Friday, November 15, 2013

Marvels: Tales to Astonish #41

"Prisoner of the Slave World!" by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & Don Heck
(March 1963)

Here's the story: a bunch of prominent scientists are disappearing without explanation. Henry tries to figure out where they've gone, and then a window-washer douses him with some kind of fluid, sending him to another dimension where an alien warlord named Kulla is holding the scientists prisoner in order to make an atomic death ray to use on his enemies. Henry becomes Ant-Man, figures out how to command the local insects, tells the insects to use the death ray on Kulla, and then a bunch of freedom fighters come in and defeat their oppressors. The Earth scientists go home and then one of them wonders how the heck Ant-Man was even there in the first place. Wink at the viewer, and that's another Ant-Man story in the can.

There's just not much to Ant-Man yet. Lots of potential, but it's just not working. I know I said I was tired of Ant-Man fighting spies and gangsters and would-be racketeers, but having him go to another dimension to outwit aliens is just too far in the opposite direction. There's no middle yet.

The story's rendered even more pointless by the fact that it feels very routine. Thor and the Human Torch have already had very similar adventures, and at least the Torch's featured an alien princess and swamp demons.

That said, I like Don Heck's art for the character. It's breezy without feeling unfinished, and he seems to enjoy getting to ink himself. Good lines, but not showing off. It's the best thing about this forgettable story.

Next time: enter the Watcher!

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