Monday, August 15, 2011

The Avengers #96: "The Andromeda Swarm!"

Download Avengers #96

While other superheroes were thinking big, Henry Pym was thinking small. Up until Ant-Man's arrival, Tales to Astonish was just another showcase for fantasy and horror tales and such Stan Lee-Jack Kirby monsters as Moomba, Vandoom, Trull, and the Creature from Krogarr. In fact, in Pym's first appearance in #27 (January 1962) he displayed no intention of ever becoming a mini-crimefighter.

Possibly influenced by the special effects in the 1957 movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, scientist Pym invented a green fluid that could shrink anything and, to be on the safe side, another green fluid that could cause the shrunken object to grow back to its original size. Pym considered these inventions "a boon to mankind!" To test the stuff, he splashed a bit of the shrinking fluid on himself. In seconds he was the size of an ant. Finding himself in his backyard, Pym wandered into an anthill and had considerable trouble with the residents until he discovered he could use judo on the most belligerent ants. Back in his lab, he used the other fluid to get back to his regular size. Tossing both fluids out, he vowed, "They're far too dangerous to ever be used by any human again!" He also promised himself never again "to knowingly step upon an anthill."

However, by Tales to Astonish #35 (September 1962) the demand for new superheroes had increased. Thinking better of his serums, Pym reinvented them. He designed a costume of "steel mesh consisting of unstable molecules which stretch and contract as his body does." He also whipped up a cybernetic helmet that allowed him to communicate with ants. As fate would have it, just as the young scientist had donned his costume for a tryout, communist agents broke into his laboratory to steal the top-secret "gas to make people immune to radioactivity" that Pym and his assistants were also working on. Returning to the anthill as Ant-Man, he recruited a large quantity of ants and defeated the spies.

The creative team behind Ant-Man consisted of Stan Lee, who thought up the character, his brother Larry Lieber, who wrote the scripts, Jack Kirby, who penciled, and Dick Ayers, who inked. Kirby was soon replaced by the dependable Don Heck. In #44 Ant-Man acquired a tiny female associate known as the Wasp. Then in #49, perhaps tired of risking getting stepped on or swatted, Pym used his growth serum to turn himself into Giant Man. Later he became Goliath and then Yellow Jacket. In each of his alter egos he was accepted for membership in the Avengers.


Script: Roy Thomas
Pencils: Neal Adams
Inks: Tom Palmer, Neal Adams & Alan Weiss

  • in Kree-Skrull War Starring the Avengers, The (Marvel, 1983 series) #2 (October 1983)
  • in Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War (Marvel, 2000 series) #[nn]
  • in Essential Avengers (Marvel, 1999 series) #4 [black & white] (2004)
  • in Avengers: Kree / Skrull War (Marvel, 2008 series) #[nn]
  • in Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers (Marvel, 2003 series) #10 (May 2010)

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