A Growing Profile...1 of 12
Whether you’re enjoying Ray Palmer’s appearances on Arrow and holding out hopes that he’ll put on a special belt to shrink down as the Atom, or just looking forward to that other Marvel Studios film coming out in 2015, Ant-Man, if you like heroes that shrink, you’re going to be happy in the next couple of years.
In fact, those characters are both getting boosts in the comics they come from, not just in multimedia. Ant-Man gets a new ongoing series in 2015, and Ray Palmer has been a main character in the weekly comic Futures End.
But there's a long history of characters whose only abilities are to shrink, or grow, standing (metaphorically) tall beside more powerful heroes and villains. Here are 10 of the best. Warning: Hank Pym-aphobes may want to look away now.
GIGANTA2 of 12Okay, so she's not technically a superhero, but Wonder Woman's giantess nemesis has been around since the mid-1940s, despite offering no more threat to the Amazon warrior that being really, really tall.
Perhaps the idea of a giant woman with super-strength and a scientist's genius appeals to Wonder Woman's many creators, or maybe it's just that for decades of her existence Giganta's costume consisted of little more than a leopard-skin bikini.
ELASTI-GIRL3 of 12Rita Farr had it all: An Olympic athlete turned glamorous movie star, she was successful, beautiful and... Oh, yeah, gifted with the ability to grow or shrink her body at will (unlike other characters with this power, she could even do it one limb at a time).
Of course, that kind of good fortune couldn't last, and before too long she was killed by the Brotherhood of Evil becoming, in fact, the only member of the original team who did actually die as a result of an explosion intended to kill the entire team.
STATURE4 of 12Poor Cassie Lang. Arguably the most heroic of the original Young Avengers, she was also the unluckiest assuming a superheroic identity after the death of her father, falling in love with a future super villain and eventually (spoilers for those who haven't read The Children's Crusade yet) dying to save her resurrected father from Doctor Doom.
She made the most of her size-changing skills, but sadly couldn't beat a seemingly cursed existence.
COLOSSAL BOY5 of 12One of two size-changing members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Gim Allon got his powers from a radioactive meteorite that sadly didn't give him the ability to pick a better superhero name for himself (In later continuities, he called himself "Leviathan," which was a little bit better, let's be honest).
The greatest re-interpretation of Colossal Boy came in Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's sadly short-lived 2004 reboot, where it was revealed that he was actually a giant who could shrink to human size who hated being called "Colossal Boy."
SHRINKING VIOLET6 of 12The second of the two Legionnaires to change size, Shrinking Violet a.k.a. Salu Digby was created a year later than Colossal Boy as his equal and opposite number... and also, future unrequited love.
Throughout the years, the character has had to fight against her name in many ways, becoming tougher and more violent to prove that she's not a pushover (she's also been known as Atom Girl, Virus and LeViathan). If only she'd thought to name herself "Ass-Kicking Violet" instead...
ATLAS7 of 12Rivaling Stature in the bad luck stakes, Erik Josten a.k.a. Power Man, a.k.a. Goliath but likely better known as the Thunderbolt Atlas may have been one of the first villains to feel the lure of going straight and trying to be a hero, but the life of glory and rewards was not for him: Firstly turned into an "ionic energy creature," then left so huge that he couldn't move and eventually teaming up with Wonder Man during his inexplicable "Revengers" period, Josten's entire career appears to be one bad move after another.
GOLIATH8 of 12And what about Goliath? Well, it depends what Goliath you're talking about, as there have been so many in the Marvel Universe: Hank Pym, Clint Barton, Erik Josten and the Fosters, Bill and Tom.
Let's focus on the final two: Bill Foster was a lab partner of Hank Pym who got into the superhero game as, embarrassingly, "Black Goliath" before eventually realizing that he didn't need that first part at all. Sadly, shortly after assuming the Goliath identity, he got killed in Civil War, leading his nephew to take up the identity to honor his legacy – and remind the world that the Avengers were responsible for Bill's death whenever possible, too.
THE ATOM9 of 12Ray Palmer's origin may mirror Colossal Boy's in some ways (he too got his powers from a meteorite sorry, crashed white dwarf star albeit with some additional science thrown in), but Palmer and the subsequent Atoms in the DCU (Adam Cray, Ryan Choi and the new Justice League member) found success getting small instead of going large – even if that level of success has been (somewhat appropriately, perhaps) minor.
Perhaps someone should find some white dwarf star matter that could grow the character's fanbase.
THE WASP10 of 12Who doesn't love Janet Van Dyne? A founding member of the Avengers and also former leader of the team she made the growth from fun-loving socialite to fully-fledged hero in front of readers' eyes, giving them even more reason to adore her besides her upbeat, can-do attitude and seeming inability to stick with any one costume for an appreciable amount of time.
Now that she's done the presumed-dead thing following Secret Invasion and joined the Uncanny Avengers, maybe she'll finally get the spotlight she deserves (And maybe a solo book, too?).
Of course, as of right now, it seems like The Wasp has continued to be left out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unless certain rumors are to be believed...
HANK PYM11 of 12If you've noticed a running theme of "Size-Changing = Bad Luck" in this top ten, then meet the poster child for that particular phenomenon. Not only has Pym made a career of identity crises following his discovery of particles that allow him to change size he's been Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket and the Wasp throughout the years, switching back and forth between identities as the mood takes him – but he's also accidentally created the currently-genocidal Ultron robot, discovered that his own powers make him mentally unstable and even turned against his fellow Avengers on at least one occasion, in between bouts of depression and self-doubt.
Hank Pym is a pretty great argument against becoming a super-hero in the first place - but definitely a strong argument to avoid size-changing as a route towards success and stardom. Just say no, kids.
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