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Tales to Astonish #54: Review

Apr 1964
Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Story Name:

No Place to Hide!

Review & Comments

2.5 stars

Tales to Astonish #54 Review by (December 21, 2022)

Review: And now…Giant-Man’s lamest villain, El Toro. Human Top is his silliest villain but this guy, a burly dude wearing a leather helmet with little cow horns on it so he can ram people he doesn’t like, is just an embarrassment. And there’s something wrong when the villain is the least intimidating person on the cover. And this is ignoring the fact that this Red (Communist) is actually named Rojo (red). And there’s probably a Red Bull joke around here somewhere. But then Hank and Janet both appear unmasked in front of the fan club so maybe Porcupine was taking it all too seriously last issue. And it doesn’t help that everyone in the story comes off as stupid. The US government sends two untrained civilians on a delicate spy mission with no help or back up? Hank giving all of the capsules to Janet so he is trapped in giant size and stumbling around like a fool? The bad guy’s army that can’t locate a twelve-foot-tall man running around a city and riding on top of a train? A dictator who keeps records of election fraud easy to find in his office in a form that anyone can read and decipher instantly? A dictator who can be easily deposed by the unarmed populace despite controlling an army and likely a secret police? Fidel Castro should have been this easy to depose!

Comments: Giant-Man story: First appearance of El Toro, who returns in WEST COAST AVENGERS #33-34. The Huntley-Brinkley Report was a real news program of the era, running from 1956-1970. The spy situation makes Jan refer to Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, a hot new film series at the time. Second story: Text story, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #36; part two appears next issue. Story earlier reprinted in TALES OF SUSPENSE #39, which issue may sound familiar. 


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #54 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Janet Van Dyne stops by to discuss vacation plans with Hank Pym but he is more interested in the news report that Santo Rico, a democracy, has elected a Communist president, Antonio “El Toro” Rojo. Hank and Janet bicker and play tricks on each other with their size-changing abilities until Janet has him totally confused about her feelings for him….

Janet returns while Hank is greeting his fan club; a phone call from the Feds summons Giant-Man and Wasp to Washington where they are tasked with impersonating tourists and flying to Santo Rico to find evidence that the election was rigged….

The two heroes, in civilian clothes, fly to Santo Rico where they are immediately picked up for questioning. Hank turns into Giant-Man to rescue Janet from being carried off by El Toro’s men but El Toro rams the huge hero in the back with his head and the baddies get away. The army hunts Giant-Man who escapes despite being huge and clumsy. Giant-Man flees into a railroad tunnel just as a train enters from the other end; Hank hitches a ride on the train back to the capital city where he hides on a rooftop. Contacting the local ants, he learns that Jan is being held captive on a ship anchored off the coast. Giant-Man swipes a motorboat and rides out to the ship where he passes her the shrinking capsules and they escape as Ant-Man and Wasp. The tiny heroes hitch a ride with the guards as they report back to El Toro. He dashes at Giant-Man, who ducks, sending the big bully out of the window, where he is hung up on a flagpole. Giant-Man and Wasp locate the documents in El Toro’s private file that prove the election was a fraud and distribute them to the people and El Toro is deposed….

“The Treasure [Part One]”
Writer: Unknown.
Synopsis: A sickly boy takes in a stray dog which he claims can grant wishes! Story continues next issue.

“There Were Five Frightened Men…!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Paul Reinman. Colors: ? Letters: Art Simek.
Synopsis: A crooked art dealer visiting a European gallery wants to buy a painting of five frightened men but the owner won’t sell so he steals it in the night and is absorbed into the painting, making it a portrait of six frightened men!

Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Sol Brodsky. Colors: ? Letters: Art Simek.
Synopsis: Wasp tells a bedtime story to a boy she is babysitting: A king decides he needs to impress his people so he leads his army in conquering another planet but managing that planet exacts a heavy cost and the king ends up hated by his subjects!

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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