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Tales to Astonish #55: Review

May 1964
Larry Lieber, Larry Lieber

Story Name:

On the Trail of the Human Top!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #55 Review by (January 3, 2023)

Review: The Human Top is back and scarier (to the heroes) than ever! But now we learn that HT can spin so quickly that he can levitate from the ground, making him even scarier! And he improvises a plan, following the heroes back to the lab and popping a growth capsule, making him luckier than Porcupine, who accidentally popped a handful of shrinking capsules. Human Top is also very lucky in that his clothing grows with him, despite not being made of unstable molecules. And then Ant-Man must use “fabric reducer” to make his belt small enough to wear and it seems to work on the capsules within as well even though they are not fabric! So Ant-Man suddenly becomes Giant-Man and surprises the villain who never expected this! Wait, does this mean that no one knows that Ant-Man and Giant-Man are the same guy? Even when it appears to be common knowledge that he uses growth and shrink capsules to effect changes? And it looks like Hank Pym can command termites as well as ants; any other insects too? This would have come in handy quite a few times in the past, especially when facing the Scarlet Beetle in issue #39. And New York seems to be full of abandoned buildings for the heroes to destroy in battle without inconveniencing anyone, except for the demolition union!

Comments: Giant-Man story: The Human Top first appeared in issues #50-51. Hank Pym contacts an insect other than ants for the first time, specifically termites. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #36; part one appeared last issue. Story earlier reprinted in TALES OF SUSPENSE #39, which issue may sound familiar. Third story: The term “Gypsy” is now considered derogatory largely due to stories like this.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #55 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Giant-Man and Wasp show the fan club film of GM’s battle with the Human Top, telling them that he was almost uncatchable with Wasp concerned what would happen if he ever escaped….

Meanwhile, the Human Top spins so fast that he is nearly invisible, fooling the guard into thinking he has escaped so that he opens the cell door. The baddie heads to a bank where he uses his speed to start a blizzard of paper, taking off with some cash in the meantime. Hank and Janet see this on the television news and head out as Giant-Man and Wasp. Hank demonstrates his new device: a tension cable that allows him to rapidly descend to the ground yet with a soft landing. They head to the bank where they have trouble getting in either large or small so they must return to their normal sizes to investigate. The baddie is long gone so all Hank can do is promise to catch him. It’s a nice day so Hank and Janet decide to walk home; the Human Top spots them and follows them. While Hank is trying to persuade Janet to be herself and not sound like a flighty socialite, Human Top enters and snatches away Hank’s capsule belt. The baddie pops a growth pill and is suddenly double his size: he spins and blows Hank into a closet which he locks and captures Wasp by placing a jar over her and carrying her off as a hostage. Hank summons the ants and has them bring a shrinking capsule under the closet door; he swallows it and, as Ant-Man, escapes. He uses fabric reducer to shrink his capsule belt to a proper size and has his flying ants carry him through the air on a chariot and discovers the giant Human Top atop a building luxuriating in his new power. Ant-Man makes himself known and grows into Giant-Man and engages the villain. As they spar, Hank releases Wasp from the glass and summons the building’s termites to weaken the roof so that when Big Top lands on it, it collapses under him and Wasp pops a shrinking capsule in his mouth restoring him to normal size.

“The Treasure! [Part Two]”
Writer: Unknown. Artist: Unknown.
Synopsis: Continued from last issue: A sickly boy’s wish to be well is granted by the wishing dog!

“The Gypsy’s Secret!”
Writer: Larry Lieber (credited as L.D. Lieberman). Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: George Roussos. Colors: ? Letters: Morrie Kuramoto.
Synopsis: Wasp tells a story to Hank Pym: A Gypsy knows how to turn lead into gold; an evil Baron demands to know the secret so the Gypsy takes him prisoner; the Gypsy is really an alien scout charged with bringing a human captive back with him and he chose the person most likely never to be missed!

Larry Lieber
George Roussos
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Morrie Kuramoto.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

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