Characters Appearing: Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Bill Foster, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Atlas, Claire Temple, Crystal, Doctor Minerva, Erik Josten, Hawkeye, Henry Pym, Rover (Pym's ship), Scarlet Witch, Tigra, Vision, Wasp
Marvel Double Feature... The Avengers/Giant-Man #379-382
Issue(s): Marvel Double Feature... The Avengers/Giant-Man #379, Marvel Double Feature... The Avengers/Giant-Man #380, Marvel Double Feature... The Avengers/Giant-Man #381, Marvel Double Feature... The Avengers/Giant-Man #382
Henry Pym continues to do my work for me in terms of making fun of him.
The above is narrated as a recording from Henry Pym, complete with notes to himself to delete certain sections of it. It's the sort of narration device that usually either ends with a scene of the character completing the narration or, if it doesn't, the implication that someone nefarious has acquired the recording. Neither is the case this time, though. Instead we jump directly to the Wasp, who is in a therapy session with a Dr. Vincent Rossin.
She describes being at a costume party celebrating her latest fashion designs. The party was crashed by Pym in a giant gorilla suit (not to be confused with the gorilla suit that her agent, Spencer, was wearing).
This is all like acid trip level weird.
Another thing that comes out of the Wasp's conversation with her doctor is that she doesn't seem to distinguish Force Works from the West Coast Avengers. This definitely takes place after the formation of Force Works (Wonder Man's death will be mentioned), but the Wasp talks about not rejoining the "Avengers" because Wanda is leader.
The Wasp then passes out in Rossin's office.
When we see Pym for the first time for real, he's working in Nevada on an experiment. Bill Foster is his lab partner, but Pym has locked himself in the lab. He's testing the renegade ants, so that confirms that the earlier sequence with the recording narration was just meant to be a storytelling device, not a sign that someone else was reviewing Pym's notes. Pym discovers that he was somehow the cause of the ant rebellion, which seems to be related to a Project BIG that he was working on. Then Foster detects more renegade ants, and Pym goes to investigate. Before he leaves, the two Giant-Men discuss the addictive nature of growing to giant size.
Note that Pym's thoughts might give one the impression that Foster was having physical problems because of the Pym particle growth. That isn't the case; Foster was exposed to radiation and was dying from radiation poisoning, and that's what Spider-Woman's transfusion cured. Also, Foster has become Giant-Man again since then. This issue is weird all around. Strange storytelling devices (the unusual flashbacks), and the continuity seems like it was relayed to George Perez and then to us via a game of telephone.
At the site that Foster detected, Pym finds an array of giant bugs (i.e. not just ants).
The US airforce is trying to bomb them, but the energy released just gets absorbed by the insects and makes them bigger. So they let Pym have a go at them.
Bill Foster, wearing some weird body armor, tries to go to help Pym, but he's attacked by someone in a Kree uniform.
And Pym is having trouble because the military won't back off, and the energy from their planes keeps feeding the bugs.
The use of these bugs, along with Project BIG, is a tribute to movie director Bert. I Gordon (BIG). He's well known to fans of Mystery Science Theater. He made a lot of movies about giant creatures, including a giant grasshopper and a giant spider. The air force commander in this story, Glenn Manning, was the character in Gordon's Amazing Colossal Man and War of the Colossal Beast.
After Pym kills the bugs, he gets a distress call from Foster. It turns out that Foster is being attacked by Captain Atlas and Doctor Minerva, who are apparently with some Shi'ar soldiers (they're not introduced as Shi'ar so you have to be able to recognize their armor). He shrank and ran into a garden to get away from them.
But Pym passes out after his fight with the bugs, thanks to tactics he used during the fight: growing beyond his 25 foot limit, and later quickly shrinking and growing again.
Foster's distress call is instead answered by Scott Lang.
Lang overhears the Kree talking about how Project BIG might have interfered with their master's plans, which is why they were attacking (along with a general hatred of Pym and the idea that killing Foster would demoralize him). Atlas then orders one of the Shi'ar to open a portal, which he does "in the name of Warstar", and apparently by self-sacrifice.
As Lang says, I feel like I "just walked into the middle of the movie".
We learn, via another poorly introduced flashback, that Project BIG was an attempt by Pym to use Pym particles to grow food to solve the problem of world hunger. (Another Bert I. Gordon film, The Food of the Gods, had a similar plot where contamination from a miraculous food-growing material resulted in giant critters; it's based on an H.G. Wells story.)
Foster is stuck at ant size.
We then jump back to Pym, who it turns out has been hospitalized by the military after his fight with the insects. In addition to his injuries, he's having a psychotic break.
