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Tales to Astonish #50: Review

Dec 1963
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Story Name:

The Human Top!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #50 Review by (November 23, 2022)

Review: So is the Human Top Giant-Man’s silliest villain? A guy who can spin around at superhuman speeds while still being able to speak, hear, and think clearly? A guy who can snatch money bags with his feet while presumable spinning on his hands—or head? Sillier even than the Scarlet Beetle, a super bug? Yes. Yes he is because even giant bugs are scary but a guy who spins like a top is ridiculous. Even Giant-Man considers this spinning goof to be beneath his notice—until the ants nag him into taking on the villain. You know you’re in trouble when you are nagged by a swarm of bugs. Poor Hank: he was getting used to looking down on people until Wasp brings him down to Earth—and that cover makes it look like Giant-Man’s real enemy is human-sized doorways. And we learn that for Wasp, superhero adventures are just an excuse to hang around with Hank and flirt; wings appear at full size. And Hank spends most of the story chasing things that are moving too fast for him, with some amusing Jack Kirby graphics; maybe he is just a stumblebum—Hank is still getting used to being the big guy.

The final story, “No Ending!” is some sort of meta experiment as this tale about a man whose nightmares never end has no ending itself, making it years ahead of its time.

Comments: Giant-Man story: Part one of two parts. First issue in which Hank Pym does not appear as Ant-Man. First appearance/origin of the Human Top. Don Heck made alterations to Wasp’s face throughout the story according to GCD. Second story: Text story with one illustration, reprinted from UNCANNY TALES #46.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #50 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro

As a kid Dave Cannon discovered he had one remarkable talent: he could spin really fast; he used this talent to be a bully and a thief. Later, he went in for speed skating and decided to go back to crime, secretly pulling off a series of robberies as the Human Top. He comes to the attention of Hank Pym who decides that there’s no need for Giant-Man to get involved. Later, Giant-Man and Wasp are going over some superhero business when the ants send Hank a message that the Human Top is going to rob Danly’s Department store and Jan convinces Hank to look into it as the ants already seem to think he should. The next day, Human Top, dressed in a new green outfit with a top-shaped helmet, shows up at the department store and seizes the payroll with his feet and spins away. Giant-Man and Wasp, undercover, jump out of hiding and go after him. The baddie leads them through traffic, a peril for Giant-Man but the ants chew up the sidewalk causing Human Top to stumble. He recovers himself and leads Giant-Man on a chase, making the huge hero look like a stumblebum, before disappearing into the subway where the entrance is too small for Hank to follow in giant form….

At home, Dave Cannon glories in his victory over Giant-Man but decides the good guys might get lucky so he needs to deal with Giant-Man permanently….

Back in his lab, Giant-Man practices moving faster, chasing a bouncing ball around the room. Then he drinks a potion designed to increase his speed and chases a mechanical top, controlled by Wasp, around the room. Hank still has a great deal of trouble catching it and Wasp despairs as she knows she was taking it easy on him….

Meanwhile, the Human Top takes a load of dynamite to prepare a trap for Giant-Man….

“Mystery Trip”
Writer: Unknown. Art: Joe Maneely
Synopsis: Uncle Pete returns from a mysterious trip suddenly weightless; turns out he was one of the first people to travel to outer space and he needs a few days to get back to normal!

“The Secret of Sagattus!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: Matt Fox. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: Beloved King Sagattus has only one advisor, an ugly hunchback named Quoquo; the jealous nobles plot to murder Quoquo by withholding his heart medication and then discover that Sagattus was only a lifelike mannequin and Quoquo the real ruler!

“No Ending!”
Writer: Larry Lieber. Plot: Stan Lee. Pencils: Larry Lieber. Inks: George Roussos. Colors: ? Letters: Artie Simek.
Synopsis: A Latin American dictator has recurring dreams of being trapped on a treadmill, running forever and unable to escape—and maybe it isn’t just a dream!

Jack Kirby
Steve Ditko
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

> Tales to Astonish: Book info and issue index

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