Thursday, June 23, 2016

When the Tiny Tackles the Titanic

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s irradiated giant monsters from the 1950s would occasionally rampage into their irradiated superhero titles in the 1960s. Liking them both, I was happy to see that happen.
Case in point: Tales to Astonish 39 (Jan. 1963). It’s yet another example of the “mirror image enemy:” an insect-sized hero pitted against a gigantic intelligent insect. 
Made titanic in both stature and intellect, the Scarlet Beetle forms an insect army and turns it against humanity, with termites cutting off communications and bees and spiders attacking and immobilizing police and public officials. Can even the Astonishing Ant-Man stop him?
Turns out he can, although not without being redundant (Note to Dr. Pym: all telepathy is mental)
The tale’s conclusion even manages to be a little touching, as Hank Pym releases the de-powered and re-sized insect, who’d after all merely been a pawn of fate, to crawl away on his lawn. It’s perhaps the best ending since the Fantastic Four turned the Skrulls into cows and left them mooing in a pasture.

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