Ant-Man’s Egghead: All Talk, No Walk
As I look back through these 75 issues, I can say I have learned quite a bit about the heroes that headline each. Most of their moral codes and motives are firmly established in my mind. When it comes to their rogue galleries, I am not as content. With the exception of a very few, mostly the rogues of Spider-Man, these villains have no origin story and still are no more then two-dimensional foils. This ambiguity of creation is very intriguing for one or two characters, but a whole gallery of undeveloped villains, lend to tired, ‘going through the motions’ narratives. Underdevelopment may be an explanation for the over whelming sense of coincidence that permeates this period in the Marvel Universe. In these issues, written in the summer of 1963, I have noticed an attempt to explain these villains just a little bit more.
If there is an arch nemesis to Ant-Man, so far, I’d say Egghead has the best chance of being it. He is the only character in Pym’s stream thus far, that is able to create a premeditated thought out conspiracy. How thought out is entirely a matter of degrees however. In the full spectrum of the Marvel Universe to July 1963, Ant-Man is very much the campiest member. This may be because of his rather absurd power which is easy to be seen as more a hindrance then an advantage. Being able to communicate to all things insect by manipulating energy waves is a pretty wild idea, not to mention the fact that he seems to be able to catapult literally anywhere while being the size of an ant. Ant-man is so dangerously close to parody that the reader has to struggle not to write each storyline off as an expression of surrealism.
It is telling, that Ant-Man was Andy Warhol’s favourite Superhero.
Egghead is very much a creature of his environment and might be the most bumbling arch-nemesis in comic book history. He is the only villain, I can think of, whose power is rhetoric. Egghead can talk circles around anything. He’s first introduced through a meandering soliloquy about his last encounter with the miniature hero. His story could have been covered in two or three panels, but in this case it becomes three whole pages. After Egghead is done recounting his first downfall, we then cut to him delivering yet another lecture, but this one instead in the guise of a zoologist. I know all this soap boxing is the reason for his name, but it does slow down the momentum of the story.
When the momentum finally picks up we find our hero and heroine, stuck enacting the ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship that permeates pretty much every comic couple in history. I thought Wasp and Ant-Man had already admitted their mutual love. In the last issue they were quite chummy. Did I just misunderstand this or was it not made clear? I am not sure.
From this point on, the story picks up. Egghead attempts to get his pointy brain in between the miniature couple by attempting to attract Janet, first, to a diamond
robbery and then to a lecture about wasps. He stages a full blown lecture in a chance to torture the Ant-Man. Perhaps, he’ll talk him to death. When the traps of the title finally appear they, in true Ant-Man fashion, are the obvious traps he’s been up against before, like an aquarium or flypaper. But there is also an Ant-eater. How has it taken this long for a villain to figure out that this is the perfect weapon against Pym. It’s in the animal’s name for Pete’s sake!
What’s wonderful about this issue is Hank is not the one who finally saves the day. Wasp, carrying a sharp needle, pokes Egghead while he is, yup you guessed it; talking. The roles of women are changing ever so slightly and the Marvel Universe isn’t even two years old yet.
With an extremely verbose villain and a clear three act story, this is a very solid issue. It certainly has pacing issues and Ape’s cameo makes little sense, but it is solid. Nothing outstanding occurs in it, Egghead lives to fight again, Ant-Man comes out on top and all is righted in the end. This is an unremarkable issue, if a bit tired. Certainly nothing to write home about.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
Pros: Wasp saves the day, The Anteater, Don Heck’s lush and detailed animals
Cons: The extraordinarily slow opening. Hank Pym’s apathy. Egghead’s uninteresting verbosity.
<— Preceding Review: “The Living Bomb” (Strange Tales #112 Sept 1963)
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