May 1966 Marvel Comics; featuring "Among Us Walks a Goliath!", written and edited by Stan Lee, pencilled by Don Heck, inked by Frank Giacoia (credited as "Frankie Ray") and lettered by Artie Simek. On the cover by Jack Kirby (Giacoia inks?), the four regular Avengers of the time, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are poised for action as behind them looms a purple-and-yellow clad figure of over twice their height, and the blurb informs us. "Back at last! GIANT-MAN!"
Review by Bill Henley As most of us presumably know, the Avengers started out as Marvel's version of the JLA, consisting mainly of heroes who also starrred in their own solo series-- Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man/Giant-Man and his partner the Wasp. Then, with AVENGERS #16, Stan Lee decided he was tired of juggling the continuity of all these characters between books, and he had Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and Wasp all drop out, to be replaced by a trio of reformed villains, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. But while Thor and Iron Man continued in their own series, Giant-Man and Wasp were soon dropped from their slot in TALES TO ASTONISH (replaced by Sub-Mariner) and went into limbo for about a year. This is the issue where they returned to the Avengers.
At Avengers Mansion, Quicksilver mans the communications console to monitor an urgent distress call, and tells his teammates, "It's from a scientist named HENRY PYM! He wants us to help him find the Wasp!" Who's Henry Pym? What does he have to do with the Wasp? None of the Avengers know, but this doesn't prevent Pym from issuing a peremptory order for the Avengers to dispatch their "rocket-jet air car" to pick up Pym on the ship where he is stranded in mid-ocean. When his right to issue such an order is questioned, Pym asks, "Have you so soon forgotten the voice of--- GIANT-MAN?" As he waits for the Avengers to respond, Pym reflects, "I HAD to reveal my true identity! Secrecy means NOTHING now! Not when JAN may be in danger!" (Why is Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, in danger? Because in earlier issues of ASTONISH and AVENGERS, she set off in her tiny winged form to fly to land to warn the world of a possible attack by the Sub-Mariner.... only to be captured by the undersea barbarian Attuma, escape, and get captured *again*.) Captain America directs Hawkeye to fly the rocket-jet to pick up Pym-- "Since when am I your chauffeur?" "Look, Mister-- I didn''t ASK you! That was an ORDER! Now if you disobey a DIRECT COMMAND when a fellow Avenger is in danger..." "OK, OK! I'll go! At least I won't haveta listen to YOU for a while! Anyone ever tell you how your eyes sparkle when you're angry?"
"Many miles away," still in insect size, the Wasp awakens from unconsciousness to find herself imprisoned inside a small glass tube. Her captor, an aged, whitehaired gentleman in a baggy brown outfit and gray cloak, explains that she is to be added to his "collection," for he is the Collector! "I have spent a LIFETIME secretly collecting the greatest prizes of all!" And now that he has one Avenger, he wants to collect the whole set-- using the Wasp as bait to lure the rest. Meanwhile, Henry Pym and Hawkeye arrive back at headquarters, but Hawkeye is skeptical whether Pym is the true Giant-Man, and even Captain America notes that he needs to prove himself by changing his size. Pym explains that he retired months before partly because the strain of changing size was affecting him adversely. He can still become a 25-foot giant, but only for exactly 15 minutes at a time,no more or less-- or "the strain can be-- TOO MUCH!" Nonetheless, after the Collector issues his radio call to alert the Avengers to Wasp's location, Pym insists on accompanying them. Cap offers to lead the Avengers to save the Wasp alone if Pym thinks changing size will harm him, but Pym rejects the offer. "Sorry! I should have known the real GIANT-MAN would dare ANYTHING for the Wasp!" There is one problem, though.... Pym isn't wearing his expansible Giant-Man costume, and while he fought a villain in the nude in a recent AVENGERS issue, comicdom wasn't ready for that back in 1966 (it may not have been ready in 2003 either). Fortunately, the Scarlet Witch, who apparently doesn't have enough to keep her busy, just happened to have sewn a new costume for Giant-Man out of stretch fabric, just in case he happened to show up again and was in need of new threads. After donning the purple-and-yellow outfit and going outdoors for more space, Pym at last proves his identity by growing to 25-foot size. No longer dependent on pills or potions, he now executes his size change purely by "mental command". Cap declares, "Now there can be no doubt! You're a real GOLIATH!" and Pym responds, "GOLIATH! I like the SOUND of that! That's what I'll CALL myself from now on-- GOLIATH! GIANT-MAN always sounded rather CORNY to me!" (Corny, perhaps, but possibly preferable to the name of a Biblical villain who was defeated by a boy. Nonetheless, Goliath would be Henry Pym's nom de guerre for several years-- and then, for a time, Hawkeye's.)
