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Tales to Astonish #66: Review

Apr 1965
Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Story Name:

The Power Of Doctor Banner

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Tales to Astonish #66 Review by (May 3, 2023)

Review: More Commie bashing! Hulk is caught in the Soviet Union and spent the last issue beating up soldiers. Here, a person who has befriended him dies saving Hulk and the Big Green Guy takes that very personally. And Talbot indulges his monomania in trying to prove Bruce Banner is a spy in his hopes of romancing Betty Ross, enabled as he is by General Ross. And then there’s the Leader who proves to be manipulating the Reds for his own ends, hoping to solve the Banner/Hulk riddle when all he had to do was look at the story title, revealing that it’s Banner who has the power of the Hulk. And, of course, everyone misses the most obvious clue: after every rampage of Hulk, Bruce is found wearing torn purple stretch pants and it’s obvious he’s not merely cosplaying Hulk. And after another set of transformations, Hulk remembers the guy who died for him and grows even more testy, knocking a couple of planes out of the air and then marching menacingly out of the comic book itself! 

Giant-Man now has the ability to grow to twenty-five feet or higher without an explanation when he couldn’t do it before without becoming too heavy to move. Madame Macabre knows that Giant-Man has the power to enlarge and shrink living things but how? So far as I can see he has never used that power in public and most people are apparently unaware that Ant-Man and Giant-Man are the same person, despite being in the Avengers and always hanging around with Wasp. But then Hank doesn’t catch on to the fact that MM can only affect items she brought with her and if that is her only power, there are a few steps missing in this plot to conquer the world. And how does she square this with her benefactor, the Mandarin’s, plot to do the same thing? Since Hank was listening to this tale rather than reading it in a comic book, he never learns about the Mandarin’s (indirect) involvement—and apparently Mandy can’t be bothered to bail his educated ward out of jail. Anyway, she’s a real drama queen: look at how often she waves one hand in the air while working her powers with the other. And her vows of revenge ring hollower than most as she is never heard from again; there must be some stiff penalties for robbing art galleries in NYC.

Comments: Cover by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone (Hulk and Giant-Man) with Bob Powell and Frank Giacoia (Madame Macabre part) See GCD. Hulk story: The killing of the enslaved scientist marks the first time a person dies in a Hulk comic. Giant-Man story: Wasp’s headpiece changes from black to blue. Only appearance of Madame Macabre and her evil assistants. Final appearance of Hank’s cat Tabby, who still isn’t colored like a tabby, introduced last issue. A note in the last panel reveals that this story was for readers who thought the Wasp didn’t have enough to do. Inker Frank Giacoia credited as Frankie Ray. Letterer Sherigail has been identified as Morrie Kuramoto (see GCD).


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #66 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara
The Soviet Commander shoots the Hulk with the powerful Vaporizer weapon. But the European scientist stands in the way, sacrificing his life for the green goliath.

Furious, Hulk tears the place apart looking for the killer. But tension turns Hulk into Bruce Banner. Fortunately, it was not for long, as Jade Jaws returns to proceed his rampage among the Red Forces.

“The Menace of Madame Macabre” Synopsis: by Peter Silvestro

Writer: Stan Lee. Pencils: Bob Powell. Inks: Frank Giacoia. Colors: ? Letters: Sherigail.

Synopsis: Janet comes upon Giant-Man in his lab fixing the antenna on the roof; shrinking down to the Wasp to get his attention, she tells him about Madama Macabre, an Asian scientist who claims to be able to enlarge and shrink objects at will….

We cut to Madame Macabre herself, commanding her dwarf assistant Gogo to put out a model tractor he has constructed out of a special plastic material and she enlarges it and shrinks it with merely a wave of her hands. Her goal is to have the same power over living things that Giant-Man has. She has her other henchman place a miniature wall at the art gallery and goes to visit Giant-Man. Entering, Madame snubs Wasp, causing her to leave in a huff; Madame explains that she was educated by a benefactor (we see it’s the Mandarin) in a lamasery where she learned mystic abilities. She demonstrates her powers to Hank using model cars built by Gogo; she then proposes they join forces to conquer the world. Hank declines and she leaves in a huff….

Madame Macabre plots revenge against Giant-Man at his weakest link, Wasp. Jan receives an invitation to a show at the art gallery. She is nabbed and drugged and left in a high window where Giant-Man spots her when he comes looking for her. He puts her in a place of safety then spies MM’s henchmen stealing the art treasures while a phony wall (see above) hides them from view of the night watchman. He shrinks to normal size to enter and he is trapped in a box made of special plastic and Madame shrinks it so that Hank is forced to reduce to Ant-Man size to keep from being injured. When he refuses to reveal his secrets she starts to reduce the box to nothingness. But Wasp has revived and attacks MM who traps her in a bottle with a cork and starts to shrink that but while the bottle is the special plastic, the cork isn’t and it shatters the bottle when it grows too small. Madame enlarges the toy tractor and sends it to run them over but Wasp drives it away. Wasp attacks Madame and pulls off her wig, revealing electronic circuitry inside, explaining how she was able to control the plastic objects “mentally.” Giant-Man is freed and takes her prisoner but she vows revenge. The heroes don’t care.  

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Steve Ditko
Vince Colletta
Jack Kirby (Cover Penciler)
Sol Brodsky (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

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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