Friday, November 30, 2012

circa 1983 - John Byrne's Indiana Jones

1981 - Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past

Uncanny X-Men #141-142
January- February 1981
“Days of Future Past”
Writing: Chris Claremont (plot and script) and John Byrne (plot)
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

While a lot of fans classify the Dark Phoenix Saga as the ultimate X-Men storyline, I’d argue for a two-issue, cross-time story called “Days of Future Past”. Both Claremont and Byrne are at the top of their game, coming off the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline and still telling outstanding stories.

This story introduced an apocalyptic, dystopian future set in 2013 where mutants are confined to concentration camps and marked with the letter M to indicate their mutant status. The post-nuclear holocaust devastation wasn’t limited to mutants as a number of non-mutant super heroes had been killed by Sentinels enforcing Project Wideawake.

Recognizing their dire situation, a ragtag group of mutants (Wolverine, Kate Pryde, Magneto, Colossus, Storm, Franklin Richards, and Rachel Summers) put into motion a desperate plot to prevent this nightmarish future from ever occurring. Claremont and Byrne in those future sequences, really capture that hopelessness and their defeated feeling.

The use this nightmarish future to up the stakes of this story’s initial problem which is to stop Senator Kelly’s assassination at the hands of the new Brotherhood of Mutants under the leadership of Mystique. Kate Pryde’s essence is sent back through to time to temporarily inhabited her past self, long enough to tell the X-Men how it all came about. “We fought. We lost. We d-died. And now... seeing you all alive -- oh God, I didn't think it would hurt so much.”

In the present time sequences, the character interactions are well done, especially capturing the leaderless X-Men (with Cyclops still on leave) and Storm taking the leadership reins.

They also manage to have a bit of levity in a rather dark themed comic book as Kitty Pryde takes on the Danger Room on her own and beats it!

At this point in their relationship, there was a lot of strife between Claremont and Byrne, but that also forced them to be at their best as they challenged each other. Byrne’s last issue would be Uncanny X-Men #143 and they would part on difficult terms. So looking back, it’s an amazing story to view the collaborative talent they had and also to realize that while they may have gone their separate way, they were never quite as good as this run.

And with the early buzz that Bryan Singer is considering this story as source material for the latest X-Men movie, there’s no better time to check out this truly revolutionary 1980s story.

Some other notes:
- The story’s title was apparently inspired by the Moody Blue’s Days of Future Passed
- Uncanny X-Men was the first appearance of the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and of Rachel Summers
- Interesting to see Mystique teasing at a shared past with Nightcralwer, but that would be an unresolved plot point that would be left dangling forever.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shooter's New Universe Returns?

From a post up on Bleeding Cool, it looks like the New Universe will be making a return in the Marvel Now! universe.

Cover to Avengers #7

That bolt of energy certainly does seem familiar...

New Universe house ad circa 1987

1985 - The cover to Secret Wars II

According to I Love Comic Covers who was apparently quoting John Byrne:

"Sal Buscema drew [the Secret Wars II cover] originally, but Shooter found fault with his version and called me in to do a "better one". I took one look at Sal's and drew exactly the same thing, just in my own style."

Later, Fantagraphics used the rejected illustration for the Amazing Heroes cover, which was published one month before Secret Wars II #1."

These are the original pencils taken from Amazing Heroes #66. As you can see a whole lot of characters were cropped out of the background, including Dazzler in her old school uniform, Legion, and Magik. And Magneto and Rogue were added in to the final cover below.

Here's the original cover:

1982 - Anatomy of a cover - Dazzler #24

By Frank Springer

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1989 - Cloak & Dagger pinup by Walt Simonson

From Walt Simonson's Facebook album:

"Characters with wonderfully complementary designs. Never did a story with them but drew a pinup for some Marvel mag or other."

Avengers Sorta Disassembled Part V: All We Are Is Pym Particles In The Wind

By Jef Willemsen (

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.

Monday, November 26, 2012

1987 - Anatomy of a cover - Fallen Angels #7

1981-1983: Avengers Sorta Disassembled part IV: Ant’s For The Memories, Man!

By Jef Willemsen (

In this fourth installment, Hank Pym finally gets his day in court… but not before he’s subjected to an ultimate insult or two whilst still behind bars. No, not from his fellow inmates necessarily, the hurt’s a bit closer to home.

