The Wasp and Giant Girl
"The Birth of Giant Girl"
Bill Lumpkin was a postman. He had been since the end of the war. Driving through the suburbs of Center City was the most dangerous thing about his job and that's how he liked it. So it came to be a surprise one bright crisp day when he rounded the corner in his mail truck and slammed on the brakes to avoid a collision with a foot; a large eight foot tall human foot to be exact, with its mate resting somewhat awkwardly in what used to be a tree house.
The foot was connected to an ankle, which was connected to a shin, then a knee, etc. All in all, it looked like a perfectly average model of a human being. Although as to why it was blocking nearly four houses was a mystery. Bill took one look at the foot and shifted into reverse. "Lord, Cousin Willy was right! Being a postman is getting too dang weird nowadays!"
A few minutes before
Hank Pym had been enjoying his retirement from the costumed hero biz. His wife Maria was still active as the Wasp but he found far more contentment inside the lab. He also found trouble. Their benefactor, heiress Janet Van Dyne, had been hanging around more and more lately. Hank humored her and let her act as a general helper. She had a keen mind and a good memory.
Hank had been testing new variations with his infamous Pym Particles. "If I can make things small, why can't I make them big?" He said aloud one day.
"But I thought you could?" Janet remembered the second dosage Hank took to restore him or Maria back to their normal size.
"No, I mean bigger than normal. Growing larger than the subject's original size should be possible, in theory at least."
So that was how it was Hank had spent the better portion of the afternoon in the basement lab of the suburban split level he called home trying to make things grow. "Blast it all", he always refrained from profanity in the presence of Maria or Janet, "I can't seem to get this batch to stabilize!" He furrowed his brows at the large beaker. The bubbling liquid had turned various hues since he started laboring on it but after several tests and several wet test subjects later, he gave up. "I guess I'll have to toss the whole thing and start over."
"Aw, I really thought you'd gotten it down this time!" Janet shook her head. She hefted the large beaker and moved towards the lab's sink to toss the contents away. "I'm sure it'll come to you soon enough."
Fate can act in a funny way. As Janet balanced the beaker on the sink's edge, she stepped into a small puddle. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but her angle coupled with trying to keep the beaker steady sent her sprawling backwards. The beaker wobbled and pitched backwards, dousing her completely.
Her panic shifted into annoyance. "Great, now I've got to change!" She sat up and tried to wring her blouse out when she noticed how tight her shoes felt. "Strange, those were custom made for me." She winced as circulation was cut off in her ankles and knees. "What's going on? I thought Dr. Pym said the formula didn't work?" She stood up and gasped.
She was easily Hank's height. "Dr. Pym!" She staggered back. The backs of her shoes split as she moved backward, leaving her barefooted.
"Yes, what is it…Janet!" Hank turned and gasped. Janet Van Dyne was now easily eye level with him and growing taller by the second.
""Help me!" Janet tried to maintain some level of dignity as her blouse failed to contain either her front or her back. Holding up the tatters, she winced as her leather belt cut into her waist.
"Ah, hold on!" Hank dashed out of the lab.
"I intend to!" Janet crossed her arms and crouched as the basement ceiling drew closer. She prevented her head from brushing against the ceiling but sadly at the cost of her pants. The designer slacks were unable to contain the new dimensions of the wearer and simultaneously shredded and exploded at all key points.
Finally sitting down, Janet glanced at the now tiny beaker and sink. "Holy Hannah, I spilled the entire thing on me? How tall can I get?"
Hank rushed through the house. Maria, recovering from her attack by the Porcupine, met him in the kitchen. The floor rumbled and rolled under them. "Hank, what's going on? Is it an earthquake?"
"Yes! No! Just grab your belt and met me outside!" Maria snagged her Wasp costume and hustled out the door as the kitchen ruptured behind her. Hank was already up the stairs and dashing into the bedroom when the foundation began to crack.
"Where is it?" He tore open the closet door and yanked his Ant-Man costume free. Pulling all the vials free from the various hiding places, he leapt out of the window as the timbers and drywall gave way. The floor was still being supported, but he knew that wouldn't last. He clambered down a nearby tree as a massive hand broke free of the side wall and flopped into the yard.
