Comic Browser:


Tales to Astonish #69: Review

Jul 1965
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

Trapped In The Lair Of The Leader!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #69 Review by (May 30, 2023)

Review: And now the heavy sci-fi stuff starts as Hulk and Leader meet for the first time (sort of, Hulk is mostly unconscious) and the Army is after him and Rick is helpless and Bruce is trapped and now he’s dead and..and..and…. This is what great comics were made of in the Silver Age: interesting stories and non-stop excitement!

The Giant-Man story has a silly new costume for the Human Top who is acting more like a megalomaniac than usual, revealing that he lusts after Wasp and wants to possess her after Giant-Man has been eliminated. And he sets up a crazy comic book-type trap (because this is a crazy comic book) which the hero falls into but escapes from—by shrinking, the very ability we were told in no uncertain terms last issue that Hank Pym could no longer employ. Otherwise—his escape is actually fairly clever, you know. But impossible. Not impossible in real-life terms alone but by the standards of the comic book itself.

And the most bizarre moment in the story? Human Top backhands Wasp across the face—a move that looks startlingly familiar in retrospect, mirroring Hank’s famous slap many years later that has shaped his entire character arc to this day. 

Comments: Hulk story: Events of this story take place concurrently with AVENGERS #17, though Hulk and the Avengers never meet. Inker Mike Esposito credited as Mickey Demeo. Giant-Man story: Part two of two parts. Final Giant-Man story in this title; Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne return in the Sub-Mariner tales in issues #77-78 and then in AVENGERS #26; Janet appears as the Wasp in those last two issue but Hank does not become Giant-Man. Title is a play on the Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O Death, where is thy sting?” unaware that the verse is a cry of victory, not despair. Wasp’s headdress has changed since the end of the previous issue; a neat trick if you can do it. Final appearance of Wasp’s trained wasp, Boopsie. The Human Top can fly by spinning at 6500 RPM’s; he next appears (along with a lot of other villains) disrupting Reed and Sue’s wedding in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3. Giant-Man mentions Patsy Walker.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #69 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara
The Leader orders his Humanoids to bring the Absorbatron and the Hulk to his lair where he initiates a series of tests on the green giant. Unseen, the "patient" turns into Bruce Banner who manages to send S.O.S. messages using Morse code. 

The Leader finds the chamber empty and fills it with gas. Banner turns into the Hulk and breaks free. Hulk follows his captor up to the Absorbatron room and destroys the device. But the villain escapes. 

Meanwhile, Glenn Talbot and his soldiers arrive at the Leader's liar. One soldier spots the Hulk and shoots him. The bullet hits its target on the head while the Hulk was in mid transformation! The soldiers look for Jade Jaws but instead, find Banner, who is dead! Rick Jones Thunderbolt Ross

“Oh, Wasp, Where is Thy Sting?”
Writer: Al Hartley. Pencils: Bob Powell. Inks: John Giunta. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.
Synopsis: So…the Human Top has flown away with Wasp as his prisoner while Giant-Man hangs helplessly from a window frame in his penthouse lab. He rights himself and pursues but has no way to trace where they went….

Human Top brings Wasp to his secret lair and confesses that he wants her to serve him as faithfully as she has served Giant-Man. He boasts of his trap: a huge excavation outside covered with phony buildings for camouflage and a secret weapon at the bottom. She uses her new ability to communicate with wasps to contact her steed Boopsie and have her tell Hank where she is. Hanks catches on, reduces to normal size, enlarges Boopsie, and rides her to the rescue, to the dismay of the neighbors. Reaching the villain’s lair he shrinks Boopsie to normal and grows himself to his Giant-Man height of 35 feet. He approaches the lair, the Top shoves him into the fake town and he falls into the big pit where Wasp pushes in from the Top’s lab so she will share her beloved’s fate. The Top has them sprayed with water and flash-frozen into a statue, which is then covered in epoxy to make it permanent. The Top brings the statue out with a crane—and then normal sized Hank bursts out of the statue’s hand and fights his foe, knocking the Top into the freezer so that he is the next one to be iced over. He hands the immobile baddie over to the police while explaining that, once frozen, he and Wasp shrank down to insect size and took refuge in a finger where they were kept safe. But Giant-Man vows that no longer will the woman at his side be in constant peril, which the Police Inspector understands to mean that Giant-Man will retire….

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Jack Kirby
Mickey Demeo
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

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

Share This Page