Friday, July 06, 2018

Kingsize Problem (Marvel)
Marvel Super-Heroes #3 When: September 1990 Why: Dwight Jon Zimmerman How: Amanda Conner

The Story So Far...
Janet Van Dyne is living the glamorous double-life of a fashion-designer and founding member of The Avengers!

Being one of Earth's mightiest heroes has its advantages when it comes to inviting the biggest names to a fashion show, but keeping the two lives separate isn't always so easy! While strutting the catwalk of Bloomingdales in her latest designs, Wasp finds herself the target of a brand new villain!

Kingsize is an inhuman giant out to quash the supposed tyranny his people have suffered at the hands of tiny humans. Storming the stage as a literal raging bull -- he plans to make Wasp the first fashion victim of a new age of giants!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Kingsize 5 (Super-Human)
Intelligence: Wasp 2 (Average)
Speed: Wasp 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Kingsize 5 (Marathoner)
Agility: Wasp 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy: Wasp 3 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Kingsize 21 (Champion)

Sometimes big problems call for small solutions and that's exactly what we've got today! It's the first appearance for our featured villain, so without further ado -- let's take a closer look at the competitors!

Kingsize debuts to wage war for a forgotten folk he refers to as "inhuman giants"! He's clearly a big fella, but the real danger comes from a mysterious jewel encrusted in the cowl of his costume. It appears to allow him to transform into giant-sized animals and insects with the red & black pattern of his costume -- and significantly enhanced durability!

Kingsize claims his race of giants were victims to the tyranny of the tiny -- humans, that is. The regular kind, it would seem. He aims to pave the way for his people's return. Why his first target is the diminutive Wasp - I don't know!

Janet Van Dyne has been a charter member of the Avengers since the team was founded thwarting the schemes of Loki! Wasp was already an experienced hero in her own right, partnered with Dr. Hank Pym to avenge her father's murder by an alien. Their heroic career became a relationship that frequently saw them battling the likes of Egghead, Whirlwind, AIM, and Ultron.

Wasp shared the size-altering abilities granted by "Pym Particles", classically shrinking to the diminutive scale of an insect. A wing-adorned flight suit gave Wasp extra maneuverability, with an energy-blasting "stinger" weapon providing greater offensive abilities than the typical Ant-Man!

We've seen Van Dyne go upscale from time to time, too. Blazing Skull brought her down during conflict between The Avengers and Invaders in New Invaders #0The Sentry knocked down a symbiote-infected Giant-Woman during a battle between post-Civil War divided Avengers, as well [New Avengers #36].

Each case reveals the perils of becoming a bigger target, which might be why the Wasp often keeps things small. Parallel universes are our best examples on file for the advantage of being tiny. In Marvel Zombies #1, it was Wasp's ability to go unnoticed that ultimately doomed the Magneto of that world. An attempt to infiltrate Galactus' inner sanctum didn't quite go to plan in What if...? #70, but it did spare Wasp the fatal fate of her fellow Avengers.

If Kingsize is going to make good on his plan to usher in a new age of giants, he'll be looking to use his size advantage to squash the Wasp! Given a seeming unlimited pool of animalistic transformations, he has a wide array of natural predators to draw upon, including wasp-eating spiders, lizards, and birds!

Wasp has a lot of experience and maneuverability to draw upon. Lets see how she handles Kingsize!

The Tape: Kingsize Ranking: Wasp (#75)

What Went Down...
Walking the runway in the latest designs: Janet van Dyne receives the approval of the fashionistas in attendance, but not everyone is quite so enamored by her sense of style! Kingsize crashes the party as a literal raging bull -- announcing his intention to expose the dark secret of the Wasp!

The bemused Avenger shrinks out of her designer dress, revealing the winged uniform of the Wasp! She charges her opponent head-on -- striking with a "bioelectric knock-out sting" to the snout! It should've put him down, but the resilient beast just rears up on its hind legs and goes on a mad charge!

The literal bull in a china shop negates his clich├ęd predicament, revealing his true form as a humanoid giant. Seeing isn't quite believing for Wasp, who can't accept the existence of a race of giants.

Her frustrated foe accommodates Wasp's disbelief, making contact with the jewel on his forehead to transform into a gigantic frog! This only draws laughs from the pint-sized heroine, but she soon stops laughing when a massive frog tongue darts in her general direction!

Kingsize isn't kidding around as he gives chase! His tongue leads, while a giant frog body negotiates the department store floor display, tossing mannequins in his wake as the airborne Wasp darts nimbly ahead!

A busy mall escalator provides obstacle for the giant crawling frog, but Kingsize returns to the form of a man just as easily as he became a frog!

Wasp sees the opportunity for a knock-out sting, but Kingsize uses the busy shoppers around him to block a clear shot. With a mere thought, he renews his offense, turning himself into a king-sized cobra!

Panicked patrons clear out as the giant snake goes back on the hunt for the Wasp! She blasts him with a dozen bioelectric bolts, but her sting is barely felt by the snake's hide! She takes a risk to get a close-range shot to the head, but the cobra strikes -- catching her in his mouth!

Fortunately for Wasp, another fashion-conscious hero was shopping nearby: the model turned private investigator - Dakota North! She opens fire on the snake's maw, sparing Wasp a fate as snake food! She threatens to target Kingsize's forehead jewel next, but a swing of his snake tail catches North unawares!

Wasp returns the favour to a kayoed North, swooping in with a stinger blast to the side of the head that finally gets Kingsize's attention! The pain earns his ire as he transforms briefly back to a man, before taking the form of a giant bee!

The battle goes aerial, but Wasp still has a size advantage when they come upon a just opening elevator. She slips between the slowly opening doors before shoppers spot the giant bee behind her, and make a beeline for safety!

