Comic Browser:


Tales to Astonish #40: Review

Feb 1963
Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

The Day That Ant-Man Failed!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #40 Review by (September 6, 2022)

Review: In the last issue, Ant-Man succeeded and no one knew it; here he “fails” and everyone knows it! It’s enough to give a hero an inferiority complex! So now Ant-Man has to fake his illness to set a trap for the bad guy. Problem is, the police should have solved this long before the fourth hijacking. They could have changed the routes without Mitchell knowing, they could have had a second car full of cops or an air patrol accompany the trucks, and even by the latest one, Ant-Man could have had the guards wear gas masks without Mitchell’s knowledge. No wonder the police idolize Ant-Man in this series, he’s the only one among them with a working brain. But the chase through the car’s engine was pretty exciting so it evens out.

Comments: Ant-Man story: First appearance of the Hijacker (Howard Mitchell); his next appearance is in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #24 where his very obscurity is lampshaded in the title, “Does Anyone Remember…the Hijacker?” Ant-Man seems to know a lot about the ancient Peruvians that can come in handy in a comic book. Third story: Text story with no illustrations.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #40 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The city is experiencing a wave of hijackings of armored cars, the guards unharmed but their memories wiped of the robbery details. Howard Mitchell, head of the company whose trucks are being targeted, berates the police for their lack of progress and demands that Ant-Man be called in. Ants overhear this conversation and relay the message to Hank Pym who dons his Ant-Man suit, shrinks in size and catapults himself to Mitchell’s office. Ant-Man suggest a trap for the Hijacker: announce a big shipment for the next day and Ant-Man will accompany it with his ants….

The next day, though, as the armored truck is about to depart, Ant-Man falls ill with appendicitis and has his ants carry him to the hospital. Upset over Ant-Man’s failure, they send out the truck and it is ambushed by a larger truck: the big truck opens up and a giant magnet pulls the armored car into the back. There, the Hijacker releases knock-out gas to incapacitate the guards. Now Ant-Man reveals himself, having faked his illness, followed the armored truck in a toy airplane, and withstanding the gas by wearing a new type of gas mask he developed on page 1. He tries to escape the Hijacker by hiding in the truck’s engine but the sound of the horn almost defeats him, until he tears out the wires. The ants arrive and work the windshield wiper which flings the tiny hero onto the Hijacker’s head where he tears open a hole in the bad guy’s mask so that he succumbs to the gas. He is unmasked as Howard Mitchell. Taken into custody by the police, Mitchell explains that his company was failing so he turned to robbery and he figured that calling in Ant-Man himself would divert suspicion. Ant-Man adds that he suspected Mitchell because the man had spent time in Peru where the natives have a gas that erases memory. Plus, only Mitchell knew the trucks’ routes so it was pretty obvious to Ant-Man if not the cops.

“I Was Trapped in the Mad Universe!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Art: Don Heck. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: On his way home from school, Tommy finds a glowing marble which produces a strange sensation in him. Reaching home, he finds that a boy who looks like him is already there, his parents call him an impostor, and the dog growls at him. Dejected, he runs out and meets a man looking for the marble; the man explains that it is a device to travel between parallel worlds and Tommy had been moved to one that was very similar. The man sends Tommy home and he doesn’t stop to pick up any marbles on the way!

“Bird Talk”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Unknown.
Synopsis: A paperboy meets a man who claims to be a bird census taker but he has lost the special devices which allow him to understand birds’ speech. After he leaves, the boy finds them and grows up to be the world’s greatest expert on birds!

“The Worst Man on Earth!”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: Stan Goldberg. Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: In the year 2000 (!), master criminal Hogarr is captured and sentenced to life imprisonment in a comfortable little cottage. He manages to escape only to find the cottage is a satellite in orbit around the Earth!

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

Share This Page