Meeting with Maria at the front of the house, Hank quickly outlined his plan. "We have to wait for her to stop! Once the growth has stabilized, we expose her to all the Pym Particles we have. It should, in theory, be enough to restore her to normal size!"
As their house groaned and collapsed around the sixty foot tall Janet, Hank hugged his wife. On some level, Hank was happy as the now giant Janet stretched out. His formula was a success, albeit not in the way he intended. Her limbs filled the entire street, taking out several picket fences and several trees. Every other level, however, was filled with dread. "Maria, try to talk to her while I prep the antidote!"
Maria approached Janet carefully while Hank scrambled onto the giant debutante's stomach. "Janet, can you hear me?"
"Can't breathe!" Janet wheezed.
Hank pushed forward. "That's what I was afraid of! She's grown too large for her body to support the mass. If she grows anymore, she'll crush herself!"
Using his belt as a lasso, he snagged her lower lip and hauled himself to her face. "Janet, I'm going to give you the antidote but I need you to remain still, ok?" Janet blinked. The sound was deafening.
Opening all the vials, Hank dumped all of them into Janet's open mouth. She shuddered then slowly she began to shrink. Hank slid off her face as she quickly returned to normal. Maria wrapped her housecoat around Janet as the younger woman shakily stood up and looked around at the devastation. "Did I do all of this?"
The Pyms glanced around at the ruined house. After a minute's silence, Hank dusted himself off. "Well, I'd better go make some phone calls. I wonder if our insurance covers giants?"
Janet shook her head. "No, I did all of this, I'll fix it."
Maria raised an eyebrow. "How?"
"My parent's holdings included dozens of houses. I just had one in Palisades Park refurbished. My father used it as a lab. Why don't I give it to you?"
"New Jersey?" Maria looked at Hank. He was considering it.
"Well, it would put you closer to the Avengers, plus think about franchises. If the Wasp is active on the East Coast we could cover more ground."
"Wait, are you planning on becoming Ant-Man again?" Janet tightened the housecoat. She was still tall; nearly Hank's size and she realized Maria was a good deal shorter.
"I never said that but the Avengers have been asking about the Wasp spending more time in New York. I thought having a presence here would work out for everyone. Besides, Ant-Man needs to be seen every once and a while. I think the Avengers would be the best place for him, but my decision to suspend operations here still stands."
"Well, why don't I stay here and you two go east?" Janet beamed. "I know I need some training but clearly your formula works on me. Why don't I become a hero?"
Maria and Hank were struck silent by the idea. "It could work," Hank mused. "Obviously we'll need some training, maybe refining the formula a bit too." He glanced around the neighborhood. "Maybe we should get to work on the formula first."
Some time later, in Dimension Z
Across the countless worlds and dimensions, some struggles are universal. In Dimension Z, the ruler of the existence ordered his scientists to create for him a bomb; something powerful that would lay waste not only to his enemies but also the land. The scientists worked night and day and had the idea to split an atom but there were complications. None of them had even the slightest idea how to split anything so small.
Going to the Well of Ideas, which enabled the viewer to peer into other worlds and times and garner knowledge, the scientists of Dimension Z studied Earth. Deciding to cut out the middle man, they opened a dimensional vortex and stole several atomic bombs.
It was then they discovered an interesting side effect of dimensional travel. Transporting objects through the vortex had a habit of rendering all electrical systems inert. The plutonium was also changed into something akin to paste.
The Supremacy, ruler of all that exists above and below, decided to have some scientists brought over to Dimension Z to construct the bombs there from whatever substances they could mine. Since using the vortex was out of the question, the Supremacy ordered a new method to be devised.
The scientists developed what they called the Dimensionizer, a device worn on both hands capable of teleporting objects to Dimension Z without damaging them. A tournament was held to decide who would be worthy enough to wield the mighty weapon. A lowly serf won. Adorned in the proper green and purple suit noting the highest military rank, the unnamed serf was dubbed the Living Eraser. His mission: bring scientists to Dimension Z.
He intended to succeed in his quest. From the Well of Ideas, he knew exactly who the smartest people on Earth were and where they could be found. With a quick swipe of his hands he vanished before the court's startled eyes.
The weeks since the move had not been as difficult as Hank thought they would. Maria enjoyed working with the Avengers. Janet flew between coasts with a practiced ease. With the aid of Reed Richards' unstable molecules and Janet's sense of design, the newly dubbed Giant Girl proved to be a fairly effective deterrent to crime in Center City.