Unfortunately, the road to Yellowjacket’s big story was a rocky one. By mid 1982, Jim Shooter was no longer writing the book due to his other full-time job as Marvel Comics’ Editor-In-Chief. That’s why he intermittently plotted some issues, hoping the general direction he had set out on would still be followed.

Avengers #223 however, was written by former Avengers scribe David Michelinie who indulged himself with a story about Hawkeye and Scott “Ant-Man” Lang teaming up to save Hawk’s friend Marcy Carson from the Taskmaster. This Michelinie-created baddie was out to take over Marcy’s travelling carnival so he could have a mobile training academy. While it is a perfectly well written and absolutely non offensive issue, it might as well have been a Marvel Team Up stock story.

Still, it coincidentally served  the larger story arc, as it emphasized Scott Lang’s ties to the Avengers…  Which was all the more convenient when Scott put on his Ant-Man costume an issue later and decided to break out Hank Pym so he could clear his name. Hank forcefully declined the offer, choosing to have his day in court instead of incriminating himself even further.

Speaking of # 224, the cover promises ‘the most off beat Avengers tale ever’ and for once, there might be some truth in advertising. The tale is plotted by Shooter, but scripted by one Alan Zelenetz. His work for Marvel is limited to having (co)written some issues of Thor, Conan the King and Moonknight and his most recent claim is advising on movies as an ordained rabbi. In retrospect, this makes him an interesting choice for the issue that features the budding romance between… of all people… Iron Man and the Wasp.

During a rather pedestrian mission clearing out a collapsed subway tunnel, Tony first notices just how ravishing the newly divorced Janet van Dyne is. Over the course of the issue, he pursues her in his civilian guise as Tony Stark and sparks fly between the two wealthy socialites. But there’s one slight problem: Janet doesn’t know Tony is Iron Man yet… which really complicates their budding romance.

Captain America isn’t too pleased about it, either.

Hank’s archenemy Egghead is over the moon however, when he reads about it in the society pages… one would think sinister evil geniuses would skip those sections, but hey.

Wrecked with guilt, Tony eventually decides to reveal his dual identity to the Wasp who, quite understandably, breaks off their romance. She simply cannot deal with the notion of dating a team member who also happens to be one of Hank’s oldest friends. Tony decides the best thing to do is quickly start dating another girl so the press will forget all about his fling with Janet. Naturally, that backfires big time.…

The letter column to Avengers #224 broke the news: Jim Shooter had officially left the book. This meant #225, aka the big anniversary issue, was written by Steven Grant who crafted an okay-ish two parter that saw the team  transported to Avalon by Doctor Druid to fight the demonic Fomor for the life of the newly resurrected Black Knight. This tale really meant the end of an era of transference for the Avengers.

By the time he left, Shooter had brought the Avengers into the 80s. His jarring storylines had pulled both the team and the readership out of their silver age comfort zone. By showing just how far a founding Avenger might fall, the entire team was forced to change and mature.

For the first time, seemingly infallible heroes like Thor, Cap and Iron Man engaged in some serious soul searching over Hank’s fate. And while Hank’s character also evolved considerably, no one was more changed, and was the better for it, than the Wasp.

She emerged from her divorce a new woman, no longer a mere one note throwback to the ditzy air headed dames Stan Lee used to write. Janet van Dyne reinvented and reasserted herself, by taking over as Avengers chairwoman and proving her worth, while still retaining her fun loving personality. A new wind was blowing and with the arrival of Roger Stern in # 227, the ship was finally headed into its new direction.

And if you’d permit me to continue the ‘Avengers as a ship’ analogy a bit further. If Roger Stern’s the ship’s captain plotting the course, the figurehead has to be Monica Rambeau, the second Captain Marvel. Stern opens # 227 with Monica joining the Avengers, only a few short months after she made her debut in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual # 16.

After an impressive display of Captain Marvel’s powers, the Wasp launches a precursor to the Avengers Initiative: Avenger-in-training, a superhero internship of sorts which allowed young heroes like C.M. to train with experienced Avengers. They’d also get first crack at any open slots in the roster To his credit, Stern masterfully finds the voices of the team and sets up a number of subplots that would pay off nicely… But before he could fully embark on his own course, Stern had to deal with the curious court case of doctor Hank Pym.

Handling this task with appropriate aplomb, Stern used most of # 227 to have Pym recap his life’s story for the benefit of new readers, all the while keeping things interesting for long time fans by peppering this history lesson with plenty of Hank’s wry personal observations. With everyone on the same page, Hank’s court trial began in # 228.

