Gather to me! Hear my words! I, Jason Cragg, speak truth! Truth! – The Voice
Journey Into Marvel – Part 85
Extremites, Ant-Man stories are haphazard and make little sense. Hank is unlikable. He’s reclusive. He’s quick to anger and downright abusive. Today’s story pits cold, uncouth Ant-Man against an antagonist who’s power is his radioactive charisma. It shows that Ant-Man is never going to be a darling of the public. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 79
Extremites, I like Ant-Man. I knew Hank Pym only as a character that committed an act of domestic abuse. I have come to know him as varied and turmoiled. Alas, I have also noticed the lack of quality in construction of his stories. Sure, there are some good plots, but then there are stories that aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Today’s issue, is an example of the latter. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 72
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. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 67
Extremites, mark this down. Tales to Astonish #39 is where Ant-Man jumps the shark. Stan Lee and Larry Lieber present us a story, that is so ‘off the wall’ hilarious, the world of Ant-Man has nowhere left to go.
In this story, we see what happens when the human world and the insect world collide. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 60
Extremite, American sensibility is said to be different from the rest of the world because it elevates practicality over theory. Americans do things and Non-Americans think things. Although, I dislike this just on the grounds of generalization, I can see what and where this idea comes from.
What does any of this have to do with comics? Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 57
The Torch solo stories were written hastily. They often do not possess the same poetic grandeur that an issue of the Fantastic Four or Journey Into Mystery possesses. My analyses of the Torch Strange Tales stories has been nitpicky.
As Syrio Forrell says to death, ‘not today!’ Today I take the story on its own terms.
This Torch story is a perfect encapsulation on what makes the Silver Age period at Marvel so charming. Today’s review is a dissection of what makes a good Silver Age story tick. Why are they charming? Why do we still, in this age of long form narrative, post Frank Miller/Alan Moore complexity, still enjoy sitting down with a simple Silver Age yarn? Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 56
Extremites, Ant-Man since his creation has felt like a pathetic attempt to get readers. From his early character changes to the lack of decent storylines Tales to Astonish was a sea if character discrepancies and unpleasantness. Ant-Man was Marvel’s afterthought. After the creatives had made great stories for all the rest of the titles, they (usually Stan) devoted little time to creating a compelling issue for Hank. This is once again shown in today’s issue.
Today’s issue is yet again another character redefinition for Hank Pym. Stan Lee often moulded character definition to fall in line with fan feedback. Although, this openness to suggestion would lead to a creative blossoming unseen anywhere else in comic book history, it also created — in the first few issues of any character’s tenure— an environment of incoherent discontinuity. Read the rest of this entry
Journey Into Marvel – Part 45
Extremites, around Christmas, as part of my Journey Into Marvel series, I discussed Hank Pym’s unassuming debut in Tales to Astonish #27 in which Hank is introduced as a mild mannered doctor who creates a potion that makes him shrink to the size of an ant. The issue follows his adventure as he gets lost in an anthill. At the conclusion, Hank has a pro-environmental epiphany that all animals should be respected no matter the size because some good-hearted insects saved his life. As we all know from history books, or from casual viewings of AMC’s Mad Men, people had little regard for the environment in 1962. A character discovering that other animals on the planet are important is a novel idea. Kudos to Marvel for breaking the barriers.
Snap to nine months later. SNAP!
It’s September 1962. You picked up this month’s Tales to Astonish and you find a very different Hank Pym. You find a Hank is no longer a mild mannered scientist but a miniature warrior for justice.
He’s now Ant-Man: the scourge of Red Communists everywhere.
The environmental message has changed as well. The ants are no longer equal. Ant-Man now governs them as his slaves.
Ant-Man’s conception is unique in the early Marvel Silver Age. He’s special because his character was never intended to be a recurring face.
The fan reaction to the story of Hank Pym was enormous. After his simple debut, the readers were desperate to see what happened next. As a result of the positive fan reaction, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created another member of their fledgling superhero gallery. The Pym shrinking potion was made a super ability and Ant-Man was on the scene.
