Friday, January 8, 2010

11: Tales to Astonish #35

Tales to Astonish #35
June 5, 1962

  • Despite the last post, some additional research shows that Journey into Mystery #83 was not Larry Lieber's first writing gig, despite sources such as the Origins of Marvel Comics reprint book, where Stan unambiguously claims that to be the case. In fact, not only did Larry script the return of Hank Pym here - he did Hank's origin in Tales to Astonish #27 as well! But maybe, to a certain degree, it still counts. After all, as noted, that first tale was clearly a done-in-one, with a scientist character not meant to continue in further adventures. This issue is Pym's second appearance, but his first as a superhero; as a result, one could almost argue TtA #27 as preceding the shared universe of Marvel's Silver Age and later being pulled into it, in the same way the Sub-Mariner was. Certainly the Pym of #27 didn't live in the same world as the Fantastic Four, while the one seen here conceivably could.

  • But the return of this characters begs, if not screams, the question: WHY?? Available data suggests this issue came out the same week as the debuts of both Spider-Man and a certain god of thunder. Surely, next to those, a man who can shrink down and talk to ants seems ... passé, doesn't it? But not only is he brought back, he's given a slot as a monthly feature too. More to the point, he's suddenly recast as a superhero - where he's given a costume, the ability to talk to ants, and ... a healthy dose of international espionage!

  • The examples of Goofy Silver Age Writing in this 13-pager are too many to be believed, as Pym, in rapid succession: rigs an ashtray and rubber band to propel himself through the air; fends off an angry ant by first hurling it overhead, then giving it a judo chop to the head (!!); is able to "dig a deep hole in mere seconds" (somehow, being inches tall but retaining his full strength makes this possible?); when plummeting from two feet up, is able to call the group of ants quickly enough that they cushion his fall; and finally, ludicrously, instructs those ants to stop the Commie spies by plugging up their guns ... with honey. And, heaven help us, it works. It's almost as if, remade in his new, superheroic image, Hank Pym was able to throw off the shackles of credibility as well....