Tales To Astonish #49 (Giant-Man/Wasp)
Issue(s): Tales To Astonish #49
Review/plot: Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man.
Basically he invented a pill that makes him grow bigger (also note that Pym is working out of a house in New Jersey in this issue). If he grows bigger than 12 feet, he can't move.
It's no wonder that the Wasp finds every other man in the Marvel Universe attractive. Henry Pym pays no attention to her at all. The first two pages are chock-full of passive-aggressive behavior.
There's also no explanation as to why Henry, but not Janet, gets the growing pills.
Marvel Tales annual #1 reprinted just the first two pages covering the transformation. The rest of the issue, which i've added to my collection via the Essentials, has Giant-Man fighting a villain called the Living Eraser. He's straight out of a Daffy Duck cartoon.
The poor guy getting erased above is just a hot dog vendor, but most of the Eraser's victims are scientists, and while Henry and Janet are reviewing their color coded pills one last time...
...the Eraser shows up for Pym as well.
The plot here is pretty similar to Astonish #41, where Pym and a bunch of other scientists were kidnapped and transported to an alien world, and then Pym transformed to his secret identity and fought a bunch of aliens without revealing his secret ID to the other captors. Same thing this time, except that as Giant-Man, Pym doesn't get to talk to the local equivalent of ants. He does meet a cool "dog", though.
The initial pages determined that growing too big causes Pym to be too weak to move, but it doesn't exactly say that at his optimal twelve foot height he has super-strength. It's kind of implied...
...but at the same time his strength level while ant-sized was never all that consistent either. One thing's for sure; when Pym is giant-sized he starts feeling megalomaniacal.
He's also said to have better reflexes, although that doesn't quite make sense and it'll actually be contradicted in future issues.
Pym is supposed to be looking for an exit from the alien dimension but, surprisingly, he doesn't find it on the roof.
Eventually Pym forces the Living Eraser to send him and the others home. The Living Eraser is really just the method by which people are transported between dimensions, so he's not that interesting as a character, although he will have a few more appearances.
The Wasp was standing on Pym's finger when the Eraser attacked, so she's brought along as well, although mainly just to continue the "banter".
As you can see in one of the scans above, instead of just having a "one pill makes you grow larger, the other makes you grow smaller" set-up, Pym has a wide variety of pill sizes. It's a bit overcomplicated, and the pills themselves seem to be a step back from the gas canisters from earlier issues.
Someone will school me on this, but while Ant-Man as a shrinking hero had an obvious analogue in DC's Atom, i don't think there was a prominent growing hero prior to Pym. There was Giganta - a villain - but i don't think there were any giant good guys. I guess Gulliver's Travels would be an inspiration. There's no discussion in this issue about what causes Pym to start experimenting with growing powers. Later writers use the fact that the timing coincides with the formation of the Avengers and make it so that Pym decided to change his powers in order to address his inadequacies about being on a team with the likes of Thor, the Hulk, and Iron Man, which i think is a nice subtextual reading. There's certainly enough support in these issues for the idea that Pym has some... hang-ups.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Needs to take place before Avengers #1.5, where he shows off his new Giant-Man powers to the team for the first time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Ant-Man vol. 1
If these are from the Essentials, why are they in color? I thought Essentials were in black and white only?
It took me about 20 years to learn that the name Giant-Man was derived from Ant-Man by simply adding a "Gi" in front of it. It never occurred to me.
Posted by: Chris | November 27, 2012 11:13 PM
To facilitate the screenshot process, i use digital copies (purchased GIT PDFs when available; otherwise, er, torrented files).
Posted by: fnord12 | November 28, 2012 7:32 AM
The Spectre tended to grow to giant size back in the Golden Age, but that was mainly to terrify villains(and besides, he was a ghost).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 1, 2012 5:41 PM
"There's also no explanation as to why Henry, but not Janet, gets the growing pills."
Because Janet finds ways to actually be useful at small size?
