Wraith's Comic Journey

          Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Tales of Suspense #48, from December, 1963.This issue features the first appearance Iron Man’s MK III armor. The MK III was one of the more notable revisions; particularly in the visual sense. It was the first to drop the somewhat clunky, lumbering look of the MK I, in favor of a more sleek suit, and the first to use what is now Iron Man’s trademark red and gold color scheme.

          The story itself is otherwise insignificant. Iron Man faces off against a bozo named Mr. Doll, who to this date has only made 10 appearances that I know of, not including reprints. Mr. Doll stole a mystical clay doll from a voodoo shaman in Africa and uses it to blackmail millionaires. Iron man goes after him, and is nearly killed when Mr. Doll creates a doll of him and starts crushing his arm, causing him to fall from the tower they’re in, into the ocean.

         

          Realizing that the MKII Iron Man armor is too big, too heavy, and that the battery life is isn’t nearly long enough, he goes to work designing the MKIII (for the record, the “mark” designations aren’t officially given for some time, but I’m going with the designs as they would eventually come to be known). The MKIII is considerable lighter, it’s modular (fitting together with what else? MAGNETS!) and has considerably more storage space for gadgetry, including a small ray-gun which Iron Man uses to re-shape the doll into a likeness of Mr. Doll. Mr. Doll then drops the doll, which drops HIM, allowing Iron Man apprehend him. All in all a forgettable tale, but definitely worth mentioning because of the MKIII armor.

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You can read this and other great Iron Man tales in: Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks) or the Kindle version!

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Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)

          Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Tales To Astonish #50, from December 1963. This issue was significant for featuring the first appearance of David Cannon, who debuts here as The Human Top; although Avengers fans will probably know him better by his later name, Whirlwind. David was the first character to be listed as a mutant outside of an X-Men book. His power is to spin at super-human speed; which allows him to move at said speeds. 
          In this issue, Cannon makes his appearance as a scrappy kid with a quirky super-power, using it for bullying it and petty-theft before getting nabbed by the cops and sent to juvie. Forward to Cannon as an adult, using his abilities to commit robberies, with the press labeling him “The Human Top.” Giant man is alerted by his army of ants of the Top’s intention to rob the city’s largest department store. How, exactly they “sensed” his intention is beyond me; but I digress.
          Hank Pym goes to the department store and waits for The Top to appear. When The Human Top does show, Pym pops an enlarging pill and pursues him. Unfortunately, in such a busy city, Giant man surrenders a LOT of maneuverability to The Human Top who easily evades him, despite Hank momentarily hampering him by having his ants “chew through the pavement.” I don’t know what kind of ants he has doing this, nor do I know why he’s willing to do God only knows how much damage to the city’s street in his pursuit of a department store robbery, but again, I digress.
          Realizing he’s out-classed (by The Human Top. Have I mentioned lately that I don’t think much of Hank Pym?), Giant Man builds a training system in his…wherever his base of operations is. That’s not really clear at this point, to be honest. He creates a serum that gives him enhanced speed and energy when he grows, and chases a robo-top. The story ends with, Janet silently musing that the robot, which Giant Man couldn’t catch, was only at half-speed. Hank is still hopelessly outclassed by The Human Top. Or, you know…any teenager with a yellow belt in Karate. BUT. I. DIGRESS. The final panel says the story is “too big to fit in one issue.” Which is funny, since Strange Tales was still an anthology book, and this tale only takes up a third of it.
          I probably won’t cover the second half of this story, because honestly, the only thing at all significant part of the story was the first appearance of Whirlwind, and that’s done, and the fewer Hank Pym entries I have to make, the better.

You can read this and other classic Ant-Man tales in Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Volume 1
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Essential Ant Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)

          Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Tales To Astonish #50, from December 1963. This issue was significant for featuring the first appearance of David Cannon, who debuts here as The Human Top; although Avengers fans will probably know him better by his later name, Whirlwind. David was the first character to be listed as a mutant outside of an X-Men book. His power is to spin at super-human speed; which allows him to move at said speeds. 

          In this issue, Cannon makes his appearance as a scrappy kid with a quirky super-power, using it for bullying it and petty-theft before getting nabbed by the cops and sent to juvie. Forward to Cannon as an adult, using his abilities to commit robberies, with the press labeling him “The Human Top.” Giant man is alerted by his army of ants of the Top’s intention to rob the city’s largest department store. How, exactly they “sensed” his intention is beyond me; but I digress.