The army tries to interrogate Pym about his responsibility for the bug attacks, but Captain America eventually shows up and gets him out. Cap tells Pym that everyone that's been exposed to Pym particles is having problems.
The fact that Hawkeye has been affected tells Pym that the phenomenon is not related to contamination from Project BIG.
All the while, Dr. Rossin has been trying to contact Pym because the Wasp is growing out of control (another 1950s movie reference).
Lang eventually picks up one of Rossin's phone calls, but then he passes out. Foster is still stuck at ant size. Tigra comes along but she's experiencing something too and is half feral.
It's later said that Tigra came to Project BIG all the way from Australia. She seems to like it there because she's come back a few times already but writers keep saying that that's where she's coming from.
Cap and the Vision take Pym to the Wasp. Pym grows to giant size and stops her rampage. But there are reports of giant insect attacks from all over the world. And Tigra finds that it's thanks to the Creature from Kosmos.
This begins a fullscale invasion of Kosmosians (there's actually just four of them, but at their size that counts as a fullscale invasion).
As for why Atlas and Minerva are involved, it's just said that they'd been exposed to Pym particles in the past, but that the nature of their relationship with the Kosmosians is "unknown". The idea is that Atlas and Minerva and the Shi'ar soldiers (and Warstar) were all shrunk by Pym and held as prisoners during Operation Galactic Storm (see Avengers West Coast #81). But there's no explicit reference in the text, which just says that they "at one time had been exposed to the Pym particles".
Giant Man is getting some help from the Avengers - Captain America, Crystal, Black Widow, & the Vision - but they play mostly a supporting role. One thing they try to do is contact the Scarlet Witch, but the Widow has "no luck activating her Avengers' tracer" which makes sense since she quit the Avengers to join Force Works.
Pym fights one of the Kosmosians directly.
During the fight, Pym grows over 60 ft and his strength increases accordingly, which was previously thought to be impossible. Pym is also immune to the Kosmosian's fear-inducing mists, thanks to a warning he got from his ant Nash before it died. Hearing that, the Kosmosian opens a portal to escape. Pym follows it through the portal. And inside the portal is Erik Josten, aka Goliath.
Some more muddled continuity here as it's suggested that Josten has been a prisoner of the Kosmosians since Avengers West Coast #92. But that's not possible, since Goliath subsequently appeared in the Wonder Man series (Wonder Man #22-24 and Wonder Man #25, which take place after War Machine joins the Whackos in Avengers West Coast #93. (I also have Goliath in Marvel Comics Presents #137, following the MCP, but that could theoretically take place at a different time). So it seems that some time passed between the Kosmosians first becoming aware of Josten and them imprisoning him.
Note that the Kosmosians' dimension - this isn't their actual planet but a dimension for their prisoners - is said to be the source of the Pym particles. Not clear if this is the same dimension we saw in Iron Man #194.
There's a bit more about why the Kree and Shi'ar are involved, but it's really not illuminating. I'm also not sure what Scarlet Witch has to do with any of this.
Pym somehow manages to pull the other Kosmosians back to the prison dimension and then seal the cracks by draining mass off of Josten or something.
In the end it's said that the Pym particles that allowed various characters to increase in mass have been expunged. Thus, supposedly, Hawkeye can never become Goliath again, but Scott Lang is unaffected. It again seems like the fact that Bill Foster has been Giant-Man since the Spider-Woman cure has been forgotten (maybe the idea is that his subsequent growing ability comes from a different source). And... is that the Scarlet Witch?!
Josten remains in a coma.
Pym says that the Kosmosians couldn't affect him directly because he was the first to draw from their source. So instead they attacked him mentally, made him suffer "self-doubt". Suuuuure, Hank. That makes sense. Whatever you need to tell yourself.
Pym also says that in order to defeat the Kosmosians he had to utilize the "original particle sample" which means that he'll never be able to become Ant-Man again.
Pym tells the Wasp that his love for her is what got him through it all, and she says that she's going to take him home and "see what kind of Giant-Man you are".
This story is chockful of plot and characters, and that coupled with stuff like the weird costume party in the Wasp's flashback makes me think that George Perez - who loves to pack his issues with stuff to draw - originally intended to pencil this. And maybe it would have all been a lot more coherent and generally better if Perez did draw it. The art is pretty poor Image-ified stuff, and it gets increasingly sloppy as the series goes on, to the point where by the end it looks like sketches in a high schooler's notebook.
But more importantly, the art is also unable to handle the ambitious nature of the plot from a storytelling perspective. I can sort of envision this story drawn by Perez and seeing how it could have worked. At least Perez would know to give the flashback panels rounded corners.