Kingsize assumes he has the Wasp trapped, but she has her own view of the situation. Hitting the button to close the doors, she boxes the giant bee in where it has no room to maneuver! The miniature Wasp, on the other hand, is free to dart out of harm's way with a volley of stinger blasts!

The gambit backfires when Kingsize manages to spin at surprising speed, beating his giant bee wings with enough force to endanger the tiny Wasp's life!

She makes a desperate escape, hitting the button to open the elevator doors at the perfect moment. Kingsize isn't far behind the flying Wasp, now in the form of a gigantic spider!

The giant claims he's merely been toying with Wasp to demonstrate her true helplessness. With that, he catches Wasp in one of his many hair spider arms and claims victory! Or so it seems...

By snaring Wasp at such close quarters, she's finally able to unleash her bioelectric stinger with both barrels at point blank! The bolts blast the massive jewel on Kingsize's spider-head -- instantly beginning his reversion to man!

As his body twists and compacts, Kingsize curses his defeat. His was supposedly a destiny to end human tyranny and prepare the return of his giant people. Instead, he falls unconscious -- suffering a king-sized defeat!

The Hammer...From the files of obscurity we crown Wasp winner in a nice little solo adventure. We knew we were venturing into new territory with the featured villain, but how about that stealthy site debut for Dakota North? Her cameo registers an assist in the Fight Club Rankings. Updates are included at the bottom of this post.

Kingsize isn't a character I remember ever seeing again, but I'm told he showed up in some issues of the Civil War era Heroes for Hire. Apparently he was recipient of a Skrull organ transplant. His debut in today's story ended with Wasp vowing to call the Fantastic Four, speculating about his "Inhuman" origins.

Not really a character I feel an overwhelming need to see more of, but I'd be interested to know if his backstory was ever intended to be fleshed out. The whole concept seems a little odd and hodgepodge, but as it relates to the anthology short around it, I can kinda find some appeal in Kingsize...

They say American anthology comics usually have a tough time maintaining an audience. I would argue the bigger problem is usually maintaining quality. Like Marvel Comics Presents; the seasonal Marvel Super-Heroes specials were a hit & miss array of genuinely interesting obscurities - and slightly pointless asides.

This story always struck me as the former, functioning as an interesting case for more solo adventures for Wasp. Something I didn't necessarily know I wanted.

It might not be a soft sell to the average reader, but personally, I've always had a bit of a taste for the world of high fashion. The principally visual art forms of fashion and superhero comics are a natural fit. There are many realms that support the visual flair of classic superhero aesthetics - couture is one of them.

Exploring Janet van Dyne's career as a superhero/designer strikes me as a great starting premise to build a series around. It immediately opens her stories to the metropolitan centres of the world, and invites interesting new characters into her orbit, like the featured Dakota North.

North's style was memorably lauded in Marvel house ads of the mid-eighties, announcing an impending debut with a minimalist, fashion-style spread high on attitude, collar, and shoulder pads. The series only ran five issues, but the ads alone were enough to leave a strong impression.

She was a retired model who set up private investigation branches in New York, Paris, Rome, and Tokyo. Not quite the next big find, North's loitered in Marvel's periphery over the decades, crossing paths with everyone from Spider-man, Luke Cage, Black Panther, Jessica Jones, and Daredevil. She could've been a great supporting character in a globetrotting Wasp series!

Of course, any such series should keep its feet firmly planted in the superhero genre, as well. Which is where Kingsize's crusade for a forgotten race of 10 foot giants might've worked as a serviceable sub-plot. A new villain from the ol' play of opposites - the giant who hates the wasp.

As an on-going concern that rears its head from issue to issue, perhaps with greater illumination about the legitimacy -- or illegitimacy -- of the villain's claims, Kingsize could've worked. A friend like Thor could consult on the matter, given his familiarity with the giants of Jotunheim. A follow-up to that Fantastic Four mention might've been nice, as well. The thought of Kingsize following Wasp for a duel in Paris conjures a joy I can't fully justify.

Tony Salmons gave the Dakota North series a slick, minimalist style, but one of the things I love most about the Marvel Super-Heroes story we're talking about is the work of Amanda Conner! Her grasp of what looked hot in 1990 worked for me. Scale is a little hit and miss throughout, but Conner's compositions were worth it. Inks by Brad Vancata are generous and inky when they need to be.

My memory of comics in 1990 is that a lot of books had a thick, dark, inky print. I suspect paper stock and printing techniques soon changed that. It could look a little grubby, and sure doesn't scan great, especially when I'm off my head on contrast. We're all much better for sophisticated colouring and slick stocks, but I still have nostalgic affection for those inky newsstand issues.

We're pondering what might've been, but here in the now, there is a Wasp solo series, starring the all-new lost daughter of Hank Pym. It's not the Janet van Dyne reference fest I would've loved to see in the early nineties, but it's out there if you're so inclined.

The big screen has delivered another new Wasp in Ant-Man and The Wasp - the latest big screen offering from Marvel & Disney!

The great Michelle Pfeiffer plays Janet van Dyne on the big screen, with Evangeline Lilly stepping in as her daughter Hope. If you saw the first film, you know Ant-Man is one of the most muddled Marvel-made adaptations. Michael Douglas starred as a Hank Pym more senior to Paul Rudd's Scott Lang.

If you'd like to find more from the Marvel heroes, be sure to follow links littered throughout this post, or dive in to the Secret Index for an archive of every featured fight! You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook for daily links to fights inspired by the topics of the day. A like & share helps show your support!

Winner: Wasp (w/ Dakota North)
#44 (+31) Wasp (Janet van Dyne)
#534 (new) Dakota North [+1 assist]
#852 (new) Kingsize

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