By Jef Willemsen (clarmindcontrol.blogspot.com)
It’s the fifth and final chapter of our Trial Of Yellowjack retrospective. Lets wrap up the story and end with some closing thoughts on how Jim Shooter’s story arc changed the Avengers.
The Masters of Evil had just finished strapping their prisoner Henry Pym into his latest invention: a massive machine that supposedly allowed one to live forever. Thinking Pym might be lying, they decide to test it on him and flip the switch.
Turns out, it wasn’t a death trap… Under their very noses, Hank had actually built a war machine capable of defeating the Masters of Evil singlehandedly. Protected by an impenetrable reactive forcefield, ‘Super Hank’ took over the Beetle’s armor by remote control and crashed him into his teammates and that was just for starters.
Within minutes, he stood triumphant over Egghead ánd himself at long last. It was a truly cathartic moment for Henry Pym , as he finally realized he didn’t need to hide behind a costumed identity to be a hero.
Of course, Egghead couldn’t leave well enough alone and lunged himself at Pym, who knocked him back with a single punch. But while Hank turned away from him, Egghead pulled a gun and aimed to shoot him in the back. Only a timely arrow from Hawkeye saved Hank from being shot.
Unfortunately, Hawkeye’s arrow caused the gun to backfire and actually kill the villain.
The last issue collected in the The Trial Of Yellowjacket trade is # 230, a tale that ties up so many loose ends, its no wonder they called it The Final Goodbye.
First, there’s the matter of Hank’s involvement in the stolen adamantium shipment… The Avengers manage to… persuade… a few expert witnesses to take the stand in his defense.
In light of this new evidence, the judge dropped all the charges against Hank and both he and Hawkeye walked away scott free… Well, until both men had to appear before separate Avengers court martials, of course. This still left Hank with plenty of time to get some more closure by doing this.
Not too many heroes would even consider helping spread the ashes of their villains, but Hank Pym even delivered a eulogy of sorts for Elihas Starr while his niece Trish and family friend Fred Sloane looked on. Talk about closure…
But Hank still had one more stop to go on the road to redemption. He returned to Avengers mansion to attend the conclusion of his own formal hearing, conducted by the Wasp who treated him so coldly, it was both admirable and cringe worthy.
Janet was all business when she brought up the point that Hank might have been influenced by outside forces during his transgressions and she offered him the opportunity to possibly clear his name, using Iron Man’s scanning device. Hank agreed to be scanned and while this would have been the ideal opportunity for Stern to push the reset button and reveal all of it wasn’t Hank’s fault after all… the scanner shows he was in complete control the whole time. This revelation made his expulsion from the Avengers’ ranks all but complete.
Going upstairs, he found Jarvis had already cleared out his room and packed his bags. An emotional Henry Pym thanked the team’s faithful man servant, as he made his way downstairs for the final goodbye. First, he met Cap and the other Avengers and he left them with a surprising gift.
Leaving his Yellowjacket gear with the Avengers made sense. Scott Lang was running around as Ant-Man, Bill Foster had also taken over as Giant-Man and bad guy Eric Josten had claimed the codename Goliath…. So why not Yellowjacket?
On an unrelated note, despite Hank’s claims that a good man was required to make Yellowjacket work out, Roger Stern would eventually have small time criminal Rita DeMarra steal Hank’s costume from the mansion and become the second Yellowjacket.
After saying goodbye to the other Avengers in an almost amicable fashion, Hank was met at the door by his former wife. It would be the first time the two would speak on panel about all the stuff that had driven the book for the past 17 issues since that fateful slap. How did Hank and Jan leave the shattered husk of their once fiery love behind?
Roger Stern has the first divorced super hero couple in the Marvel Universe engage in a mature conversation about love and loss, while still keeping an open mind and acknowledging that appearances can be deceiving. Despite our best intentions, we sometimes simply don’t live up to the expectations we and others have of us. Hank simply wasn’t cut out for life as a superhero and is finally okay with that.
This makes his departure a noble one, he leaves the Avengers, head held up high… confident in the knowledge he redeemed himself and is now ready to go wherever life might leads him. At the time, Hank seemed pretty confident he would never again be a hero, so the goodbyes in # 230 had a real sense of finality.
Its especially hard to watch Janet break down as she watches her ex husband literally walk out of her life, while she appears stuck behind the oddly prisonlike windows of Avengers mansion. Hank got out, but Jan is stuck there due to the commitment she made to be team leader. But that doesn’t mean she can’t have a proper cry over it all.
A course change started in 1981 finally pays off in 1983. Gone are the relics from late 70s continuity, the 1980s Avengers are a multiracial band of heroes led by a free woman, ready to deal with anything that comes their way. Once she’s done crying, of course.
In the months that followed, Roger Stern would put the Avengers on the map once more, delving into rich veins of past continuity while also braving new frontiers as the 1980s got into full swing. But not today…
“Today, there is pain and remorse and release. There will be enough time for joy and hope tomorrow”. How very true indeed.