Thursday, August 26, 2010

73: Tales to Astonish #47

Tales to Astonish #47
June 4, 1963

  • So here's the tale of Trago, a swingin' jazzman with a trumpet who's sadly down on his luck. During a terrible lapse of judgment, he gets caught looting the cash box of the jazz club that hired him and the manager fires him on the spot. More than that, in fact: He instead chooses to forcibly deport Trago (you can do that?), saying that he'll decline to press charges so long as Trago boards the next flight out of the country, which turns out to be headed for India. Apparently it's just that easy! Once in India, of course, Trago falls under the tutelage of a wise old mystic who teaches him how to use the power of his instrument to hypnotize snakes, reptiles - and even humans! Trago therefore jumps a plane back to the States, and immediately starts using his newfound power to swindle all those he can.

  • In fact, in modus operandi Trago behaves exactly like the Ringmaster, hypnotizing his audience then stealing their coin. (I'd wonder why there are so many hypnotism tales, but with the larger preponderance of nuclear bombs, duplicate stories and xenophobic paranoia, that might seem disingenuous.)  Here, though, you get the sense that Trago's not an inherent villain, but just a weak man who's fallen on hard times. At the story's end, when Trago's memory is erased and he takes up playing jazz gigs once more, you find yourself hoping it works out for him. And the fact that Ant-Man never again faces The Man with the Magic Trumpet may be a sign that it does!

  • And yet there is one tragedy within these pages, and that is the sad end of Korr. Who's Korr, you ask? Why, none other than Ant-Man's trusted steed, of course! Granted, it is a surprise to get the name of one of Pym's ants, as up to this point they've only been referred to en masse - for instance, every time Hank launches himself across town and summons a mound of them to break his fall, like some raked-up pile of fallen leaves - but the sudden change of protocol is made clear when Korr saves Ant-Man from a menacing garden snake, nobly sacrificing himself for the pint-sized hero. But weep not!  For Korr is survived by the steadfast Foss, who stoically takes up his fallen brother's post. (Still: I doubt we hear mention of Foss, or any named ants for that matter, ever again.)

    For such a silly tale, it has a surprisingly somber coda.
    And the use of silhouette in panel two is quite the beautiful effect.