Posted by: Erik Robbins | June 29, 2013 6:58 PM
Hank certainly found a way to be useful while small under Geoff Johns...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 30, 2013 5:52 PM
Pym managed to win the fights wth bad guys, but still, while being small, he was trapped inside the anthill, box, vacuum cleaner, flower pot, piano, engine, almost eaten by ant-eater and snake and almost drown in a bath. I guess, he was fine with it for a while, but then he got a girl that needed a real hero. And then he met other heroes, like Thor and Iron Man, that could beat the bad guys too, but without getting in silly situations. I guess, after all this, his dignity finally began to hurt and he said to himself "Okay, I'm fed up with this shit" and decided to become something more solid.
Posted by: SVC | August 21, 2013 2:48 PM
Hank seems to be following in the footstes of DC's Rita Farr aka Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol. She'd debuted 4 or 5 months earlier in 1963 and could both grow and shrink.
Posted by: Shar | October 22, 2013 11:37 PM
Posted by: Shar | October 22, 2013 11:38 PM
"Someone will school me on this, but while Ant-Man as a shrinking hero had an obvious analogue in DC's Atom, i don't think there was a prominent growing hero prior to Pym."
The one that immediately comes to mind is Colossal Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes. He debuted in 1960.
Posted by: Robert | February 1, 2016 6:01 AM
Although he wasn't as prominent as Pym, I suppose.
Posted by: Robert | February 1, 2016 6:29 AM
On the distaff side, there was Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol. True, she's not considered as "prominent" as Pym, but she could both grow and shrink. She debuted in April 1963 (June 1963 cover date for My Greatest Adventure #80), a few months before Hank became Giant-Man.
Posted by: Shar | February 1, 2016 10:26 AM
Ha! I see I already made an Elast-Girl comment back in...2013. Nice to know I'm consistent ;)
Posted by: Shar | February 1, 2016 10:27 AM
Other than a brief period after Hank rejoins the Avengers during the later Stan Lee issues and the Erik Josten version of Goliath, becoming a giant never seems to make anyone the strongest guy in the room. And even Josten lost to Thor and later got a lot of power-downs.
Growing in the Marvel Universe just makes you a bigger target, and you always get at least one story where someone ties your feet together or outmaneuvers you and you fall on your face.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 4, 2016 12:03 PM
Someone already mentioned Colossal Boy but there was one in the early 40's called Mighty Man who could both shrink to doll size and grow to 20' high. He appeared in Amazing Man Comics in 1940 and was later used by Malibu in the Protectors which was all made up of public domain characters from the golden age.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 25, 2016 8:16 PM
So, I've read through these early Ant-Man comics, and I think part of the reason that Hank doesn't always just revert to normal size to resolve problems with Bath-Tubs, Snakes, Ant-Eaters, etc, is secret identity related. It's never said, but the way that other characters interact with him suggests that they don't know that he has a secret identity -- it seems like Hank's strategy is that if they don't know that he can become larger, they'll never make the connection between Ant-Man and him, and just assume he's an avenging leprechaun or something.
I think the fact that several characters remark on how they always assumed that Ant-Man was a myth supports my theory, but I can't exactly put into words why I feel this way. It does explains why Hank stayed ant sized when he initially met the Fantastic Four, forcing Reed to accommodate him with a magnifying device, however. He also never grows to full-size in Avengers 1, and he acts like it's a big reveal when he shows that he can to the guys in Avengers 2 -- that panel only makes sense if he thinks that they don't yet know that he can grow to human size.
Along these lines, I think it significant that it's here, when he's changing into Giant-Man, that Hank grows with people other than Janet around him for the first time.
Posted by: FF3 | March 12, 2017 5:55 AM
Unfortunately, this theory doesn't make sense as a justification for every time he seems to stay small when it would be easier for him to just be Hank-sized. He still stays small when he's fighting the Scarlet Scarab and the Kosmos creature (with that damn rifle) for not good reason. And if I'm right, Avengers 1.5 screwed the pooch.
Posted by: FF3 | March 12, 2017 5:57 AM
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