Namor can draw strength from other ocean creatures, so he’s not as helpless as he seems.

  • But the Diamonds of Doom continue to sap Namor’s strength as the fight goes on. When it looks like Namor might be finished, he uses his ability to command sea creatures to force some electric eels to attack the Demon of Diamonds.


  • After defeating the Demon of Diamonds, Namor once again hears the words of Neptune. This time, though, they don’t offer much of a hint as to where Namor’s quest needs to go next.

  • While contemplating is next steps, Namor receives another message, relayed by random other fish: Lady Dorma is in trouble!

  • Namor is faced with a decision: abandon his quest, or save Dorma. Not surprisingly, he opts to play the hero and go rescue Dorma.

  • Meanwhile, back in Atlantis, Krang is busy subduing with a rebellion.

  • To be continued…!

In the Hulk feature:

  • Picking up from last issue, the Hulk is being zapped into submission by the Leader’s Humanoids. However, if he loses consciousness, the Hulk will revert back into Bruce Banner —- who currently has a bullet in his brain!

  • As the Hulk finally collapses, he is inadvertently saved by the Leader. Just when the Hulk was about to transform back into Banner, his body absorbed some of the Leader’s gamma radiation, which halted the transformation.

  • The Leader examines the Hulk in his lab and finds the bullet in Hulk’s brain. The Leader removes the bullet with the use of a laser, and the Hulk’s life is saved! In the process, though, the Hulk has been exposed to an extremely high dose of gamma radiation. He may never be able to change back into Banner again! Worse, he is now forever indebted to the villainous Leader!

  • Finally, we learn why the Leader rescued the Hulk. He wants to send the Hulk to the hone planet of the Watcher to steal one of the alien technologies in the Watcher’s home.

  • After transporting the Hulk into deep space, the Leader remotely guides the Hulk to the desired device. The Watcher won’t try to stop the Hulk, but the Leader conveniently forgot to mention that another alien is after the alien device —- and it’s the most powerful alien in the galaxy!

  • To be continued…!

Is It Good?

No, this title is getting worse.

The Namor story is dragging, and we’re not very far into it. Quest storylines really need to have good obstacles, and Namor’s opponents have been pretty lame so far. Colman’s pencils are fine, but I’d like him to have better things to draw.

The Hulk storyline makes a sharp turn yet again, abruptly ending the bullet-in-the-brain subplot and sending the Hulk on a cosmic fetch quest. It doesn’t play to the character’s strengths. I’m not impressed with the artwork, either. Jack Kirby’s layouts don’t work nearly as well when he’s not doing the finished pencils, and this is yet another example of this.

Continuity:

  • This is the fourth chapter in Namor’s quest for Neptune’s trident.
  • Namor can apparently absorb the strength of any nearby sea creatures and plants. We haven’t seen him do this before.

  • It sure looks like the Demon of Diamonds is dead. No one seems to care.

  • Lady Dorma was cast into the cave of the Faceless Ones by Krang in Tales to Astonish #72. She is unharmed so far, but is still in danger.

  • This is part 14 of the ongoing Hulk story.
  • Bruce Banner no longer has a bullet in his brain. He was shot in the head in Tales to Astonish #69.
  • The Hulk has grown even more powerful, as a result of his increased exposure to gamma radiation. Some new revelations: he is impervious to weather, and can hold his breath for more than 30 minutes.
  • Presumably, the Hulk can no longer use Banner’s gamma device to trigger his transformation into or out of the Hulk.
  • The Blue Area of the moon and the Watcher both made their first appearance in Fantastic Four #13.
  • The Watcher last appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #3.
  • Planet T-37X, home planet of the Watchers, last appeared in Tales of Suspense #57.
  • This is the first appearance of Qnax, the Amphibion, but I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t know that.  This is the alien creature that shows up at the end of the issue to challenge the Hulk, but is not named.  Its powers are unknown, but it is allegedly the most powerful creature in the galaxy.
  • The Leader apparently has the technology to travel at faster than light speeds.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • While “parry” can indicate “evasion,” that is typically only used in conversational confrontations. In a sword fight, a “parry” should involve blocking or deflecting blows. How could a demon living in diamonds in the ocean deep not understand such simple contextual vocabulary usage?!?

  • This panel appears to be setting up “Sub-Mariner” as some sort of honorary title, but since it appears to be directly connected to the Demon of Diamonds, and since this is the Demon of Diamonds’ last appearance, I’m going to chalk this one up to “Huh, that’s a weird thing to say.”

  • Fun fact: electric eels live in fresh water, usually in relatively shallow depths. They wouldn’t last long in the depths of the ocean.
  • Eels can do what now? And where is the camera sending Krang these images?

  • If you don’t know where the next challenge in your quest is, how does rescuing Dorma qualify as “abandoning” it?

  • Whoa, there, buddy. Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s not so much that Dorma’s love has “never faltered” for you, as it is that she is obsessed with you, jealous, and spiteful enough to betray you (as recently as this very storyline!) whenever she gets the chance.

  • This makes scientific sense. I don’t see why a laser wouldn’t be able to safely dissolve metal without impacting delicate brain tissue immediately —- and completely —- surrounding the metal.

  • It’s pretty messed up that the Watcher basically has a cramped private zoo. It’s worth noting that this pre-dates the first appearance of the Collector (who is all about building space zoos) by only a few months.

Behind the Scenes:

  • Per GCD (https://www.comics.org/issue/19613/) and Nick Caputo, Bob Powell didn’t work on this issue. Caputo believes that it is Kirby on pencils and Mike Esposito on inks. He knows his stuff, shut I can’t find his explanation for this anywhere online, so I’m still including Powell for finished pencils.
  • In case you read this issue and thought that this portion of the cover looked familiar…

…that is because it was lifted from this interior panel, re-colored, and rotated.

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