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Tales to Astonish #74: Review

Dec 1965
Stan Lee, Bob Powell

Story Name:

The Wisdom Of The Watcher!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tales to Astonish #74 Review by (February 27, 2024)

Review: Finally Hulk gets to fight a foe worthy of his power, this big red amphibian guy and it’s cool but there’s a few interesting bits as the series slowly gropes its way toward being one of Marvel’s all-time gems. Herein, Banner’s mind in Hulk’s body feels Hulk’s mind is taking control in situations where Hulk is the expert e.g. fighting monsters. This bodes ill for Banner whose grip on Hulk’s brain is tenuous at best. The big surprise in the story is that it has a definite end; the series has been running since issue #60 was one ongoing serial, a continuous narrative broken up into chapters but still one story. But here, the big tough guy is sent home and the Leader gets what he has always wanted—and it kills him. Nice moral to the story. What’s next? We’ll see!

The story doesn’t move far with Subby still fighting the Faceless Ones, who resemble pointy-eared frog men, since last issue. And Krang gets tough with his rebellious citizens. The real hero is Vashti, who sets out by seahorse (because they’re the most psychically sensitive of sea creatures), allowing the horse to steer by following the fish grapevine to locate Namor. Actually that would make the seahorse the smartest one in the issue, wouldn’t it? But its contributions are minimized and its participation unrewarded, in a clear case of speciesism. (Joke.) Another thing I’ve just noticed: the Subby series gives Stan Lee a lot of opportunity to devise silly and strictly literal names for all sorts of things; this issue alone shows us the Robo-Tank with Sense-Stun Rays, a Plasti-Cage, a Mobile-Defensive Wall, and the Magna-Beam. A challenge: show these names to a friend who is not familiar with early Marvel and ask him what he thinks they do. My prediction: they’ll get at least four out of five. Who knew Subby would be more fun than Reed Richards for crazy inventions with dumb names?

Comments: Cover credits: Hulk inset: Bob Powell/Mike Esposito

Hulk story: The Leader dies but returns, alive and well, in INCREDIBLE HULK #115. Hulk knows the Sub-Mariner; they teamed up in AVENGERS #3. It seems the inhabitants of Earth have a reputation for braggadocio in the rest of the universe; wonder who ratted us out? Artist Mike Esposito credited as Mickey DeMeo.

Subby story: Part five of seven parts. Penciler Gene Colan credited as Adam Austin. The letters page includes one by future comics dealer Bud Plant.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tales to Astonish #74 Synopsis by Julio Molina-Muscara
Hulk (still with Banner's intellect) defeats Anphibious (Qnax) and returns to Earth with the Ultimate Machine since the Watcher does not stand in his way. 

Victorious, the Leader puts the Ultimate Machine, a helmet of sorts, on his head. But the vast amount of information contained in it is way too much even for the Leader, who seemingly dies!

“When Fails the Quest!” 3/5
Writer: Stan Lee. Pencils: Gene Colan. Inks: Vince Colletta. Colors: ? Letters: Sam Rosen.

Synopsis: Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner arrives underground to find Lady Dorma surrounded by the nasty Faceless Ones, protected on by a plasti-cage. Though none of the Faceless Ones is strong individually, they make up for it by sheer force of numbers so Namor’s strategy is to plow through them as quickly as possible….

Back in Atlantis, Warlord Krang, confronted by a band of armed rebels in the throne room, throws a switch, sealing off his half of the room. He then broadcasts a message to the populace threatening punishment. A rumor goes around that Namor is dead but Lord Vashti tells everyone that he saw their Prince alive and well only a short time earlier (issue #71) and volunteers to locate Namor and bring him back. Krang then dispatches his robo-tank, which looks more like a car from THE JETSONS, with a (semi-)humanoid robot sitting at the controls. The tank moves among the people, firing Sense-Stun Rays, with Krang warning that the next time the punishment would be permanent. Meanwhile, Vashti rides out on a seahorse which picks up psychic emanations from passing fish to track Subby down…

…and Vashti arrives at the cave of Zantor where his horse bolts and he is dragged into the depths by a Magna-Beam where he finds Namor battling the Faceless Ones. The froggy hordes break through the plasti-cage and it bursts, hurling the Ones away and seriously injuring Dorma. Namor stands, her body in his arms as the defies the Faceless Ones….

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Bob Powell
Mike Esposito
Gene Colan (Cover Penciler)
Vince Colletta (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Jack Kirby. Letterer: Sam Rosen.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Bruce Banner)

(Qnax the Xanterean)


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