Second Union

Second Union

THROWING POPCORN FROM THE BALCONY: Journey into Mystery #85/Tales to Astonish #37

Writer: Stan Lee
Scripter: Larry D. Lieber
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Artie Simek
“Trapped by Loki, the God of Mischief” 
August 2, 1962

And with this issue, we begin the long-standing rivalry between Thor and Loki. We also are shown Asgard for the first time, where our story opens. The story opens with Loki imprisoned within a tree, his only escape, is someone shedding a tear for him. He aggravates Heimdall, who is walking by, with a fallen leaf.

Loki travels to Earth where he draws Thor out by creating a disturbance. It’s interesting to note first that Loki points out that he and Thor have been at odds for ages. This makes sense as these are the Norse gods, but there are stories we haven’t heard. This is literally an “in medias” res story. Add to it, unless you know, nothing is said here that Loki and Thor are half-brothers.

Loki manages to hypnotize Thor and get him to drop his hammer. He sends Thor off to release the animals from a nearby zoo, but as a minute passes, Thor reverts to Don Blake, breaking the spell. He retrieves his hammer and confronts Loki.

What follows is a chase through downtown Manhattan from the tops of buildings to the subway system beneath the city. Thor manages to subdue Loki and hurls him back to Asgard and Odin via his hammer.

All in all, a cute story, but even here we see the “God of Mischief” in full effect as he uses his magic to avoid being caught by Thor. I have never been much of a Thor fan, but the movies gave him more depth than I thought the comics were doing. Then, I start to read these stories from the beginning and he appears to have a fair amount of depth as a character as well. It will be interesting to go through Thor’s journey as I know reading certain issues in the past seemed “dense” to me and I couldn’t even finish them.

Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Trapped by the Protector” 
August 2, 1962

Our story opens with a jewelry store robbery and Ant-Man responding to the police chatter on the radio. He once again uses the catapult to get him to the store where he has an ant hill created to cushion his landing.

OK, this leads to two questions – one, how long does the catapult play into these stories before Ant-Man gets to using flying ants to carry him about? Two, how many ants were killed in acting as that cushion for Ant-Man?

So, there’s a powerful villain known as the Protector, a person shaking down jewelry store owners for protection money and he destroys valuable jewelry as part of his act instead of, you know, taking the jewelry when a store owner can’t pay up. It makes no sense. He totally destroys the jewels so they have no value.

Ant-Man sets up his ants to monitor the jewelry shop and he quickly finds the Protector shaking down another store. This time, Ant-Man uses a baby’s carriage to break his fall from his catapult shot. Good thing the baby was in it at the moment. Perhaps as they were working on this, the team realizes that this catapult idea creates writing blocks like what do you do in crowded situations where you cannot create an ant hill?

Ant-Man appears to have the upper hand at first as he has the ants release a pearl necklace under the feet of the Protector, but the Protector grabs a water pistol from a kid. The force of the water discharged appears to be enough to wash Ant-Man towards a street grating. He manages to stop himself from falling into the sewer, but the Protector gets away. Ant-Man realizes he alone cannot stop the man.

So he decides to rent a jewelry store to bait a trap for the Protector?

Wait, what kind of money does Hank Pym have? One doesn’t just rent a jewelry store complete with stock. I can’t imagine Pym himself convinced a store owner to let him use the store to bait the trap as we might see in some stories with hot dog party vendors. One needs inventory. Where did Hank get it? Why am I thinking too much about this?

It’s what I do as I throw popcorn from the balcony.

The plan works though as soon the Protector arrives and makes his pitch for $300 a week.

$300 a week?

And he disintegrated thousands of dollars of jewels?

How is it that the police or the jewelry store owners didn’t realize this?

Ant-Man did. He follows the Protector back to his hideout thanks to the ants who clung to him. There, he’s trapped in a vacuum bag which he’s able to punch his way out of. He then uses the dust in the bag to incapacitate the Protector as the police arrive.

And the Protector?

He was the original jewelry store owner we saw at the start. He shook down the other store owners, either taking their money or their jewels via a smoke and mirrors trick when it came to the disintegrator.

In the end, this isn’t a bad story. It’s just that I have to laugh at some of the plot holes in it. I do find Ant-Man is one of my more favorite comics at this point in the Marvel Universe. Like Thor above, the movies have given me a better perspective on Ant-Man. (And yes, I know it’s Scott Lang in the movies, I’m talking about the concept of Ant-Man itself.)

Related Articles