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Tales to Astonish #60: Review

Oct 1964
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

Can A Man With Green Skin And A Petulant Personality Find True Happiness In Today's Status-Seeking S

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Tales to Astonish #60 Review by (February 7, 2023)

New review and comments by Peter Silvestro:

Review: The Hulk’s first solo tale is the “only comic mag super-hero soap opera in existence” and they prove it by repeating lame tropes over and over. Bruce loves Betty! Betty loves Bruce! But neither can say anything because Betty’s Dad the General really hates Bruce! With totally mindless fury! And Hulk fights a totally nondescript robot that somehow has the ability to defeat him! Fair enough, Hulk’s still young and maybe hasn’t gotten his full strength yet but the red robot is an underwhelming enemy and Hulk sitting on its shoulders and drumming away on its head to no effect is pretty silly. They are still hammering out the basics of the character because not every character is Spider-Man, fully formed from his first appearance, but for Hulk it’s taking longer than expected: note how many times they’ve changed how the Hulk transforms and you get the idea. And Stan Lee jokes around so much that it’s clear he isn’t putting his best work into the series. Things will change eventually but for now, the Hulk half is much inferior to the Giant-Man part.

And Giant-Man, frequently switching places with Ant-Man, takes on…Soviet super apes! Yes, the Commies have invented one of those scientific devices which work seemingly by magic to fulfill the plot and then go away. Case in point: A machine that can make animals as smart as humans makes humans as dumb as animals because this is obvious, right? Right? Anyway, an uncharacteristically grim Hank Pym, reminded of his wife’s murder by the Soviets, a plot point rarely mentioned (in fact, this is only the second time it’s been brought up, the first being issue #44 and it won’t be mentioned again until WEST COAST AVENGERS #33 in 1988) is worried about another minor character Lee Kearns. And so Giant-Man/Ant-Man (he switches between the two identities a lot) goes James Bond, if James Bond fought gorillas. Should I have said Tarzan? Only if the Lord of the Jungle had ever crossed into Soviet territory. Anyway, intelligent apes who appear to be intelligent only to the point of recognizing intruders and working together are no match for Ant-Man because they are only as smart as the plot requires them to be. He destroys the machine which cannot be duplicated, another dubious plot point, and the Western democracies live happily ever after, at least until the next issue of TALES OF SUSPENSE with Iron Man fighting the Commies!

Comments: First issue to split the contents between a Hulk story and an Ant-Man/Giant-Man tale. Hulk story: Hulk’s second solo series begins here and runs until the title becomes THE INCREDIBLE HULK at issue #102. And the Hulk stories pretty much run in an ongoing plotline until further notice. Bruce Banner here realizes that stress causes him to become the Hulk. For some reason, Betty Ross’ hair is gray here and in the next several issues. Inker George Roussos credited as George Bell. Giant-Man story: Second and final appearance of ex-FBI Agent Lee Kearns, whose first was in issue #44. Lee learns that Ant-Man and Giant-Man are the same person, despite their having identical costumes and complementary powers. The Beasts of Berlin return in WEST COAST AVENGERS #33-34, their second and final appearance. 


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #60 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara

Bruce Banner has created an indestructible robot that will allow its passenger to study atomic bomb blasts from a short distance. Thunderbolt Ross is impatiently waiting for Banner. His daughter Betty Ross tries calming him down. Banner arrives late at the Air Force base because he was trapped in his cave as the Hulk.

While double checking his robot plans, Banner realizes that he changes into Hulk (and back) during extreme moments of stress. Banner theorizes that if he avoids any strain, he won't change into the Hulk.

Thunderbolt Ross tells Banner that the robot test is scheduled for the next morning. Banner works all night to finish his creation. He hears someone in the premises and when he chases him, strain turns him into the Hulk, who leaps away into the hills. 

The unknown man, a spy, knocks out a soldier watching over the lab and enters the robot to walk into the testing area.

Ross and his men learn about the attacked soldier, believe Banner did it (!), and dispatch a remote controlled tank to stop the robot. But the robot withstands the shells, and breaks the tank with a blow. The spy now dreams of selling the robot to foreign countries to make a fortune, or conquer the world with it.

Hulk sees the robot, believes Banner has created it to defeat him and attacks. But his fists prove useless against the indestructible machine.

Panels sample #2

The strain of fighting something stronger than himself (for the very first time) makes Hulk turn into Banner (!). 

When soldiers find Banner, he explains Ross and Betty that someone else is inside the robot. Ross is furious. Betty tries comforting his loved one. But Banner feels horrible because he has endangered humankind a second time by creating another terrible menace which is like or worse than the Hulk.

The Beasts of Berlin!” 4/5 Synopsis by Peter Silvestro
Writer: Stan Lee. Pencils: Dick Ayers. Inks: Paul Reinman. Colors: ? Letters: Art Simek.
Synopsis: In an angry mood, Giant-Man chases the members of his fan club out of his lab. Wasp runs after them to apologize for Hank and returns to ask him what is going on. Hank tells her that his friend ex-FBI Agent Lee Kearns has been caught spying in East Berlin and is about to be executed and Giant-Man is determined to rescue him. Jan wants to come along but Hank refuses, revealing to her the history of his wife Maria who was captured and killed behind the Iron Curtain and he doesn’t want the same to happen to Jan. So he goes to West Berlin (in costume) and, against the American diplomats’ advice, he crosses the Berlin Wall as Ant-Man then recruits the local ants to take him to the prison where Kearns is being held. Once there, he has the ants sting the guard into departing then reveals himself to Kearns. Kearns tells him that the issue was a new weapon created by the Reds that will increase the intelligence of beasts and they are planning to create an army of smart gorillas to use in combat. Hank and Kearns encounter one of the intelligent apes guarding the passage. Hank defeats him by turning into Giant-Man. They head to the lab where the scientists are busy creating more intelligent apes. The ape guards surround Giant-Man so he becomes Ant-Man, ducks under the apes, and turns the intelligence ray machine on the scientists and military guys—and it turns them into roaring beasts. Ant-Man then uses his climbing cord to tie up all of the ape guards and discovers they have lost their intelligence, proving that the machine’s effects are only temporary. Then as Giant-Man he wrecks the machine, which cannot be duplicated, and he and Kearns barrel through the Wall and into the protecting hands of the US Army. Hank goes home and tells Janet it was no big deal—but she’s seen the news report on television….

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Hank Pym)
Betty Ross
Betty Ross

(Elizabeth Ross)
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

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