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Tales to Astonish #51: Review

Jan 1964
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Showdown with the Human Top

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #51 Review by (November 30, 2022)

Review: Last issue, we saw that chasing the Human Top made Giant-Man look like a hapless stumblebum. Here, he’s so inept that Wasp suggests he give up superheroing and take up romance. Wasp is an embarrassment in this issue, constantly thinking about sex and enjoying the attentions of the massed Giant-Man Fan Club. And Giant-Man continues to have trouble catching the villain until, finally, at the end of the tale, he hits the Top instead of trying to grab him and that works. He then seizes him with glue covered gloves (we won’t ask when Hank took the time to apply it) and the baddie is caught. The thing is, he was caught on page 2 of issue #50, when the police nabbed him in a net. Do you mean that super-genius Hank Pym took so long to catch the villain because he failed to consider any strategy other than “grab”? Yes. Yes indeed. Smacking is what made the difference. So, kids, the lesson is: sometimes violence is the perfect solution to the problem. Don’t blame me, blame Stan Lee.   

And the Wasp tale makes for a different sort of back-up story. Not too different as it’s just the usual sort of tale found here in the previous fifty issues only with a framing device featuring the Wasp telling the story to some deprived listeners who can’t buy their own copies of STRANGE TALES and TALES TO ASTONISH. It’s when you realize that Wasp is a fan of Marvel’s anthology comics that things get weird….

Comments: Giant-Man story: Part two of two parts. Wasp alters her costume for the first time. Hank Pym’s lab is now said to be in New York City. Ants play no part in this story. First appearance of the Giant-Man Fan Club. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from STRANGE TALES OF THE UNUSUAL #1. Fourth story: First of the “The Wonderful Wasp Tells a Tale” back-up stories, running through issue #56.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #51 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

The story opens with Giant-Man in his lab chasing a robot double of the Human Top and failing to nab it. He is so bad that Wasp suggests he give up the superhero game altogether and devote himself to making love to her….

At the riverfront, Human Top uses dynamite to blow up a derelict tugboat. Wasp sees it on the TV news; Giant-Man senses a trap but prepares to go anyway when his lab is suddenly filled with members of the Giant-Man Fan Club, who seem to mainly be interested in snapping photos of the Wasp. Hank has to stun them with a shout so they can go out, Jan regretting leaving all of the adoring men behind. On their way to the river, they spot the Human Top leaving the Federal Building and Giant-Man tries again to seize him but can’t. He leads Giant-Man on another silly chase and the police turn on a fire hydrant, trying to knock the baddie down with a gush of water but he even evades the Wasp and gets away….

The Human Top has stolen a set of civil defense plans from the Federal Building, intending to sell them to the Communists. But Giant-Man and Wasp, working with the Feds, know the plans are obsolete and also know the whereabouts of the top Russian spy in town so they set a trap for the Top. After the Human Top calls the spy to arrange a meeting, Giant-Man captures the spy and goes to the meeting in disguise. When the Top shows up, Giant-Man grows and tries once again to capture him. Human Top leads him on another crazy chase but discovers that the neighborhood has been fenced off by the authorities, containing him. Giant-Man catches up to him, smacks him to send him off balance, then grabs him with glue on his gloves. The police take him away and Wasp expresses her admiration for the huge hero….

“The Sorcerer”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Joe Maneely.
Synopsis: A well-traveled ex-Navy man discovers his five-year-old nephew has more magic power than all the mystics he’s seen in India!

“No Place to Turn!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Matt Fox. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.
Synopsis: The alien Mongoids plot to invade Earth; they transform one of their soldiers into human form and send him as a spy. The spy is immediately captured as the Mongoids have only black-and-white scanners so they didn’t know humans weren’t green! 

“Somewhere Waits a Wobbow!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: George Roussos. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: Wasp visits a veterans’ hospital and tells a story: A mercenary space pilot visits the dangerous planet Draconius, home of the Wobbows; he discovers giant chunks of gold and takes one into his ship, discovering too late that it is a shapeshifting Wobbow disguised as the perfect bait to trap human prey!

Jack Kirby
Dick Ayers
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
George Roussos (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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