Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Tales To Astonish #49, November, 1963 featuring the fateful moment when Hank Pym finally became a little less useless by becoming Giant Man!
And by “today” I mean a couple months ago, just before I read The Avengers #2, but apparently forgot to review it. My bad.
Tales To Astonish #49 opens with Hank Pym growing so large that he burst out of his house. Unfortunately, he has made the discovery that if he grows over 12 feet, he becomes too big to support his own weight. I’m not entirely sure why, since I would assume that his muscle would grow in proportion; but I digress. Janet Van Dyne slips him a reducing pellet and he returns to normal. Hank returns to his lab and perfects the formula to allow him to grow to exactly 12 feet, without growing any larger.
Meanwhile the police are rushing to deal with a report of a strange green man who’s “erasing people” down town. The scene shifts to reveal that there is, indeed, an alien-looking creature who is sneaking into the laboratory of renowned atomic genius Dr. Ebbhart. The alien wipes his hands in front of the professor, and as he does, the professor disappears – completely erased!
Returning to our heroes, Hank is explaining to Janet that he has designed a series of color-coded capsules, which can be dispensed from his belt, each of which will cause him to grow to a different size. No sooner is he done explaining, however, than the strange green man appears behind him – and erases Dr. Pym! No sooner is he “erased” however, than we learn the truth – the alien is not actually erasing scientists, but teleporting them to a parallel dimension, with the intent of forcing the build atomic weapons to aid in their invasion of our earth! The aliens snare Hank in rope-like bands, but Wasp - who has stowed away in Hank’s lapel - slips him a reducing tablet, allowing him to become as Ant Man and escape.
Ant Man discovers the other kidnapped scientists in a holding cell, and vows to return for them, once he’s found a way home. Unfortunately, The Wasp triggered an alarm when she disabled the security camera, bringing a swarm of guards running. Ant man pops another pill, becoming giant-man, and battles the alien guards as he makes his escape from the compound.
While Giant Man was battling the guards, The Wasp somehow managed to locate that dimensions’ earth’s chief scientist. Deciding that if anyone knew a way to get them back home, he would, our heroes rushed to his location. Confronting the scientist, Giant Man and Wasp were informed that only one scientist on the planet would know how to get them home. In exchange for his safety, the chief scientist agreed to take them to him. Arriving at the mystery-scientist’s lab, the duo found more aliens watching a pan-dimensional view screen, until Ant Man was suddenly enveloped in an unbreakable glass box, by the mystery scientist - the eraser! The eraser proceeds to murder the chief scientist for bringing the heroes to his door, and then explains that he’s the only one who knows how to cross dimensions, which he does using a one of a kind “atomically printed circuit” on his hand.
At last knowing their way back, The Wasp hits the trap’s release lever, freeing Giant Man, who quickly disarms The Eraser. Returning to the scientists as Ant Man, our heroes use the printed circuit to return home.
All in all, the story seemed rather rushed, particularly the ending. The unfortunate thing is that since this issue had an extra 7 pages that were used up by the generic sci-fi backup story, which could have been used to actually make this a decent enough tale. Still, all in all it was better than any of the Ant Man stories so far.
You can read this and other classic Ant-Man tales in Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Volume 1
Essential Ant Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)