Series Disambiguation (Ant-Man): Page 3 of 8

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2nd February 2023
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Avengers (1st series) – (1963-1965)

By the fall of 1963, the Marvel Universe had a strong foundation of solid characters and it only made sense for Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to bring several of these together into a team book. So it was in September 1963 that Ant-Man and Wasp joined Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk to form the Avengers, also known as “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Ironically, however, Hank Pym’s tenure as Ant-Man only lasted that first issue. Avengers #2 coincided with Tales to Astonish #49 in which he adopted the identity of Giant-Man. Pym would continue to use that identity for over a year in the Avenger title.

At this point, Pym’s dropping use of the Ant-Man identity pulls the focus of this article away. However, as Hank Pym later re-adopted the identity briefly in a later Avengers’ story, a quick rundown of his name changes will no doubt provide clarity.

After adopting the Giant-Man identity in Avengers (1st series) #2, Pym would continue to use the name until his departure with Avengers (1st series) #16, in which he and the Wasp departed for a long-deserved vacation. This departure, in turn, corresponded with his and the Wasp’s exit from the Tales to Astonish title. Along with the Wasp, Pym would return in Avengers (1st series) #28, at which point he adopted a new costume and the new identity of Goliath. Later still with #59, chemically-induced mania led him to adopt the identity of Yellowjacket. Curiously, Pym abandoned all hero identities altogether when he returned the public sector in his capacity as a bio-chemist in #75.

Oddly, when he next appeared in Avengers (1st series) #93, then Avengers writer Roy Thomas had Hank Pym return not as Yellowjacket but having re-adopted the identity of Ant-Man. Pym was thusly attired when he answered a call for the original Avengers to assemble for a meeting. By happenstance, the android Avenger known as the Vision had suffered some unknown malady and no one knew how to assist, given his physiology. It was Pym who offered to journey into the center of the android to assist in his repair. During the journey, Ant-Man displayed some new tricks, specifically a jetpack. Unfortunately, this useful addition to his repertoire would not be seen again, either in Pym’s version of Ant-Man or in the Ant-Man who followed him. Following the end of his assistance, Pym said his farewells to the Avengers, though it was clear that he would keep his restored identity.

Writers Artists
  • #1 - Stan Lee
  • #93 - Roy Thomas
  • #1 - Jack Kirby
  • #93 - Neal Adams

Marvel Feature (1st series) – (1972-1973)

Following his appearance in Avengers, Hank Pym would next be seen in a 9-page solo back-up story in Iron Man (1st series) #44. However, his next appearance thereafter would be the closest thing that an Ant-Man would have to a solo series since Tales to Astonish.

In the early 1970s, Marvel had several short-lived, semi-monthly series that served as testing grounds for new characters or concepts. There were two such series named Marvel Feature, one which began late in 1971 and a second that began in 1975. The first three issues of this first series were dedicated to a new super-hero team – the Defenders. By the end of the third issue, it seemed that editorial felt that there was enough interest in this “non-team” to warrant its own series, so in late 1972 the Defenders graduated to their own title. Looking for a new subject to test, Marvel settled on Ant-Man.

To give him the maximum chance at being picked-up by a casual reader, Ant-Man’s first story in Marvel Feature (1st series) #4 co-starred Spider-Man. However, by the end of the first issue, a new status quo was established with Hank Pym being unable to return to his normal height. Years later in a forward to a Marvel Masterworks containing the story, writer Mike Friedrich stated that this was suggested by editor Roy Thomas, him having been a fan of the 1957 movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, which followed the plight of Robert Carey, a man who passed through a mysterious mist and discovered that he was slowly shrinking. The problems such an individual would face were mirrored many years later with the 1989 film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Despite his size, in the issues that followed he faced against old foes again – both Egghead and the Human Top (now known as Whirlwind). However, it was at the hands of a new foe, the self-styled Doctor Nemesis, that Hank Pym’s predicament was solved. Wishing to gain entrance into Avengers Mansion to steal its secrets, Doctor Nemesis had cured Pym but then blackmailed him by threatening the captive Wasp. At first, Pym played along but, at the right moment, turned against Doctor Nemesis, allowing the Avengers to capture him.

Although Ant-Man departed, Marvel Feature continued for two more issues, with the Fantastic Four’s Thing as the main character but co-starring another hero: the Hulk for #11 and Iron Man for #12. These two issues were evidently the testing ground for the Thing’s own series, which began the following year in 1974 as Marvel Two-in-One.

