Tales To Astonish #50 (Giant-Man/Wasp)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #50 (Giant-Man/Wasp)
I'd call him the Human Onion, but a later issue makes a self-deprecating Human Turnip joke so i'll leave it at that. Suffice it to say that despite the Kirby/Ditko combination, the Top isn't exactly a winning visual.
That said, he's actually pretty powerful, combining speed with the spinning ability. Giant-Man is alerted to his presence thanks to a message from the ants, who are now communicating via pictographs.
Giant-Man is unable to keep up with the Top...
...even with the help of his ants, thanks to the fact that as Giant-Man, Pym is laughably clumsy.
Actually it's the Wasp who contacts the ants this issue, oddly enough.
The issue ends with Pym taking a potion to increase his reflexes...
...and then practicing against a robotic top (note the Mr. Fantastic reference).
He thinks he's doing well, but the Wasp knows otherwise.
It's a pretty interesting issue, ending in failure and self-deception. (Chrissy at the Marvelous Zone points out that this is actually Marvel's first two-part story. By my standards, since next issue isn't necessarily a direct continuation - i.e. no cliffhanger - and time passes between issues, i have this and the next part in separate entries and even have Hank and Jan appearing elsewhere in between. But ending the issue in Pym's defeat here is an interesting new development.)
There's also major drug use going on in this issue.
It's pretty odd how this series has evolved to show their main characters becoming more and more dependent on chemical cocktails. The subtext is glaring.
Meanwhile there's some noticeable devolution for the Wasp going on as well. In her earliest appearances, she was a feisty adventurer interested in bringing to justice criminals like those who killed her father. Now she's an annoying hanger-on whose every thought bubble and dialogue balloon is about how she wants to attract Hank's attention. And in this panel, she straight up declares it.
I hate to say it, but the difference here is Stan Lee. He wasn't scripting the earlier issues but lately he's come on board as the full writer and it coincides with the degradation of the Wasp's character.
There was a golden age Human Top (Red Raven Comics #1), and another Human Top retroactively introduced in the Invaders series after this one changed his name to Whirlwind (which is the name i'll use to track him). He's later defined as a mutant, which fits entirely with his origin here, which shows him having his powers at adolescence (although i almost get the impression that the Top's spinning ability is not meant to be a "super" power as such in this issue).
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: While the next issue concludes the Whirlwind story, this issue ends with Giant-Man preparing for "a few more weeks of intensive training", so i'm keeping the issues apart (but both before Avengers #3).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Ant-Man vol. 1
DC's Flash also fought a Top during the Silver Age, but his costume looked much more appropriate.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 1, 2012 5:44 PM
I'm sorry but those panels of Pym running into streetlamps and cinema signs are really funny.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | March 24, 2013 5:47 PM
Do you think The Human Top and Paste Pot Pete got together and fought over whose nickname was more ridiculous?
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 10, 2014 9:36 PM
I find it hard to believe that Ditko inked any of this. GCD credits Ditko for inks, but also states:
"Per Nick Caputo, Don Heck provided alterations on the Wasp's face in many panels. Bob Bailey originally credited Don Heck or Sol Brodsky with uncredited inking on the entire story." Wait, what? Huh?
If Ditko inked it, he must have been in an uncharacteristically sloppy mood; compare the line work here with any contemporaneous pages from Dr. Strange or Spider-Man and see what you think. To be fair, Heck's credited inking from the previous issue also looks a lot better than most of the "rendering" shown here. Even the "illustration" credited to Kirby looks unKirbylike. Something experimental seems to be happening here --- why do they use words like "illustrated by" and "rendered by" instead of "penciler" and "inker?"
Posted by: James Holt | August 10, 2016 11:27 PM
I placed this issue and the next between Avengers#2 and 3.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 9:29 PM
Speaking of persistent villains, the Human Top and Egghead both appeared 4 times in the Ant-Man/Giant-Man series in Tales to Astonish and once each in the Marvel Feature run.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 9:35 PM
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