Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tales to Astonish # 35

Issue: Tales to Astonish # 35
Writer: Stan Lee/Larry Leiber
Artist: Jack Kirby
Publication Date: September 1962


Please note that Henry Pym, the man who would become Ant-Man, first appeared in Tales to Astonish # 27.  In it, he tested shrinking technology on himself and fought a few ants.  Instead of becoming Rick Moranis, he became Ant-Man, who first appears in this issue.


Brief Summary:


Since scientist Henry Pym's escape from the ants after using a shrinking solution on himself, he's become obsessed with them, and develops a helmet that lets him communicate with them.  But the government has other plans for Pym, asking him to develop something that would make a man immune to radioactivity.  Pym develops that (all in a day's work), but the commies come looking for it.  Pym refuses to give up the formula, but the men who've come for it hold him captive while they search his lab.  Pym goes McGuyver and creates a device to spring him to the window when he shrinks down to ant size, and then Pym goes off and finds some ants.  They sense his communication, but one of the big ants still wants to throw down.  Pym, in ant size, still has the strength of a full size man, so he wins handily.  Pym brings the ants to his attention, but on his way out of the ant hill encounters a beetle who likes Pym's sense of style.  Pym tricks the beetle into falling into a hole, and continues on his way with his ants.  Pym uses the help of the ants to free his co-workers, and then has the ants attack the commies. While they're fighting ants, Pym's co-workers are able to take action.  Pym returns to his office and to full size.  The commie crisis is averted, and Pym's scientist friends are none the wiser that he is Ant Man.


Commentary:


With all of the communist activity, I'm detecting a theme in these early Marvel stories.  Stan is certainly tapping into the zeitgeist of the times. In the MU, it's well established that Henry Pym is a jerk.  None of that is clear in these early stories.  Also, compared with meek Bruce Banner, Pym is more of a take charge guy in this story.  After all, Bruce didn't ask to become the Hulk, but we see Pym creating new gadgets and gear to allow him to communicate with ants, and to re-use his shrinking serum.  Although Pym says at the end of the issue that he hopes he won't have to use his serum again, I doubt he's going to be too upset about it by the time the next issue rolls around.


Quick Thoughts:
  • Pym got his hands on some of Reed's unstable molecules to make his shrinking costume, it seems.  The Hulk could use some of those for his outfits.
  • Lee apparently plotted these ant man tales, but his brother Larry Lieber did the scripting
Favorite Panel:


Henry Pym going all McGuyver and setting up the ole ash tray rubber band catapult.  Also, is the ash tray a sign that Pym is another one of Stan's pipe smoking scientists?  Don't know why I'm so interested in this.  Perhaps its the policy (a ridiculous policy, I might add) that Marvel has taken for a number of years that none of their character smoke.  Yeah, Wolverine can skewer everything and everyone in sight, but smoking, even with a healing factor that would prevent him from ever getting lung disease, is a no-no.  That makes less sense than the last issue I read of Journey into Mystery.


Next: Fantastic Four # 7