          Hank Pym goes to the department store and waits for The Top to appear. When The Human Top does show, Pym pops an enlarging pill and pursues him. Unfortunately, in such a busy city, Giant man surrenders a LOT of maneuverability to The Human Top who easily evades him, despite Hank momentarily hampering him by having his ants “chew through the pavement.” I don’t know what kind of ants he has doing this, nor do I know why he’s willing to do God only knows how much damage to the city’s street in his pursuit of a department store robbery, but again, I digress.

          Realizing he’s out-classed (by The Human Top. Have I mentioned lately that I don’t think much of Hank Pym?), Giant Man builds a training system in his…wherever his base of operations is. That’s not really clear at this point, to be honest. He creates a serum that gives him enhanced speed and energy when he grows, and chases a robo-top. The story ends with, Janet silently musing that the robot, which Giant Man couldn’t catch, was only at half-speed. Hank is still hopelessly outclassed by The Human Top. Or, you know…any teenager with a yellow belt in Karate. BUT. I. DIGRESS. The final panel says the story is “too big to fit in one issue.” Which is funny, since Strange Tales was still an anthology book, and this tale only takes up a third of it.

          I probably won’t cover the second half of this story, because honestly, the only thing at all significant part of the story was the first appearance of Whirlwind, and that’s done, and the fewer Hank Pym entries I have to make, the better.

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You can read this and other classic Ant-Man tales in Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Volume 1

-or-

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Essential Ant Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)

     IT CAME! IT CAAAAAAME! OMG, I’m so happy. This is the realization of a childhood dream. Well, sort of. My dream has always been to be “officially awarded” a No-Prize by a Marvel editor, but thanks to eBay, I have one. It’s one of the prizes of my collection.
      For those who don’t know, starting in 1968, Marvel began awarding the No-Prize for readers who noticed a mistake and offered a reasonable correction. Different editors had different rules and standards for its awards, ranging from Archie Goodwin from Marvel’s Epic imprint (which will covered when I reach the date of its formation, FYI) simply not awarding them at all, to Ralph “I’m not the Karate Kid, I write comics” Macchio’s policy of just handing them out. Wish I’d known about THAT back in the day. 
     I have wanted one of these since I was 12, but I never had the opportunity to get one, but now here I am, at the ripe old age of no longer 12, with the empty envelope of my dreams. A silly thing to treasure, but treasure it I shall.

     IT CAME! IT CAAAAAAME! OMG, I’m so happy. This is the realization of a childhood dream. Well, sort of. My dream has always been to be “officially awarded” a No-Prize by a Marvel editor, but thanks to eBay, I have one. It’s one of the prizes of my collection.

      For those who don’t know, starting in 1968, Marvel began awarding the No-Prize for readers who noticed a mistake and offered a reasonable correction. Different editors had different rules and standards for its awards, ranging from Archie Goodwin from Marvel’s Epic imprint (which will covered when I reach the date of its formation, FYI) simply not awarding them at all, to Ralph “I’m not the Karate Kid, I write comics” Macchio’s policy of just handing them out. Wish I’d known about THAT back in the day. 

     I have wanted one of these since I was 12, but I never had the opportunity to get one, but now here I am, at the ripe old age of no longer 12, with the empty envelope of my dreams. A silly thing to treasure, but treasure it I shall.

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            Today on my journey through comic book history, I read The Fantastic Four #21, from December 1963. This issue is significant for featuring the first appearance of the original Hate-Monger, AKA…well, I get to that in a minute. The finale was one of the strangest, most “did not see that coming” moment I’ve ever encountered. It also features the first appearance of Nick Fury post-WWII; thus removing the possibility that he would ever die in his own book, Nick Fury and His Howling Commandos.

            The story revolves around a rash of racist demonstrations and near-riots, lead by a purple-clad figure known as The Hate monger. When our foursome walks by one of the rallies, The Thing destroys their platform, prompting The Hate-Monger  to fire his “H-Ray” at The Four, causing them to immediately turn on each other, and ultimately split up.

            Back at The FF’s HQ, Reed is Visited by his old war colleague Nick Fury. Seems Nick has become a spook! “The sarge” is now a colonel in the CIA. Shades of things to come, I suppose; as I’m sure you all know Nick’s future, even if a lot of you mainly know him as a bald black man. He’s come to talk to enlist the aid of The Fantastic Four in dealing with a situation in South America. The US has been investing Billions into the small country of San Gusto, to “make it a show-place of Democracy.” Things were going great, but suddenly a rash of violence and revolt has arisen.