Exactly fifteen minutes later, Goliath shrinks back down to normal size in order to fit into the Avengers" rocket air car (presumably a predecessor of the quinjet) and joins in the cry, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!" While Quicksilver is excited to be going into action with an original Avenger, and Goliath himself is worried he might be "rusty", Hawkeye is less than thrilled with the Avengers' once-and-future ally; (thought balloon) "I always hoped Methuselah (Cap) might one day retire, and then I might be Avengers LEADER! But now, with Goliath here, I'm just another also-ran! What a crummy break!" Upon arriving at the Collector's mountantop hideaway, Hawkeye continues his grumbling out loud, and Goliath asks; "What's wrong, Hawkeye? What's your beef?" Cap: "You'll get used to him, Hank! Every group has its little sunbeam-- he's OURS!"
Discovering that the mountainside hides a whole castle, the Avengers warily enter an oddly shaped passageway, only to be trapped as the walls move together and then subdued by sleep gas. They awaken to find themselves hanging from wrist restraints, as the Collector rants, "Where is GIANT-MAN? I must HAVE him-- to complete my collection! I need both the Wasp AND Giant-Man to have a FULL SET!" (He doesn't seem upset not to have Thor and Iron Man... but then, all us collectors know there are some items we just can't afford....) Roused by the name of the Wasp, Goliath grows to his 25-foot size and breaks the restraints, reaching out to seize the Collector, who evades him by means of his cape, a piece of an ancient flying carpet that enables him to fly. Then the Collector uses another of his collector's items, a medieval catapult, to hurl a boulder that staggers Goliath. Cap reminds Goliath that the Avengers fight as a team, and the giant frees the other four members from the Collector's trap. As the Collector flees into the depths of the castle, Goliath is still stuck at 25-foot size and unable to move easily through the corridors of the castle, so he has to let the other Avengers lead the search for the Wasp. But before they reach either the Wasp or the Collector, they are attacked by the Beetle-- a super-villain the Collector has added to his "collection" and placed under an "obedience potion". (Much later, the armored, flying Beetle would become Mach-1 of the Thunderbolts.) Captain America bears the brunt of the fight against the Beetle, and when Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch are separated from them by a rockslide caused by the Beetle, the Witch is surprised to find that Hawkeye is frantic to find and aid Cap. "Why not? Even if he IS a square-- he's an AVENGER, isn't he?"
Meanwhile, Quicksilver and Goliath have caught up with the Collector, who uses an ancient gong to stun Quicksilver with sonic waves, and then attacks Goliath with the mystic energies of a crystal ball. "This is why NOTHING can defeat the Collector! The weapons of all the ages are mine!" Size is no defense against such an attack, but Goliath summons the will power to lash out and smack the crystal ball out of the Collector's grip, shattering it. Undaunted, the Collector hurls to the ground "the beans that inspired the legend of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK"-- beans which magically sprout into a pair of giant warriors both matching Goliath's size. "You've made me use up the most precious beans on EARTH-- but it will be worth it when I see you go down in DEFEAT before my eyes!" But Goliath's knowledge of judo and karate enables him to defeat one of the giants and hold his own against the other. Meanwhile, the Beetle arrives on the scene, dragging an unconscious Cap and pursued by Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch. As Hawkeye engages the Beetle, the Witch comes to the aid of Goliath, who is in danger of being "hog-tied" by a leather strap wielded by his giant foe. Wanda's precisely applied hex snaps the strap without harming Goliath, who dispatches the rival giant with one punch and then seizes the Collector. "I'll tell you just once-- hand over the WASP-- and I mean NOW-- or no power on Earth will save you from me!" "Very well! You will get your wish! But I promise-- you'll live to regret it!" Then he indeed produces the Wasp.... still in a tiny vial in a pocket of his coat. Holding her between his fingers, the Collector threatens to destroy her unless the Avengers surrender to him. But at that moment, Captain America and Quicksilver both regain consciousness, and at Cap's order, Quicksilver moves at super-speed to snatch the Wasp away from the Collector. With the Wasp safe, the Avengers close in for the capture, but the Collector and the Beetle escape with yet another item from his collection-- a portable time machine that whisks them both to "else-time". Freed from the glass vial by Wanda's hex power, Janet Van Dyne grows to normal size and urges her lover, Goliath, to "shrink down to pucker-up size". But when he tries, he stops shrinking at ten feet and collapses, after exclaiming, "I remained giant-size TOO LONG! Now, the sudden strain of SHRINKING is too much!" As Henry Pym lies inert on the floor, the Avengers wonder-- will he be trapped forever as a ten-foot "freak", or, worse yet, "Can it be that another Avenger has left our ranks-- to return NO MORE?" (Goliath remained in the ranks, though he was indeed trapped at ten-foot size for a few issues, in an attempt to turn him into a Marvel-style "tragic hero".)