Tales to Astonish (Vol. 1) #44

Credits:

“The Creature From Kosmos!”

Cover Date: June 1963

Plotters: Stan Lee

Scripter: H.E. Huntley

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Don Heck

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Don Heck

What’s Going On?

Dr. Henry Pym is approached by Dr. Vernon van Dyne to work on a device that will try to communicate with extraterrestrials. Since Pym has a pretty narrow set of scientific interests, he turns van Dyne down. When van Dyne is found dead in his lab, Ant-Man winds up investigating; he determines that van Dyne successfully contacted intelligent life, and was killed by the alien he contacted! Now, it’s up to Ant-Man to save the city from the alien —- but he won’t do it alone, as he has recruited Vernon van Dyne’s daughter, Janet, to aid him as the Wasp!

Is It Good?

This is probably the best Ant-Man story to date. It’s not great, but Pym was in desperate need of character depth, and this issue provided him with some backstory and introduced his first love interest. There is the additional bonus of a fairly imaginative design for the alien; it devolves into a common blob creature by the end of the issue, but the first few panels looked pretty cool.

Sub-Plots:

  • Henry Pym has been grieving over the loss of his wife, Maria, for some time. She and her father were political prisoners in Communist Hungary, and they defected to the US. She was killed, years later,while visiting Hungary with Henry; her father was assassinated in America around the same time.
  • Henry’s first impressions of Janet van Dyne are that she looks like a very young version of his late wife.
  • Vernon van Dyne is killed by the Kosmosian alien that travelled down his gamma ray to Earth. The alien plans to conquer Earth, and any humans that look directly at it will die.
  • Lonely and sensing that Janet is willing to go to great lengths to avenge her father, Pym recruits her to be his superhero partner.
  • Pym implants some wasp stem cells in Janet to make her grow antennas and wings when she shrinks. She will use the same shrink/growth gases that Ant-Man uses, but her antennae will allow her to communicate with insects, in place of a helmet.

  • Janet van Dyne quickly falls in love with Henry Pym. This is the second time she’s met him.

  • The ants inform Pym that there is something ant-like about the alien, so he investigates and realizes that the alien is made of a type of acid. He whips up an antidote (which seems like the wrong word, but that’s what’s in the comic!) and fires it via shotgun shells to kill the creature.

Continuity:

  • This is the first full-length Ant-Man story.
  • This is the first appearance of Janet van Dyne, and her first appearance as the Wasp.
  • Janet is the first person that has learned Ant-Man’s secret identity, and she becomes his partner.

  • This is the first appearance and death of Vernon van Dyne, Janet’s father.
  • This is the first appearance of the Kosmosian alien race.
  • This is the first appearance (in a flashback) of Henry Pym’s late wife, Maria Pym.

  • This issue retcons Ant-Man’s motivations. He was originally fueled by a need to prove himself to the scientific community; now, he is fueled by the loss of his wife (who has never been mentioned before) to vengeful Communists.

  • It sounds like Henry Pym is saying that he invented unstable molecules here.

  • Another retcon: Ant-Man no longer lives in Central City; he is now in New York City.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • It is definitely creepy that Pym is attracted to someone who looks like his dead wife, but “younger! Not much more than a child!” Ugh.

  • Why would Dr. van Dyne approach Pym about a gamma ray device? Ignoring the fact that Pym is in a completely unrelated field of study, why not team up with Bruce Banner?

  • Why are you doing this ant-sized?!? Just use your growth formula and shoot it like a normal person!

  • “This is SO much like Maria! She, too, was fueled by grief and rage.”

  • Pictured: Ant-Man, taking a Bible verse very literally.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Pym assumes Janet is lying when she calls him, upset, to tell him that her father is dead. When frickin’ ants tell him, though, he immediately believes them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s