Tales to Astonish Issue #36 Photo Credit: Marvel

Tales to Astonish has sort of become the Ant-Man show at this point. While there still are other features in this book, the biggest draw is Henry “Hank” Pym who has developed a serum capable of making himself the size of an ant. He also has a cypernetic helmet which allows him to communicate with the insects.

Apparently, since we have seen him last, he’s been out adventuring and helping the public. In the first two stories of Ant-Man, it was pretty much just Hank Pym who knew he had these capabilities. In this issue, we see him free some bank robbers who are trapped in a time-lock vault. The cops are there to arrest the men once Ant-Man let’s them free so they don’t suffocate. While the public seems to know Ant-Man is a hero, that’s about all they know about him. He just shows up at the right place at the right time to do some good. Turns out when you can communicate with millions of ants you have a pretty good idea of what is going on in your city.

Meanwhile, “the commies” are learning about Ant-Man and devise a plan to use Comrade X to trap him. They, of course, want to know his secret so they can apply it to their army.

So, yes, this is once again, yet another story involving the cold war. We have to take into perspective that things were pretty frightening as far as the nuclear arms race went and people were legitimately fearful at the time. It stands to reason this would be reflected in popular culture, including comic books.

The story is fairly standard. Henry gets trapped but he uses his helmet to help escape. He also uncovers the fact that Comrade X is really a woman who claimed to have fallen in love with Comrade X. She was just in disguise. Hank had found her rubber face mask when he was hiding in her pocketbook at one point.

There isn’t much here that I would say is incredibly significant in this story but it does do a couple of things. It sets up Comrade X as a possible return villain and since Ant-Man doesn’t have a main nemesis yet, this could be a possibility. More importantly, the story does establish Henry as a public hero, albeit one the public doesn’t know much about. Down the road when superhero teams are formed, Ant-Man will be involved and that’s only the case because the public does know about him. After all, it would be pretty easy to never let the public see what you are doing when you are the size of a tiny insect.

Next on the reading list we’re getting mighty again with Thor in Journey Into Mystery #86!

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