The costume turned out rather nice. Bright red, with a cowl that covered her face securely, the blue boots and gloves served to highlight the suit. Twin antenna on the hood could be extended or secured back depending on Janet's mood. She was still a novice at communicating with ants but her size and strength more than made up for it.
During one of her visits, she sat down with the Pyms as they had lunch. "I never thought I'd be fighting crime!" Janet gushed. "Of course, just standing still tends to stop most crooks. I'm still having a problem with the white collar crooks but I'm working on that."
A phone call distracted Hank. He was only gone for a minute before rushing back. "Something's wrong!"
"What is it Hank?" Maria grew serious.
"I was talking to Dr. Reynard on the phone. He said several atomic scientists have been vanishing. He said someone was at the door and then the line went dead."
"Let's go." Maria rushed to the upstairs to change. Janet looked hopefully at Hank.
"Can I come along?"
"Well, I suppose so. I'll radio the rest of the Avengers on the way but I don't know what we'll find."
Reynard only lived a few blocks over from the Pyms. Pulling up to the front door, they could tell something was amiss. The front door was gone.
Not broken or forced, just gone. Maria shrank down and slipped under Hank's collar as Janet slipped the hood over her head. Janet radioed the local police as Hank and Maria entered the house. There was no sign of a struggle. Aside from Reynard's footprints they were alone. Even Maria couldn't find a disturbed carpet fiber.
Entering the kitchen gave them another surprise. The reason Reynard's phone went dead was now explained: the receiver was gone. Like the door it wasn't cut or torn it was just missing. "This is very strange Hank." Maria looked around from her perch.
"I agree but let's wait outside. I don't want to contaminate the scene any more than we already have."
"I don't know who you're talking to Earthling, but I can't allow you to leave!" A harshly accented voice spat from the shadows. A short man dressed in purple and green stepped into the light. He held both hands up.
Before Hank could question why the man appeared to be surrendering, the figure swiped on hand before Hank. The wall mounted phone vanished, like an eraser going over a sketch. "That's impossible!"
"Nothing is impossible for the Living Eraser!" the Eraser chuckled as Janet entered the house. Her footsteps distracted the Eraser enough for Hank to dodge the next swipe.
"Hank, get out of here, I'll try to stop him!" Maria slipped out from Hank's collar, but as she landed on the kitchen table, the Eraser swiped the air again, erasing the table and Maria.
"No!" Hank tried to rush the figure, but Janet grew to eight feet and threw him out of the house. Before she could turn to face the attacker, dizziness overcame her. Her legs felt fuzzy. Looking, she gasped in horror as her legs from thigh to shin were missing. There was no blood and her feet still wiggled in their boots but she couldn't think of why she was still standing. She considered trying to move but another swipe erased the rest of her.
Hank stared in mute horror at the scene. The Living Eraser glowered at Hank but the sound of approaching sirens made him pause. "You should give thanks to whatever deity you people worship Earthling that I lack the proper time to deal with you." The Eraser looked at his palms and vanished. Hank was left standing alone as the police arrived.
Janet opened her eyes. After overcoming the intense nausea she looked down and was relieved to see her body was whole. "Wasp?"
Maria whispered in her cowl. "I'm here Janet, and so are the missing scientists. It looks like that Living Eraser fellow has been stealing top minds from around the globe."
Janet drew her knees up and looked towards the wall to give herself more privacy from the cell's other occupants. "Why?"
"To build weapons it looks like. I've done this type of thing before, so I've got a pretty good idea on what to do. I'm going to scout around and get a lay of the area. I want you to stay put until you hear from me. Understand?"
Janet nodded as the diminutive form of the Wasp hopped off her shoulder and slipped out through the barred window. Janet looked around the cell. Nearly a dozen people shared the cell with her. A long haired scraggly fellow limped over towards her. "Are you some kind of hero?" He pointed at her costume.
"You could say that." Janet stood up. "Name's Giant Girl. Do you know what's going on here?"
"These things make us work on weapons. We've tried stalling them but," he pointed to his leg, "they figured us out. Are you here to rescue us?"