But that doesn't address the weird continuity problems. And not only does it fumble the past continuity, but it makes a lot of bold declarations - Hawkeye to never be Goliath again, Pym to never shrink - that you have to know will never stick, especially if the declarations are being made in a low circulation book like this. Even Hank and Jan seemingly getting back together feels like something that will be instantly ignored (and for what it's worth, the MCP places the Tales of the Marvels: Tales To Astonish issue where Janet emphatically states that she and Hank are just friends directly after this, although i've pushed that story back much further in publication time).
I wanted to like this. I appreciate the ambitiousness of it all, and i do like the use of all the continuity, as poorly explained and inconsistently footnoted as it is (Tigra's involvement was pretty obvious to me but that merited a flashback and a footnote, whereas the Kree and Shi'ar get no footnote and there's no explanation i can find for Scarlet Witch at all). Things started off simply and i thought we were just going to get an homage to 1950s horror movies, which would have been fun. But the plot kept spiraling with less and less time left to deal with things adequately. And, of course, the art is terrible.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this after Avengers #382 and after Hands of the Mandarin for the West Coast characters. A little inconsistently, they have it after #383 for the Vision but not other characters, but Avengers #383 is a fill-in so the order doesn't really matter. This should take place before the Vision's miniseries, when he leaves the team for a while.
The way the first Kosmosian talks to Tigra, it sounds like he's the original Creature from Kosmos, i.e. Pilai (spelled Pilei here). But the Kosmosians in this story are under the impression that Pilai is dead (not aware of his appearance in Quasar #14). So Pilai isn't here.
Pym's Rover is one of the first things to be affected by the Kosmosians. Pym talks about it like it's his original Rover, so it seems like he's repaired it after its seeming destruction.
Bill Foster says that he's been talking to his ex, Claire (Temple). He tells Ant-Man that she was "so furious" when he told her that he was working with Pym again (not sure why). That wouldn't count as an appearance because the conversation happened prior to one of the flashbacks, but at the end of the issue you see a woman with Bill, and i assume that it's her.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
I get that Avengers wasn't as big in 1994 as it is now, but it never ceases to amaze me how many amateur artists were working on these books back then. No disrespect, but there's bad art, then there's stuff that barely qualifies as art because there isn't even a grasp of basic fundamentals. This is the latter.
At what time would you say Marvel raised the bare-minimum-bar for artists back to "competent?"
Posted by: bigvis497 | March 12, 2018 2:31 PM
Pencils by random kid Bob Harras found on the subway on the way to work.
Posted by: Bob | March 12, 2018 4:12 PM
The reference to Goliath (Josten) being captive in Kosmos since AWC #92 isn't necessarily a mistake. Much of what happened in WONDER MAN #22-25 was illusion (some of it specified as such in-story at the time, and some of it retconned that way later due to the multiple continuity errors in that arc). Josten's appearance in that arc can easily be dismissed as one more illusion.
Posted by: Dermie | March 12, 2018 5:31 PM
Judging by the immediate turnabout in their relationship afterward, Hank must have indeed showed Jan just what kind of Giant-Man he is.
Pym: I'm sorry! I didn't mean to be so... I mean, the Kosmosians must have-
Jan: Oh, give it a rest, Hank.
By the way, why did Jan's therapist put her in a swimming pool? Is being wet supposed to slow the growing process?
Posted by: Mortificator | March 12, 2018 5:53 PM
Thunderbolts actually says Josten had been captured by Kosmosians at least more than once, so maybe that had this in mind
Posted by: AF | March 12, 2018 8:11 PM
The Scarlet Witch is captured by the Kosmosians because Hank shrunk her for a few pages in Avengers West Coast 73. That should have definitely gotten a footnote.
Posted by: Michael | March 12, 2018 8:19 PM
I don't know why the Wasp was put in the pool. Maybe she had a fever?
I definitely prefer to say that Josten's capture by the Kosmosians was delayed or that he was captured and escaped and recaptured rather than rule his appearance in Wonder Man an illusion.
The Wasp's powers aren't specifically discussed, and since Scott Lang retains his shrinking power i don't see why the Wasp couldn't too.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 12, 2018 8:50 PM
A giant-sized Hank Pym wearing a gorilla suit?!?!?
I'm actually a huge fan of 1950s sci-fi movies with giant bugs and stuff, as well as of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (you can just imagine how much I enjoyed it when they screened "Beginning of the End"), but this whole thing falls really flat for me. I have to agree with everyone else that this story could have worked with better art. Just imagine if Arthur Adams had drawn this!
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 12, 2018 9:48 PM
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