Thursday, March 20, 2014

Marvels: Tales to Astonish #46

"...When Cyclops Walks the Earth" by Stan Lee, Ernie Hart & Don Heck
(August 1963)

I enjoyed this story, but there's not a lot to say about it. That's okay, because it's a lot of fun, which is unusual enough for an Ant-Man story. I didn't love the previous issue, but we are in an all-too-short period where the right creative team (Hart & Heck) have found the characters and the tone and are having a lot of pulp fun with Ant-Man. It doesn't really last long enough.

In this story, things are so quiet at home that Ant-Man and the Wasp decide they can take a vacation. They head for Greece to tour the ancient ruins, but start hearing tales about a Cyclops roaming an island and men who get too close disappearing. Their trip changes from a vacation to a monster hunt, but it turns out to be that already-old Marvel saw about aliens. The A-Chiltarians are planning an invasion of Earth and are using captives to study our weaknesses. (That's always funny to me; our weaknesses are pretty much anything, particularly lasers and puncture wounds, so it's not like in-depth research is really necessary.) The Cyclops is a robot the aliens are using to kidnap their subjects. So Ant-Man and Wasp save the day. That's pretty much it.

Stray observations:

:: It's official:

It's on the cover and everything.

:: I know I keep going on about this, but I really love Don Heck's art, particularly when he's inking himself.

I know I've compared his art to Robert McGinnis' James Bond art a number of times. It's just so dynamic. It reminds me of a lot of spy novel and sci-fi covers of the time period, and it makes the Ant-Man stories look very modern. Hart & Heck really take their time getting to the Cyclops, but I don't mind at all, because we get to see Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne in their vacation clothes walking among the streets, and it looks like a French New Wave film. I love it; it's very different from the look of the other books. I can almost hear the marimba playing.

:: In this issue, Jan appears as the Wasp at her real height; since Ant-Man has said that no one knows he's not really ant-sized, I wonder if this is supposed to be a big deal. The story doesn't make an issue of it, though, so probably not.

:: This is the story where it's clearly established that Hank is in love with Jan, but doesn't pursue her (other than, you know, partnering her and keeping her close and vacationing with her) because of her age and because he can't bear the thought of losing her like he did Maria. I wonder how often Maria will ever be brought up again...

:: Why are the Greek sailors so surprised about the Cyclops? Didn't they see the movie Namor made about the Fantastic Four? Remember that? Mr. Fantastic fought the actual Cyclops from Greek mythology; this is just an alien robot. Maybe Namor cheaped out when it came to the foreign distribution...

This is a fun issue; we've got the characters down, the story isn't too silly or lame, and Don Heck's art creates a real dynamism that has been missing from this character all along. I'll enjoy this creative team for as long as it lasts. (It's not that long.)

Next Marvels: enter Sandman. (Couldn't help it.)

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