            Reed agrees to go, but he’s still feuding with the rest of the FF. Seeing the POGO plane launch, the rest of the FF rush to HQ, furious with Reed for taking the craft without telling them. When they arrive, Fury is waiting for them. Fury knows they’re under the Hate Monger’s influence, and manipulates them by telling them that Reed didn’t want them coming because they’d be in the way. Feeling insulted, they board the FF’s special ICBM (how in God’s name do they have the money for this? Billion-dollar one-time use aircraft? Really?) and head to San Gusto. The Hate Monger’s men in San Gusto witness the ICBM’s passenger pod landing, however, and the Hate Monger boards a really confusing ground craft and hurries to the under siege nation as well.

            Down in San Gusto, Reed is busy using his powers to sabotage the rebels, when he discovers a strange underground bunker. Climbing down the stairs, he falls victim to a paralyzing gas-trap, and is captured by The Hate-Monger’s men. The villain explains that he plans to envelope the entire world with his hate-beam, bounced off the moon. Thankfully, Nick Fury arrives just in time (some how) and forces the Hate-Monger to give Reed the hate-ray’s antidote. Unfortunately, Hate-Monger manages to lower a bullet-proof glass wall between them and makes his escape.

            When the rest of the FF arrive, Reed gives the m the antidote, and Fury and the Foursome make their final assault on Hate-Monger’s compound. During the battle, Invisible Girl disrupts The Hate-Monger’s aim, and his ray hits his soldiers, who turn on him and kill him. The threat finally subdued, the team unmasks The Hate-Monger…

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…the hell? So the jet engine is in FRONT? What the hell propels it forward against it’s thrust?

…the hell? So the jet engine is in FRONT? What the hell propels it forward against it’s thrust?

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #4

         

Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos #4, from November, 1963. This issue is significant for featuring the first appearance of Nick Fury’s girlfriend Pamela Hawley, but far more importantly, the first ever death of a recurring character in Marvel Comics.

            The story begins in England during a German air raid, in which Fury aids The Red Cross in ushering civilians into an air shelter, and assists a nurse in pulling a child out of some rubble.

            After the raid, Fury receives a letter from a British lord, inviting him to tea. Despite his protests, Captain “Happy” Sam Sawyers insist he attends. Upon arriving at the lord’s manner, he is introduced to Lord Peter Hawley, and his daughter Pamela, who much to Fury’s surprise, is the same nurse he helped during the air raid. Lord Hawley explains that his son Percy, has been working for the Germans, delivering Nazi propaganda broadcasts over the radio, under the name Lord Ha-Ha (why he would call himself that is beyond me). Percy was working as a Berlin correspondent for Lord Hawley’s newspaper when he was captured, and he believes that Percy must have been tortured into helping them.

            Later that night, Sgt. Fury and The Howling Commandos are dropped into Berlin, where their contact, a female lion tamer, helps to disguise them as performers in her traveling circus. The next day, disguised as Nazis, Nick and Dino arrive at the radio station where Lord Ha-Ha broadcasts, and Dino charms the receptionist into telling them where to find him. Breaking into the estate that Ha-Ha is staying in (because apparently jumping through a window, guns blazing seemed like a better extraction plan than staking the place out and waiting until they could grab him inconspicuously), they begin the dangerous exfiltration, with Lord Ha-Ha protesting all the while.

            Escaping to an abandon house on the coast of Brewer-Haven, the commandos wait for the rendezvous sub to appear, during which time Lord Ha-Ha make it clear that he is not a prisoner at all, he is a true believer (either that or he has severe Stockholm syndrome, but such speculation is pointless, and since the condition wasn’t even recognized until a decade after this was published, and 30 years after it takes place, certainly not touched on) in the Nazi cause. When a Nazi patrol drives by the house, Lord Ha-Ha runs out, shooting at the house, gaining the attention of the patrol. Unfortunately for him, the soldier have no idea who he is, and gun him down.

            A battle erupts, during which Junior is killed by enemy gunfire, and Duggan is wounded. Thankfully, the rendezvous sub surfaces and its cannons take out the Nazi vehicles, allowing the Commandos to mop up the soldiers and make their escape.


            While Junior had only appeared in four issues including this one, his death is quite significant. Before this issue, death only came for “extras.” Characters that made their first and last appearances in the same issue. Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben, for example, was created for no other purpose than to die and serve as Spidey’s inspiration. Junior, on the other hand, was portrayed as a main character. He was introduced as part of the Commando roster and made it through three issues (which, at the time meant three entire stories, as multi-issue arcs weren’t around back then). His death left readers with the impression that anything could happen, and no one (save presumably Nick Fury) was safe.