As for Hank Pym himself, this marked the last appearance with him as Ant-Man. When next seen in Avengers (1st series) #137, he had readopted the identity of Yellowjacket. To date, he has yet to ever adopt his first identity again. One of the reasons for this, however, was that others stepped up to take the mantle.

Writers Artists
  • #4-10 - Mike Fiedrich
  • #4-6 - Herb Trimpe
  • #7-10 - P. Craig Russell

Marvel Premiere (1979)

As noted earlier, Marvel Feature was not the only anthology series created by Marvel in the early 1970s to test characters. Another was Marvel Premiere, which began in early 1972. Although he had appeared earlier in Fantastic Four as “Him,” the first two issues of Marvel Premiere chronicled this character’s adoption of the name Adam Warlock. Two years later, Iron First made his first appearance in #15 and starred in the book for almost a year. After another four years of the title being used as a vehicle for characters that could never sustain their own title, editorial decided to use the series as a way to introduce a new Ant-Man.

The new Ant-Man was created by David Michelinie, possibly at the request of Marvel editorial who wished to re-use the property since Hank Pym was again using the identity of Yellowjacket. At the time, Michelinie was writing Avengers, so he used an opportunity to insert his new character of Scott Lang as a Stark Industries employed security technician, installing a new security system in Avengers Mansion in Avengers (1st series) #181. The following month, Scott Lang appeared in Marvel Premiere #47 in April 1979.

Michelinie began the story in media res, with Lang already in costume and delivering a left hook to a security goon, while a patient lay in the middle of surgery on a table just a few feet away. After a few pages, Lang’s backstory was filled in via flashbacks. Although he was a genius with electronics, Lang had sought after the “quick buck” of burglary, only to be caught and sent to prison. Now freed, he went on the straight-and-narrow, earning an interview and employment with Stark International, designing advanced security systems.

Things turned dark for Lang, however, when his young daughter Cassie developed a rare heart condition, one that required experimental surgery which could only be carried out by one known individual, Dr. Erica Sondheim. By happenstance, Lang witnessed the doctor being kidnapped and soon learned that she was being held at a massive factory owned by Cross Technological Enterprises. Assuming he needed to hire “muscle” to infiltrate the facility, Lang reluctantly returned to burglary to raise funds. Again, by happenstance, the first house he burgled was owned by Henry Pym and Lang happened upon an old version of Pym’s Ant-Man costume. Realizing that this was the answer, Lang donned the costume and used it to infiltrate and rescue Dr. Sondheim, who had been kidnapped by industrial Darren Cross to resolve his own heart problem. With Sondheim now free, she was able to perform the operation, saving Cassie’s life.

At the end of the story, Scott Lang actually met with Hank Pym, who informed Lang that he had been aware of his act of burglary at the time and had allowed it to happen. At first curious as to why the burglar would steal his old costume, Pym soon became impressed at how he used it. As such, Pym not only offered his congratulations to Lang but the costume itself, allowing Lang to keep it. After all, he told him, “The world can always use another hero.”

While it could not have been intended at the time, in creating Scott Lang, writer David Michelinie had created a second super-hero, or at least her secret identity. Twenty-six years after he created her, young Cassie Lang would grow up to become the young woman Cassandra Lang and she assumed the size-changing identity of Stature in the first Young Avengers series in 2006 and later still, Stinger in 2016.

Marvel Premiere #47 & 48 were the only two issues of that series for Scott Lang’s Ant-Man II. Nonetheless, Marvel’s latest shrinking hero made appearances as a supporting in other titles – Iron Man (1st series) #133, 145, 151 & 156; Avengers (1st series) #195-196, 223-224; Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #103, Marvel Two-in-One #87, Rom #58-59. Although not an Avenger himself, Lang was recruited by the Wasp to assist with taking back the Avengers Mansion from the Masters of Evil in the highly-regarded “Under Siege” storyline. He also offered his assistance to Tony Stark at the beginning of his Armor Wars crusade in Iron Man (1st series) #225 and appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #24 and Iron Man Annual #12.

After all of these sparse appearances, the second Ant-Man would become a much more prominent and ongoing character in a well-established series… and it was fantastic.

Writers Artists
  • #47-48 - David Michelinie
  • #47-48 - John Byrne