Tales to Astonish, 1959 Series
Comic Book Values
Introduction to Tales to Astonish
Tales to Astonish, often regarded as the sister title to Tales of Suspense, began in 1959 and features some of the more off-beat characters you’ll ever read. Tales to Astonish #13 features the world conqueror Groot, who later becomes a hero with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Tales to Astonish #27 has a poor scientist captured by ants when he develops a serum to shrink in size. He too becomes a hero later on. Eight issues after this debut, Pym is brought back and given the superhero identity of Ant-Man as well as a love interest (and future partner), socialite Janet Van Dyne. Over the course of the series and the character’s key role in the Avengers, he would shift his powers towards growth under the identities of Giant-Man and Goliath, create the homicidal robot Ultron, marry his partner, the Wasp, and later divorce her, suffering multiple personality breakdowns along the way. After the Hulk fails to hold down his own magazine, the ‘Frankenstein’ monster of comic heroes finds a home beginning with Tales to Astonish #59. Marvel’s greatest anti-hero of them all, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, swims into action starting with Tales to Astonish #70. Namor frequently wages war against the surface-people. The book is finally re-titled after issue #101 in 1968.
Most of the stories in the title are written by Stan Lee or his brother Larry Leiber but Lee used the entire stable of the Marvel Bullpen to illustrate them. Artists included Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Bill Everett, Dick Ayers, Gil Kane, Vince Colletta, Gene Colan just to name a few.
Brief History of Tales to Astonish #27
Appearing just after the debut of the Fantastic Four two months earlier, Tales to Astonish #27, cover dated January, 1962, could have been just another in the endless series of early Marvel horror/sci-fi issues. And two of the stories are just that, pleasantly thrilling, but similar to many others that the publisher was offering at the time. But the featured story, “The Man in the Ant Hill”, is much more, as it marks the first appearance of Dr. Henry Pym, the man who would later, as Ant-Man, become one of the founding members of the Avengers. The lurid cover art, drawn by Marvel legend Jack Kirby, shows a man being dragged into an anthill by sinister ants, pretty normal cover fare for a typical Marvel “monster” issue. There was little to suggest that the issue would become one of the “key issues” of the Marvel Age; in fact, the re-appearance of Henry Pym as Ant-Man would not occur until eight months later, in Tales to Astonish #35. Truth is, the story in #27 was intended as a one-off story!
How much is Tales to Astonish #27 worth?
Although Ant-Man’s first appearance preceded that of Thor, Iron Man, and the X-Men, the value of TTA #27 in recent years has been less than the origin issues of those other superheroes. Still, Overstreet ranks the issue #11 on its 2019 Top 50 Silver Age Comics list with 9.2 value of $50,000. A copy in 2.0 currently fetches a bit over $1,000.
What is the most expensive Tales to Astonish #27 sold at auction?
A Near Mint copy (NM 9.4) realized $200,000 in 2013, in large part because the issue is so rare in that grade.
Other expensive Tales to Astonish comics
Tales to Astonish #1
The debut issue in CGC 8.5 sold for $13,100 in 2016.
Tales to Astonish #13
Our favorite tree Groot reached astonishing heights with a sale price of $14,000 for a CGC 8.5 copy in 2019.
Tales to Astonish #35
Put some clothes on that scientist and call him Ant-Man and you get $51,000 for the White Mountain copy in CGC 9.4 in 2016 for Pym’s costumed debut.
Tales to Astonish #44
Janet Van Dyne soared to new heights when she debuted as the Wasp. Her CGC 9.6 issue sold in 2017 for $26,290.
Tales to Astonish #59
Hulk had a smash hit when he debuted in his new series, fetching $7,650 for the Pacific Coast Pedigree 9.8 copy in 2013.
Tales to Astonish #93
Silver Surfer’s first full cross-over appearance outside Fantastic Four soared when it sold for $13,200 in a CGC 9.8 in 2019.
Tales to Astonish #27 Cover Art
Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers provide the art for the first cover to feature the future Ant-Man. The cover has never been sold but the entire book, 23 pages of art in all, was sold way back in 2002 for $65,090.
Other Tales to Astonish original art
Heritage Auctions sold the Hulk pin-up from Tales to Astonish #62 by Jack Kirby and George Roussos for $72,000 in 2019. Kirby and the Hulk got an impressive $50,190 for the splash page inked by Bill Everett for Tales to Astonish #78 in 2016. Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers combine on this 7-page story from Tales to Astonish #25 that sold for $29,875 in 2008. Kirby and Everett team up again to produce the splash for Tales to Astonish #83. It sold for $23,900 in 2014. Also coming in at $23,900 was page 11 of the Wasp’s origin from Tales to Astonish #44 selling in 2018 and drawn by (you guessed it) Jack Kirby and Don Heck. The highest price paid for a non-Kirby Tales to Astonish piece of art was the cover of #88 by Gene Colan and Bill Everett selling for $21,510 in 2006.
Characters from Tales to Astonish #27
Henry Pym is the only one we learn the name of. The ant that comes to his rescue remained nameless.
Plot Summary of Tales to Astonish #27
The future Ant-Man’s origin is all here: Mocked by other scientists for his outlandish theories, Dr. Henry Pym develops a means to shrink matter. However, when testing it upon himself, he shrinks to ant size and must fight for his life to survive. Barely managing to get back to normal size with the surprising aid of one of the ants, he vows to destroy his serum, a vow that lasts only until Stan Lee begins casting about for more superhero ideas!
How rare is Tales to Astonish #27?
One of the rarest Silver Age Marvel key issues, CGC has certified fewer than 800 issues with an unrestored grade.
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