Friday, 29 August 2008

The Man In The Ant Hill

Tales To Astonish #27, January 1962
(Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby)

I was going to skip over this as being more of a monster book than a superhero one, but Henry Pym wanted me to remind you that, barely a month after Reed Richards and his pals were exposed to cosmic rays, he was following in their footsteps, albeit without a costume, any supervillains, or any of the other trappings of what we would recognise as modern superhero comics. I did try to tell him that, really, this is just one of a million monster books of the 50s and 60s, and that he should just wait his turn, but he was very insistent. And you don't argue with Hank Pym...

Anyway, enough with the cheap shots, let's get on with the adventures of Hank Pym before he became a wifebeater. Our tales begins in Pym's laboratory, where our hero has just devised a serum which shrinks stuff.

Pym has being working on his formula for months, ever since he was dissed by his scientist pals.

Take a look at that last panel. Anyone really surprised that Pym turns out to be a bit of a nut-job? So, having perfected his shrink-serum, Pym tries it out on a chair. When the chair doesn't die, our Hank skips the whole "testing on animals" stage of his research, and moves straight on to the "testing on myself" stage.

See what I mean? Unstable at best, pure nuts at worst. Ah well, moving on, the shrunken Dr Pym barely has time to panic about his current state, before the residents of a nearby ant-hill, hearing his alarmed cries, decide to make a meal of him. Rather than, as you or I might do, running back into my now-oversize laboratory and hiding, Hank decides instead to hid in the ant-hill.

By some miracle, Pym stumbles across an unused match, and lights it, setting a fire in order to burn out those pesky formicidae. Good thing shrunken scientists are immune to fire and smoke, eh?

With the nest aflame, Hank makes a run for it, but...

Oh my! However will our hero get out of this life-threatening situation? By the fine art of judo, how else?

Go, Hank, go! Dr Pym makes it back to his laboratory, aided by a for-no-apparent-reason friendly ant, and manages to restore himself to full size. Is this the start of a new career for Doctor Pym, Scientific Adventurer?

Oh. Ah well, we'll see. Meantime, I guess Pym's scientist friends will feel somewhat vindicated for their earlier mocking. This being a scary science book, presumably those self-same scientists will be food for Spragg the Living Hill soon enough.

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