See, I just don't understand comic book fans.
Give a guy claws and a penchant for saying "Bub" and you're all over him like William Shatner at a "2-for-1" toupee sale.
Take a classic character like, say, The Batman
, break his back, horribly mess up the books, and then fix it later, and you call come trotting happily back like wayward puppies.
But create a character with depth, background, and more importantly an questioning sense of being downright human
, and you all glance around nervously, twiddle your thumbs, and try not to look embarrassed.
I mean, for god's sake, people, Rob Liefeld
still has fans. There's no excuse for this guy not having a larger fan club:
Yeah, you heard me. Him. Ant-Man.
Despite the fact he's carried his own series, the fact that his life is directly tied with with several
other Marvel heroes and villains, and the fact that the guy has more emotional depth than the entirety of anything published by the entire Cliffhanger
line of comics, the guy seems permanently stuck, fan-wise, as an eternal "second stringer".
To which I'd like to add that a majority of comic book fans, pooling all their intelligence into one vast hive-mind combined intelligence, would still lose a game that required wits (say, chess) against the inhabitants of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood of Make Believe.
Even with the handicap of the puppets being sans
various hands controlling them.
Okay, let's step way back in time here to a point where even our own venerated Animal might have trouble recalling.
The comic is Tales to Astonish, and quite frankly, in the early days, it sucked. The comic was mostly reserved for deep and dramatic "monster tales" with "shock endings" that would be hard pressed to startle a wide-eyed group of Campfire Girls. In the woods at dark. In Transylvania.
So, yeah. We're not talking high-quality print here. I'll concede that.
However, one month, churned off the charts is Tales to Astonish #27, with the so titled "The Man In The Ant Hill".
This introduced our hero, Henry ("Hank", if you're feeling randy) Pym, who manages to concoct a potion that allows him to shrink to the size of ants and visit with them. Oh, the hilarity. Oh, the shock value.
Funny thing was, that month, sales spiked
Stan Lee, being able to smell money on the other side of a cement wall, quickly saw a chance to take what was a doomed comic line and turn it into something...well, better.
Quickly, the diminutive Ant-Man became the star of Tales to Astonish, and sales quickly grew. And he managed to survive. This, being a man whose superpowers, granted, didn't really seem that useful at first when pitted against your standard superpowered supervillain ("Stop! Or I'll get small so you can trod that size nine shoe onto me like I was nothing!") But, he managed, along with the best comrades in arms any plucky young go-getter superhero could ever hope for.
No, not the Justice League. Try again.
?! Are you people even listening to me?
You do this just to frustrate me. I know you do.
The ants, people! The ants! Didn't you see the cover shown above?
Ant-Man, with the help of a little cybernetic helmet (their words, not mine) managed to communicate telepathically with all kinds of ants, using them as his comrades to take on the forces of evil.
...though to be honest, I kept waiting for the day where Ant-Man, standing amongst an army of devoted followers, would point up high and shout, "Now, my friends! The world rests on our hands, and we are its only hope! Now go, attack Galactus!"
Panel 2 would shown Ant-Man standing by himself, a large cloud of dust as hundreds of little legs skedaddled themselves to the next time zone
Now, despite the fact that the ants were about as loyal a group of friends as you could hope for, Hank realized something was missing from his life. Something to bring new freshness to his being. Someone to spend his days with fighting superbaddies. A life-partner.
...one without an exoskeleton, smartalecks.
Anyway, Hank Pym soon teamed up with the winsome and yet curvaceous Janet Van Dyne, a bored rich girl whose sense of adventure was easily filled by a quick dose of a slightly modified shrinking potion, and hey! Nubile sidekick, ahoy!
(Note: This image is used, as I can't find a simple good comic page reproduction of her. Never let it be said I don't give the fans what they want. And also note that, for the most part, this pretty well explains the roles women had in early comics.)
The Wasp also added a much-needed dose of humor to the comics in those early days, as well. This comes in handy, when one of your most serious threats was named "The Porcupine."
Unfortunately, the Wasp also was used to continue the shoddy "monster" tales, by devoting the end of each book to her reading whatever schlock Stan Lee had gotten inspiration for from "The Outer Limits" to a group of children she'd visit on a regular basis at the nearest hospital, who apparently the doctors felt hadn't suffered enough anguish and pain in their lives.
"Not What They Seem" "When Wakes The Colossus" "Somewhere Waits The Wobbow"
Yeah, you're all thinking right now "Gee, Miss Rakka, I'm sure glad they included THOSE storytelling classics into this!"
Well, get comfy, folks. Coming soon, another addition to the tales of the tiny yet titanic hero.
And watch where you step.
The ants don't take well to that.