After several issues of Henry “Hank” Pym fighting generic communists and occasional street thugs we finally come to an issue where a real villain is introduced. Due to Ant-Man consistently crushing crime with his amazing abilities and legions of ants who can drop in at just the right moment the crooks in the city have decided to put a stop to him. They know they are no match for him on their own. Brute force has failed so it’s time to turn to brains over brawn.
In Washington D.C. a scientist known as “The Egghead” is in trouble with the government. He’s been selling secret information to the highest foreign bidder. His response to these accusations? “To a genius like me your insipid patriotic ramblings are laughable! I sneer at you all!” Okay, so the early Marvel 616 wasn’t great at subtlety but you know a villain when you see one. I should also mention Egghead fits his moniker not only because he is smart but because his head is drawn in the shape of an egg.
The government doesn’t actually have proof of Egghead’s crimes so they let him go. Criminals get wind of this and figure he’s the right guy to take down Ant-Man. They get twenty grand together and pay him half up front, half to be paid once the job is done. If you’re wondering how these criminals could so easily get twenty thousand dollars together when they say they’re having so much difficulty getting away with crime, welcome to the club.
Anyway, Egghead actually takes the time to study Ant-Man and his insect allies. He figures out pretty quickly Ant-Man must communicate with the ants through electronic signals. Egghead plans to turn these ants against our hero and trap Hank with flypaper. He invents a machine to communicate with them and appeals to the insects’ sense of greed and vanity.
The next phase of Egghead’s diabolical plan is to steal a valuable necklace, allowing the criminals to get away with the goods, and trap Ant-Man at the same time. Only, as soon as Ant-Man is caught, things start to go wrong for Egghead.
Ant-Man doesn’t stick to the fly paper at all. The tires of the getaway car have been flattened. And a gang of thugs is trapped in a huge sheet of flypaper by the ants. It turns out the ants are not greedy and vain. In fact, they see themselves as Henry’s friends and partners in the crime against war. Most of the thugs are taken away but Egghead takes his defeat pretty hard, although he gets away. He ends up “wanted by the police and hunted by the underworld as he holes up in a dingy bowery flophouse…” (By the way it’s this sort of description that makes these early issues so much fun to read. You just don’t see narration like that in comics anymore)
The people around him now seem to regard him as a worthless bum who keeps going on and on about ants. But this being a Marvel comic, we know we have not seen the last of Egghead. He’s definitely going to want to take his revenge and he does become a notable villain not just to Ant-Man but to a few other superheroes down the line.
This is sort of the first Ant-Man story where it feels like Henry is being brought into the larger world of superheroes. There have been a few hints and subtle, possible connections to people like Reed Richards and Bruce Banner but you’re not really a Marvel superhero until you get a repeat villain. Egghead will be the first one for Ant-Man but he certainly is not the last.
Next up on the reading list it’s time to pull out your best purple pants because we’re going back to the big, green guy himself with The Incredible Hulk #5!
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