Wednesday, August 11, 2010
History of the Marvel Universe: June 1965, part 3
This is the first of a two-part story that will bring the Giant Man series to an end.
What’s kind of odd is the changes being made to the characters in spite of the fact that they will be losing their own series soon. Since getting zapped with a power-stealing ray last issue, Hank can’t shrink down any more. And changing size too rapidly when he grows is making him dizzy—he theorizes that his metabolism just can’t take the drastic changes any longer. He finds he can manage a 35-foot height as long as he grows a little more slowly.
He also makes Jan a cybernetic helmet so she (who can still shrink) can take over the “talking to ants” part of their gig.
While all this is happening, the Human Top is planning to attack them once again. The issue ends with the Top capturing the Wasp, with Giant Man in pursuit.
Last issue’s Hulk story ended with Banner and Glen Talbot falling off a Mongolian cliff. Banner Hulks-out, catches Talbot, and leaps away. His long (and I mean LONG) jumps eventually get him back to the States, where he falls asleep on his own couch and reverts again to Banner.
When he’s found, he’s charged with spying. Talbot has gotten back to the States as well and presses the case against him. But the President knows Banner’s secret and orders him to be allowed to once again try to test the Absorbicon (the secret weapon he was trying to test when he was captured by the Russians a few issues ago).
It’s been a few years since I last read these stories. I think a few entries back I was saying that Stan Lee would probably leave aside the whole “LBJ knows about the Hulk” thing as too much of a dues ex machina. I’d forgotten that he would draw on this at least this one more time. It’s really not that much longer before the world at large learns about Banner/Hulk anyways.
The Leader still wants the Absorbicon as well. He seeds the island with microscopic humanoids that grow and attack at his command. The creatures overwhelm Talbot, but Banner Hulks-out yet again. The Leader, though, is ready for the Hulk this time. Gas-equipped humanoids knock out the green guy and cart him off to their Leader.
One important note: Jack Kirby takes over the art from Steve Ditko in this issue. That’s a good thing as Kirby’s style is much more suited to a character whose main gig is raw physical power.
The new team decides to try to find the Hulk, not knowing that he’s currently a prisoner of the Leader. And, in a series of shameless plugs, we’re periodically shown some of the action from next month’s Tales to Astonish to remind us that the Hulk is busy elsewhere. Well, shameless but legitimate. Plugging other Marvel titles is perfectly okay as long as it doesn’t interfere with good storytelling.
Instead, they are lured into a trap by the Mole Man, resulting in a major fight against a giant minotaur. Quicksilver is briefly captured, but Captain America manages to direct everyone to use their powers in concert and they end up victorious.
There’s some fun characterizations seeded throughout the issue. Both Quicksilver and Hawkeye—both a bit arrogant—think they should be in charge instead of that old fuddy-duddy Captain America. By the end of this issue, Hawkeye at least is beginning to appreciate Cap’s leadership skills.
Ah, Stilt Man. I love ‘em. I don’t care how silly he looks. In my opinion, Stilt Man goes so far off into the realm of silly that he actually circles the universe and enters the realm of cool again.
His gig is a simple one. His armored costume has hydraulic legs that can extend upward to (according to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe) 290 feet. We first meet him when he robs a helicopter that’s carrying a payroll.
He stole the technology behind the suit, just as he stole the shrink ray he uses in his final battle with Daredevil. But he himself gets zapped by the ray and shrinks into nothingness.
But he’ll be back one day. You can’t keep a good Stilt Man down. He’s too silly. Or too cool. Or something.
That’s it for June. In July 1965, the FF face off against Doctor Doom without a single superpower between them; Peter Parker has to visit a costume shop before fighting the Green Goblin; the Watcher recruits Ben and Johnny to save the world; Dr. Strange returns to Earth; Thor meets an ill-tempered robot; Iron Man takes a nap; Captain America tries to kill a future president; Giant Man tries to rescue the Wasp; Hulk finally meets the Leader; the Avengers repel a Communist invasion; and the X-Men confront Professor X’s long lost stepbrother.