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Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Reverend Meteor

Subj: There are a lot of older technologies.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2014 at 08:12:55 am EDT (Viewed 234 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Pseudoscience nonsense away: why Pym Particles won't give you Shrunken Bones
Posted: Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:21:35 pm EDT (Viewed 16 times)

Previous Post

    Morgan's gas has been described in Defenders as a cellular compression gas; the very same panel you're discussing in Defenders #21 calls it "cellular compression," which isn't how Pym particles work. Pym Particles don't compress matter, they provide a dimensional interface that enables one to send and retrieve mass across dimensional borders. Similarly, the original Handbook offers nothing except "cellular compression" in describing Morgan's gas.

Was the Pym particles providing a dimensional interface the original explanation for Pym particles or were Pym's powers originally implied to work on molecular compression? I'm willing to bet the latter and the former was a retcon. If so then presumably every shrink ray/shrink particles or what have you are covered by the very same retcon (which ties into Byrne's explanation in the Fantastic Four that when you shrink things they get shunted to the microverse). So again Morgan research was first. Morgan's research wasn't as polished as Pym's and he got hit with a nasty side effect but they were working on the same idea and Morgan hit upon it first.

    The Headmen had an entry in the TPB version of the Deluxe Edition, but not in the original DE issues; I don't have my trades with me, and my paper copies are therefore no help here. The '89 version of the Handbook does remark that Morgan's gas "presumably" worked like Pym's stuff, but offers no definitive statement. It also refers to Morgan as "a genius in the organic sciences;" in contrast, Pym is both a biochemist and physicist, and Pym Particles combine Pym's two areas of expertise.

    I don't think the '89 Handbook's presumption holds, though. Based on its use in the comics, Morgan's gas, unlike Pym Particles, don't allow a subject to retain their full human strength in a shrunken state, something we can infer from the times it's been used to render people helpless. Again, this shows that the mechanism is different, since Pym's gas usually allowed him to use his full-grown strength. If we go all the way back to the story that introduced him in World of Fantasy #11, we see that Morgan's gas temporarily shrinks only organic matter, which then quickly returns to its normal size. Pym Particles work on both organic and inorganic matter.

    Finally, note that Morgan has never been able to master growth, just partially reversible shrinking. This is because his gas compresses cells, but he has not worked out how to add borrowed mass the way Pym Particles do. This also suggests that his shrinking gas and its antidote do not exchange mass across dimensional boundaries, or at least not the same dimensional interface that Pym Particles employ.

I see all of that as a flaw in Morgan's method as opposed to a different method than Pym's all together. Pym accounted for something Morgan didn't and Morgan paid the price for it.

If there is something that explicitly states in the comics Morgan and Pym's methods are different then I concede the point but I have yet to see it explicitly spelled out that Morgan stumbled upon a different method.

    Morgan seems to have discovered a different mechanism for size change, one that's much less versatile and much less safe for use than Pym Particles. That's sort of the point of the three Headmen from the 1950s comics; they were the guys whose work was unsafe and a little off-brand, the guys who didn't become Pym, or Richards, or Strange, or even Doom because they went all in on defective processes or inferior methods.

In researching this, I've found that it's a lot more complicated that PYm vs. Morgan where shrinking technology is concerned.

Pym's very first appearance in TtA #27 has him shrinking a chair with a process that requires a second serum to grow the object back to normal size; in contrast, Morgan's first appearance has him refer to his stuff as "cellular compression gas" that works for only a few minutes before the organic tissue instantly returns to its normal size. Pym's first couple appearances as Ant-Man have him call his stuff "tissue shrinking" gas....but every time he uses it, it makes his metallic helmet shrink down with him, so it's a bit of a wash.

I'll grant you that no one has ever said Morgan's process doesn't use Pym Particles, but no one's ever explicitly said it does, either, and Morgan *always* calls it "cellular compression," even in his 1970s appearances when he could easily call it something else and Pym is no longer saying his stuff only works on organics (maybe because he finally noticed that his helmet shrinks too).

So either Morgan's gas doesn't work like Pym Particles or Morgan is too stupid to understand his own work. At best, he's Hendrik Lorentz and Pym is Albert Einstein, and we don't give Lorentz credit for the theory of relativity. Science is about explaining the mechanism accurately, not merely bumbling into something and then demanding credit. And Pym does seem to be the person who developed and accurately described a working mechanism for a shrinking/growing process where everyone else makes isolated, usually deeply flawed discoveries. Jerrold Morgan, on the other hand, has made few real contributions to anything other than grumbling about his disfigurement and his flawed shrinking process since his return appearance in 1976.

If we really want to go after people, we should probably bring in Heinrich Zemo, who had shrinking androids back in 1945 when he "killed" Captain America and Bucky, and Otto Krieger, later called Captain Axis, who researched such stuff in the 1940s and later helped Doctor Doomd evelop the shrinking ray used in Fantastic Four v.1 #10. And there's also the "Z-Ray" pit from the WWII Cap story in Tales of Suspense #69, which was created by the British scientist Cedric Rawlings, who worked with the Nazis years before Zemo and Krieger's apparent research. So maybe everyone's ripping Rawlings off? That said, Z-Rays are blocked by lead, and Pym Particles aren't, so maybe these *are* all different technologies as their differing names would suggest?

I also guarantee that if we dig into 1940s and 1950s Timely-Atlas-Marvel comics we'll find lots more of this kind of thing predating the examples above. "Shrinking rays" and "shrinking gas" were pretty common plot devices back then. (Personally, I've never had much time for shrinking and growing heroes, though DC's Atom has the mass-shifting gimmick as well, and comes off a little better for it. And I do like Erik Josten as the villainous Goliath, though not so much as an indecisive wannabe hero.)

In any case, there are plenty of things wrong with Hank Pym already if you really want to talk about how lousy he is. Saying that he's the Newton to someone else's Liebnitz, in that he and a lot of other characters seem to have independently discovered the same process, doesn't do much damage...especially since, as you yourself note, the worst-case scenario is that Pym perfected and found multiple applications for something almost everyone else screwed up badly.

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."