Episode 189: Technological Proliferation (Tales to Astonish #66) -- April 1965
What would you do if you could grow and shrink at will?
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss how to pronounce “Madam Macabre”. Is she a villain or just a Giant-Man competitor? Can we trust Giant-Man on this? How fast will growing/shrinking technology proliferate? And why is everyone with a superpower a hero or a villain? Why not just use your abilities to save some money or become an entrepreneur?
Behind the issue:
This is the first and only appearance (so far) of Madam Macabre. Part two of this issue is a Hulk feature, which is not covered in the podcast. The only public fact of the Hulk feature is that Bruce Banner is in the Soviet Union, and it is unclear if he is defecting or kidnapped again.
In this issue:
Giant-Man and the Wasp story
Madam Macabre is able to use technology to shrink inanimate objects. She is envious of Giant-Man’s ability to shrink himself. And so she sets up a meeting with Giant-Man. She explains at the meeting that she was mentored and tutored by the supervillain the Mandarin. She then makes the pitch for Giant-Man to quit the Avengers and to partner with her in some vague plan to take over the world. Being the hero that he is, Giant-Man rejects the offer. She returns to her lair and schemes to defeat the Giant-Man. The step in this scheme is to kidnap the Wasp, which lures Giant-Man to her lair. He is trapped in a shrinking room, but the Wasp breaks free and rescues him. The Wasp then successfully defeats Madam Macabre and frees Giant-Man.
The Hulk is trapped in the Soviet Union. A kindhearted Soviet scientist helps him out, but he is killed. This causes the Hulk to become very angry. He goes on a rampage at the Soviet base, where he is stuck for a while, and eventually escapes.
Assumed before the next episode:
People are starting to wonder about all of the superheroes and supervillains with similar powers.
This episode takes place:
After Madam Macabre has been soundly defeated.
Edward: Mike first there was giant man, then there was the wasp, and now is there. There is mad. Mc, oh my gosh. I can't even say the word. You can't say it, eh, I can't say it. Madam Mc mc macur mebrak. Madam. I can't, I can read the word Mike. I just can't say it out loud.
Micheal: I think you need to start watching some old films. Macra describes like some old classic film noir, if I'm thinking of it correctly, but certainly it's a word. Macca
Edward: Mac. But here's The Thing. You should do so. So say the. First person who can shrink ant man, first person that can grow. Giant man. Very descriptive names. The wasp also like descriptive as in small animal. You'd think that Spider-Man could also shrink, but no, he doesn't. But this new person who has the ability to grow and shrink things, Madam Mak, uh, has nothing to do with, with changing size. Like what type of name?
Micheal: Well, it's not descriptive, but, I would award points for originality. I think the intention behind calling yourself Madam Mac is that you're suggesting some malhi days. You know, you're suggesting some mallin, some malicious intent. Right. And, certainly some, darkness to her. And she was according to giant man, she was, Villain who could shrink. Just like him, right?
Edward: And according to giant man, she was like stealing something that, like a art gallery or something. She was breaking in and stealing stuff and they caught her. To be fair though, we only have giant man's word on that. We have No, I don't, I dunno if there's any evidence that she was actually doing that other than giant man say so.
Micheal: Other than name, other than the word of an unknown vigilant, master vigilante who happens to have captured someone with the exact same power set as him. It seems, if I was being cynical, I would say that I would question whether a giant man is trying to take out the competition. But we know he is, he's been a hero. It's just that, that he's also human, I think, and so maybe he just felt threatened by having somebody with the same power. Being out in society?
Edward: I would think so. You can look at the timeline of it, right? So the timeline was Madam Mebrak. I'll look at that. I can say it now. Thank, thank, thank you for this education. Madam Macabre, she becomes semi-famous. So she's in the papers. Mm-hmm. , she has this special ability, she's not committing crimes. She's just advertising her ability to say, Hey, I figured out this technology. I too have the ability to grow and shrink. And then shortly afterwards, giant Man comes out and. . Yeah, but she needs to go to jail cuz she's a criminal. So the timing is a little bit suspicious in terms of him shutting her.
Micheal: Yeah, it is. And the adventures have all had, they've recently had some issues that we've observed when they appear to be acting in their own interests after a few years of acting heroically. So we just don't know what to make of it. And I would assume people will find out more at the criminal trial, but much like any trial you need to have, you need. Evidence for witnesses who could be identified. And so Thank you. I would imagine she go, she might go, she might go free, you know, like, cuz it's just the word of a vigilante. So an Avenger's,
Edward: an official, he's an official vigilante though. He's working for somebody. We're not exactly sure who, but he's working for somebody. We think he's like at least semi-official. I think what, to me, what's interesting about this is two things. One is that, sooner or later this technology is going to get out, right? We know, we've seen from other evidence that giant man's powers don't come from the fact that he was experimented on or some sort of magic radiation, it's some sort of pills that he was taking, and so mm-hmm. , it's a technology that he has that's able to go and do this. And we know from the past that once someone has the technology, it gets spread, right? Like the Americans were the only ones with the nuclear bomb in 1945. And like by 1950 there was at least four or five countries with the nuclear bombs. And so, it feels like this technology is gonna get out there. Once we know it exists, someone's gonna be able to d.
Micheal: But I don't think there's any evidence that, Madam MCC Abra had got the technology. You know what I mean? It's more. I wonder if it's just it's more the idea that gets out there.
Edward: That's right. That's right.
Micheal: Where she learns that somebody can shrink through some kind of process and so she creates it or duplicates it in her own way because there's historical precedent for that as well. At least when it comes to people, meeting challenges and surpassing.