While the trial got underway, Egghead was having trouble furthering his research into immortality. Luckily, he had a plan… A plan that required flunkies. That’s why he freed most of  his Masters of Evil from jail,  trading Scorpion for the Shocker and the Beetle and even adding original member Radioactive Man.

The ‘next bold move’ Egghead refers to is have the Masters barge into the courtroom to kidnap Henry Pym, while making it appear they were actually there to rescue him as per Pym’s own orders. The Avengers were present to beat the Masters back, but they still managed to get away with Pym.  Only the Shocker is captured, but even that turns out to be part of Egghead’s plan, as the villain reveals to his furious guest.

With the whole world against him, Henry Pym has no choice but to join his greatest enemy. Egghead has Hank work on a way to become immortal for days, while the Avengers fret and fume impatiently at the mansion, biting each other’s head off at every turn…

That is until Scott Lang arrived to deliver a little present from Iron Man: a handy dandy mind scanner Tony had been working on ever since their repeated run ins with Moondragon. Not only does the scanner detect mind control, it also breaks it. Deciding to use the device on the Shocker, they learn the truth: Egghead really is alive and Hank is innocent after all.

As the team rushed to the villain’s secret base in a quiet, suburban neighbourhood  Hank Pym called in Egghead and the Masters to tell them he solved the mystery of eternal life. In under two days.
Rightfully suspicious of this extremely early success,  the villains decided to test this ‘immortality device’ on Hank first to make sure it isn’t a death trap. They strap him into the contraption and active the device.

Well, was it a deathtrap? Find out why the issue was called Final Curtain  in the fifth and final part of Avengers Sorta Disassembled: All We Are Is Pym Particles In The Wind.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Avengers Sorta Disassambled part III: Kick An Ant-Man When He’s Down

By Jef Willemsen (

After getting himself booted out of the Avengers for dishonorable conduct and being framed for crimes he didn’t commit by his archnemesis Egghead, Hank Pym found himself in jail. Can things get any worse? Ow, you’d better believe it…

He suffered the ultimate insult for the next 6 months or so: being completely ignored. Jim Shooter had the entire fall and rise of Hank Pym all planned out when his duties as editor in chief unfortunately proved too time consuming and he had to take breaks. This meant fill in issues and guest writers scripting over Shooter’s plots... as a result, poor ol’ jailbird Hank got lost in the shuffle.

The effects were jarring, to say the least. After the Yellowjacket centric # 217, which ended with him in jail, one would expect # 218 to pick up on or even mention the matter. Instead, we get a perfectly decent stock story by J.M. DeMatteis which sees the Avengers trying to deal with the plight of the Forever Man, a human being who cannot die and is tired of this unending cycle of reincarnation.

Shooter returns for issues #  219  and 220, but the matter of Yellowjacket’s upcoming legal issues aren’t addressed at all by the team. It takes Moondragon of all people to even remind the readers something is going down with Hank.

Yes, Moondragon makes her triumphant return to the book. The last time she crossed paths with  the Avengers, the self important high priestess of the mind decided to help them pick their new line up. But now, she was pursuing higher goals, travelling the galaxy with her father Drax the Destroyer to bring peace wherever they went. In this case, the planet known as Ba-Bani.

Having succeeded in ending a planetary war by using most of her powers to ‘influence’ military leaders, Moondragon was left vulnerable to an imminent rebel attack on her stronghold. Because she had cured Drax of his rage issues, he couldn’t defend her so she decided to summon her former team to come to her aid. Sending her ship the Sensia to Earth, the remaining 4 Avengers feel oddly compelled to board the vessel and soon arrive on Ba Bani ready to defend Moondragon.

Lets face it, this two parter makes no sense. It takes the Avengers an entire issue to discover there’s no rebellion,  Moondragon actually controls the entire Ba-Bani population. Why did she go through this whole song and dance? Seemingly, all she wanted from the Avengers was to  mentally seduce Thor and take him as a lover.  If so, why did she need to bring the others?

Iron Man meanwhile manages to get through to the newly pacifist Drax, who breaks free from his  mental conditioning. Enraged, the Destroyer goes to confront his daughter, who feels she has no choice but to do this…

The effort of killing her father weakens Moondragon sufficiently for the Avengers to take her out. With the Ba-Bani free (and already back at war), the team agrees Moondragon has to pay for her crimes. Unfortunately, common Earth courts don’t exactly cover interplanetary mental domination and super powered patricide.

