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Tales of Suspense 32
"The Man in the Beehive!"


Story: Unknown
Art: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers

Unlike most people, Lucius Farnsworth does not have to wear a net whenever he's near a beehive. Seeing that his pets are happy, Farnsworth knows that they will continue to produce honey for him. A disgruntled beekeeper knows that the more honey they make, the more money his employer makes. Thanks to his pets, Lucius Farnsworth is the most successful honey maker in the entire state. Farnsworth may be a rich man, but this evening, the bee keeper will be the one taking some of that dough. That night, he breaks into the house, and knows that his employer's distrust of banks will enable him to become a rich man. He's had to spy on Farnsworth for months, but he's learned the combination to the safe, and should have enough money to retire in style. On his way to a midnight snack, Lucius Farnsworth hears someone at his safe, and spots Eric the beekeeper when he turns on the light.

Now that he's been found out, Eric intends on making sure that the police never learn of his wrongdoing. To his surprise, his employer just stands there, and orders him to drop his weapon. The eyes of Lucius Farnsworth bear down on the beekeeper, who is unable to pull the trigger. Once he is handed the gun, Farnsworth intends on making his employee pay for his mistake. As they walk outside, employer asks employee if he's ever wondered why the bees have never stung him, and if he was aware that Farnsworth possesses some strange powers of his own. Lucius Farnsworth is a mutant, born with the power to accomplish impressive feats with his brain. Now, he will reduce them down to the size of bees. Indeed, Eric is startled to find himself and Farnsworth are now no larger than the bees. It will be the bees who will mete punishment. The beekeeper begs not to enter the hive, but if he doesn't, he will be shot.

Within the hive, Eric sees the wings and honey-coated tongues of the bees. He hears the hum of a thousand insects, knowing that he is trapped within their realm. One of the bees is coming towards him, and is about to sting. If he were at normal size, it wouldn't harm him, but at this smaller size, it will be fatal. He must hide, but where? The honeycomb is the only place for him. Spotting eggs, he turns away from that particular cell. He'll hide in the other cell beneath the honey. It doesn't work because the bees can see him in there, and he can see them through the honey.

The bees are sucking out the honey out of the cell to get at him. In his frantic state, Eric tears at the wall, in order to save his own life. He can hardly move in the sticky substance, but he must break through to the next cell. Eric's made it, but Farnsworth has spotted the coward, and alerts his pets. With nowhere to hide, he seizes the queen bee. Now, he's on, and won't be stung by the other bees.

Eric strives to guide the queen towards the hive's opening, where he can make his escape. Before he can reach his goal, the beekeeper finds himself lassoed by his employer, and pulled off by blades of grass. The bees will not be cheated of their vengeance. On the ground, the bees swarm towards him, with one of them restraining him. Trapped and unable to move, Eric sees the others coming closer --- closer. In another moment, it will all be over. The voice of Lucius Farnsworth cries out, and the bees withdraw from view.

He knows that the disgruntled beekeeper will never try to rob or injure him again. Employer and employee are once again back at their normal size. Farnsworth explains that everything was merely an illusion. When Eric was caught at the safe, he was placed in a hypnotic trance, and believed himself to be trapped in the beehive. Despite the employer's explanation, there is still something left to ponder. When the bee man takes his leave, he leaves a small metal object behind. Eric can't tell for sure what it is. He continues to search the floor, but he will never find the tiny gun he imagined he saw. Eric will never know for certain what truly happened.

This story was reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell #34 (March, 1975).

An misattribution in the issue states that it first appeared in Strange Tales #99.

On the cover of Where Monsters Dwell #34 by Sal Buscema, we take a good long look at the man in the beehive. The poor man can't take a bad case of the hives.

To bee or not to bee, that is the question.

The disgruntled beekeeper sought to increase his net worth, but got caught in the net, instead.

One wonders if Lucius Farnsworth was an alias for Mastermind of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.

Whether Farnsworth was a mutant or a hypnotist, he certainly pulled a sting on Eric.

"Honey" was a song sung by Bobby Goldsboro.

"Honeycomb" was a song sung by Jimmie Rogers.

Steve Chung
"The Man In The Review!"