A Mighty Tale Told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
The Creature from Kosmos!
January 19, 1963
Maria rubbed the bridge of her nose as she read over the report for the hundredth time. Janet had managed to obtain an official copy of the coroner's findings, and she had to admit, things did not look promising. "I know something is missing, but what?"
The report told a simple if somewhat puzzling tale. Dr. Vernon van Dyne had been working late in the lab, between the hours of ten P.M. and one A.M., when he his heart gave out. When looking at his history of heart illness, largely brought on by unhealthy work habits, the entire case seemed open and shut. So why did it pick at the back of her mind?
"Janet swore she would hear her father talking to someone. There was no phone in the lab, nor any radio equipment. Plus there was nothing to suggest the man was having any sort of mental problems, so where does that leave us?" She popped her back before standing up.
"Somehow, Dr. van Dyne managed to be the scared to death by something, but not before he scribbled out a warning to Hank. But why?" Photographs she had taken were spread out before her on the table. Small as she was, she was able to sneak in and take them while the police were making their investigations.
Everything had been carefully labeled. She had taken almost enough pictures as the police, but she still failed to come to any conclusions. Glancing at one picture that had been knocked loose from the rest, she was about to place it back with the others when she spotted something. "Hang on…"
The photo showed a machine in the center of the lab. She had no idea of to its purpose; neither did anyone else for that matter, so she had no idea as to what its status was supposed to be. Holding the picture up to the light and grabbing a magnifying glass, she peered at the photo. "Yes!"
In the center of the machine was a glass visor and shield. The glass in the visor was broken, but she had just realized something; the glass had been broken from the inside.
"So what could have caused that?"
Hank nervously tapped his foot. The police had questioned him, and everyone else, but the sheer boredom that was setting in was making him edgy. All the labs had been locked down, but no one was permitted to leave. "Hmm, I wonder if the Ant-Man might be able to help speed things up?"
Slipping out to his car, under the pretense that he just wanted a smoke, Hank slid in behind the wheel and removed a portable version of his ant transmitter. Slipping it on, he tuned to the frequency and hoped that the ants might have picked up something useful on the killer. The static faded away, but it was replaced with something else: screaming.
The ants were all collectively screaming. Hank tried to speak, but his voice quickly joined in as something drove nearly all the insects into a frenzied state. His temples throbbed with pain as he felt his mind slipping away into a monsoon of madness.
Maria brought the magnifying glass closer to the picture. "No way about it, something was inside that machine!" Looking at the rest of the lab, from the broken chair to the scattered vials and beakers, painted a picture of something large slithering out from the device and past the late van Dyne. "But how did it escape?"
The phone's ringing startled her train of thought. Putting the glass down, she picked it up in the kitchen. "Yes?"
When the voice on the other line spoke, she felt her stomach drop out.
Later, at the City Hospital
Maria and Janet stood out in the hall while a doctor exited Hank's room. "What happened doctor?"
The man shook his head. "Nervous collapse I'd say. The police found him slumped over his steering wheel." Holding his hands up, he gentle blocked the way. "No visitors yet I'm afraid. We had to give him a mild sedative to calm him down. The poor devil almost bit off his tongue while we were treating him."
Maria nodded mutely as Janet carefully stepped in front of her and led the doctor away. When the coast was clear, Maria shrank and walked under the door. Enlarging, she gasped at the sight of Hank. "Hank!"
Hank was tied to the bed, an IV hooked up to his arm. "Maria?" His voice was raspy and weak.
"Hank darling, what happened?" She was by his side in an instant.
"The ants, Maria, the ants! Something is out there, something so alien they can't conceive of it. Maria, my mind! My mind was one with theirs and they are suffering!" He weakly thrashed against his bonds. She pressed a hand to his forehead.
"Be still my love." Hank's words played out in her mind. Dimly recalling Hank said about his boss, Maria tried to probe him. "Hank, what was Dr. van Dyne working on?"
"Something, something about a machine. He wanted to see into other worlds, I think."
A chill went down her spine. "That alien presence near the lab, the broken in glass, Heavens, what if Dr. van Dyne was being watched, and that something entered this world?"
Hank's eyes focused. "You're right…" Sitting up, he weekly grabbed her by her shoulders. "Maria, they can only hold me for 24 hours, but it will be too late. You have to stop this thing!"
Maria nodded. "You're right, but what am I looking for?"
"I don't know, but its strange, whatever it is, strange and not of this Earth."
