Th e name “Ant-Man” applies to various Marvel characters. The first was
Dr. Henry Pym, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for a story titled “The Man in the Ant Hill,” and published in Tales to Astonish #27, cover-dated September, 1962. Initially meant to be a one-time science-fiction character, Pym returns as a superhero in issue #35, now calling himself Ant-Man. In issue #44, Janet van Dyne, Pym’s lab assistant, is introduced; Pym shares his “shrinking formula” with her, and she becomes his sidekick, The Wasp.
In Tales to Astonish #49, Pym—now a member of the newly formed Avengers —finds a formula for growing, as well, and Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man. (The Wasp remains The Wasp.) The name change, a first major hint of what later writers spun off into an identity crisis of gigantic proportions, is only the first of many. Th e “Giant-Man” feature in Tales to Astonish ended with issue #69 in 1965, but Pym and The Wasp continued to appear in Avengers. In issue #28 of that series, published in 1966, Pym becomes Goliath.
In issues #59 and #60, writer Roy Thomas and artist John Buscema let him experience his first major breakdown: Pym suddenly believes himself to be a new superhero called Yellowjacket, complete with a new costume, who has “killed” Goliath and now wants to marry Th e Wasp. Pym eventually finds his marbles again, the marriage sticks, and so does Pym’s new superhero identity. All seemed to be well again, give or take a few
disturbing warning signs—until 1981, when writer Jim Shooter firmly cemented Pym’s status quo as an uneasy superhero with an inferiority complex who would rather stay in his lab. In Avengers #213, Pym, increasingly overwhelmed by his duties as an Avenger, hits his wife during an argument. He is subsequently expelled by the Avengers and divorced by van Dyne.
Ever since, virtually all major storylines involving the character
have circled around the same issues: his mental instability, his ever changing costumed identities, and his relationship with Janet. Currently, Pym appears regularly in Mighty Avengers , now calling himself The Wasp to honor his ex-wife, who dies at the end of the 2008 miniseries Secret Invasion.
Like most of Pym’s identities, the “Ant-Man” moniker has been used by other Marvel characters. In 1979, David Michelinie and John Byrne introduced Scott Lang, a reformed crook and electronics expert who steals Pym’s costume and technology to help his daughter. Once she is safe, Lang keeps the equipment and becomes a superhero, with Pym’s blessing. After a career of ups and downs, he joins Th e Avengers, but dies shortly after.