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You can read this and other classic tales of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos in: Marvel Masterworks: Sgt. Fury Volume 1

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Essential Sgt. Fury - Volume 1

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     Today on my journey through comic book history, I read Strange Tales #114, from November, 1963. This story is important for being responsible for the return of Captain America. The Story begins with The Human Torch training with with The Invisible Girl. Distracted by the arrival of a group of his friends, Johnny his doused by the water trap in his obstacle course. He’s understandably aggravated, but quickly forgets about that when his friends relay the big news: Captain America is alive, and making an appearance at an antique auto show. Now, why they’re willing to just accept that this guy that’s popped up out of nowhere is cap (who had disappeared years ago), just because he’s wearing Cap’s costume, is beyond me. But they do, so lets just roll with it.

     While looking at the cars at the show, The Torch sees a pair of gangsters trying to take off in one of them. He he is about to pursue them when a red, white and blue clad figure springs into action, and Captain America leaps on to the car. While Cap works to disable the drivers, The Torch melts the road in the path of the car. The car gets stuck in the road, and effectively stops, but Captain America simply gets angry at the torch for making a mess, and chews him out before turning in the thugs, reaping the adulation of the crowd.

     Later, at the home of Johnny Storm’s girlfriend Doris Evans, Johnny and Doris discuss the Captain’s return. Johnny feels that Cap has everyone hoodwinked, while Doris thinks Johnny is just Jealous. Johnny angrily flaming on in the middle of her apartment certainly doesn’t change her mind. Meanwhile, Captain America is scaling the prison holding the gangsters he caught, and actually breaks them out using a corrosive acid on the bars in the prison windows, and then helping them climb down! Witnessing the ensuing car chase between the police and the gangsters, the torch catches up and melts the tires of the getaway car. While the cops and The Torch are busy with the gangsters, “Cap” is in the main vault of the Glenville bank, having tied up the bank manager, and is absconding with several huge sacks of money, which he attaches to a which that pulls him up to a strange looking air ship. While The Torch catches up, “Cap” makes his escape using a rocket-powered escape module, and then parachutes to safety.

     The Torch pursues him, but Cap is extremely agile and resourceful, ultimately heading into a sporting goods store and combining a wet mop and a hunter bow (ala dead rising 2) to put out The Torch’s flame, and then hand cuffs his hands to his feet, allowing him to escape. The store owner bring johnny severa space heaters, which allows him to dry off enough to flame on, just in time to catch up with Cap, who’s rushing away in a semi truck. When Cap finally stops, Johnny quickly finds himself trapped in an asbestos-lined truck. Torch intensifies his heat, which he explains (to no one in particular) turns the flame energy to gas due to him being in an enclosed space, until finally the truck explodes, once again freeing The Torch.

     Finally cornering “Cap” Johnny creates a flaming cage, and pulls of “Cap”’s mask, revealing the imposter to The Acrobat. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, don’t feel bad. He made his first appearance in Strange Tales #106, March 1963, but he’s such an obscure character (all together, he’s only made 3 appearances in the 50 years since his debut, not counting a dozen or so later issues that mention this event) that I didn’t even think it worth mentioning his first appearance when I read it.

     So the whole thing was a bluff, leaving the Marvel Universe still without Captain America. But Wait! What’s this…

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     As you probably guessed, Stan’s little experiment was quite a success. Marvel flooded with letters asking for the return of Captain America, and in a few months (worth of comics; which I really hope won’t actually take me a few months to read), we’ll see the results!

     The issue also featured a very short, fairly inconsequential Dr. Strange backup story, in which he battles Baron Mordo.

     Today on my journey through comic book history, I read The X-Men #2, from November 1963. This issue is notable for featuring the first appearance of The Vanisher.

     The story begins with Professor Xavier calling The X-Men to attendance, whereupon he he projects mental images of an emerging threat. A costumed man robs a bank and then, rather than make a traditional escape (which was when the police were intending to capture him), he simply vanishes into thin air! As the X-Men begin training to face The Vanisher, the costumed villain teleports into the Pentagon and informs a general that he intends to steal the army’s continental defense plans, before disappearing into thin air once more.

