Sunday, March 24, 2013

Discuss: The Little Guys and Gals


Edo Bosnar said...

What?! No Micronauts?! Okay, I know they only count when they're in our universe, but those stories in the initial ten-issue story arc when they're on Earth are really fun.
Otherwise, the shrinking heroes generally need to have a lot of personality, because their power is only useful in specific contexts (e.g. some microscopic alien invaders are attacking the JLA satellite's computer system, so they send the Atom in to deal with it). That's why my favorites are the Pyms; Wasp in particular became an awesome character under Stern's tenure on the Avengers.
The Ant Man costume, by the way, is really cool, so I really liked it when Scott Lang came along to 'revive' it.
On the DC side, I only really liked Atom in that those Sword of the Atom stories. I also kind of liked Shrinking Violet, but mainly because of that really cool costume that Cockrum designed for her.

Doug said...

I'll be curious to see today if anyone comes up with other "little guys" besides the ones I've pictured (which wasn't intended to be an inclusive list -- and Doll Man might be a stretch for many of our readers). So Micronauts is fine by me.

"Big guys" are next Sunday!


Matt Celis said...

You left out Tinyman from the 1966 "Split!" Captain Marvel series.

Atom had the best shrinking powers and best-designed costume. Also a cool origin story and independent girlfriend who kept declining his marriage proposals. And his best friend was Hawkman!

Bruce said...

With the Wasp, you almost have to talk about her pre-Roger Stern and post-Roger Stern. In the early years, she was the poster child for cringeworthy portrayals of women in comics. But once Stern got on the book, Jan grew into a team leader and in my opinion, the most interesting character in the book.

I hated the storyline where Hank Pym became an abusive husband. Just hated it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I never got into the "tiny titan" heroes; like Edo said their power is so limited they end up being useful only in certain stories. At least with Shrinking Violet they tried to make her power more useful (by making her head of the Legion's Espionage Division or whatever it was called).

As for other little people, the only ones I can think of are the "sub-atomic" types, like PsychoMan or Psyklop...and Jarella of course. There's also Princess Pearla from the early FF issues, but she was basically a non-entity as far as characterization goes...did she turn into a bad guy later? It's been a long time since I've read those stories.

Mike W.

Unknown said...

I always liked both the Atom and the Pyms. The JLA and the Avengers seem incomplete without them.

The Atom had all the attributes that Matt listed, plus art by Gil Kane. The JLA writers seemed to have a knack for making him useful, especially in regard to his scientific prowess. One issue in particular from the Dillin era had him save the day by using his weight controls to propel him through space when the satellite was under attack. giving him control of his weight as well as his size was a crafty move to make him formidable.

The Pyms, on the other hand, had the benefits of deeper characterization under Roy Thomas' reign on the Avengers. And I loved the Antman to Giantman to Goliath to Yellowjacket back to Antman to...uh, "who am I again" arc. At the time, it was unique for a Marvel hero to morph like that.

Curious fact about Doll Man: He was apparently one of Quality Comics' most popular features in the 40's. He had his own long running book that lasted into the 50's. I think he outlived every quality hero besides Blackhawk & Plastic Man. Like the rest of Quality's output, the art was of the finset caliber for the era. This is all per the Steranko History of Comics Vol. 2.

James Chatterton

William said...

I've always been a big fan of Ant-Man. (Probably because of his costume). I even did an Ant-Man piece for an art project back in 8th grade.

My favorite version of the character is Scott Lang, and Marvel Premiere #47-48 (the 2-part story where he is introduced) are some of my favorite comics of all time. Written by David Michelinie and drawn by John Byrne, it's one of the coolest origin stories of any super hero ever. In fact, just talking about it makes me want to go and read it again. See ya.

William said...

I almost forgot, if you want other examples of tiny heroes, there's always Mighty Man!

"Mighty Man and Yukk" was a cartoon on Saturday morning when I was a kid. Mighty Man was the "world's smallest super hero" and his sidekick Yukk was the worlds ugliest dog, who always had to wear a doghouse on his head to hide his hideous face. He was apparently so ugly, that if anyone looked at him, they lost consciousness. In fact it was this "power" that usually saved the day in most of the shows, (if I recall correctly).

Edo Bosnar said...

Heh, I remember that Mighty Man cartoon, William. It was never quite clear to me why Mighty Man was so small - if this was explained in one of the cartoons, I completely forgot about it.

By the way James, the art in those early Doll Man comics is indeed very nice. It's mostly by Lou Fine and Reed Crandall - since they're public domain, you can legally download them at the Digital Comic Museum, which is what I did. However, so far I've only skimmed through them to admire the art. Haven't read any of the stories yet - of which the early ones were apparently written by Will Eisner, who also created the character. In fact, I think Doll Man is actually the very first shrinking hero.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Micronauts definitely need to be included here. Loved DC's the Atom and Shrinking Violet, but Ant-man (both Pym and Scott Lang versions) is one of my favs too.

BTW, even if he was the first tiny superhero, Doll Man has to be one of the worst superhero names ever! "Beware the wrath of .... Doll Man ?" :)

Oooh can't wait for next week; bring on the big guys : Goliath, Giant-Man, Gog, Colossal Boy, Black Goliath. Hmm do Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors qualify here?

- Mike 'tiny in stature but giant in personality' from Trinidad & Tobago.

J.A. Morris said...

I'm with Bruce, Wasp is a much stronger character after Stern. But I think you can see the character maturing before that, in the Ultron, Nefaria & Korvac stories in the 160s & 170s.

I guess Yellow Jacket was my favorite incarnation of Hank. The silliest "power" Ant-Man had was "regular strength" of Henry Pym. Why would a punch by tiny Pym be any stronger than a punch at regular size? But the story where Ant-Man took out the Avengers (#161) was pretty great.

