Last year I got unavoidably sidetracked on my resolution from 2012 to read every Silver Age Marvel super-hero comic from Fantastic Four #1 in the order they were published. This year I resumed my mission and I've just finished the issues published in September 1965. That includes Avengers #22, which is the second part of the two-part story that introduced Power Man, who teamed with the Enchantress to discredit the new Avengers and cause them to break up. After blackmailing, framing and attempting to murder them, and after proving that they had been set up, the Avengers and the police let him go because he's sad that the Enchantress left him. 

Anyway, in the middle of the story is a three-panel sequence in which the narrator and the public ask why the original Avengers don't come back and straighten up the mess. Iron Man and Thor are busy in their own titles, and Giant-Man's (and one assumes, the Wasp's) mysterious disappearance is mentioned.

This comes more than a year after Giant-Man's last story in Tales to Astonish. As far as I've been able to discover, this is the last Silver Age appearance of Henry Pym's Giant-Man costume and identity before Pym's  later cameo appearance in the Sub-Mariner strip in Tales to Astonish and before he takes the identity of Goliath after he returns in the Avengers half a year later. And he's wearing his helmet and vest costume, which I liked a lot.

Well, *I* thought it was interesting.

Hoy

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Yeah, I thought that costume was kinda cool, too, if for no other reason than it seemed to offer some protection, whereas most other super-suits didn't. One of the things that worried the Li'l Capn in those days was that he couldn't figure out how Giant-Man survived -- he might have gotten bigger and stronger, but that wouldn't make him any more bulletproof. When you have a giant eyeball for a target, it would be hard to miss.But the helmet and vest might protect him a little bit from, say, a tommy gun.

If he grew big enough the force of the bullets might be spent before they neared anything vital. But he didn't normally grow that big (and in fact couldn't and remain mobile in Avengers #7).

Yeah, they tried to limit his height at different times to -- and this is from memory, and could be wrong -- 10 feet, 12 feet and 15 feet.

Yes. Yet in Hoy's extract, he must be over 60 feet tall.


Luke Blanchard said:

Yes. Yet in Hoy's extract, he must be over 60 feet tall.

The Giant-Man series in Tales to Astonish was not air-tight as far as continuity of his powers were concerned, but it was fairly consistent on the heights he could attain and the effects it had on him.

In "The Coming of . . . Colossus", from Tales to Astonish # 58 (Aug., 1964), Giant-Man discovers that he attains his maximum strength at a height of twelve feet.  He can grow larger than that, but his strength diminishes proportionately from its max the larger he gets over twelve feet.

This was iterated in the next issue, which carried a back-up feature, "Let's Learn About Hank and Jan".

Nevertheless, there are times when additional height is more advantageous to G-M than additional strength, and some stories had him grow to larger heights, such as fifty feet.  (ToA # 64 [Feb., 1965], et al.)  However, one hundred feet appeared to be the maximum height he could obtain.  (ToA # 68 [Jun., 1965]).

When Pym returns to the Avengers, as Goliath, in The Avengers # 28 (May, 1966), he relates how changing sizes frequently has put too much strain on his body (a concern brought up in the last story of his series in ToA---issue 69 [Jul., 1965]).  Thus, he can safely grow to a single height---twenty-five feet---and, to avoid harm, he must return to his normal size within fifteen minutes.

At the end of the tale, though, Goliath exceeds his quarter-of-an-hour limit, and diminishes to a ten-feet height before passing out.  When he regains consciousness, he discovers that he has lost the ability to change sizes.  He cannot even return to his normal height; he is stuck at ten feet tall.

Though to casual memory, Pym seems trapped at that height for a longer period of time, he actually regains all of his size-changing powers in The Avengers # 35 (Dec., 1966).

Though Goliath has his complete range of size-changing restored, he does most of his Avengering at a ten- or twelve-foot height.  And there's apparently no ill effects until, in The Avengers # 48 (Jan., 1968), he is forced to grow to twenty-five feet in order to save some bystanders from falling masonry.  There's some strain involved, and Goliath reflects that growing to such a height might be injurious to his body.  Yet,he returns to his twelve-foot height with no apparent problems.

