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Tales to Astonish #38: Review

Dec 1962
Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Betrayed by the Ants!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #38 Review by (August 23, 2022)

Review: Things continue to get silly in TTA #38 where Ant-Man is defeated by a fireplace bellows and a box of flypaper. And he responds with a piece of flypaper large enough to trap Egghead's three henchmen. Is flypaper really available in that size? And does Hank carry around a supply just in case? And how many crooks did Egghead have with him? We see only three but the police imply there were more but there was only one getaway car. So Egghead might have won had there been more than three goons? And how did Egghead get away? The police were searching the place for more crooks, making sure they didn’t miss any yet Egghead appears to have been hiding in a tree close enough to hear Ant-Man talking to the police. Couldn’t they just see him in the tree? But then this guy was essentially preaching, “Worker (ants) of the world unite!” to bugs when all he needed to do was just break into the museum as, presumably, the ants everywhere in town would have informed the hero. In short, Egghead didn’t need the ants to betray Ant-Man. And yet for all the flaws, this was a lot of fun. 

Comments: Ant-Man story: First appearance of Egghead, Ant-Man’s first big recurring villain; he will return in issue #45. First story in which Ant-Man does not appear in his Hank Pym guise. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from MYSTERY TALES #45.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #38 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The city’s underworld is all in a tizzy over Ant-Man’s foiling of their schemes. They hire Egghead, a disgraced scientist suspected of selling atomic secrets, to destroy Ant-Man for them. The self-styled genius studies ants until he has deduced how Ant-Man communicates with them and builds a device that will allow him to speak to the insects. He then visits an anthill and informs the ants that Ant-Man is enslaving them and that he (Egghead) wants to set them free. He then outlines a plan to set a trap for the diminutive superhero at the museum where the fabulous Wentworth necklace is on display and tells them to spread the word to all the other ants….

That night at the museum, Egghead’s criminal cronies are stealing the necklace while Egghead is waiting to spring his trap for Ant-Man. Ant-Man climbs in a window and Egghead uses a bellows to blow him into a box lined with sticky flypaper. But to the villain’s astonishment, Ant-Man does not stick to the box and uses springs in his shoes to leap out of the box. Ant-Man then takes on the crooks, tossing them around with his normal-sized strength until the ants drop a giant section of flypaper on them from the ceiling. The crooks fight their way out and try to escape, only to find their car’s tires are flat and the ignition key missing. The police arrive to nab them and Ant-Man explains to the cops the big flaw in Egghead’s plan: ants aren’t stupid and knew Ant-Man was their friend and partner and not their master so they didn’t fall for Egghead’s scheme of liberation, instead informing Ant-Man of his plan. So Ant-Man set a trap for Egghead, having bathed in a chemical that kept the flypaper from sticking to him; he and the ants let the air out of the baddies’ tires and swiped the key. Egghead overhears all of this and departs fuming; later, we find he is in a flophouse, hiding from both the police and the crooks, and the other residents, seeing him muttering to himself, assume he is an idiot….

“Strange Mission”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Joe Maneely.
Synopsis: A fellow on his way to the dentist ends up in the wrong place where he is mistaken for a volunteer in an experimental spaceship. He goes to another planet, plants a flag, and returns home to be hailed as a hero. And looking back, he’s happy that his own mission was accomplished, having lost his aching tooth on the flight!

“I Found the Impossible World!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Don Heck. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: John D’Agostino.
Synopsis: A scientist uses a time machine to send himself one million years into the future where he discovers that Earth has become a paradise with no crime, no illness, no shortages. When he plots to get his hands on some wealth, he is caught by a mind-reading device and imprisoned for ten years. He is pardoned, his mind wiped of all memory of the future, and sent back to his own time, where he believes his time machine has been a failure!

“Secret of the Statues!”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A sculptor residing in an old mansion is visited by an arrogant art critic who tells him his sculptures are inferior. The sculptor and the statues are alien invaders who decide their plan to impersonate humans has failed and they take off back to their home planet and the confused critic is left behind!

Jack Kirby
Dick Ayers
Stan Goldberg
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: John D'Agostino.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

Plus: Egghead (Elihas Starr).

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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