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Tales to Astonish #44: Review

Jun 1963
Ernie Hart, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

The Creature from Kosmos!

Review & Comments

5 stars

Tales to Astonish #44 Review by (October 12, 2022)

Review: Hey, it’s the introduction of the Wasp, one of the coolest of Avengers and far cooler than her beau Ant-Man! Here’s the thing: she was introduced in a plot-heavy tale that also gave Hank Pym a tragic backstory to justify his wanting a partner—which really didn’t need to be justified. What he really needed was to have someone watch out for people stepping on him, like when he ran across a pavement and was almost killed by an envelope last issue. But a partner would give him someone to talk to or, more accurately, someone to talk back. And we are blessed that he didn’t recruit an orphan and call him Aphid Boy. So Hank meets Janet Van Dyne, gets her consent, performs surgery and gives her a costume he somehow already had hanging in the closet (I find that suspicious, don’t you?) and they fly into battle together, despite her not having any kind of training to deal with giant monsters. But then, this giant monster is a bit of a pushover, seeing as he appears in our world then spends the length of time it takes for the whole Wasp origin to eventually appear in public to terrorize the city. But he never seems to move away from the George Washington Bridge, contained by the army. So Ant-Man has his ants carry a shotgun across the city, presumably to make them feel needed as it would have been easier for him to just take a taxi to the Bridge and then shrink, and blasts the baddie away. And through it all the new team of Ant-Man and Wasp fight the sexual tension until she gives in and falls for him while Hank shows some restraint over this underage version of his dead wife. For now. And remember, his first reaction to her telling him her father was dead was to assume it was a prank. This guy has a really low opinion of spoiled rich teenagers, indicating some class conflict on top of the “underage” thing. No wonder things turn out badly after a few years.   

Comments: Ant-Man story: First appearance/origin of Wasp. First mention of Hank Pym being a widower. Ant-Man is based in New York City for the first time. First appearance of the Kosmosians, who are later seen only in MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE: AVENGERS/GIANT-MAN #381-382. First (semi-)appearance of FBI Agent Lee Kearns, whose second and final appearance is in issue #60. Maria’s (mis)quote, “Go to the ant(s), thou sluggard” is from the Bible, Proverbs 6:6. Writer Ernie Hart is credited as E. Huntley. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from MARINES IN BATTLE #6.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #44 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Resting at home after a long day of Ant-Manning, Hank Pym broods about his late wife Maria. He recalls how on their honeymoon they visited her native Hungary and she was immediately kidnapped and murdered by the Reds and later, he remembers how she said something about ants that inspired him to become Ant-Man and now he wishes he had a partner to aid him in his fight against crime….

Almost immediately, he receives a visit from Dr. Vernon Van Dyne who brings his daughter Janet with him; Hank notes she looks like a much younger version of Maria. Hank and Janet size each other up romantically and decide against doing anything. Van Dyne wants Hank’s help in his experiments with Gamma rays to search for life on other planets. Hank tells him that’s out of his field and the Van Dynes depart….

Later, Van Dyne sends a beam into space and a huge green weirdo from the planet Kosmos arrives; it explains that it is an escaped criminal from his own world and decides to conquer Earth instead, starting with killing Van Dyne and destroying his machine. When Janet comes home she finds her father dead and calls the only responsible adult she knows: Hank Pym. Once Hank realizes she’s not pranking him, he goes over as Ant-Man to investigate. Together, Ant-Man and Janet decide that Dad was killed by a monster from outer space; he tells her to call Lee Kearns of the FBI while he checks in with the ants who tell him the alien monster secretes formic acid like ants and they freaked out….

Hank hurries home and Janet comes to see him; he reveals that he is Ant-Man and suggests that if she is serious about avenging her father’s death, she can be his partner. She agrees and he gives her a treatment that will enable her to grow wings and antennae when she shrinks and he gives her a costume he already had in the closet and dubs her—the Wasp! The monster shows up wreaking havoc downtown so, after a crash course in using the shrinking gas, they head out to the George Washington Bridge to find the monster battling the army. She tries a frontal attack to prove she isn’t a dumb kid and Ant-Man has to rescue the dumb kid and think of a scientific means of defeating the monster. Back in the lab, he whips up some antidote to formic acid, loads it in shells, and has the ants carry a shotgun back to the bridge. A couple of blasts and the Kosmosian fades into nothingness. Janet falls in love with Hank and Hank keeps her at a distance despite his feelings because she’s too young for him.

“Blueprint for Victory”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Unknown.
Synopsis: During WW2, an American intelligence agent captures an important German communications unit by pretending to surrender!

Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: ? Letters: Terry Szenics.
Synopsis: In the year 2000 (!), one man has the entire population frantically searching for him—because he is carrying the last gun on Earth, stolen from a museum!

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

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