Tales To Astonish #84-87
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #84, Tales To Astonish #85, Tales To Astonish #86, Tales To Astonish #87
The Hulk decides that since he saved Betty from Boomerang, he won't be hated any more, so he heads to the missile base. However when he gets there he finds that it is abandoned (there's really no explanation given as to why the base is deserted). Hulk remembers that he used to have a group of friends called the Avengers, so he decides to go find them so they can help him find out what happened to the people on the base. This leads him to New York. He remembers that if he walks through New York he will be attacked so he steals an overcoat and hat to disguise himself.
Unfortunately a patrolman still recognizes him and the city sounds an alarm. Some police make the point that the alarm just serves to panic the Hulk but if they didn't do it, the press would criticize them. The Hulk wanders into a movie theater where they are showing a newsreel that conveniently recaps the past few issues. In a cool unofficial crossover, Namor is also in the movie theater, although he and the Hulk never actually fight.
Rick hears that the Hulk is in New York and he decides to head after him. He answers one of those ads where people hire others to drive their cars somewhere for them, and winds up on his way to NYC with instructions not to look in the trunk.
Meanwhile the Hulk gets more and more stressed out and starts rampaging.
Moving back in time a bit we see things from the Sub-Mariner's point of view. This issue (#84) put me in mind of Marvel Mystery Comics #8 where we see things from the Sub-Mariner's point of view and then from the Human Torch's. This is very similar; we now see Namor, under the control of the Secret Empire's Number One hunting for the Hulk in New York.
The interesting twist is that Namor never actually finds the Hulk (although we again see the scene in the movie theater from Namor's point of view).
Like the Hulk, Namor winds up making a scene...
...and he flees to the skies, still looking for the Hulk. However, Krang is hiding in the clouds in his ship and when he sees Namor he blasts him again, knocking him into the ocean and restoring his memory.
Namor finds the radio transmitter that Number One was using and crushes it, but Number One had a second device planted behind Namor's ear. As the Hulk suddenly starts approaching Number One's hideout, the Secret Empire leader desperately tries to re-summon Namor to protect him. Namor smashes the second device also, but heads to Number One's hideout anyway. However the Hulk gets there first and Number One accidentally kills himself in a bomb blast meant for the Hulk. No capes!
With Number One's death, a Hydra agent crosses the Secret Empire off a chalkboard list.
The Hulk continues his rampage through the city. Rick Jones arrives and takes the Hulk to a deserted (?) part of the city to hang out and cool down.
Unfortunately, Rick's car's trunk opens up, revealing a robot that diverts the Orion Missile from its test launch course and pulls it to New York.
The man who lent Rick his car is a foreign spy, and he is arrested, but too late to stop the missile diversion. The Hulk smashes the robot and then leaps onto the missile. He then turns into Bruce Banner.
As Banner, he is able to correct the missile's course, and then he turns back into the Hulk before the missile explodes. Meanwhile, the police, investigating the Leader's hidden lair, summon General Ross because they've found one of the Leader's humanoids.
Ross brings Betty along with him. It's amazing that he brings Betty with him to all these dangerous and presumably top secret places, and no one seems to question it. Ross has his scientists activate the Humanoid in order to stop the Hulk (not too smart).
Meanwhile the Boomerang brags for about six panels about how he's updated his powers. He's still a loser, though.
The Humanoid, of course, becomes uncontrollable immediately and the army is unable to stop him. However, the Hulk comes out of the hiding place Rick Jones set him up in, and the two creatures fight it out.
The Humanoid gets the upper hand at first. The army is set to destroy them both when word gets back in time that the Hulk is not responsible for the Orion Missile attack. Glenn Talbot relays this information even though he wants Banner out of the way, proving he's not a complete heel. The humanoid is defeated when the Hulk turns back into Banner long enough to build a doohickey that can hurt it.
Now Boomerang has made himself a new costume, apparently out of a circus tent. He doesn't seem to even be using Boomerangs anymore. It's still a terrible costume, not that different from the original.
The Hulk stories end with the Hulk getting knocked out and being brought back to Gamma Base as the Boomerang lurks in the shadows...
Back to Namor... the idea that he was somehow attracted to the building where the Secret Empire's Number One was hiding is dropped now that he is dead, so he's free to pursue Krang again. Krang and Dorma are still in their ship, but Dorma is no longer going along with Krang's schemes.
Krang causes a huge tidal wave to flood NYC... it's a rough day for New York, what with the Hulk's rampage, the Orion Missile scare, the Humanoid attack and this tidal wave all going on at roughly the same time. Namor is blamed for the flood, especially when he invades a radio communication center. He's actually using the radios to contact the US's air force to give them the location of Krang's ship, but no one knows that. The army captures Krang and Dorma, and Namor is attacked as well.
