Tales to Astonish #68, June 1965
Stupefying script by: Stan Lee
Stereophonic art by: Bob Powell
Stultifying inking by: Vince Colletta
Schizophrenic lettering by: S. Rosen
Story and art by Marvel’s modern masters: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Inking: Mickey Demeo
Lettering: Artie Simek
I have to admit, I got really angry while reading this issue. Ant Man does that to me, and so does the Hulk lately, since there’s just NO goddamn reason people shouldn’t know his true identity by now. In fact, everybody should know the alter-ego of BOTH of these damn clowns. Henry Pym invites a bunch of construction workers to remodel his home to accommodate a 35 ft tall guy for his “friend” Giant Man, and apparently it’s public knowledge that he lives there. Nobody’s stupid enough not to figure that one out, except maybe Ant Man himself.
El Hombre Gigante (as nobody calls him, because that is more the name of a cool Luchador wrestler than fucking ANT MAN) is out in a field practicing his size changing when a plane runs right into his big dumb face. He saves the pilot before passing out, and it turns out it was his old nemesis, the Human Top! The Top feels embarrassed that he was saved by Giant Man (I’m finally starting to understand this character) and designs a new costume with pockets he’s sewn in filled with helium so he can fly (aaaand it’s gone). Meanwhile, Giant Man decides that his new optimal fighting size is 35 ft instead of 12, and he still can’t turn back to Ant Man size since that convenient alien stole his shrinking powers last ish. After his lab’s remodeling is complete, he allows a reporter in for an interview… who turns out to be the Top, and he kidnaps the Wasp. Sigh…
Bruce Banner and Major Talbot are falling off a cliff in Mongolia, but I guess Stan Lee decided he was done with that so he instantly turns into the Hulk and goes back to America. Talbot also survives (though he blacked out and didn’t know the deal with the Hulk) and asks the president to try Banner as a red spy. Lyndon B. Johnson is one of two other people who know the Hulk’s true identity, however, and doesn’t want anything bad to happen to the poor guy, instead ordering him to test his new defensive device, the Absorbatron. Unknown to anybody, the Leader has miniaturized his pink foamy Humanoids and sprayed them all over the Absorbatron. They grow like so much Shrinky Dinks and steal the machine, as well as the Hulk, which Banner turns into while under attack.
Okay, the Leader can see and hear things through his Humanoids, and Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk after a bunch of them doggie pile on top of him. THERE IS NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER FOR THE LEADER TO NOT KNOW THAT BRUCE BANNER IS THE HULK. Everybody knows who the Fantastic Four really are, and it doesn’t matter, right? So just get it over with and “unmask” the Hulk. Otherwise, it’s completely impossible to believe that the Leader is supposed to be smarter than a normal person, or even really smarter than your average dog.