Continuing our look at the month that Dr. Doom debuted in Fantastic Four no.5, July 1962 also saw Tales to Astonish no. 33 from Marvel. Previously we reviewed Hulk no.2 and Tales of Suspense no.31 all from July 1962 at the dawn of the Marvel Age.
I love the Jack Kirby cover, but it suffers a bit from the rougher finishing of Paul Reinman than the usual Kirby monster inking of Dick Ayers or Christopher Rule, especially in the background.
Consensus opinion appears to be another Stan Goldberg coloring for the cover, but I’m not so sure. Goldberg was a master with the limited color palette. It’s well-known that Marvel used more colors than their competitors in the 60s. Here, we have a murkiness in tonality that is a stark departure from the hundreds of other covers attributed to Stan. I do like the black masthead, but I’d rather see a lighter tone of green in the background and a lighter tint on the aliens uniforms.
Inside are four high-quality sci-fi stories. “What Happened in…Dead Storage” by Kirby and Dick Ayers has a washed-up stage actor, Victor Marshall, who gets rejected for the final time. Figuring he’s at the end of the road, he decides to place his stage mementos in storage. When he jots down the street address as 116, he mistakenly holds the paper upside-down and interprets it as 911 (though the artwork show serif “ones” so maybe he’s far-sighted as well forgetful). At the wrong address, he uncovers a cadre of aliens bent on the the conquest of our planet. What can one out-of-work actor do to prevent alien occupation? A slightly different take on a similar plot in FF 2 with the Skrulls.
“The Frightened Man”, also by Kirby and Ayers, has John Bentley become too afraid of the fear-inducing headlines of the day’s papers. When he invents a way to travel in time, he figures he’ll escape to a simpler era without the “modern” violence and terror. He travels back in time and is confronted with the Great Terror in France, the Spanish Inquisition, the Black Plague, and the barbaric days of the Roman Empire.
“The Voice of Fate” by Don Heck takes place in the summer of 1945 with the world at war and the Fates wagering a bet. The ending was a pleasant surprise to me.
Finally, “The Absent-Minded Professor” by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko has an addled prof and aliens.