The Sub-Mariner fights US soldiers in the streets of New York and "rescues" Krang and Dorma. He brings them both back to Atlantis, which is "hours" away from the US, even "swimming at underwater speeds which the mind of a surfaceman cannot even comprehend". Sub-Mariner is wounded, and in an interesting change of pace, instead of the Sub-Mariner just beating Krang in a fight, Vashti uses a teleportation beam in his Sanctum of Science (and why don't i have a Sanctum of Science?) to bring the two into the castle where the Atlantean guards arrest Krang.
Of course Namor doesn't feel right about that, so after he is healed, he allows Krang to challenge him to a fight for the throne. To make up for the difference in strength, Krang is allowed to bring any weaponry he wants to the fight, but Namor still kicks his ass.
I like seeing Everett draw the Sub-Mariner since it was his character in the Golden Age. The art doesn't look dated, either. It's definitely more straightforward and action oriented than other Silver Age artists, but it's still pretty good. Since the story mostly takes place in Atlantis, Everett's art gives it a medieval fantasy feel.
A footnote recapping last issue is signed by "Solicitous Roy". Based on that, I gave Roy Thomas editing credits for this issue, but it seems odd that Thomas would edit a Stan Lee written comic in this time period.
This was an interesting run of Astonish due to the fact that the two stories loosely cross-over into each other. On the downside, the Krang plotline drags on a bit and the Hulk incidents are getting a bit repetitious at this point. The artwork on Hulk is still inconsistent. Buscema's art is nice enough but in general the Hulk is not getting the artistic attention necessary to put him in Marvel's top tier. Nonetheless this was a fun read.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: For the Hulk, this takes place in a very compressed timeframe due to Marvel Monsters: Monsters on the Prowl #1; see the Considerations section there for more details. As Berend notes in the comments, the fact that AIM is already crossed off the chalkboard list in issue #85 here means that this takes place after Strange Tales #149.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Super-Heroes #39, Marvel Super-Heroes #40, Marvel Super-Heroes #41, Marvel Super-Heroes #42
Inbound References (2): showBetty Ross, Boomerang, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Glenn Talbot, Hulk, Krang, Lady Dorma, Rick Jones, Sub-Mariner, Vashti
This was Bill Everett's 4th go-round on Sub-Mariner. Jack Kirby worked on Captain America in 4 arguably distinct periods as well, but Everett would break that record in the early 1970s.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 12:28 AM
Jerry Grandenetti's art here is probably his only Marvel effort. He started in the 1940s with smaller companies like Fiction House, then spent about 20 years during war stories at DC. In the late 1960s he was doing horror/mystery stories for DC(and Warren)using a weird psychedelic style that isn't reflected in this story. I think he left comics in the late 1970s after being on a string of weirder short-lived DC books(DC never let him do any superheroes that I know of).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2011 1:41 AM
According to Roy Thomas in Comics Interview #66, Bill Everett didn't like Stan Lee putting Namor's people in Atlantis(I guess Bill intended them to be from an unnamed city at the pole) and he really hated "Imperius Rex!"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 10, 2015 12:17 AM
Funny how Everett's Namor started out in the Golden Age as a relatively skinny, normal-looking character design, but later in the 40s and 50s, the Sub-Mariner gradually morphed into a big-muscled weightlifter type.
Then in the Silver Age reboot/revival, Kirby's take on Namor also started out as a skinny guy, but then Gene Colan inflated him out to have basically the same body type Colan used for Iron Man and Daredevil.
As Marvel marches on in these early years, all the skinny guys like Namor, Peter Parker, and Reed Richards, gradually get more and more muscular-looking. Dynamic tension exercises? Creatine? Steroids? Comic art stereotypes?
Posted by: James Holt | August 27, 2016 12:53 PM
I also enjoyed the semi-crossover with Namor and the Hulk and the hand crossing the Secret Empire off the list. It was not specifically identified as a Hydra agent at the time.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | November 7, 2016 7:18 PM
@Bobby- the hand's owner says "Soon it will be time for Hydra to live again".
Posted by: Michael | November 24, 2016 11:51 AM
When I saw the crossover bit, I was like "damn! Thats cool!"
Other than that I have to say that ross is the most unintelligent man yet to be in a marvel comic. Taking his daughter to these dangerous places, thinking that the hulk killer would have no consequences. He's plain dumb!
Posted by: Roy Mattson | June 25, 2017 5:38 PM
In that scene with the chalk board AIM is already crossed out, which suggests this story happens after Strange Tales #149. Since there are a whoooooole lot of issues between those two in your chronology, I'm guessing that is just impossible, probably due to that Monster on the Prowl story.
(Honestly, personally I would just chuck such an inconsequential, chronology-wrecking story out of continuity altogether. I'm willing to do some puzzling for the stories actually published at the time, but I find I don't have much patience for continuity inserts)
Posted by: Berend | July 11, 2017 6:03 PM
Thanks Berend. That's an important consideration that needs to be addressed despite the difficulty (which, as you say, is due to an annoying continuity insert). I've moved a number of issues of Tales of Suspense and Strange Tales prior to this arc to accommodate it. In the process i've probably screwed up something else, but we'll see how it goes.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 20, 2017 4:41 PM
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