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Tales to Astonish #63: Review

Jan 1965
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

A Titan Rides The Train!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #63 Review by (February 28, 2023)

Review: And so we meet Hulk’s most implacable enemy—the Leader! Another poor schnook exposed to gamma radiation but instead of a muscled monster he became a super-genius. And for his first scheme (not counting the general spy plots of the previous three issues), he wants to study or steal Bruce Banner’s nuclear device (the comic isn’t clear). And to that end he has created a huge android. Now this same idea did not work out well for Egghead in the Giant-Man story in issue #62 but through the magic of comic book science the Leader succeeds, giving the creature a spongelike body, electrical capabilities, and lungs that need to keep breathing so as to be a match for Hulk. And it’s hard to see how a big burly pink monster without a brain of its own can replace the spy ring as the Leader implies. So we have a story that is mostly a fight between the two hulking foes—and it’s a bit disappointing because of the small panels and fights weren’t one of Steve Ditko’s strong points anyway. But it’s the first appearance of a major Hulk enemy in a story that doesn’t make him look like a goof, a problem the Ant-Man/Giant-Man stories tended to have.

The Giant-Man tale begins with Giant-Man exercising and/or showing off for an unappreciative Wasp. This section looks like it was designed to fill out the page count for a story that came up short—but it’s not true, it also serves to demonstrate that surprising move near the end of the story when the hero evades the bear trap and there isn’t enough space to explain it clearly. Other than that, this is just an ordinary crime story—the kind that we thought were a thing of the past after Ant-Man fought the Protector in issue #37. And this coming between stories involving giant plants and an undersea warlord. The story is decent but it’s a bit too simplistic for this stage of their career.

Comments: Hulk story: First full appearance and origin of the Leader, with a surprise reveal of his face, no less. First issue of this series not to include Betty Brant Ross. Inker George Roussos credited as George Bell. Giant-Man story: Only appearance of this Wrecker, no relation to the Wrecker from FANTASTIC FOUR #12 or the later Thor villain. Issue includes a pin-up of Giant-Man and the Wasp by Carl Burgos and Jack Kirby


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #63 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara
The Chameleon informs the Leader that Bruce Banner's new atomic device is on a train to Washington DC. The Leader sends his Humanoid to inspect the weapon.

Banner is riding the train. When the train gets attacked, tension turns him into the Hulk, who fights and defeats the Humanoid.

The atomic bomb was moved from its place during the fight and may explode! But the Hulk puts the bomb back on its correct location, preventing a disaster.

Tension turns the Hulk into Banner again. Unfortunately, Glenn Talbot suspects Banner is a traitor, and locks him in a train's compartment!

Characters: Hulk, Bruce General Ross

The Gangsters and the Giant!” Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
Writer: Stan Lee. Pencils: Carl Burgos. Inks: Chic Stone. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.
Synopsis: At his lab, Hank Pym is exercising, shrinking to Ant-Man size then growing into Giant-Man size at high speed. He also practices acrobatics with concentrated weights to build strength and agility. Wasp thinks it is all pretty silly. A policeman arrives to tell Giant-Man that the Police Chief would like to see him. He dives out of the window onto his escape cable, shrinking and landing on a flying ant which deposits him on the back of a taxi so that he grows to giant size outside police headquarters, beating Wasp who was driven over in a police car. The Chief tells them of a protection racket in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, run by a mystery crook called the Wrecker. The police have tried several things but can’t seem to catch the Wrecker and the Chief asks the heroes for help….

In their civilian clothes, Hank and Janet offer to buy a hardware store in the neighborhood, run by Frank Smith who refuses to pay the Wrecker and now wants to get out. When they reopen the store, Hank and Jan get a visit from a couple of the Wrecker’s hoods; they beat up the thugs and throw them into the street, making them local heroes. When he learns of this, Wrecker takes action: he has some of his gang start a riot elsewhere in the city to distract the police while he and the rest of his thugs visit the hardware store. They are greeted by Giant-Man and Wasp and a massive brawl breaks out. Wrecker sprays Wasp with DDT; Hank panics and turns on the exhaust fan and goes after the Big Bad. Wrecker has set out a bear trap but Giant-Man is able to evade it by shrinking into Ant-Man size and back in a fraction of a second; he grabs the Wrecker and tosses him into the arms of the neighbors. As Ant-Man, he finds Wasp and kisses her when he discovers she’s okay; she is surprised to find him so romantic. The Wrecker is unmasked as Frank Smith, the guy who sold them the hardware store.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Steve Ditko
George Roussos
(Unknown artist)
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Chic Stone (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)
Bruce Banner
Bruce Banner

(Robert Bruce Banner)

(Hank Pym)

(Bruce Banner)
Thunderbolt Ross
Thunderbolt Ross

(Thaddeus Ross)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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