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Tales to Astonish #48: Review

Oct 1963
Ernie Hart, Don Heck

Story Name:

The Porcupine!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #48 Review by (November 8, 2022)

Review: Enter…the Porcupine! The perfect battle armor? Unless it’s made of wicker, which it looks to be, the suit would be too bulky to move in. This would be especially so if it contained Kevlar or another type of body armor, therefore leaving Porky vulnerable to gunshots, especially as we see Wasp sting him towards the end of the tale. And his quills…porcupines don’t shoot their quills though they will detach when stuck in an opponent. But here, the quills are miniature guns, fired by pulling strings, another dubious device that would be quite vulnerable to most attacks. But he’s formidable because the comic writers say he is and that’s that. One thing the writers recognized as evil: work-for-hire contacts which would lead to most writers and artists receiving nothing for their lucrative creations, though it would be a lot harder to use a comic book story for criminal purposes. Oh and here’s a suggestion for a master’s thesis: how Hank and Janet reinforce the most embarrassing of gender stereotypes with Jan portrayed as a love-hungry predator, drooling over men and constantly flirting with Hank; patriarchal Hank is constantly dismissive of Jan as childish and “female,” thinking he has to control her since she is not as intelligent and single-minded as a man. Last big question: Since it took Porcupine about three minutes to crash through the anti-burglar devices Hank created for the bank, did the bank owners refuse to pay Hank?

Comments: Ant-Man story: First appearance/origin of Porcupine; he returns in issue #53. Ant-Man appears to be flying unaided on the first page. For some unexplained reason, Jan calls Hank, “Henry” throughout this story. Writer Ernie Hart is credited as E.H. Huntley. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #32. Third story: Grayson mentions Spider-Man at one point, a rare superhero reference in a back-up story.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #48 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

Ant-Man and Wasp fly over the Army Ordnance Center with Hank imagining all the great new weapons being developed there and Janet drooling over the men who must work there. Inside, Alex Gentry studies the porcupine to create the perfect combat suit, a gas mask, and multiple quill-like tubes that fire gas, stun pellets, and more. Then, realizing that he will not profit from this invention as work-for-hire, he decides to use it for crime as…the Porcupine!

The next day, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne attend the grand opening of a bank with anti-burglar devices Hank has created. Porcupine steps forward to announce his intention to rob the bank; he fires tear gas at the guards while shooting glue to cork up their gun barrels. The baddie then pelts the crowd with sleeping gas and he lays down a smokescreen, followed by seizing the cash and making his getaway by rocket. In all this, Jan was seriously overcome and Hank was too worried over her (and the place too crowded) to become Ant-Man. When she recovers, they change into their hero identities only to discover the Porcupine is long gone. Jan feels ill again and as the police are arriving, Hank decides to rush her home. She has a fever so Hank gives her aspirin and calls the doctor….

Meanwhile, Porcupine is robbing another bank, this time with paralyzing pellets and hypnotic wheels but he is seen by ants that track him all the way back to his lab at the Army Ordnance Center. They relay the info back to Hank who lets Janet sleep while heading to the lab as Ant-Man. He has a dicey moment when detected by a guard dog but only for a moment. The hero enters Gentry’s lab but the villain was ready for him. Porcupine drops phosphorescent pellets that stick to Ant-Man’s metal helmet, allowing the baddie to see him no matter where he tries to hide. Gentry then tosses magnetic nets at Ant-Man, binding him; Gentry uses tweezers to remove Ant-Man’s helmet and gear then tosses him into a water-filled bathtub before heading out for another robbery….

Elsewhere, Janet, feeling much better, dons her Wasp outfit and finds out from the ants where Ant-Man went. She rushes over to the Army Ordnance Center just in time to have the ants form a living chain to rescue him from the tub. Then they fill bags with liquid cement and line them up as a trap for the bad guy. Porcupine returns and the ants squirt the glue at him, clogging up his weapon tubes. Ant-Man lassoes him and hurls him through the window. But Porcupine flies off on his jets, vowing to return. At home, Hank promises Jan something—and gives her an antibiotic. Janet is miffed….

“The Inventor”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Unknown.
Synopsis: A janitor becomes obsessed with creating a robot to sweep floors but all of his attempts fail. Finally he gives up and goes back to his job, unaware that in his last effort he had discovered the secret of perpetual motion!

“Grayson’s Gorilla!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Matt Fox. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: Mad scientist Harvey Grayson dreams of being as strong as a gorilla. He invents a machine that will transfer a gorilla’s strength to him; stealing a gorilla from the zoo, he tries it but the machine turns him all the way into a dumb beast while making the gorilla into a much nicer version of Harvey! 

“The Little Green Man!”
Writer: Stan Lee. Art: Steve Ditko. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: An alien crash lands on Earth and goes to failed aircraft racer Jasper Jenks; the alien offers to alter Jenks’ plane to go twice as fast if Jenks will let the alien modify a radio to call home. Jenks takes off on a test flight and throws the alien overboard (with a parachute) and then discovers that the alien didn’t have the chance to explain how to stop or land the craft!

Don Heck
Don Heck
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Plot: . Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Porcupine (Alexander Gentry).

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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