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Tales to Astonish #35: Review

Sep 1962
Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Return of the Ant-Man!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #35 Review by (July 26, 2022)

Review: And here we have him: the classic Ant-Man! Hank was always one of the most erratic Avengers, changing his hero identity multiple times in his first five/six years of comics, unable to settle on one (Ant-Man to Giant-Man to Goliath to Yellowjacket) with his mental state changing to match. Things kept going downhill as Hank became more confused and hapless with each appearance to the point where the character was simply no longer a hero. And as has been pointed out, what can you do with a hero whose two greatest accomplishments are a) hitting his wife and b) creating Ultron, a major villain? Replace him with a lighter, funnier version like Scott Lang. After TTA, the next Ant-Man series is a seven-issue run in MARVEL FEATURE--and then comes Scott Lang in a two-part intro in MARVEL PREMIERE. Eventually there would be a third Ant-Man, Eric “Irredeemable” O’Grady, who would be succeeded by the returning Scott but as for Hank Pym? He would spend the next several decades lurking around the edges of the Marvel Universe, hoping to make himself useful, even as late as SECRET AVENGERS but never quite finding a place. His most recent appearance? No idea.

But for now, we have him fighting crime with an army of ants, while he is able to maintain his human strength at a tiny size. I know this doesn’t make any sense but then cosmic rays, gamma rays, and irradiated spiders don’t give people superpowers either so cut Stan and Larry a break. Soon they would flesh out his character a bit by adding a tragic marriage out of nowhere, followed quickly by a cute female partner. And then they join the Avengers but Hank quickly becomes Giant-Man so that he can look more impressive on a cover and actually contribute to a battle (the same reason they gave Invisible Girl force field powers). It’s after this that things fall apart for him, as indicated above. But for now, he’s a fun hero, pulling off some absurd adventures with the series quickly becoming the silliest Marvel series of the 60s with Human Torch’s solo series in STRANGE TALES the only real competition.

And here’s the big mystery: there appears to be no published account of the character’s creation. Who at Marvel first had the idea to turn this guy from a random science fiction story into a superhero? No clue, this info does not appear anywhere I can see. If you know, please get in touch so I can revise this review but until then, it seems very odd that even from the beginning no one wanted to take credit for this hero as though they knew he would go downhill.  

Comments: First story: First appearance of Hank Pym as Ant-Man who will star in this book until issue #69. First mention of unstable molecules in this series; they first appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR #6, created or discovered by Reed Richards. The Marvel Database locates this story in New York City, though nothing in the tale supports that. And the anti-radioactivity gas was a bust since the thing is never mentioned again, so the foreign spies were wasting their time. Second story: Text story with one illustration.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #35 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

After his unpleasant experience with his shrinking formula, scientist Hank Pym locks the two serums away in his safe but has become fascinated by ants, conducting a study of them. He uncovers the secrets of ant communication and constructs a cybernetic helmet which allows him to contact and communicate with them and also devises a protective suit to wear while communing with the ants….

Shortly afterward, Hank is assigned by the government to create a gas to make people immune to radioactivity and given four assistants to help him. A foreign power learns of this and dispatches their spies in the US to capture Hank and his assistants and steal the formula. Hanks refuses to comply and tells them that none of the assistants knows the whole formula. The spies plan to search the lab and take Hanks’ notes then blow up the place and make it look like a science lab accident. Hanks has a plan to defeat the bad guys: he dons the Ant-Man suit, shrinks using his potions, and shoots himself onto the windowsill with a rubber band. He crawls under the closed sash and heads to the anthill to recruit ant allies for his mission. One ant gives him trouble so Hank clobbers him and discovers that while tiny, he has retained his full strength. Ant-Man and the ants return to the house, Hank beating up a beetle that gets in their way. Ant-Man unties the captive scientists while the ants sting the baddies and cork up their guns with honey. The freed scientists beat up the spies and take them prisoner. Hanks heads to the next room, regains his normal size, and they call security. Hank wonders if he will ever need to become Ant-Man again….

“Strange Encounter”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Joe Maneely.
Synopsis: An American tourist in Paris is mistaken for a government courier by a Russian spy and taken prisoner. Not to worry, the French police have been following the Commie and rescue the hero!

“The Doorway to Nowhere!”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A criminal breaks into an old deserted house and discovers that a closet is the gateway to another dimension; he steps through and is trapped in a formless alien world forever!

“The Thing from Outer Space!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Don Heck. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A space explorer returns to Earth with an alien plant but the plant claims by telepathy that it is the astronaut, the plant having exchanged identities. The astronaut claims otherwise and it is revealed that the plant did indeed swap their minds but was unaware of it and really thought it was the human. The plant is sent home and that planet quarantined! Set in 2006!

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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