In the case of ASTONISH, it began in the unlikely form of yet another "monster" story-- "The Man In The Ant-Hill" in TTA #27 (Jan'62). Instead of yet another giant monster menacing mankind, this was more "personal", as a scientist working on a shrinking formula tests it in himself, then finds himself accidentally trapped at miniature size and menaced by what, to him, is now suddenly a group of giant monsters-- ANTS!
Every once in awhile, one of these stories would inspire a sequel. But in this case, the sequel that did arrive a mere 8 months later took on a form few might have expected, as "Dr. Henry Pym" not only returned to his previously "abandoned" research, but donned a costume and helmet which allowed him to communicate with-- and order about-- an ant colony. And what does he DO with his new ant army? Why-- FIGHT CRIME! What else?
Of course the idea is loopy-- I think that's the point. THE ASTONISHING ANT-MAN is one of those ideas that is just screaming for a feature-film to be based on it. Even now, at the end of 2011, as we've seen big-budget movies based on The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, with The Avengers coming, WHERE is our Ant-Man film???
Oh well, we'll just have to make do with the original comics. The entire run was reprinted in THE ESSENTIAL ANT-MAN in 2002, and quickly became one of my favorite such books. It's wild, it's crazy, it's borderline insane-- but most of all, it's FUN!!
Here's the covers; some I've managed to "restore" over the last few years, the rest I did just this week! Lots yet to go, but with luck I'll get to more of them... eventually.
TALES TO ASTONISH 27 / art by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers (January 1962)
art by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky (December 1962)
TALES TO ASTONISH 39 / art by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers (January 1963)
TALES TO ASTONISH 40 / art by JACK KIRBY (February 1963)
TALES TO ASTONISH 41 / art by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers (March 1963)
TALES TO ASTONISH 42 / art by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky (April 1963)
TALES TO ASTONISH 43 / art by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky (May 1963)
Ant-Man's FINAL adventure!! (as a SOLO hero, that is)
ANT-MAN continues in Part 2 !
Raw scan for #27 from Heritage Auctions
Raw scans for #35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 & 43 supplied by Barry Pearl
Restorations by Henry Kujawa