Second Union

Second Union


Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
“The Return of the Wizard” 
November 18, 1962

Meh. I said in the last installment of this comic series, I think this is the weakest of the lot and I question why they chose The Human Torch to give a solo installment here. Maybe it’s the teenager angle that the soon-to-premiere Amazing Spider-Man will take care of. Perhaps it’s a way to showcase new villains, but already we are falling back on ones already established with the return of the Wizard.

The Wizard manages to escape from jail after becoming a trustee in the hospital wing for good behavior. He uses the chemicals there to blast his way out of the prison. He returns to his “fortress” where he challenges the Torch to meet him. Johnny disobeys Sue when she tells him not to go and he finds himself going through a series of traps that he easily takes down.

But he is forced to surrender when he learns the Wizard has captured Sue. She tried to get Reed and Ben to stop Johnny, but they both agreed he was a big boy and needed to learn his life lessons. (A strong statement considering he could get himself killed and what would that teach him? Now there’s an issue of What If? Marvel should tackle.) He is placed in a room with Sue where a bomb is set to go off in five minutes. He cannot flame on; if the temperature goes up even one degree, the temperature sensor near the ceiling will set off the bomb early. So Johnny can’t fly up and Sue has not developed her force fields yet. He creates the smallest fireball and hurls it at the sensor before it can send the signal.

The rest of the story is a quick wrap-up as these are only 11-page stories with Johnny capturing the Wizard and both he and Sue warning the Wizard to stay in jail if he knows what’s good for him. (Ooh, I’m scared.). I know there is a certain level of corniness that comes with any comics of the 60s, but these seem to best exemplify that corniness. It’s a chore to read them, but read them I must, for I am your version of the Watcher. I read and comment, but cannot interfere in the proceedings.

Writer: Stan Lee
Scripter: Larry D. Lieber
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Sol Brodsky
Letterer: Artie Simek
“The Day That Ant-Man Failed” 
November 18, 1962

It’s funny. As much as I dislike the Human Torch shorts, I really enjoy the Ant-Man ones, and they are just as corny. Perhaps it’s just that, and I know this sounds silly, the Ant-Man is more grounded in reality. He has an established skill set in terms of powers and hasn’t made anything up to compensate when in trouble compared to the Torch who seems to be able to do almost anything with his flame powers except maintain it for any great length of time.

It’s even funnier as the story opens with Hank Pym working on a gas mask for the military that can be adjusted to fit the size of the head of the wearer because it’s made of unstable molecules. Reed Richards needs to patent his inventions better or he needs to seek a lawyer.

Considering how Ant-Man winds up in the 80s, it’s interesting to see Hank here being so eager to fight crime as he has a network of ants who monitor goings on in the city and relay it back to him. Like an armored car company having hijack issues and they want the Ant-Man to solve the mystery. He once again shoots his way across the city, missing his landing point of a cushion of ants and nearly running into a bird. The ants manage to compensate though and catch him before he hits the wall, literally. What are those poor ants thinking though? It’s gotta hurt.

Ant-Man reasons that it must be a competitor doing it as customers are leaving after the incidents. He also admires some Incan art the owner possesses (Chekov’s gun, kids, Chekov’s gun). He wants the company to send out a truck with a big payroll.

But on the day of the transfer, Ant-Man leaves suddenly as he develops appendicitis. OK, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s perfectly human. I can see Stan relating to Jack, “We don’t get him out by having an accident or bad guy intervene, we simply say his appendix burst.” The truck makes the run on its own.

It is soon stopped by a bigger truck that pulls it in with a giant magnet. The guards are subjected to a gas that makes them lose their memory. And that’s when the Ant-Man strikes! He faked his illness to ensure that the hijacking took place. He used his newly developed gas mask to avoid the gassing. He captures the hijacker who turns out to be Mitchell, the owner of the company, which was losing money and he figured if he robbed the payroll, he could save it. He developed the gas based on the Incan rituals that used it.

It’s a silly story, but a lot of fun. Like I said, I look forward to this more than I do the Human Torch ones. It won’t be long now before the Ant-Man takes his place among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as an Avenger. I’m really looking forward to that.

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