Marvel Feature #7-10
Issue(s): Marvel Feature #7, Marvel Feature #8, Marvel Feature #9, Marvel Feature #10
Frankly, it seems like a story about Henry Pym just can't help but turn into a big joke. I know a lot of it is that i've conditioned myself to look for it, but it's hard not to see. So we'll go through it and take a look.
If the goal was indeed a barbarian/fantasy type of theme, it fails right off the bat because it starts off with the Pyms getting chased by a guy with a butterfly net. But the art does do a decent job of depicting the world from an ant-size; where stalks of grass become an impenetrable jungle and a stream bed is an uncrossable ravine.
The Pyms are supposedly on their neighbors' property: the Woytuses. But they are captured by a man named Boswell.
Was Boswell running through the Woytus' backyard? Are the Woytuses ok with that sort of thing? Is Boswell the local neighborhood kook?
One thing's for sure: Pym seems to live on mad scientist row. This guy Boswell has created an out of control robot (sound familiar?) that likes to be called Para-Man. It tricked Boswell into creating stronger and stronger bodies for it until it was able to control Boswell, and now it's making Boswell collect insects because he wishes to gain their "immense" powers.
It takes Boswell and Para-Man a long time to recognize that the Pyms are actually tiny people, not insects. It's said that Boswell's eyes are weak, and i guess Para-Man's image recognition software isn't top of the line. But it also illustrates a problem that's actually quite common to Ant-Man stories. Is Ant-Man really ant sized? Because he and Janet are rarely drawn that small. Are they drawn bigger than they really are due to practical limitations, and we're supposed to assume they're really smaller? But you can't catch an ant with a butterfly net. And if they're as big as they look, you'd have to be literally blind to not realize that you've got a pair of tiny humans, not bugs.
Anyway, Pym spends the rest of issue #7 trying to escape from a glass bottle and then Para-Man's body is destroyed in a fire. His head lives on...
...but this is the last we'll see of him.
Para-Man's design kinda sucks and so does his name, but i would have loved to see a meeting between Para-Man and Ultron one day.
Anyway, the Wasp was less effective than usual during the Para-Man adventure, and at the end of issue #7 we find out why.
Those of you who think that when the Wasp turned into an actual Wasp monster in the late 1990s it was for the first time, think again. Here it is for the first time in glorious 1970s crap instead of glorious 1990s crap.
Issue #8 must have been running late because what we have here is a quick framing sequence surrounding a reprint of the Wasp's first appearance in Tales To Astonish #44. I bought it for the reprint, and was disappointed that i couldn't place the issue properly due to a page and a half of a tiny Hank Pym being chased by his mutated wife. I've subsequently gotten a separate copy of the original, so this entry covers the sparse original material only.
Jim Starlin is brought in to help Russell on this issue (only). You'd think artwork drawn by a P. Craig Russell and Jim Starlin combo would be awesome, but it's not very good at all. Must have been rushed (but it was only three pages!) and/or these guys hadn't solidified their abilities yet.
I just love the idea of Pym's wife turning into a "savage murderess" bent on his death. It's so perfect for him. This whole sequence could just be happening in his head.
And his solution for defeating her is finding his cybernetic helmet so that he can force her to obey his mental commands. Wow; you couldn't ask for more subtext.
These scenes do allow for some cool "stuck at ant size" (or "ant" size) moments, like when Pym encounters a rat and later a cat.
Jan herself is pretty terrible looking, though.
Although she does look kind of like a caricature of a wife coming in to yell at you for spending too much time watching the game (or playing with test tubes).
One thing i think is interesting is that the reason Janet is mutating and Pym isn't is because the cure that Pym tried to develop to fix his problem in the last arc is reacting with the genetics in Jan's transplanted wasp cells. Which means that her whole genetic structure must have changed after she got the wings. Pym, meanwhile, says by contrast that his chemistry is "ant-tainted", which i think is surprising or not correct.
Pym developed his shrinking potion before ever considering ants. And of course he also normally can grow to giant-size, which wouldn't have anything to do with ants. So i wouldn't think he would have any ant DNA in him. Unless he's been doing some further tampering, which i wouldn't put past him.
Anyway, remember, we're on mad scientist row here, so after temporarily forcing the Wasp back into human form, the Pyms are picked up by another mad scientist, Dr. Nemesis.
And just like that, it's all over. Issue #10 of this series only has 11 pages of new content (the rest has really goofy horror stories from the 1950s comic Mystic; #35 by Al Hartley and #14 by Tony DiPreta)...
...and starting with issue #11 the series will become a Thing team-up book that morphs into Marvel Two-In-One. Dr. Nemesis cures the Pyms so that the series can wrap up.
Nemesis duplicates Pym's powers while he's administering the cure, and he briefly forces Pym into helping him break into Avengers Mansion, but Pym is able to beat him. These panels really fail to illustrate all the size changing that is supposed to be going on...
...again because i think the series was just running into deadline issues. Remember that issue #8 was all fill-in, and #9 had a few pages with weirdly spaced panels that looked like an attempt to reduce the amount that needed to be drawn.
The other Avengers show up to find out that Pym is still alive...
...and then it's all back to "normal".
Oh, Nemesis was working for AIM, and it turns out that they had built a tunnel from Nemesis's place to the Avengers Mansion without anyone knowing.
This Dr. Nemesis will appear again, and he's not to be confused with the white-masked Golden Age character that eventually joins the X-Men's science team.
While the Pyms were trapped at their small size and presumed dead, Bill Foster shows up to look for them. He's not convinced they are dead. Iron Man, on the other hand, is convinced and also doesn't seem all that broken up about it.
I really like Bill's thought bubble about Iron Man there about how he makes "quick judgement based on the highest probabilities" which would make him a "good business exec". It's a bit brute force, but i like it and i wish i could say that Friedrich really used that understanding in IM's title, which he was writing at the time, but it doesn't really shine through.
Foster also has an argument with Whirlwind (in his chauffeur identity) and the Pym's lawyer, Blackburn.
In issue #10 there's an acknowledgement around the science problems with Pym's ability to gain and lose mass as he grows and shrinks, but no explanation.
There were some pretty brutal letters sent in to these issues. Marvel claims that the letters were first split 50/50 and then were 2 to 1 in favor of the book but i guess the fact that the series was cancelled speaks for itself. I do like Russell's art; that's taking into account the fact that these issues were clearly rushed. But storywise, when Pym wasn't getting chased around by his wife he was getting chased by a butterfly net. What else to say?
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm assuming a little time has passed since the end of issue #6 since the tiny duo has made it to their neighbor's yard (which could have taken several days). The MCP has the Avengers here circa Avengers #109.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showBill Foster, Black Panther, Captain America, Dr. Nemesis (Pym foe), Henry Pym, Iron Man, Vision, Wasp, Whirlwind
Hmmm...thinking of separating the Wasp origin stuff and putting it with the actual place in the continuity so we can be stuck with "the Wasp monster' here?
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 1, 2012 8:57 AM
This, Captain Marvel #36, and Giant-Size Super-Villain Team-Up #1 have annoyed me due to the framing sequences that prevent me from putting the original stories in their proper places. That'll all be addressed in the Great Back Issue Addition of 2012, coming soon.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 1, 2012 2:44 PM
This was the only Marvel art by Mark Kersey.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 30, 2013 3:22 PM
For fans of "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law": Reducto would have a MAJOR shit-fit over the lawyer Blackburn's spectacles!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | March 15, 2018 10:17 PM
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