Our latest retrospective takes us to the first appearance of the Ant-Man, Henry Pym. Pym actually made his first appearance in Tales to Astonish 27, where he is called “The Man in the Ant Hill“.
The issue opens with a brief recap of the above mentioned issue. In a nutshell, Henry Pym, a scientist, has invented two serums. One that can shrink objects, and the other that can enlarge objects. When Henry first used the serum, it proved more powerful than he expected, and he was shrunk to the size of an ant, and barely escaped.
We since find out that Pym has hidden the potions in a safe to keep them safe, until the world is ready for them. Since the first experiment, we also learn that Pym has taken an interests in ants more generally. His research led him to developing a helmet that would allow him to communicate with ants, as well as a protective costume.
On the same day, Pym is given a government assignment (to produce a gas that makes people to immune to radioactivity) and four assistants to help him. Some weeks later, in a communist country far away from America, we see an army general report that the anti-radiation formula is nearly complete. Orders are then given to agents in America to obtain the formula.
They storm Pym’s lab and take the assistants hostage. Pym is found at the back, and he informs the assailants that he will not provide the formula, and that his assistants each only know a part of the formula. They decide to search the lab for themselves. Pym fears he cannot escape as he notices a guard outside. But he then remembers his shrinking formula. He dons his costume and helmet, and then shrinks down to the size of an ant. He then propels himself, using a rubber band, out of the window and heads for a nearby ant hill.
Pym enters the ant hill and then notices he can feel strange vibrations. He realises this is the way the ants communicate with each other. The ants notice him and start to close in. Pym turns on his helmet and sends out a countermand communication, which as the effect of calling off the ants…except one. The ant attacks Pym, but he is able to lift the ant and hurl it away. To Pym’s astonishment, he still appears to have the strength of a grown man.
The large ant resumes its attack and manages to bite Pym, but his costume protect him. He incapacitates the ant and then commands the rest of the ants to turn away. It works, but on leaving the ant hill, Pym notices a huge beetle. He digs a hole and lures the beetle in before burying it.
With the ant army now following his commands, Pym makes his way back to the lab. The foreign agents are still there and the assistants tied up. Pym and the ant army enter the lab and he sets about untying his assistants, although they cannot see or hear him.
Once the assistants are freed, Pym commands the ants to attack the agents. He also instructs them to plug-up the agents guns with honey, making them useless. With the assistants free and the agents preoccupied with the ants, the assistants decide to strike back. Pym sees this as his opportunity to leave and then finds his growing serum, allowing him to return to full size.
This issue is a nice,fun introduction to the Ant-Man. We see the first use of Ant-Man’s communication powers, as well as his super-strength. And we also get some communist baddies thrown in for good measure! The use of honey is a curiosity however, perhaps Bee-Man didn’t work so well.
Writer – Stan Lee
Artist – Jack Kirby
Cover date – September 1962
Cover price – 12c
At the time of publishing, the most expensive listing for Tales to Astonish 35 on eBay is £7,618.
Star Wars 3
Fantastic Four 6
Strange Tales 101
Journey into Mystery 85