Notably, though in the next two issues, all of his super-deeds are performed as Ant-Man; he is never seen any larger than his normal height.  In issue # 50 (Mar., 1968), Pym's thoughts confirm that he has lost his power to increase his size.

It's a short-lived problem,though, as in the next issue, the Assemblers run afoul of the Collector again, and he does not want a flawed Avenger added to his trophy room.  So he uses his alien science to restore Goliath's power to grow.  In fact, he improves it, for when it's all over, Goliath can attain a height of twenty-five feet with no strain, no fuss, no muss.

After that, he gets along just fine, shooting up and down in height easily---until he decides to chunk the whole "giant" angle with that Yellowjacket business.

I've always been fond of Hank and Jan, but it seems like they were following the failed playbook of the original Hulk six-issue run. From issue to issue radical changes were made, as if they didn't know what to do with him.

Thanks, as always, Commander. The twelve-foot optimum goes right back to the debut of Hank's Giant-Man identity in Tales to Astonish #49, where the instalment opens with a growth experiment having gone wrong. Hank talks of being "almost too weak to move" and "too big to support my own weight" when too oversized.

In Tales to Astonish#58, Hank tries growing to twice his 12 foot height to fight Colossus, but finds the strain is too much for him, returns to 12 feet, and tries what seems to be wrestling moves and some judo (probably taught to him by Captain America) on the alien. At the end of his series he nearly passes out changing size and decides it means his powers have weakened his body. (Oddly he never thinks it might have something to do with him temporarily losing his powers in the previous issue because of the Hidden Man's (another alien) Rays of Doom.) He decides he should only use one size from now on, and oddly picks 35 feet, even though Jan points out there will be a lot of places he won't be able to go (it also goes against his earlier problems of growing past 12 feet.) In his final issue he escapes a trap by instantly shrinking to ant-size, which the previous story sort of implied he couldn't do anymore.

I'd guess Stan saying "Your guess is as good as ours" was to see if there was any interest in bringing Hank and Jan back. Stan said he got rid of the original Avengers because "they were just too darned powerful." Don't know why he felt Giant-Man was all that powerful (Stan says in a five page story that at 12 feet he can lift a ton, which would mean normal Hank Pym is stronger than Daredevil, showing he probably didn't understand the square-cube rule) but that would explain both why Hank suddenly triples his height once he's off the team, then gets trapped at 10 feet when he brought him back. It seems like Pietro's super speed and Wanda's unpredictable could feasibly do anything powers would make the Avengers more powerful than a guy that can pick up 2000 pounds though. Did Stan decide Hank and Jan were failed characters and felt removing them in the same issue he dropped Thor and Iron Man would make it look like he was just changing the team and not dumping heroes that just weren't working out?

  

Stan seemed to have trouble keeping up with his own changes in Hank's strengths, limitations, and which height worked best, and since Giant-Man also appeared in the Avengers with a different artist, no wonder he got confused.  Hank also got the late ability to make other things grow (remember Boopsie?) but that went away after the strip was canceled. 

With a limited number of titles that Marvel could publish each month, I suppose it made sense to cancel the two least-favorite strips - Human Torch in Strange Tales and Giant-Man in Tales to Astonish - to make room for new series, but Giant-Man was one of my favorites and I was doubly sad when he got the boot from Avengers. 

Those last few stories drawn by Bob Powell sure were pretty, though. 

Hoy

Guys, all this Giant-Man talk has made me nostalgic.

Is the Giant-Man Epic collection worth buying (digital maybe) -- or is it painfully dated?

Discuss.

Richard:

Even if the stories seem dated, you've still got lots of artwork by Kirby, Heck, Ayers and Powell, in color, so I'd say it's a good buy. I bought it even though I have the originals and the Essential reprints. My one complaint is that it cuts off before the end of the strip and there aren't enough left to fill a second volume. 

Besides, you'll get to see such great villains as Egghead, the Porcupine and the Human Turnip Top!

Hoy

Thankyou Hoy.
Another one on the Wish List!

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