Tales To Astonish #58
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #58
Review/plot: No, not that Colossus, and not It, the Living Colossus, either. Not even the Colossus that the Wasp told a story about in Tales To Astonish #53. This is just some big alien.
The Colossus is from the Vega star system, making his people... Vegans.
But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about the relationship between Hank and Jan. It stinks. It's almost like the Lockhorns with super-powers.
They bicker and bicker and do everything in their power to belittle each other.
When Wasp compliments Hank on putting ejector seats in their jet plane, saying he thinks of everything, he replies "One of us has to, my little scatter-brain!"
Jan is written as a complete ditz, who has no interest or sympathy for Hank's work. Henry Pym is too busy to go on vacation with Jan but drops everything when Captain America stops by to mention some incident in "darkest Africa".
... (i won't get into the racism in this comic)...
Cap assumes that this Colossus is probably a hoax and not worthy of the attention of the other Avengers.
We also learn that Pym has trouble growing too big, too fast, and says that in the future he'll have to limit himself to twelve feet.
While he's hurt, he's helped out by the Wasp, who develops her "attack the ear" technique, but oddly has to swing Tarzan style to get to the ear (it's said the air is too thin for her wings to work).
In this issue Pym develops a cybernetic technique that allows him to change his size without the use of magic mushroom pills. Does he give the Wasp a similar helmet? No. He controls her growth with his helmet. Think about that.
In the second story (scripted, drawn and inked by Larry Lieber, plotted by Stan Lee), a lame villain from their rogue's gallery called The Magician escapes from prison and sets up a trap where he releases a clothing line based on the Wasp's costumes.
The Wasp defeats him on her own despite receiving a call from Pym telling her to stay home until he can get back. When Pym does return home, he thinks she's been cowering at home all day, and she patronizingly tells him how safe she feels now that he's holding her in his muscular arms.
I mean it's really sick. When he finds out that she's fucking with him, it's going to drive him crazy.
These two should never have gotten married. The idea of him becoming abusive is entirely supportable, and should be developed further (instead they are backing away from it, saying he only hit her once when he was mentally unbalanced). I know it wasn't deliberately set up to seem like a bad relationship - it's really just due to bad, sexist writing - but it's the only way these stories can be read.
The Wasp has a new costume, but i can barely see a difference, so i guess for once it's ok that Hank doesn't notice. She's also using Wasp stings, but they are generated from a device on her wrists.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I guess T'challa didn't think that a giant rampaging around was importanat enough to deal with...so we get Hank and Jan. Keeping it classy even years before he arrives on the scene.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 21, 2014 4:17 PM
The giant wasn't rampaging around Wakanda. It's not T'Challa's job to police every African country any more than it's Captain Britain's job to fight villains in France or it was the West Coast Avengers' job to fight villains in Mexico and Central America.
Posted by: Michael | February 21, 2014 7:24 PM
Just being funny; considering how stereotypical the Africans were in the comic. Never mind me.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 21, 2014 8:59 PM
Sorry I didn't get the joke. My apologies.
Posted by: Michael | February 21, 2014 9:56 PM
I noticed the credits read "Completely Written by Stan Lee". Always thought stinkers like this were proof-positive that Kirby and Ditko did most of the heavy lifting in the creation of the early Marvel Universe.
Posted by: Zeilstern | February 23, 2014 7:50 AM
Does this get historical significance points for Jan's first "attack in the ear"?:-) It's pretty much her signature attack.
Posted by: kveto from prague | February 23, 2014 3:41 PM
I don't think Stan's portrayal of some natives to be racist.
Posted by: Leves | April 17, 2015 8:37 PM
Re: portrayal of African natives:
It's probably seen by the majority as racist by the standards of today, but back when it was published, probably barely anyone batted an eye. Ignorant, yes, but probably not meant to be mean-spirited or anything.
Posted by: mikrolik | April 21, 2015 5:03 PM
Stan drops yet another Christian Dior reference here, courtesy of Captain America of all people. It's like he couldn't mention fashion or clothes without mentioning Dior anymore than he could mention someone looking creepy or ugly without mentioning Bela Lugosi.
Posted by: Robert | February 7, 2016 8:32 PM
@kveto - I'm not sure if it was a first, but Janet used the ear attack at least once earlier, on the Hulk in Fantastic Four #26.
Posted by: James Holt | August 16, 2016 10:34 PM
You know I have to disagree with some of the comments about Hank and Jan. Stan was not the sexist you make him out to be. It was a product of the time period (This is not an excuse but a statement of fact) just watch the TV shows of the period. All the housewives or teenage girlfriends are done the same way even the ones where the women were the star (such as Bewitched). Even the Wild Wild West and Star Trek had some sexist attitudes but without the malice that you ascribe to Reed and Hank. As far as racism in the book again, I don't think that Stan who came up with the first black superhero was or is a racist. I think a lot of things that we look on as racism from that period were just ignorance. Don't think that I am excusing real racism which growing up in the south in the 60's I saw plenty of. There is a difference between being an actual bigot and being uninformed.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 29, 2016 7:10 PM
@Bobby, apparently showing Africans in traditional garb is seen as racism at this point:-)
Posted by: kveto | July 8, 2018 6:41 AM
I think Fnord was referring to the references not only to "darkest Africa" but also "the seething dark continent". Once you might be able to get away with, twice is pushing it. The "dark continent" supposedly did not originate as a racist term, it started off in the late 1800s due to the lack of European knowledge of the continent, however note that black people had already been being called "darkies" (& being used as slaves) for over a hundred years before the "dark continent" phrase was coined, so it's hard to believe it was entirely innocent. It's not as if Europeans did not know what colour the people of "the dark continent" mostly were.
Still, whether they started off as racist terms, I think it should be clear enough that by the 1960s, referring to Africa as "darkest Africa" & "the dark continent" etc should have had a rethink.
I don't think Stan was racist, he has a good record with characters like Joe Robertson, Black Panther & the Falcon. But I do think that being born in the 1920s, he might have used the terms unthinkingly, possibly influenced by early 1900s Eurocentric/imperialist tales of Africa he read as a youth.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 8, 2018 9:12 AM
So yes, I agree with Bobby - it was Stan being ignorant & unthinkingly using phrases that he had read elsewhere & seemed dramatic, rather than intended racism, but still worth calling out for its unthinking nature.
Bobby does also have a point with Stan's patriarchal, stuffy, pipe-smoking male geniuses like Reed & Hank, & how they treated their partners... Stan again was a man of his time. Star Trek was supposedly a future where everyone was equal, but the last episode (written by Gene Roddenberry himself) features an evil woman who went insane because women are forbidden from becoming captains, so she tried to steal Kirk's body, ends with Kirk in some Stan-eque dialogue pitying her for not realising her limitations as a woman. So Stan fits in with some other "progressive" 1960s pop culture as still having one foot in their past.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 8, 2018 9:32 AM
Calling those scenes "ignorant" would be fine. I doubt Stan or his bretheren knew much about Africa beyond what they read in the pulps. But to call it "racism" seems unfairly harsh. There doesn't appear to be any intentional negativity there (which is what I'd require to call it racism).
Posted by: kveto | July 8, 2018 1:16 PM
Comments are now closed.
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