The first official Ant-Man story has all the marks of a Silver Age rush job. It has a haphazard and cliched villain, a lofty proclamation of justice, and a diagram of Ant-Man’s office with unique travel method. Ant-Man’s catapult is the most absurd method of travel in the Marvel world. He is said to be able to shoot anywhere in New York. I can see about ten problems with this method and don’t want to waste your time going through them. Let’s all just agree that this catapult is nuts.
That’s not the only change that is nuts. Ant-Man’s changing relationship with the ants is just as absurd.The first thing Hank Pym says to the ants, the same ants that saved him last time, is: “all right, slaves, do Ant-Man’s will.” Nature is no longer to be embraced but dominated.
Hank dominates these ants through his helmet which manipulates electric impulses to emit orders to the miniature creatures rendering them automatons under his control. He uses their collective to drive to take down Comrade X’s gang, our hackneyed gang of antagonists.
In comics of this period, the Soviets, and sometimes Chinese, are often faceless zombies. What is marvellous, excuse the pun, is Ant-Man’s ants act in exactly the same way. Ant-Man’s treatment of the ants as drones is no different then the way Nikita Kruschev, who appears in this issue, is said to treat his comrades.
American historical jingoism, of the period, often reduces Soviet Communism to a mass of drones doing whatever the dear leader dictates. This depiction looks something like a mass of people hurtling themselves into situations like lemmings to the sea. The stereotype results from two places. One, the astounding and frightful ‘Scorched Earth’ policy that was so effective for the Soviets in World War II, and two, a belief in a false sense of U.S. individualism.
It is unclear why there is such a drastic change in the relationship between Ant-Man and the ants. Perhaps, it comes from a need, on Stan Lee’s part, to create a unique power for Hank Pym but feeling dry of inspiration.
As the title progresses, as you know, having read some of my other articles on the Silver Age Ant-Man, Hank Pym’s character changes from issue to issue. The way he treats his ants does as well depending upon their role in the story. In 1963, the ants even start to disappear from the story line all together
I have read that Stan Lee and his creatives found this character hard to write, and Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers both found his stories difficult to draw, often forgetting to scale his size.
Something never quite works about Ant-Man’s character because the powers that be at Marvel never had their hearts in the character and were always writing to the demands of the readership.
Having just come off a desperate issue of The Incredible Hulk and seeing what fan demand does to many of these characters in the near future, I am beginning to grasp what it looks like when the writers are not writing for the passion of it, but rather to sell issues.
Writing for the fans does not lend itself to good creation.
Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds
Story I Read: “Return of the Ant-Man” (Tales to Astonish #35 Sept. 1962)
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5
Pros: Neat depictions of Ant-Man running with the Ants. Absurd ideas.
Cons: Hackneyed and desperate ideas like the catapult. Lack of antagonist.
Preceding Review: “Captives of the Deadly Duo” (Fantastic Four #6 Sept. 1962)
Upcoming Review: “The Mighty Thor vs. the Executioner” (Journey Into Mystery #84 Sept. 1962)
— Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) January 23, 2014
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Originally slated for July 31, 2015, the film’s premiere date has been bumped up to July 17.
Both Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas have recently been announced as playing Hank Pym and Scott Lang respectively. Exciting news all around and further proof Marvel is still cornering the Superhero cinematic realizations.
This is a really very good run down of Eric O’Grady who will likely be renamed from the irredeemable Ant-Man to the Forgotten Ant-Man after the upcoming film. Have a read. Ant-Man is a complex title.
News recently hit that actor Michael Douglas will be joining the cast of Marvel’s latest addition to their Movie Universe, Ant-Man. Douglas will be playing Hank Pym, arguably the best known character to don the title, and he joins Paul Rudd, who is playing Scott Lang, a lesser-known, but equally adored, Ant-Man. Although the choice for the second Ant-Man character in the Ant-Man movie may come as a bit of a surprise, it’s been fairly certain that Marvel’s newest addition to its Movie-verse would include, at least, two different Ant-Mans (Ant-Men?) and maybe a third in the mix. Now, I have no problem with them using Scott Lang and Hank Pym, instead of the OTHER Ant-Man, and my personal favorite character to don the name, Eric O’Grady, who was famously known as the Irredeemable Ant-Man in a short lived run in the comic of the same name. The…
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