Janet was silent as the car sped back to the house. When Maria pulled into the garage, the younger woman finally spoke up. "Mrs. Pym."
"Please, call me Maria."
"Maria, what are we doing?" Janet followed her into the house. "Why did daddy write Dr. Pym's name down?"
Maria looked Janet over. Did she have the right to tell her what she suspected? "Janet, did your father ever tell you what his last project was?"
"No, not really. I gathered it was some form of telescope."
"Well, your father told Hank, and somehow thought that he might have been able to help, so we think." Leadinf her into the living room, she sat down on the sofa. "Janet, your father may have been murdered…by something not of this Earth."
"What?" Janet's mouth dropped. "That's insane!"
"Is it? Hank told me what the machine did, and that is the only possible explanation I can come up with."
"Really? When did he say that?"
Maria quickly turned on the television. "Oh, before he left for work." Changing the subject, she picked up some newspapers that had been accumulating on the sofa. "Excuse me."
"But why was he in the hospital in the first place?"
Janet turned her attention to the television set just as a special report interrupted the program. "Maria!"
Tossing the papers away, Maria rushed back. When she entered the living room, she stared in shock at the screen. "What is that?"
On the set, in full color, was a hideous thing. It was roughly humanoid. Its yellow gray flesh hung in loose folds that slapped against its upper back and chest with each step. It bellowed with rage as it easily picked up cars and flung them like toys across the city. Janet turned up the volume. The reporter on the scene screamed frantically as the remote crew barely avoided a flying truck.
"50 feet tall! Despite the best efforts of the police, they have been unable to stop it." Janet flipped the set off.
"Alright, I believe you. Now what?"
Maria looked down the hall before looking back at the girl. "Should I bring her into this life?" But one glance at Janet's eyes, and Maria saw the same kind of young woman she used to be; determined. "Follow me."
Before Janet could raise any questions, she was stunned into silence as she saw Maria open the closest and pulled a costume. "Maria, what's that?"
"This, Ms. Van Dyne, is who I am." Donning the cowl, she turned to look at the stunned woman. "I am the Wasp, protector of this city, and right now, that is what I intend to do."
"Turn around." Janet did so, but with the sound of falling fabric behind her, she spun around, only to find an empty room around her.
Feeling something crawling on her back, she twitched until a familiar voice spoke in her ear. "Surprised?"
"You…you're with Ant-Man?"
"I do the leg work, if that's what you mean. Just call me the Wasp dear."
"Ok, so what are we going to do?"
"Whatever killed your father and attacked the ants must still be in the area. Drive me there, and I'll look around for clues."
Maria stopped in her tracks. "What?"
"No, I'm not going to be some idle observer. If you want my help, then I have to be with you, fifty/fifty or else."
Maria couldn't help but break into a grin. "You drive a hard bargain Ms. Van Dyne. All right, I can't see why not, but understand, there is more than one person in this group, and we both work as a team. If you wish to aid us, so be it, but you are going to follow orders. Understand?"
Janet never faltered. "I understand."
Parking hadn't been a problem. With Janet flashing her best smile it had been easy to gain access to the lab. Dropping Maria out of her purse, Janet moved back outside and adjusted the small pocket radio hidden in her purse.
Keeping to the edges, she tried to find something, something she might have overlooked. "At this height, that would be pretty hard to do." Turning her radio band on, she tried to pick up anything the ants may have seen or felt. "Hank said they were screaming," She braced herself by removing the other transmitter in her helmet, "I hope this works."
She waited nervously. Going through the bands, she thought for a second that she may have damaged the device somehow, but a quick removal showed that her equipment was in working order. "So why can't I hear anything? Unless…" A spike of fear went through her.
"There aren't any ants left to hear." Enlarging, she slipped her cowl back on before something odd caught her eye. On the table before her were several broken test tubes and vials. "Strange, those chemicals were neatly laid out when I took the photo. Did the police do this?"
Picking up some of the shards, she held one piece up to the light. "Dissolved. Must have been a powerful acid." Putting the glass piece down, she noticed that while the table was covered in broken vials, there was a small cluster of test tubes that were still untouched. Reading off the label of the nearest one, she was struck by an idea. "Sodium bicarbonate? Hmm, this might give me an idea, but-" A sudden scream cut her thoughts short. "Janet!"
Not even bothering to shrink, the Wasp rushed out of the lab and into Hell. The hallway around her was covered in a thin coating of red slime. The nearest wall was broken out and she could hear gunfire coming from the outside. Venturing out, she saw Janet nestled with other bystanders as the police opened fire on something that defied belief.
