Thursday, July 29, 2010

67: Tales to Astonish #46

Tales to Astonish #46
May 2, 1963

  • What's most interesting here is not the comic itself, oddly, so much as the developments to come which the story prefigures. The main element, alluded to on the cover, is the absolute enormity of the creature that Ant-Man and the Wasp will face within. Granted, relative size is an idea that's always present in an Ant-Man tale in some regard - but given that Hank Pym will remain as Ant-Man for only two issues after this, one has to wonder if this was Stan's way of testing the waters as to how much more exciting the visuals might be if there were, say, a Giant-Man instead. The other bit of foreshadowing, of course, is the monster's very name. In most of the story the word "cyclops" is used as the kind of creature it is: "The Cyclops". But on the cover, and in the story title, the word is used as if it's the creature's proper name: "Cyclops walks the earth!" "Cyclops is alive! He's as big as a mountain!" One can imagine Stan scribbling a note to himself that hey, that's a pretty good name! And he should use it again someday....

  • Refreshingly, most of this adventure takes place away from the city, as Hank & Jan head to Greece in a surprising and entirely welcome change of pace. (Although, hilariously, they can't just leave and go on vacation. No, first they have to justify it by pointing out that there's been no crime in the last two weeks - because, you know, they've been doing their jobs so well that the criminals are too scared to act!) So instead of the typical cityscapes we've come to know, Don Heck gets to draw Greek sailors, a seaside town cradled in the hills, and a mysterious island. With but a simple change of setting, it almost seems like a completely different book! And then they meet the Cyclops in question ...

  • ... annnnnnnnd it's a robot. Built and controlled by space aliens. Of course. And it had all been going so well! It's one of those plot twists where you can't help but throw your hands in the air, and wonder just what was going on with Stan. Look, we've talked about the xenophobic themes already running rampant in these stories, and in the context of then-recent history and then-current politics it's understandable why the national consciousness might be paranoid about attack from without. But what makes an attack from outer space more palpable or realistic than the thought of attack from creatures of so-called myth, who suddenly turn out to have been real? Isn't knowledge we had been so secure in turning out to have been in error just as scary a thought? Was it just evidence of the arrogance of man, the thought that we had conquered the Earth and so had discovered everything that could possibly exist upon it? (But who knows what might rain down from above!) All I know is that the thought of Hank & Jan encountering something from legend excited my imagination - but when space aliens turned up, it was all groans and rolling eyes.

    Not their most dignified moment.  Also: Maybe it's just the color scheme,
    but they kind of remind me of this guy....