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Tales to Astonish #56: Review

Jun 1964
Stan Lee, Dick Ayers

Story Name:

The Coming of the Magician!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #56 Review by (January 10, 2023)

Review: DC’s Flash is known for a silly and mediocre rogue’s gallery and one of them is an evil magician from the future called Abra Kadabra, presumably no relation to the Pokémon of those names. Well, Ant-Man is out to top that, or more accurately, bottom it by creating a villainous magician even the Flash would be ashamed to fight. Let’s face it, the only thing keeping this guy from being Hank’s lamest villain is El Toro in issue #54. His criminal scheme consists of dropping a giant canvas on a room full of rich people then picking their pockets. Never mind that this wouldn’t work in a room with furniture, like the room he’s in, nothing would prevent at least some of the guests from escaping and punching his lights out. And then Hank, who is not a wealthy man, throws a party for a bunch of rich people, attracting the attention of the Magician, who doesn’t stop to wonder why he has never heard of this “wealthy playboy,” Hank Pym. If he’d had Google, the Magician would have detected the trap in five minutes. And we won’t ask why Wasp didn’t return to her normal size, breaking through the cage and just flying off.

And the Wasp story is mildly clever but the conclusion isn’t shown, just described in a panel chock full of words!

Comments: Giant-Man story: First appearance of the Magician who returns in the Wasp back-up story in issue #58. Sole appearance of rich twit Sterling Stuyvesant. Second story: Text story, reprinted from TALES TO ASTONISH #11, which was reprinted from STRANGE TALES OF THE UNUSUAL #6 (thanks to the GCD for this last bit of info); part two appears next issue. Third story: Final “Wonderful Wasp Tells a Tale.”


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #56 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Giant-Man returns home, having made the decision to ask Janet to marry him, shrinking to Ant-Man size to examine the diamond engagement ring he bought her. When Wasp arrives, Hank is so nervous that Janet tries to make him jealous by telling him she is going to a society party where rich guy Sterling Stuyvesant is likely to propose. But Hank draws the opposite conclusion, deciding she could never love a poor adventurer and so he determines to keep his love to himself. The ants contact him with a warning about a villainous magician who is now at the apartment building where Sterling Stuyvesant lives so as Ant-Man, Hank heads out….

At the party, Sterling Stuyvesant wants to propose to Janet but she brushes him off so he moves on to the entertainment. A magician called The Magician puts on his act, working all sorts of wonders, until he drops a giant canvas on the assembled partygoers and picks their pockets while they are trapped. Jan transforms into the Wasp and confronts the baddie but he has a trick cane that sucks her into a small compartment and traps her. The Magician then vanishes as mysteriously as he arrived….

Ant-Man arrives, too late to do anything so he insults Stuyvesant and goes home. Unable to locate the bad guy via his ant network, Hank decides to set a trap. He sends out invitations to the popular social set, inviting them to a party aboard a yacht. The night of the party, he has a launch take the guests to a different yacht while waiting for the Magician alone aboard another yacht. The Magician arrives, Giant-Man reveals himself, Magician throws a cape over GM’s head and escapes to his camouflaged dirigible overhead. Giant-Man prepares to follow but a sailboat is in trouble nearby and he is compelled to rescue the passengers first. Ant-Man climbs the rope to the airship, confronts the baddie (again) as Ant-Man, rescues Wasp, has an attack rabbit set on him, turns into Giant-Man and scares off the attack rabbit, and pursues the bad guy while Wasp lets the air out of the dirigible. It crashes into the river, the Magician is picked up by the police and Ant-Man comes sailing down on a paper airplane. Hank and Jan confess their love for one another….

“The Balloon [Part One]”
Writer: Unknown.
Synopsis: A little boy finds a balloon that appears to have a tiny man inside! Story continues next issue.

“Beware the Bog Beast!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Paul Reinman. Colors: ? Letters: Art Simek.
Synopsis: Wasp interrupts Giant-Man with a riddle: A king promises his sister’s hand in marriage to any man who can cross the bridge to her island and defeat the bog beast guarding her. Her one true love figures it out: have her cross the bridge the beast is too heavy to walk on to meet him!

Dick Ayers
Dick Ayers
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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