"Yes, yes I am!" Giant Girl moved towards the cell door. It appeared to be made from steel and bolted into the ceiling and floor. It would have taken heavy duty truck to even make a dent. Giant Girl smiled. "Everyone stand back!"
Popping the specially modified pills, she shuddered as she suddenly grew to ten feet. Gripping the door, she easily tore it free and tossed it aside. "Wait until the coast is clear then follow me!" She ducked and rushed out into the hall.
Rounding the corner she came across two guards. With an easy backhand she knocked them both out. Kicking their weapons to the scientists, she gestured silently. Rounding another corner led her to a dead end, so she did the most sensible thing she could think of: she grew to twenty feet and knocked the wall down.
Outside in the courtyard the army of Dimension Z was practicing their drills when a giant red clad Earthling charged into their midst. Once the initial shock wore off, both sides reacted. Giant Girl rushed forward, scattering the soldiers like bowling pins. She quickly learned that her size coupled with the material of her suit rendered her bullet proof. She was positively giddy until the Living Eraser arrived on top of a tank.
"Earthling! Surrender now and we will show mercy!" Despite his height, his voice carried.
"How does this sound?" Giant Girl uprooted a tree and tossed it at the tank. The Living Eraser, to his credit, didn't retreat. Instead he swiped the air in front of him, erasing the tree.
"Very well, you have forced my hand!" The Eraser swept the air in broad strokes. Like before, parts of Giant Girl were erased completely. She tried to yell but her mouth was erased before she could say anything. Her head and the rest of her followed suit.
Blinking, and fighting back the nausea, Giant Girl looked around. She was now in a large glass, or what appeared to be glass, cage suspended into a large dungeon. "You think this place can hold me?" She punched the transparent wall and nearly cried as the cage absorbed her blow and redirected it back into her hand.
"Fight all you want, that cage is made of the unbreakable fibers of our fiercest animal. I'm not sure how you can change size, but the Supremacy would spare you until such knowledge is known to him. If you attempt to grow any more you will be crushed by the hardest of the cage." The Living Eraser turned around. He glanced over his shoulder before exiting the dungeon. "The rebellion you attempted has been crushed. We have recaptured your scientists and have put them back to work. Thanks to your efforts though, three of them will be put to death." He left, leaving her alone with only her thoughts.
Janet wasn't sure how much time had passed. There were no windows in the room and she wasn't sure how long the days lasted in this strange alien world. She sat down more for boredom's sake than anything else. "Some hero I turned out to be!"
"We all make mistakes." The Wasp appeared by the door.
"Wasp!" Janet moved towards her friend, causing the cage to swing.
"Be still, I'll have you out in a second." The Wasp found the control panel that controlled the cage. After a few mishaps, which Janet found that she rather hated being suspended from high ceilings, the Wasp opened the cage.
"I'm so sorry" Janet began, but the Wasp cut her off.
"There's no time for regrets right now. I've been sneaking around the grounds. Three scientists are going to be shot within minutes so we have to act now!"
"But how can we take care of that eraser guy?"
The Wasp smiled. "Leave that to me." She shrank down and hitched a ride in Janet's boot.
Janet had shrunk down to normal size as she slipped through the dungeon and made her way to the courtyard. Like the Wasp had said, three scientists were tied to stakes at the far end of the courtyard. The Living Eraser stood on a small platform and issued changes against them. While he droned on, Janet slipped a loose robe over her costume and mingled with the crowd. "I hope Maria's plan works!" She went over the details in her head as she made her way closer to the platform. She stood as close as she dared to the Eraser as his speech followed the standard manifest destiny model. "Hopeful she can disable those weird things on his hands before he sends me someplace worse!" She moved away from the Eraser after she bent down and let Maria out of her boot. Shuffling closer towards the firing squad, she went over her part in the plan as the guards raised their rifles to fire. "She said cause a distraction. I guess this would be my cue."
Throwing her cloak away, she suddenly increased to fifty feet, towering over the guards. Batting them away, she rushed towards the captured scientists as the Living Eraser took aim. "Fool! I showed mercy once, but no more!"
Unseen by the Eraser, the Wasp had climbed up his tunic. Climbing hand over hand on his sleeve, she reached the strange devices on his hands. Pulling out her Wasp's Sting from her belt, she extended the baton and stuck the electrified end into one of the delicate looking mechanism. Sparks and flame flew from the machine. The Wasp jumped towards his pants as he tried to put the flames out.