Shooter brilliantly solved this by having Thor teleport her to Asgard. If Moondragon insists on thinking she’s as a goddess, she ought to be judged by the gods, he reasons. Thor leaves Moondragon with Odin himself, who is ready to sit in judgement over her actions. This resolution would eventually turn out to be a neat set up for J.M. DeMatteis, when he drafted Moondragon for his New Defenders run.

Alas, the ill plotted Moondragon two parter were the last full issues of the title Shooter would write. David Michelinie scripted # 221 which saw the four remaining active Avengers finally dealing with their depleted ranks… all the while not mentioning Hank a single time.

At any rate, the team had two slots to fill and everyone had their own ideas on how to reach the quota of six members. Thor sought out Spider-Man who kindly refused, while Iron Man and Cap simply went to Hawkeye and asked the all too eager archer to rejoin. Wasp was the only one who took a little effort and held a recruitment drive of her own. Inviting the Invisible Girl, Black Widow, Dazzler, Spider-Woman and the She Hulk to an all girl tea party at her house,  Janet was about to make her pitch when an uninvited ‘friend’ dropped by.

Fabian Stankowicz was introduced in # 217 as a good hearted but slightly goofy inventor who had gained a small fortune after winning the lottery. Hungering for a taste of fame to go along with his fortune, he decided to pitting his mechanical genius against the Avengers would certainly get him some press.

He got beaten up mercilessly by the assembled heroines, who one after another took their leave until only the She-Hulk remained and happily accepted Janet’s offer for membership. The Avengers were back to fighting strength, right on time for # 222 which saw Steven Grant scripting Shooter’s plot and the return of Egghead and… the latest incarnation of the Masters of Evil.

Issue # 222 is significant for many reasons. It’s the first time we see the new Avengers in action against Egghead’s equally new Masters of Evil… but its also the first time in 5 months Hank Pym is mentioned ánd seen. Shooter even tries to explain away Hank’s absence from the book with an awkward exchange between Tony Stark and Scott Lang.

Scott Lang taking an interest in Hank’s case only makes sense, considering he owns his super hero identity to the man. It also shows a real sense of neglect on the part of Tony and the other Avengers. Sure, they can’t do an awful lot until Hank’s case comes to trial… but is a visit or a show of sympathy really too much to ask?

Meanwhile, the reason why Pym’s in the pokey is having troubles of his own. Egghead was initially rather pleased with causing the downfall of his nemesis, but that joy proved rather fleeting.

His plight actually helps inspire his latest nefarious scheme: come up with a cure for eternal life and get filthy rich selling it to the highest bidder. But to achieve all of this, he’ll need a few super powered henchmen to do the heavy lifting. That’s why not too long afterwards, a remote controlled torpedo destroys the Atlantean prison holding the fierce Tiger Shark. The aquatic baddie soon shows up at the Ryker’s Island prison to gather a few more recruits, like inmate David Cannon, better known as the Whirlwind. Right before his breakout, he was just having some lunch with fellow prisoner Hank Pym.

In a nice nod to established continuity, Shooter reminds the readers that Whirlwind is actually obsessed with the Wasp. He even posed as her driver in the early issues in order to get close to her. With his parole hearing coming up soon, Cannon openly fantasized about paying Janet a little visit. Naturally, that didn’t sit well with her new ex-husband.

Only moments after Pym is dragged away to solitary, Tiger Shark bursts through a wall and starts a jail break. He takes Whirlwind, the Scorpion and Moonstone and leaves the other prisoners to fend for themselves. Egghead is pleased by his latest Masters of Evil and he plans for them to rob a New York medical research center that night.

Having a few hours to kill before the job, Whirlwind decides to make good on his earlier promise and looks up the Wasp. He knocks out her driver Carrothers and waits for her right outside Avengers Mansion. When she finally enters the car, she isn’t too pleased to see him.

Also: picking a fight with the Avengers’ chairman in front of their headquarters? Not the smartest thing to do. Hawkeye is the first to come rushing to Jan’s aid, but luckily for Whirlwind his fellow Masters are nearby as well.

Despite their best efforts, the outnumbered Masters are quickly routed and sent back to jail. But Egghead isn’t too depressed about it, figuring this defeat may help the Masters see the wisdom of obeying his orders… next time.