Matt Celis said...

How dare you forget the greatest grower of them all..Apache Chief!


Doug said...

Well, Matt, since the "big guys" aren't until next week, how do you know I "forgot" Apache Chief? Which I did, by the way...

Say, in one of the seemingly-endless Legion reboots, wasn't Colossal Boy's power to shrink? I think in the Mark Waid series Gim was from a planet of giants, so his giant-size was actually normal. Interesting take on a character with 50 years of backstory.


Matt Celis said...

'cause that was a reply to Mike's list...

But now you'll remember Apache Chief has fans!

david_b said...

Not much to add here, most of you all've lauded the praises as I would. Before I go further, I never followed LSH, but always thought Cockrum did a SUPERB job on Shrinking Violet's costume, smooth and slinky's the best.

As I've mentioned in the past, I invested some serious $ to complete my Marvel Universe and Legends line of all things Pym last year, having fell in love with the character. When I started collecting back in '73, I had no inkling of the Pyms, since they weren't in the lineup, and Triple Action wasn't featuring Goliath as of yet.

Truely, Avengers 161 got me up to speed and was one of the **coolest** stories ever to feature growth power; you really feel you're rooting for Hank, despite the mental breakdown. The pinnacle time Hank had as YJ was as a more-scientific Pym during the Byrne years. He also had a too-brief turn as a Defender in the regular title and scientifically would have worked with well with Strange, but Nighthawk came in to fill the supporting role instead, and there went that scientific-mystic marriage..

Avengers 93 was a great use of Antman with the entire 'inside Vision' portion, but a bit gratuitous ('What did it really add in the grand scheme of the story..?'). Agreed with most here, Lang served well as Antman, especially learning his powers, very entertaining, then coming to bat during the Siege story.

How the growth portrayal'll be portrayed on the big screen is anyone's guess, but LOTS of great potential. Antman is one of Stan Lee's favorite characters and always wanted a feature done on him (an early idea was instead used for 'Honey I Shrunk the Kids' according to the 'Untold Stories' book..). With CGI these days, you could really make the 'miniature perspective' quite awesome, we'll have to see. My first impression would be shrink/growth powers that utterly fantastic would be hard to portray and still keep some cool human perspective, but eh, with what Wheldon's already done.., I've been wrong before.

Doug said...

Apologies, Matt -- the comments on my iTouch display as "replies", but on my laptop it's just one long thread. Assumed you were addressing me.

But rest assured, I have added Apache Chief and even Elastigirl to next week's stable of "bigs".


William said...

Hey, couldn't Elasti-Girl of the Doom Patrol get either small or big? I think she could.

Karen said...

I gotta say, I just never really saw the usefulness of little heroes. As Edo mentioned, they were really only good for very specific missions. Personally, if I was in trouble, I'd rather have Batman or Captain America around than the Wasp or the Atom! They might not have any powers but I think they'd be more likely to help me out than some tiny hero. Heck, I might even call Aquaman ahead of one of those guys.

But I suppose if I needed my keys retrieved from behind the sofa, then a call to Ant-Man or Doll Man might be warranted.

Yeah, I'm in a snarky mood. It's been a heck of a weekend.

david_b said...

Elasti-Girl is basically Ralph Digby or Reed Richards, stretching is not really considered growth, is it..?

Karen, as for 'shrinkage' powers, the only time I found it actually effective is shrinking down to Micro-size to crawl inside an enemy's ear or armor, especially a robotic foe..., to start pullin' wires.

Matt Celis said...

Elasti-Girl does grow as well as stretch. I think she also shrinks at times.

Ralph Dibny just stretches.

Doug said...

David --

Doom Patrol version, not Incredibles version.


david_b said...

Ah, EG from Doom Patrol..., nope, never followed them.

I was referring to Elastic-Girl from 'The Incredibles'.

Rip Jagger said...

I'm a big Hank Pym fan, but when it comes to shrinkage the Atom is the best. Both Doll Man and Ant-Man (later Yellowjacket) shrank to be obscure in this world, but only the Atom really used shrinking regularly to enter unknown worlds and move between the molecules. Using the phone lines to travel from one place to another remains one of the coolest things any superhero has ever done.

As for other shrinkers, I give you Dyna-Mite of The Crusaders who later becomes Mighty Destroyer.

Rip Off

Inkstained Wretch said...

What?! No Mighty Mouse?! For shame...

The Atom was my favorite of all of these. Cool costume, neat powers and usually rendered by the great Gil Kane and in the JLA by Dick Dillin.

Kane in particular was a master at getting the visual perspective right. There are numerous pitfalls with drawing a character supposed 6 inches tall. Few other artists have been able to make it work. They usually make tiny characters seem weak and useless. But Kane made it work to his advantage, story-wise. Check out these vintage covers:

Sword of the Atom is a particular favorite of mine, as I've mentioned on this website many times.

I never much cared for Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, although I will admit the costume designs for both were cool. I guess it just because I don't like bugs and so the association with them puts me off of the character. That goes for the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man too.

It didn't help that Henry Pym got the rough end in a lot of Avengers stories, largely I think because his solo series never took off and therefore writers had a license to mess around with him in a way that they wouldn't with heroes with an independent following, like Iron Man or Thor.

I was never much of a fan of Wasp either, largely because she just came across as a frivolous character most of the time, though yeah, she improved during the later Stern run.

I did like both characters much better in the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes series, which tweaked their personalities to make them more interesting. Making Pym a pacifist was a nice touch and c contrast with the other characters. Turning him into a tortured hard-ass version of Yellowjacket was a waste I thought...

I always thought the Freedom Fighters were cool even if the JLA Earth-X story gave them nowhere to go artistically after that. But Doll Man was, well... it's just hard to get past that name. And those little shoes...

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