Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Single Issue Review: Tales to Astonish #80

Tales to Astonish was one of Marvel's anthology magazines, with two features, much like Tales of Suspense. Initially, of course, it had been a (tame) "horror" magazine, but in issue #27 it carried a story called The Man in the Ant-Hill, featuring Dr. Hank Pym. Dr Pym would go on to become Ant-Man, and later Giant Man (later called Goliath and Yellowjacket, although that was in the Avengers). Effective with TTA #60, the Incredible Hulk was added as the second feature, and with #70 the Sub-Mariner replaced Giant-Man.

Because of the short (10-12 pages) amount of space given to each character, the stories tend to go on for even more issues than even the regular Marvel mags. The Subby story picks up from the prior issue, with old wingfoot facing a creature from out of the Schiff-era Batman:

The creature is being controlled by Warlord Krang (with an assist from the Puppet Master), Namor's rival for the throne and Lady Dorma. The electric eels do not succeed in destroying the behemoth, but they do shock Krang into losing control of the beast, so that the Sub-Mariner is able to defeat it. But before Dorma can learn this, Krang insists that she agree to marry him if she wants to save Namor. So the story ends with Krang departing with Dorma.

Comments: Mediocre monster, but excellent art by Colan. Pretty standard Marvel plot by Stan.

The Hulk story follows, oddly enough drawn by Bill Everett (the creator of Namor back in the Golden Age). Tyrannus (who last appeared in the Hulk #5) transports ol' Greenskin to his underground lair. Since we last saw Tyrannus, he's aged quite a bit, but there's a fountain of youth that he can gain control of if he can wrest it from the Mole Man.

Tyrannus convinces the Hulk to help him in his battle. But the Hulk is tired and wants to rest a bit before fighting (huh?). So Tyrannus uses a threat:

But the Mole Man attacks first, and although the Hulk defeats easily his army, old Moley has a surprise weapon:

But the Hulk defeats the robot by crashing it into the Fountain of Youth, short-circuiting its delicate circuits. As the issue ends, Bruce Banner emerges from the water (complete with his glasses).

Comments: Excellent story, featuring the return of one of the Hulk's earliest villains and the very first Marvel villain of all. Add in the gorgeous artwork by Everett (from layouts by Kirby), and you have a terrific 10 pages.