Speaking of next time, in the fourth part of this retrospective on a certain TPB called The Trial of Yellowjacket, we’ll skip over half a dozen inconsequential issues and finally get to the trial and redemption of the aforementioned Yellowjacket in Avengers Sorta Disassembled: Ant’s For The Memories, Man!

1986 - Anatomy of a cover - Marvel Saga #16

By Keith Pollard.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Did anyone else read Amazing Spider-Man #698?

I've only flipped through a few issues of Amazing Spider-Man since they retconned Peter and MJ's marriage. However, this issue was impressive to say the least... And I'm interested in your take if you've read it... 

If you're not interested, here's a summary - SPOILER ahead:

The issue starts off with Doc Ock on death's door (after the events of Ends of the Earth) calling out Peter Parker's name. Spidey is then notified and makes his way leisurely to the Raft where Doc Ock is being held. The Avengers escort him in and Spidey asks for a moment alone, in private with Doc Ock. Peter takes off his mask as Ock gasps "I ... am ... Peter... Parker...". It turns out somehow that Doc has switched minds with Peter stranding Peter in Ock's dying body. That was a cool reveal and the best part was that it forced you to re-read the comic from a totally different perspective. Also, you can't help but wonder how long ago that this switch took place. 
I'm not sure if I'm so desperate for a good Spidey story that I'm willing to be amazed by anything! 

1984 - Wolverine sketch by Kerry Gammill

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1985 - Anatomy of a cover - New Mutants #34

1983 - Anatomy of a cover - Indiana Jones #6

Alan Davis on Marvel Now!'s Wolverine (and Paul Cornell too!)

Paul Cornell and Alan Davis will be the creators on the Marvel Now! Wolverine series which will kick off in March 2013.

I've been rather lukewarm on Marvel's soft reboot of their titles, however the Wolverine has me excited and counting down the days until March 2013. It's nice to see Davis (inked by Mark Farmer) return to a full-time book. I really enjoyed Paul Cornell's run on Excalibur as well as his Luthor run in Actions Comics.

"I'm going to have Wolverine refer to himself as James Logan.  I know that's not the name he pays his taxes under.  But it's his chosen 'human name' (as Cyclops would put it) now, for reasons that are meaningful, and which old-time readers may well be able to work out quite easily.  Having said that, the new series will be entirely new-reader friendly.  You don't need to know a thing about the world or the characters going in." (
"James is involved in a hostage situation in the heart of New York, which spirals into an action-movie chase with him pursuing...he has no idea, and neither do we. It's something absolutely disciplined, ruthless, and absolutely unconcerned with harming innocents. James has to do something not very nice in front of one such innocent. He's damned if he's going to let it happen again." (

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers!

1983 - Avengers Sorta Disassembled Part II: Hit, Miss And Definitely Maybe

By Jef Willemsen (

Three issues into his Avengers run, Jim Shooter had managed to turn longtime member Yellowjacket into an inept failure, both as a hero and a man. But the fun was only just beginning for ol’ unhinged Hank Pym.

If you thought systematically treating your wife like dirt,  and shooting an unarmed woman in the back with your disruptor were despicable deeds, wait til you see what Yellowjacket did for an encore in issue # 213, better known as “the one where Hank hits Jan”.

Lets get it over with.

Now, sure, I know it looks bad, but hear me out… It wasn’t intentional!

At least, that’s what Jim Shooter claimed on his blog:
“Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration—making a sort of “get away from me” gesture while not looking at her.  Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross!  There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.”
So, accident or not, lashing out at someone is a pretty awful thing to do no matter what. And what was she even doing there in her nighties? Well, faced with the looming court martial and the prospect of being kicked out of the Avengers, Hank’s deranged mind came up with a plan that would prove he was a hero after all.

How? By building Salvation One, a sentient, adamantium clad killer robot programmed to recognize and beat the Avengers.  He planned to have ‘Sal’ attack the mansion during the court martial and since only Hank knew its secret off-button, he’d casually swoop in and save the day once the robot had them all on the ropes. Yeah… fool proof. When Janet discovered his plans, she tried to reason with him, but their argument ended with the allegedly accidental slap.

Accident or not, it left her with one heck of a shiner she tried to cover up on the day of Hank’s court martial. Captain America started off the proceedings and inquired why Hank did what he did. After offering up a rambling, nonsensical explanation for his actions, even inferring he only got court martialed because Cap had the hots for his victim, Janet lost it and took off her glasses.

Even this wasn’t enough to keep Hank from going through with his plan. He summoned Salvation One who came crashing through the wall and knocked all the Avengers around. The robot proved unstoppable, just as Hank had planned.