The creature was a large, vaguely humanoid thing. Its doughy pallid flesh was a dull yellow, and two black lidless eyes peered out from under the thick heavy folds. It angrily waved a limb at the assembled police officers as the officer's bullets harmlessly passed through it and struck the house. Bellowing in an inhuman voice, it grabbed a battered patrol car and effortlessly flung it into the air. The crowd scattered as calls for backup were made.
"Janet!" The Wasp dodged falling debris as the young woman raced towards her.
"Maria, that thing! It came out of the ground! It killed my father, I know it!"
"I believe you" She looked into the street as the monstrosity slithered away. "But we are going to need more help on this."
Hank sat silently as Maria explained the events of the past hour. With the hospitals being crowded, many people were discharged, Hank being one of them. Sitting on the sofa, he listened intently as Maria and Janet told of what they saw. "I see. So you think sodium bicarbonate might be fatal to it?"
"Well, it devoured all the other chemicals and materials save that. Why not?" Janet shrugged her shoulders.
"We have it, don't we?" Maria flipped on the radio. Reports of the monster's rampage where coming on every channel.
"Yes, but only some trace amounts. I can get more, but I'm not sure we could procure enough in time."
Suddenly, the radio announcer's voice was cut off by a burst of static. A grumbling eerie voice rumbled out of the speaker. "Attention lower-life forms. My name is Pilai. I have come to your world with one reason-conquest. Any attempts at resistance will be stopped."
The radio went dead. "Tell me we can get more of that stuff!" Janet stood up.
"I think that is the least of our worries." Maria stepped back as the picture changed. The creature had grown to at least sixty feet high and busied itself by tearing down the walls of nearby office buildings. "How do we stop something like that?"
"I have an idea!" Hank suddenly leapt to his feet. "Janet, can you drive?"
"Of course, but what?"
"No time! Maria, shrink down and I'll join you in a minute. If I'm right, then that thing has just played right into our hands!"
Janet knew how to drive. The problem, however, was that everyone else on the road seemed to have forgotten. After the fifth near collision, she pulled into a deserted parking lot. "I think that's about has far as we can go."
"Not a problem!" Hank shouted. Both he and Maria were clad in their costumes. Beside them was a box containing the solution to their problems, and in the back seat was the system of delivery:a pump action twelve-gauge shotgun.
Hank had explained before he shrunk. Mixing their reserves of sodium bicarbonate into pellets, Hank had poured it into a several empty shotgun shells. "All you have to do is fire this into the beast. The reaction; from what Maria and the ants have told me this thing is mostly acid based, should be enough to kill it."
"And if you're wrong?"
"Then at least we get to annoy that son of a gun."
There was one other part of the plan that Janet had questions over. In order for the pellets to do the most damage, both Hank and Maria would be fired into the monster. From there they would enlarge their supply of the antidote, hopefully creating enough inside the beast to kill if not stun it. Surrounding themselves with a protective barrier, they carefully slide into the shells.
Carefully picking up the box and taking the weapon with her, Janet left the car and started walking. The rushing crowd avoided with without too many stares as she darted closer to the monster. As she drew nearer to the monster, she felt a tightness in her chest; images of her father played in her mind as she ducked into a evacuated apartment building and made her way to the roof. Tears rolled down her face as she loaded the shotgun. "I never said goodbye to him." Taking careful aim, she braced herself for the recoil as the creature surged down the block. "I never told him how much I loved him, or respected him." Her vision was growing blurry as she blinked away the tears. "You took him from me!" She fired once before immediately ejecting the empty casing and firing again. Throwing the empty weapon down, she grimly smiled as she saw the twin impacts on the monster's skin.
The creature stopped. It looked down as it felt something impact against its flesh. The human's weapons had been causing no injury, but there was something strange about the last hit. A ripple of fear went through its alien mind.
Ant-Man and the Wasp quickly removed their protective shells and went about their work. "Remember, set the charges them dive. We don't know what kind of reaction this stuff will have!" Hank shouted as Maria's feet sank into the yellow flesh.
"Not a problem, but it is easier said then done!" She planted the chemical bomb deep within the creature's folds and set the electric timer. "Ready?"
"Ready!" Hank poured some the mixture on his feet, freeing them before tossing the vial to his partner. "Let's go!"
Spraying her feet, Maria tumbled down. "What about our landing?" Before Hank could answer, the air around them was filled with a strange fizzing noise. "What's that?"
