Ant-Man’s Scooby-Doo Formula

Journey Into Marvel – Part 72

One of the finest villain lines in history.

One of the finest villain lines in history.

Extremites, like most North American children of a certain age, I grew up with Hanna-Barbera cartoons: the most famous being Scooby Doo. Doo was not a favourite of mine. When my sister flipped it on in the morning I complained. The idea of a semi-sentient dog unsettled me. All though I had great disdain for all things Doo I did learn how the stories worked. I’ve referred to it before, in these articles, as the ‘Scooby Doo Formula.’ This formala appears often in Silver Age Marvel stories: today’s Ant-Man being one of them.

January 1963 was Ant-Man’s one year anniversary. Despite his tenure, the creative development that we’ve seen in other Marvel lines did not creep over to Tales to Astonish. A continuity was not yet created for him. Last issue, when the revolution insect kind brought Ant-Man into a larger consciousness in the world, was the first glimpse at Ant-Man’s larger company significance. In that issue he was established as a public defender: a defender of justice and a character who functions like the other heroes.

Hank has been asked by CEO Howard Mitchell to find out why a villain known as The Highjacker is robbing and yes, indeed, highjacking the Mitchell armoured trucks. Pym, with the aid of the ants, conspires to bait the Highjacker into robbing an truck that is full of policemen. However, Ant-Man gets a pain in his stomach and says “Oh no, I have appendicitis!” meaning that he can’t accompany the helpless police on their sting operation. The Highjacker attacks. The appendicitis turns out to be a ruse and Ant-Man defeats the Highjacker by leading him on a wild battle through the inner workings of the truck. This is where the Scooby-Doo formula comes into play.

Extremites, you’ll no doubt recall — if you watched the show— that the ghost or ghoul, or what have you, that Scooby and the gang were investigating was often some crazy old coot who wanted to develop a condominium complex on the sight of a kid locale. The same goes for the Ant-Man. The Highjacker was none other then Howard Mitchell the CEO of the armoured truck company. The robberies were all an insurance scam.

Don’t trust businessmen or real estate developers. That’s what I learned from Scooby Doo and Ant-Man.

There’s larger themes at play here. The Ant-Man in this story is youthful and exuberant. He rides ants off into the sunset. Young buxom Hank is at war with the conniving old man Howard Mitchell. Jack Kirby draws Mitchell as a balding paunchy middle age loser. In 1963, youth was beginning to be centre culture and music and the later ideals that would lead to Woodstock are taking root. Although, for the majority of the early sixties, Marvel remained on the side of the establishment, there was always an anti establishment angle to the stories. At least, a distrust of the older generation. Whether this is authentic or just a ploy to placate the readership and keep relevant I can not say. Whatever the reason, Scoobydoism was very healthy at Marvel and made appearances in the less thought out issues of the less popular characters, which often meant Ant-Man.

The Engine battle.

The Engine battle.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:The Day That Ant-Man Failed!” (Tales to Astonish #40 Feb. 1963)

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5.

Pros: Some exciting art. There’s a defined villain and the plot by Ant-Man and the Police is well thought out. Great art sequences in the fight in the truck.

Cons: Ant-Man diagnosing himself with Appendicitis out of nowhere is pretty out there. How could Hank Pym know that? And all the paneling wasted on Ant-Man explaining what has happened.

Next Review:The Threat of the Torrid Twosome” (Strange Tales #106 Mar. 1963)

Last Review:A Visit With The Fantastic Four” (Fantastic Four #11 Feb. 1963)


About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on April 15, 2015, in Ant-Man, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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