     When news of The Vanisher’s exploits hit the streets, criminals flock to him as their new crime boss, believing his new power will greatly benefit them…because of…reasons…I guess. Meanwhile, The X-Men continue their training in The Danger Room, dodging threats, simulating battle conditions and further honing their skills. When they’re done Professor X mentally contacts FBI agent Duncan, who he has apparently been working with. Agent Duncan informs Professor X of The Vanisher’s threat. The X-Men rush to Washington DC on board the “McDonnel XV-1 convertiplane, which has been put at the disposal of the X-Men by the department of special affairs” - wut? The arrive just in time to confront The Vanisher, as he’s making his escape, after stealing the defense plans. The X-Men use their fantastic powers to play keepaway with the plans, but The Vanisher knocks out Marvel Girl with a sleeping gas gun, which distracts the rest of the X-Men long enough for The Vanisher to make his escape with the plans.

     Humiliated in the media, The X-Men begin to quarrel among themselves. The Vanisher has demanded $10,000,000 (about 77 mil 2014 dollars) for the plans. Contacting the FBI again, Professor X is informed the details of the exchange, and X-Men meet The Vanisher on the lawn of The Capitol building, flanked by a small army of gangsters (because he can disappear, you see; so all these thugs figure it’ll be safe for them to stop the capital because…more reasons, I guess…). It looks like there’s going to be a huge throwdown, but apparently, the Prof is in no mood to screw around, and he simply hits The Vanisher with the mind-whammy, leaving him unable to control his powers, and then apparently full-on amnesiac! With The Vanisher under wraps, the X-Men make short work of the gangsters.

     Wait, the gangsters failed? OMG, what happened to all the reasons?! Who could have foreseen such an outcome?!


You can read this and other classic X-Men tales in X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks), also available for Kindle and Kindle apps!
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Essential Classic X-Men - Volume 1

     Today on my journey through comic book history, I read The X-Men #2, from November 1963. This issue is notable for featuring the first appearance of The Vanisher.

     The story begins with Professor Xavier calling The X-Men to attendance, whereupon he he projects mental images of an emerging threat. A costumed man robs a bank and then, rather than make a traditional escape (which was when the police were intending to capture him), he simply vanishes into thin air! As the X-Men begin training to face The Vanisher, the costumed villain teleports into the Pentagon and informs a general that he intends to steal the army’s continental defense plans, before disappearing into thin air once more.

     When news of The Vanisher’s exploits hit the streets, criminals flock to him as their new crime boss, believing his new power will greatly benefit them…because of…reasons…I guess. Meanwhile, The X-Men continue their training in The Danger Room, dodging threats, simulating battle conditions and further honing their skills. When they’re done Professor X mentally contacts FBI agent Duncan, who he has apparently been working with. Agent Duncan informs Professor X of The Vanisher’s threat. The X-Men rush to Washington DC on board the “McDonnel XV-1 convertiplane, which has been put at the disposal of the X-Men by the department of special affairs” - wut? The arrive just in time to confront The Vanisher, as he’s making his escape, after stealing the defense plans. The X-Men use their fantastic powers to play keepaway with the plans, but The Vanisher knocks out Marvel Girl with a sleeping gas gun, which distracts the rest of the X-Men long enough for The Vanisher to make his escape with the plans.

     Humiliated in the media, The X-Men begin to quarrel among themselves. The Vanisher has demanded $10,000,000 (about 77 mil 2014 dollars) for the plans. Contacting the FBI again, Professor X is informed the details of the exchange, and X-Men meet The Vanisher on the lawn of The Capitol building, flanked by a small army of gangsters (because he can disappear, you see; so all these thugs figure it’ll be safe for them to stop the capital because…more reasons, I guess…). It looks like there’s going to be a huge throwdown, but apparently, the Prof is in no mood to screw around, and he simply hits The Vanisher with the mind-whammy, leaving him unable to control his powers, and then apparently full-on amnesiac! With The Vanisher under wraps, the X-Men make short work of the gangsters.


     Wait, the gangsters failed? OMG, what happened to all the reasons?! Who could have foreseen such an outcome?!

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You can read this and other classic X-Men tales in X-Men, Vol. 1 (Marvel Masterworks)also available for Kindle and Kindle apps!

-or-

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Essential Classic X-Men - Volume 1

         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
-or-

Essential Ant Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)

         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

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Essential Ant Man, Vol. 1 (Marvel Essentials)

The cunning of a serpent and the cunning of a human being? OH SNAP! He is a deadly foe!

The cunning of a serpent and the cunning of a human being? OH SNAP! He is a deadly foe!