Giant Girl continued her rampage. With the scientists free she broke through the courtyard and found herself staring down the army. With a glare she had the soldiers give up as she stomped a few tank-like vehicles for emphasis.
The Wasp appeared behind the Living Eraser. With practiced ease she placed the Wasp's Sting at his neck. "Surrender!"
The Living Eraser sighed and held up his hands. The damaged device slipped free from his hand and broke on the ground. "I yield Earthling, I yield. What are your terms?"
"All the Earthlings are returned home and you never invade our world again!"
"Yeah, and we'll be ready for you if you try it, to!" Giant Girl cracked her knuckles for emphasis. They sounded like gunshots.
The Wasp picked up the damaged machine and slipped it into her belt as she led the Eraser in front of the army. "I will return you to your homes. The Supremacy has given me full access to our world's science and machines." He narrowed his eyes at Giant Girl. "An honor which will be likely revoked as soon as you leave; know this Earthlings, I will have my revenge." He said nothing else as the scientists and the two heroines were led to a large machine.
Sending them back in groups, the Wasp and Giant Girl watched the scientists appear safely on Earth before stepping into the machine themselves. Without a word, the Living Eraser pulled the switch. The chamber swirled and flashed and the two women found themselves back on Earth. They arrived at the same New Jersey home they left, alongside a very confused Dr. Reynard.
The police were still questioning Hank when all three walked outside. "Hello officer!" Giant Girl grinned. "Is there a problem?" Explanations were made, albeit no one could offer much proof. The device Maria took from the Living Eraser was smashed into metallic crumbles.
Sometime later, after a very odd phone call to Washington, Lee Kearns arrived at the Pym household the next day. "Hank, I have to say these phone calls of yours always seem to raise more questions than answers." He stared at the strange device laid out on the coffee table. "Do you think it can still work?"
"That I have no idea, I'm afraid I'm not much of an engineer." Hank poked the corner of the device. "This is why I wanted to bring it to you. Do you think the boys down in DC can get it working again?"
"Maybe, but frankly I'd ask Tony Stark first, but I know some people out west." He scooped the device into a small container and locked it. "Hank, your country thanks you for rescuing those scientists."
"Hey, it wasn't me." Hank protested. "Thank the Wasp and Giant Girl. They did all the hard work."
Kearns shook his head. "True, but you make it easier for me to explain things to the top without sounding like a head case." Kearns stood to leave. "Just keep me in the loop next time some weirdo from another dimension starts kidnapping people, ok?" Kearns chuckled. "Lord, I never thought I'd end up saying that phrase." Walking to the door, he gripped Hank's hand. "This Giant Girl, how'd she behave in the field?"
It was Hank's turn to grin. "Pretty darn good I'd say. Take care, Lee." Hank closed the door after his friend. He was proud of Janet. He was worried too, but the way Maria beamed after they returned he was sure Giant Girl put his worries aside. There would be danger, of course, but he was sold on the idea of Janet Van Dyne being a hero.
Mail to Astonish
Based on "Birth of Giant-Man", which was first published in Tales to Astonish I#49 (November 1963) with credits to Stan Lee (writer), Jack Kirby (pencils), and Don Heck (inks).
This takes place before The Avengers#2.
Be here next time for the Unbeatable Human Top!
And now the letters
From They Call Me Bruce
With Ant-Man and the Wasp you got the tall and short of it. Nice work.
Cambot's latest addition to this series, "Defy the Porcupine", is his variant to an October 1963 story. That places it about midway in the issues 35-69 that feature Ant-Man. There is a very important change to the cast as of this issue, which Cambot has carefully preserved. I'm looking forward to the next issue to see his version of the new character. Thanks!
Well, what did you all think? I'd like to think I came up with the idea of Giant Girl before Jeff Parker did, but it's moot to argue. I just hope to do as half as good as he did.
And an extra special thanks to Darci for proofing this tale of Marvel.
Journey into Mystery#18- Mr. Hyde! The Cobra! Lady Thor! Partners?
The Avengers#4-VS the Sub-Mariner!
Sensational Comics#18- The Avengers Take Over!
Amazing Fantasy#9-Taskmaster, in the clutches of the Armless Tiger Cult!