Tales To Astonish #44 (Ant-Man)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #44 (Ant-Man story only)
The story is terrrrrrible, but in an awesome early Silver Age way. It starts with Henry Pym having a delusional episode featuring his dead wife, Maria.
Maria's father's favorite mangled Bible phrase "Go to the ants, thou dullard!" (it's correctly stated with "thou sluggard" elsewhere in this story) got burned forever into poor Henry's mind when she was killed for defecting from a Communist state (and then they went back there for their honeymoon! Brilliant!).
Years later, Pym refuses to help a scientist and that scientist subsequently dies. His daughter, however, reminds Pym of Maria except younger.
Too young. TOO YOUNG FOR YOU, MR. PYM! Nonetheless he sticks her into a skintight costume and implants wings and antennas in her and makes her his partner.
Maria doesn't actually look much like Jan, and Pym initially thinks that she looks "somewhat like Maria", but three panels later it's "so much like Maria!"
Together they go off to fight the weird alien that killed her father...
...but since their powers are useless (there's a funny panel earlier in the comic where Pym is monitoring the police scanners and thinking "No need for Ant-Man today, i guess"), they end up defeating the alien with science.
Janet, young, impressionable, and reeling from the loss of her father, falls madly in love with Pym, who is already ordering her around, treating her like crap, and repressing his own emotions.
The Wasp can actually fly, but Pym uses his strange catapult method of getting tossed around the city. The art always makes it seem like he's flying, which is especially odd when he's next to someone who can really fly.
The "creature from Kosmos" is a bit weak looking. In some panels he's just kind of randomly blobby looking.
If "Kosmos" wasn't crazy enough, in this issue the ants actually start talking to Pym.
In this issue Pym has a contact at the FBI named Lee Kearns. We don't see him but they talk at the phone, and he'll be in future issues, so i'm listing him as a character appearing.
I don't know if it's the monster, the return of Kirby, or all the unintentional subtext i'm reading into Pym's emotional problems, but i enjoyed this more than the average Ant-Man issue.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Needs to take place before Fantastic Four #16, but it already does by publication date.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Ant-Man vol. 1
Looking over both this page and another blog, I just realized that it probably was Don Heck that probably allowed for the cute Jan from the getgo, similar to his Pepper...though Pepper at first does have a bit of a weird look even though there is nothing wrong with freckles on a girl.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 21, 2013 9:58 PM
Sexually Slanted Line of the Issue:
Posted by: Gary Himes | April 24, 2014 6:35 PM
This may be better than the average Ant-Man issue but it is just an awful introduction for a great long-time character.
Jan is the first female character to be introduced that I actually think is drawn attractively. Such a shame that her hair is then hidden under that ridiculous pointy top. I don't think she looks anything like Maria (and would Maria even be mentioned again for like another 20 years?).
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 7, 2014 9:53 AM
I think that Tales to Astonish 60 was the only time after this issue Maria was mentioned before Avengers 227.
Posted by: Michael | December 7, 2014 10:07 AM
This issue was reviewed recently on AT4W and I'm really surprised and find amazing that Jan's origin is associated with an Eldritch, Lovecraft-esque monster in the form of the Creature from K.O.S.M.O.S. Just the way it is portrayed here really just shows that it is something beyond all human concept, even if its basically another Silver Age "thing" that threatened the early Marvel heroes.
Posted by: Ataru320 | December 7, 2014 5:54 PM
I haven't read a lot of these early Ant-Man issues, so I'm wondering if anyone knows when the Henry diminutive "Hank" started to be used (by other characters, in captions, etc.) as opposed to the more formal "Henry" (from Pym's TtA debut).
Posted by: Shar | May 19, 2015 2:16 PM
In the "Trial of Yellowjacket" arc in the 80s, when Hank is in prison, he reminisces on old times and mentions that Janet was "almost half my age" when they first met. Unless they wanted to go to jailbait territory, this must mean that Janet was at least 18 in this story, and Hank was at least in his mid-30s. And considering that these days Janet is usually depicted as someone in her late 20s or 30s, Hank must be close to 50 now.
Posted by: Tuomas | June 24, 2015 2:15 AM
Janet turns 23 years old in Avengers #43, so she is younger than that in this story.
