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Tales to Astonish #27: Review

Jan 1962
Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

The Man in the Ant Hill

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #27 Review by (July 20, 2022)

Review: And so it begins, sort of. Hank Pym and his shrinking formula make their debut, launching the career of one of the most unappreciated Marvel heroes (and it would get worse a few years/decades later). But no one yet saw this coming. At this time TALES TO ASTONISH, like all of Marvel’s horror mags, led with a cover story by Jack Kirby featuring a tale of a giant monster wreaking havoc and a hero’s brilliant discovery of a way to defeat it (formulas were a big thing in this era). When the lead tale wasn’t about a giant monster, it was about a scientist who turned himself into something and had to discover a way to turn himself back—and that was the trope that this story followed (the next issue’s genius swaps brains with a gorilla and ends up being outsmarted by the anthropoid). So here it’s just a scientist shrinks himself, is menaced by ants, and has to find a way to return himself to normal. Pretty standard with Kirby’s bug-centered art increasing the suspense (and astonishment). It would be a few months before someone had the clever idea to turn him into a superhero—an eventuality not even remotely hinted at here.

Comments: First story: First appearance of Hank Pym who becomes Ant-Man in issue #35. Second story: Text story with one illustration.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #27 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Scientist Hank Pym creates shrinking and growth potions, defying his skeptical colleagues who thought he would never amount to anything. With dreams of revolutionizing shipping and transportation, he tests it on himself and instantly shrinks to the size of an ant—and then realizes he left the growth potion on the windowsill, out of reach. He runs outside trying to get help and is chased by ants, falling into an anthill and landing in a pool of honey. A larger red ant rescues him from the goo. Attacked by the swarm, Hank ignites a match he finds, judo flips a menacing bug, and heads back to his house. The big red ant carries him up to the windowsill where he takes the growth formula and returns to normal size. Hank destroys the potions and tells his colleagues he is giving up on his researches.

“Trouble Bubble”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Joe Maneely.
Synopsis: A bored little boy creates a special bubble formula that traps his father’s boss in an unbreakable bubble which eventually pops by itself after twenty-four hours. The boss offers to buy the formula for the bubble soap but the kid has thrown it out and can’t remember how to recreate it!

“Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Don Heck. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A man buys an antique mirror for his wife and it begins to control her mind; it is inhabited by a sorcerer who turns the wife into a witch to perform the spell to free him. She locks her husband in a closet to prevent his interference but he pounds on the wall, knocking the mirror loose and breaking it, setting her free!

“The Talking Horse”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Bob Forgione. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Joe Letterese.
Synopsis: A jockey who owes money to gangsters discovers that a horse can talk and assures him it will win. The jockey bets a lot of money on the horse and the nag is so convincing that the gangster follows suit. But then the horse loses because it underestimated the other horses and when the gangster comes to collect, the horse refuses to speak up to defend the jockey!

“Dead Planet!”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A warrior from the planet Komok lands on a barren planet, intending to conquer it for his world; his instruments detect life on the planet but, no matter how he searches, he doesn’t find any. He sinks into a depression and dies. The planet’s life turns out to be sentient rocks who know when to keep quiet!

Jack Kirby
Dick Ayers
Stan Goldberg
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Dick Ayers (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Art Simek.


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> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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