Edward: Yeah, I'm not claiming that she stole his abilities. And as far as I know, giant man isn't even claiming that she stole his abilities. And so, no, he has reason to claim that she is and he's not. So it suggests that no, she came up with it independently. But we've seen that happen again and again in different technological situations like both in scientific theory and in technology, right? So, like Isaac Newton is credited with inventing the theory of gravity and calculus, but if he hadn't, there was, there were a number of other people that were waiting in the wings who would be publishing the same things soon afterwards. It's very rare that a scientist is doing it, and if they weren't around that nobody would've ever come up. .
Micheal: And it suggested inevitability to the scientific process, but also even just with respect to humanity and people. Remember that people thought the four minute not be run and then as soon as Roger's Banister, broke that record, ran the four minute mile, what was it a month and a half later, someone beat that record and then people thereafter continued beating that record, just suggests that as soon as people could see that it was possible, it became possible for.
Edward: That's right. It was Landy or something. It was 46 days after Banister broke the four minute mile. It was, John Landy came out and beat it. Mm-hmm. and, and, and, and, and banister just barely beat it. Like he was point happened to be half a second faster than the four minute mile. And then Landy came in and like blew past him, was Two seconds faster, like a few days later. And since then a number of people have break broken the four minute mile. I think it's interesting before Banister did it, doctors were saying that anybody who's going to be able to break, anyone who attempts to break the four minute mile will die. I think that was the quote. They will die. It is so hard on the human body. If you ever run that fast, you will die. And now we've no, absolutely not true. And other people are training for it, and they know that it's possible. They know that it's something that you can achieve. And now we know shrinking the human body down to the size of an ad is something that we can achieve.
Micheal: That's it. And I think that's the take home message really. And the question lends itself to whether other superpowers are gonna be, duplicated and we're gonna start seeing more. But you gotta wonder sometimes, have we. I don't think we have, but have we hit maximum powers? You know, we have people that can grow large, they can grow small, they can get strong, they can uh, they
Edward: can fly. We talked about Thor last week. He'd fly really fast.
Micheal: They can fly really fast. And I are we gonna see a lot of different powers, you know what I mean? Or is this just that we've hit the max powers and our, we're gonna see versions of it come out, with more shrinking and whatever.
Edward: Could be, could be, I dunno. But it feels like we're still seeing a significant amount of variety happening, right? It wasn't that long ago that Sandman popped up and he's, the ability to turn into sand like that seems pretty unique and different from everybody else. Spider-Man's power different than other people. I guess some things, like he being really strong or flying seems to be common, but we're also getting we're still seeing lots of variety. Just because we have somebody else shrinking doesn't mean that this is it. It's not the end of, it's not the end of the beginning, Mike. This is just not even the beginning of the end.
Micheal: We're continuing on. Here's the other question that I had though I have to admit, it's been bothering me. So, you know, when you, when you
Edward: tell me your therapist today,
Micheal: my therapy session, so Dr. Ed, here's what's been on my mind, and it might just be because it's unreported, but it seems that when people developed a technology or developed powers, they go one of two ways in quite a binary sense. They either become superpowered Adventurers or they become criminals, and you know what, I'm just like, well, wait a minute, isn't there like a third path where let's say for instance, I was inspired to develop technology, to learn how to grow taller or shrink Maybe I wouldn't decide to quit my job as a lawyer and become an adventurer, or certainly become a criminal. I just decide well, I gotta reach that can, on the top shelf in my kitchen, I'm just gonna grow. Instead of grabbing, going in the step ladder or I, I move in, I decide like, you know what? I wanna maybe downsize a little bit. Literally, I get a smaller apartment in New York and I can fiddle up more furniture, or I can get around more easily in my own apartment. It just fiddle. I don't know.
Edward: It's like that you have like a very spacious apartment. All of a sudden. Your television is enormous. You have the biggest screen television in the whole world.
Micheal: You know, or maybe I wanna save on food and maybe, I dunno if this is how it works, but I shrink cuz I, I could just order small portions everywhere, and just like nibble away for like a week on something. You know, this loaf of bread, one loaf of bread fills me up. Maybe eating a lot of bread isn't a good idea, but you know what I mean? , and so, but I just gotta wonder. And there's not just, there's other technologies. Like if I had the power to turn Invisible again, would I join a super team or break into a bank or would I more likely turn Invisible so I can, when I'm walking home in the evening, I don't want to pop,
Edward: I don't wanna hear who you're spying on. Mike, I don't want to hear, I don't want, this is not time replace . Hey, I think, I think you're coming onto something right? Of like, Hey, you have these, if you had these abilities, if this technology was out there, you don't have to go and fight criminals and you don't have the best way to help society is not necessarily to go and help criminals. Maybe if you had this power to grow and shrink instead of stealing art, you could just start a moving. Imagine how efficient your moving company would be. They could just, you go to someone's house, you're like, no problem. We'll just shrink your whole house down. Bang, we'll throw it into an envelope. We'll ship it to the new place and then we'll just grow it again. And we can be the most efficient, fastest, we can charge a much lower rate and make much higher margins. And like all of a sudden we have a nice little business going.
Micheal: Yeah, exactly. Or what if I could be like a Human Torch, I could just, save money on my heating bill every month.
Edward: so like, here's The, Thing, . Every time you get a power, you're looking for a way to, to save some sense. I think the better look for growth opportunities. Look for ways to increase your revenue. Don't just cut your cost. You can't shrink yourself into success, Mike.
Micheal: You know what? That's a good point. And this is why we're buddies. So this is, I'll bring the pessimism. You bring the optimism .