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Tales to Astonish #37: Review

Nov 1962
Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Trapped by the Protecter!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #37 Review by (August 17, 2022)

Review: And so the silliness begins…a big baddie defeats Ant-Man with a water pistol and a vacuum cleaner. Not to worry, he is saved by a lollipop stick and a table fan! Simple story of the hero taking on a decent baddie, a disguised criminal running a protection racket, is okay at first and the usual amusing Ant-Man tropes show up (noted above) but then things get silly. Ant-Man assumes a gangster wouldn’t shake down a victim with no money; that has never stopped a bad guy in real life. The story hits bottom when we learn that the disintegrator is a fake; under the big flash of smoke that we never see and seems to last only for seconds, the baddie opens a large display case, fills his pockets with a huge number of gems, and drops sand to fake the destroyed gems. Too bad that is clearly about forty pounds of sand which would be too bulky for the baddie to carry in his pockets even with enhanced strength. And did we mention that this whole transaction took place in seconds and made no noise? So this fourth episode of Ant-Man’s solo series is where it takes on the tongue-in-cheek goofy quality that makes it a classic of campy comedy.

Comments: The scene depicted on the cover does not take place inside the comic. First story: “Protector” is spelled correctly on the cover but misspelled in first part of the story itself. First appearance of the Protector; he makes an unlikely return in ANT-MAN (2022 series) #1Second story: Text story with one illustration; reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #34. Story later reprinted in TALES OF SUSPENSE #52-53.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #37 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

A police summons goes out from a jewelry shop which is picked up by the ants and relayed to Ant-Man. Hank suits up, shrinks down, and catapults himself to the shop where he is caught by the ants and escorted inside now that the police have taken their report and gone. Proprietor Gerald Marsh relates how he was confronted by the extortionist known as the Protector, demanding money from the city’s jewelers. When Marsh claimed to have no money, the huge masked gangster lifted Marsh over the counter with no difficulty, then used his disintegrator ray gun to turn Marsh’s gems to dust. Ant-Man returns home and awaits further developments….

A few days later, Hank has a report of the Protector shaking down another shop and so Ant-Man leaps to the site to confront the villain. Ant-Man scatters the pearls of a necklace to tumble the bad guy to the ground. Outside, Protector swipes a kid’s water pistol and fires it, washing Ant-Man down the sewer, where he catches himself on a lollipop stick at the last minute. So he sets a trap for the villain….

Hank rents a jewelry store and the Protector soon arrives to demand money, wrecking the shop with his strength and disintegrating diamonds with his ray gun. Hanks promises to pay and the bad guy departs. Ant-Man follows him, having had a couple of ants cling to the villain’s shoes. When he arrives at the villain’s hide-out he is trapped by a vacuum cleaner. But with his normal human strength he is able to break out of the bag and turn on a fan, blowing the vacuum dust in the Protector’s face, incapacitating him until the police, summoned by the ants, have arrived. He is unmasked as Gerald Marsh, wearing an exoskeleton to increase his size and strength; Ant-Man explains how the smoke generated by the ray gun was enough to cover the Protector’s throwing the gems in his pockets and replacing them with sand. The diminutive hero then vanishes into the crowd….

“The Magician”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Unknown.
Synopsis: A page at a television station dreams of becoming a magician; one day he meets a man who claims to be a sorcerer who was accidentally teleported there from the future. The sorcerer asks to swap clothes with the page so he can sneak past the guards in the page’s uniform and send himself home via the transmitter. The page then discovers that the sorcerer’s outfit enables him to perform genuine magic and he becomes a TV star!

“Afraid to Dream!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Don Heck. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: John D’Agostino.
Synopsis: A worker exposed to radiation finds his dreams come true the next day. He makes himself dream of wealth and the next day he inherits a fortune. He dreams that his hated boss is gone and the next day the man quits. Then he dreams of his death so to avoid it he hides in the hills, only to be killed in an avalanche!

“The Star Raiders”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A gang of space pirates are contacted by the ruler of the planet Zenn, asking them to prey on their enemies’ planet, an easy job because they are “midgets.” The pirates invade the planet and find that the natives are giants compared to them and the pirates are easily defeated.  Only the leader escapes and he discovers that the people of Zenn are even bigger!

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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(Hank Pym)

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