Unfortunately for him, just when he was getting ready to act the part of the hero and stop Sal, his disruptors backfired and the robot started attacking him. In the end, Janet was the one to hit the Sal’s off switch. Defeated and broken, Hank left Avengers Mansion, disappearing into the night.

By issue # 214, weeks had gone by and when a disheveled, remorseful Hank turned up at the Wasp’s New Jersey home, she quickly booted him out right after announcing she wanted a divorce, causing feminists everywhere to yell ‘you go girl!’.

Meanwhile, the Avengers were having girl troubles of their own. Their newest member Tigra wasn’t exactly working out. She did okay against Linnea the Elf Queen, but after the Ghost Rider hits her with a blast of his soul searing hellfire, she completely lost her cool.

Unfortunately, Tigra’s scaredy cat act would continue into #215 and 216, which saw the Avengers and guest star Silver Surfer go up against the recently resurrected and always all powerful Molecule Man. The villain casually dismissed and seemingly destroyed both the Surfer and the male Avengers, keeping Tigra around as a pet while he worked out his latest scheme: conquer Earth by consuming it.

In the end, it was Tigra who saved the day. Not only managing to talk him into abandoning his plans, but also convincing the weak willed villain to turn himself in so he could get some proper psychological help. One might think single handedly saving the planet would give Tigra the confidence boost she needs to become a valued member of Earth’s mightiest. And one would be wrong because, well… This happens.

“And, lets face it, you guys mess with some heavy-duty opposition!”

Somehow, that line loses a lot of its impact when you see the ‘heavy-duty opposition’  Tigra is talking about. She only really went up against Ghost Rider. The swordsman Gorn was dead long before the Avengers even arrived, Yellowjacket never lifted a finger against her and Linnea the Elfqueen tossed her into orbit with a single spell. Still, Tigra went on her merry way and the number of active Avengers was reduced to three.

By the time issue # 217 rolled along, a lot of things had changed. For one, with her divorce finalized, the Wasp returned to active duty as Janet van Dyne. She immediately took charge of the situation when she dropped this bombshell on the team during their meeting.

Unfortunately, just as Janet was bouncing back, her former husband Hank was about to hit bottom again. After wandering aimlessly through New York for weeks, missing several shots at redemption, Hank was approached in a bar by his former arch-enemy Elias Starr, better known as Egghead because of his genius and, well, pointy cranium. Starr made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Egghead claimed he felt bad about his past crimes, especially because it cost his niece Trish Starr one of her arms. Feeling remorseful, Egghead had constructed an artificial replacement for her. But, figuring she wanted nothing more to do with him, he offered Pym 500.000 dollars to visit Trish and help her install the cybernetic limb. Hank agreed and, well, no good deed really does go unpunished…
Not sure if Shooter intended this particular parallel, but seeing Yellowjacket get slapped around after (accidentally) hitting the Wasp feels rather ironic and well deserved.

Turns out you can’t trust evil masterminds called Egghead. Who knew? The villain gleefully explains Trish’s cybernetic arm not only allows him to take over her body, it also contains powerful explosives that would kill her if anyone tried to remove it.

Forcing his cooperation, Egghead egged Hank on to steal two cannisters of Ad Resin X and Y, the main ingredients for creating adamantium. But as Yellowjacket infiltrated the military base that held the metals, he got the idea of triggering a silent base alarm that would bring in the Avengers. Unfortunately, by the time they got there he was already driving the getaway truck with Trish and the adamantium canisters in tow.  

Threatening to kill Trish if he didn’t cooperate, Egghead forced Hank to go out and fight his former team mates. He was actually holding his own for a while, not realizing the others were holding back. When they finally did take him down, Hank hurriedly informed them of his predicament and begged them to help. But guess what…

Not only did Egghead lie about there being any explosives hidden in Trish’s arm, he also used his mental connection to give her a set of false memories. As a result, all Trish could remember was that stealing the adamantium was Hank’s idea all along. Given Pym’s propensity for using adamantium in his robotics, framing him for stealing the metal actually made a lot of sense. Not knowing any of this, the Avengers have no choice but to take Hank into custody.

By the time he is in jail the next morning, the media have already picked up on the story and Hank’s life is now officially ruined. And still, the worst was yet to come as we’ll see in part III of Avengers Sorta Disassambled: Kick An Ant-Man When He’s Down.


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