Posted by: Steven | June 24, 2015 10:41 AM
Wow, that's much too young! In the late 80s it was meant to have been 8 Marvel years since FF ¤1. If Wasp is 23 now, Marvel Time's been going backwards since then. I guess she should be a year or two older than Spidey and the original X-Men (and her recent lover Havok), who were still in education when they were first introduced.
Posted by: Jonathan | June 24, 2015 12:08 PM
Avengers #43 was in 1967. In this issue Janet is 21 or 22. In the present, In 2015 continuity, I think Wasp is around 35.
Posted by: Steven | June 25, 2015 10:32 AM
D'oh! My dumbass mistake, I thought you were referring to the Avengers 43 that came out this year, by Hickman. (All this renumbering's gonna get confusing when Fnord gets there.) In that case she's actually a bit older than i thought, considering how young and flighty she was portrayed at the start. I guess Hank+Jan must be about the same age difference as Reed+Susan then? And yeah Wasp should now be in her early 30s at least, but probably so should Spidey and I can't see Marvel admitting that.
Posted by: Jonathan | June 25, 2015 2:29 PM
If you want to look at ages. 1962-1965 Marvel ages in real time at least for Spider-Man comics, which I then assume correlates across the Marvel spectrum. Using Spider-Man as our constant, Peter was 15 in 1962 commonly known as the age he became Spider-Man in recent continuity and because Pete graduates high school in 1965. Since most teens graduate at their 18th year, this makes a perfect starting point in determining when Marvel Time actually begins. Which I seem to place around 1966-1967. It becomes obvious that the more readers picking up the titles are college age so Stan wanting to keep with that demographic halts the aging process. As a result Peter stays in college for 12 years finally graduating in 1979. So ignoring the holiday stories compress the years at 2 and a half years per our calendar year and things become easier. So by using this as our guide, Peter would have still been 18 or 19 in 1967. Since that was Janet's 23rd birthday and Peter was at most 19, we reverse the years back to 1963 combining 1966-1967 as one year and see Janet was 20.
Posted by: Darren | November 11, 2015 4:49 PM
It has recently been revealed that Hank has a daughter with Maria named Nadia that he didn't know about. Nadia is the new Wasp.
Posted by: Steven | July 3, 2016 9:30 AM
Wonder where they got that idea...
Posted by: AF | July 3, 2016 10:02 AM
Ugh not THAT tired ol' story again. Stuff like that makes me glad I don't keep up with Marvel comics that much anymore.
Also what the hell happened to te "old" Wasp that they need to make a replacement? (Well Janet DID commit the grevious sin of being a women over 30...)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 6, 2016 11:39 PM
And the grievous sin of being written into an off-panel 18 year-long marriage with Havok with a kid who no longer exists and she remembers it all despite nobody having any investment in this largely unseen major relationship at all.
Posted by: AF | July 7, 2016 6:11 AM
But Axis was so original. Nobody had EVER done a story before that where Alex falls for a woman who resembles her husband's first love and was treated badly by him and they both turn evil. :)
Posted by: Michael | July 7, 2016 8:19 AM
Wait, what? I didn't even know Jan was alive again (glad of it, Secret Invasion being such utter crap), but she's been retconnned into some bizarre off-panel marriage to Havok?
Who has Lorna been with, Bobby? No, wait, Bendis decided that wasn't possible…
I swear, it's as thought I owe Bendis a debt for making sure I stopped reading these (for the most part) after Disassembled.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 26, 2016 3:37 AM
Dan, it wasn't a retcon- it was a complicated time travel story where the Earth is destroyed, Havok and Wasp (two of the survivors) are married and have a kid, their consciousnesses are sent back in time to prevent the Earth's destruction but Kang kidnaps their kid.
Posted by: Michael | August 26, 2016 7:49 AM
Wasp returned in the last issues of Avengers written by Bendis. She was trapped for a long time in the Microverse. She then became part of Uncanny Avengers. Havok and Wasp survive the destruction of the Earth in Uncanny Avengers #17, live for eight years on Planet X, get married and have a child named Katie, and then have their minds sent back in time by Kang to stop Earth's destruction. Kang keeps their kid.
Posted by: Steven | August 26, 2016 1:00 PM
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