"Cover your head!" Hank shouted before doing the same. All around them, the creature's body began to bubble and foam. Within seconds, the entire creature's body was a mass of bubbles. It splashed down over the street, washing away the debris.
Plummeting to the ground, they both enlarged in time to splash into the liquid remains of the once fearsome creature. Hitting the liquid just before it totally hit the concrete, they were both full-sized as they landed painfully onto the ground. Maria coughed as she painfully opened her eyes first.
Groaning with pain, as every movement sent jolts of agony throughout her body, she slowly sat up. "Hank?"
For a reply, Hank coughed up a mouthful of yellowish water and rolled over. "Yeah?"
"I guess the pain means we're still alive." Looking around, she couldn't see anyone else. "I guess they cleared this section of town out.
"Lucky us." Hank tried to stand up, but found pure pain in every muscle as he tried to move. "Is Janet around?"
"I think I see her."
"Great, what say we shrink down and have her carry us back?"
"Hank darling, I like the way you think." Falling back, Maria closed her eyes as spots swam drunkenly before them. She was vaguely aware of feeling like she was flying before the merciful unconscious took her.
Back at the Pym's house, Janet sat nervously before Hank and Maria. Both of them were bandaged up, but most of their injuries had healed. "So, what about my offer?"
Hank spoke first. "Janet, you really came through for us in a pinch."
"Yes, you did." Maria agreed.
Hank continued. "But is this something you want to commit to? This line of work is dangerous, and frankly, I'm not sure if a young person like yourself is ready to handle the risks."
Janet drew herself up. "Dr. Pym, I know what kind of horrors you face. I saw both of you risk everything for this city. How can I just sit back, knowing what I know, and do nothing?"
"An excellent point," Maria interrupted, "but what skills can you bring?"
Janet smiled. "Money."
Hank nodded affirmatively, but Maria held up a gauze wrapped finger. "But I thought you couldn't touch your inheritance until you married?"
Janet looked crestfallen, but her expression changed. "True, but Daddy did leave me with some money. The house is mine, and I do have a controlling stock in the company." Sweeping her arm back, she gestured to the room around them. "Look, I can help you. Dr. Pym, don't you need a better lab? Maria, don't you need more equipment? With me at your side, I can provide all of that and more."
Hank and Maria turned to each other. Janet excused herself as they talked. When she was out in the hall, Maria cast a glance at the door. "What do you think?"
"I don't know. She's a good kid, but is it the right thing?"
Maria was silent for a minute. She spoke slowly as she kept her eyes on the door. "Hank, do you remember when I lost my father?"
"I swore that nobody would ever have to go through that again. This girl Janet, she's young, yes, but look at her. She's already proven that we can trust her and she was no slouch with that shotgun."
"Why don't we let her help out? Not as a full partner mind you, but she does have connections and resources that we lack."
Hank became the quiet one. After a long pause, he nodded his head. "Ok, you sold me." Outside the door, they both grinned when they heard Janet's squeals of delight. Hank sighed as he leaned back. "I guess this is what they call change. I hope we made the right decision."
"I know we did." Maria smiled as she turned out the light. "We can tell her properly in the morning, and get her used to the equipment, but right now let's just rest and be happy for what we have, ok?"
"No argument here." Hank opened the door, waved Janet off, and went back inside with his wife. Things were changing, but they could handle it. He knew they could.
Mail to Astonish
This story was based on "The Creature from Kosmos", which first appeared in Tales to Astonish#44 (June 1963), with credits to Stan Lee and H.E. Huntley (story and script), Jack Kirby (pencils), Don Heck (ink), and Artie Simek (letters). No profit is intended and all rights reserved.
Check in next time when an old foe returns with vengeance on his mind in "The Terrible Traps of Egghead!"
And now for the fanmail
You're a pretty good comic book writer
From old favorite Excel
Great job on the story Cambot. Its great that you did this Wasp story, she doesn't get a lot of attention from other writers. Well, at least that I know of. Anyhow, wonderful work as always and I look forward to reading your next story.
Thanks to you both. Be sure to be on the lookout for these and other titles, coming soon to a monitor near you.
Sensational Comics#11-Showdown at Midnight!
Journey Into Mystery#12-Loki and Thor Attack the Human Race!
Amazing Fantasy#2-Death Comes Silently!
And from the Distinguished Competition
Sensation Comics #2-Wonder Woman VS Dr. Poison!
Action Comics #1-Superwoman arrives!
Detective Comics #1-Who is the Bat, and can she break The Chemical Syndicate?