Tales To Astonish #39 (Ant-Man)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #39 (Ant-Man story only)
The problem is the eyes.
Those big, goofy, googly eyes.
Without the eyes, this is a story similar to the science-horror stories that spawned Henry Pym in the first place. An insect develops intelligence, grows to human size, and organizes his insect brethren into a revolution against their human oppressors.
And Kirby almost manages to sell it. Except for the eyes. The eyes!
Kirby does manage to sell a brilliant war of the insects, as Pym's loyal ants fight the hordes of the Beetle.
And someone at Marvel (not sure if Stan, Larry, or Jack would want the credit) triples-down on the "ants produce honey" idea.
Now there is such a thing as a honey ant, and there's even a species that lives in the US, albeit in the deserts of the southwest, and not like bees do: they actually store it in their bodies. But since we've seen regular ants producing honey in previous issues, we'll have to assume that in the Marvel Universe it's a feature of regular common temperate climate ants as well.
Since we're criticizing comic entomology, i'll also note that the spiders have chosen sides, and they are not with us.
Henry Pym's ability to retain his strength while shrunken is again shown to be questionable, as he's easily taken down by a bunch of regular beetles.
When it's all over, Pym shrinks the Scarlet Beetle back to regular size and "counteracts the effects of the radiation" that gave him his intelligence. And negligent in his duties as a scientist and a super-hero, he just lets the little bugger out in the backyard when that's done (and the Scarlet Beetle will be back).
I'd almost like to write the whole thing off as a fever dream. On the one hand, the police and public were aware of the man-sized beetle running around. On the other hand, only Pym could hear his telepathic voice...
...and Ant-Man's efforts in defeating it went unnoticed.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #4
It's too bad Ant-Man stories didn't continue to incorporate more of this. In many ways, Ant-Man is better suited to battling bizarre menaces than traditional super-villains. Having a rogues gallery like the Scarlet Beetle and other B-Movie type villains (Them!, Killer Shrews, Triffids and other nuclear monsters) whom he was uniquely suited to beat would have given him a niche.
It's obvious Stan doesn't know what to do with this hero. He makes so many changes in the Pym stories, it's obvious he's hoping to see what clicks.
As for the ant honey, isn't it easy to assume that the "honey" is either collected honeydew or ant-fungus? They would have similar properties, be easily misidentified by laymen, and eliminate any need for new species of ants. Of course, thinking it's all a conspiracy by the High Evolutionary (who needs to combine men and animals, when he can combine ants with bees!) is acceptable to me as well.
Posted by: Chris | November 25, 2012 12:51 AM
Regarding honey, it's just that a) it's always depicted as looking like and having the properties of bee honey and b) Pym is supposed to be a bio-chemist and i have a hard time believing he'd call it anything by a non-scientifically accurate name.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 25, 2012 2:04 PM
Erasing the mind of a sentient being and then releasing it into the wild seems obviously evil to me. I've never read these Tales To Astonish Ant-Man stories before, but he's basically a Spider-Man villain. Even the "create a city-wide network of ant spies" is basically what Doc Ock does as Superior Spider-Man.
Posted by: FF3 | March 11, 2017 8:31 PM
FF3, I think that is over-stating it a bit. He didn't 'erase the mind'--he undid (or thought he undid) the effects of radiation that mutated an insect into something nature did not intend.
And Pym's 'ant spies' aren't as extreme as Superior Spidey's drone surveillance. Sure, its starting at the same basic concept--which is also the same basic concept as traffic cams and other security cameras in public areas--but Pym did not take it to anywhere near the extreme as Otto did.
Posted by: Dermie | March 11, 2017 11:56 PM
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