...heeheehee. We'll never forget you, all right.
Geez, you people.
I hop online last night, and across the places I advertise my article, I get asked "why him? Why Ant-Man?"
(Well, except in one place, where the phrase-of-the-day always seems to be the AOL-speak of 'Hey, baby, I got an extra key, you know that motel near Route 9? Stop by sometime.')
Well, here's a snippet from the first article I did, which you can still read if you scroll up:
But create a character with depth, background, and more importantly an questioning sense of being downright human, and you all glance around nervously, twiddle your thumbs, and try not to look embarrassed.
Last time, I told you his origin, as well as the origin of the flighty and flirtateous Janet Van Dyne.
Well, now I'm going to tell you why he still provides, bar none
, some of the best human characterization you'll find in the Avengers.
Look back with me now to the days when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were still doing most of the stuff being cranked out of Marvel themselves.
At this time, one of them realized, "Hey, y'know...having a character whose primary power is to get weaker
than his opponent eventually isn't going to support a comic that long. Especially one whose major source of company is an insect everybody hates to have raid their picnic."
To which the other posed the question, "Well, if he can use his potion to shrink down to the size of an ant...at some point shouldn't be able to, y'know, reverse it and get really big?"
You could hear the cash registers going off in their minds from down the street, so I'm told.
See, folks, it's this kind of thinking which is why Lee and Kirby were leaders
in the comic field, and the rest of us are just doing articles like this. Or even worse, reading them.
Suddenly, Hank Pym was upgraded. He went from being a hero with, once he used his powers, the up-front fighting prowess of Callista Flockhart after a three-day bender, to one of the more powerful characters inhabiting the Marvel Universe of the time.
Instead of villains such as Egghead and the Porcupine (see above, hee hee), he found himself squaring off against villains and heroes that were much more of a challenge. Like who, you ask?
Well, there's Spider-man. Attuma. He even went toe to toe with the Hulk, which is always an impressive feat for any Marvel character (well, back then anyway. I can't say that so much now that I've seen the Hulk get his butt handed to him by everyone from Wolverine to the Power Pack.
This, of course, also boosted his standings with that classic team of heroes he had joined up with, a team whose raw power and standing between its core members had always left Hank feeling, well, (no pun intended) small
the Justice League! We've been over this!
It must've been hard in those days, trying to act like a serious member of the Avengers, just to know that behind that mask of metal, Iron Man is thinking maybe you should sit this one out. Y'know, unless they come upon Aphid-Man along the way. And Thor happens to be busy that night.
Suddenly, the boot was on the other foot. Instead of having to suffer through Thor poking him and saying, "Verily, pull my finger," suddenly Hank was able to size up, drop his pants, and say in return, "No, why don't you give THIS a tug, eh, blondie? Huh? C'mon, sissy boy!"
...no, I don't recall the issue offhand. But I'm sure it's in there somewhere.
Anyway. Hank Pym's popularity continued to rise when Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America had all decided a much-due vacation was in order over various issues, leaving him with a core team including the Black Panther and Hawkeye, with everybody else cycling in and out as though they had gotten their hand stamped by Jarvis at the entrance to Avengers Mansion.
Between his power and length of stay on the team, it wasn't pretty hard to figure out who would be leading this motley crew. And lead it he did. Quite capably, too.
This was his "Golden Age". The man was leading Marvel's flagship superhero team (no, not the Fantastic Four. Sorry, but it's true) into battle each and every month, and was still able to get a little sumthin' sumthin' from the Wasp every night.
Life was pretty damn good.
...that is, until the mental breakdown.
Doncha just hate
it when that happens?
Hank Pym showed up in Avengers in the garb of the hero as Yellowjacket, not knowing his own name due to a complicated case of amnesia.
The yellow and black-clad, shrinking, insect controlling hero (yeah, they really had to get Batman on the phone to figure THAT mystery out) was the result of a man who, quite frankly, might have been gleaming and proud in the limelight or when in bed with Ms. Saturday Night Thing, but on his own, in private, was a man who had just been spreading himself too thinly.
See, there were his own personal demons he was trying to cope with while heading this team of mighty heroes. Things that, when you get right down to it, was amazing he had lasted this long
What's that? Like what, you ask? What could have been so devastating that it'd bring a man who was (literally) a pillar in the Avengers to such a state?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
For one, there was his accidental creation of one of the Avenger's most long-standing and deadliest
foes, the robot Ultron.
This wasn't just a "Aw, snap, my bad" incident, either. Ultron would go on to put the Avengers (as well as other heroes) through the battles of their lives, including, in his most recent appearance, annihilating the entire civilization of an entire freakin' country
as his means of saying "Yoo-hoo" to the Avengers.
See, Ultron had this little thing called an Oedipal Complex. Take notes, this gets complicated. Viewing Hank Pym as his 'father', Ultron wanted nothing more in the world than:
A) The long, agonizing demise of said father figure in his life, and...
B) The transference of the Wasp's mind into a similar robot body, so he'd have his own source of robotic nookie every night (or whatever it is they do. Connect USB cables or something. I dunno) and, well, marry.
Keep in mind that the Wasp is, right now, the closest thing Ultron has to a mother figure in his troubled life, and....well, you get the picture.
Hank eventually got his marbles back, but not without more trouble along the way. He was kicked out of the Avengers after a plan to show them he could be useful by designing another
robot (the guy doesn't learn) went wrong, Janet revealed that for a while, he had been regularly using her as a punching bag
, and he spent some time in jail for trying to steal from a military base. Oh, and we went on trial for murder, as well. (Though, it seems the last two were all a plot by Egghead (remember him? If you were taking notes, you would) to defame his 'arch-rival.' Yeah, I guess he had finally mastered "Chessmaster" on the Game Boy and felt it was time to set his sights a little (figuratively speaking) higher.)
He and Janet, needless to say, got a divorce.
He got to visit the ants on weekends.
Kidding. Sheesh, you people.
Once he got his life back together, he has henceforth constantly been involved with the Avengers in some way, shape, or form, bouncing his way through costumed identity after costumed identity (let's see, Ant-Man, Yellowjacket, Goliath, Giant-Man...) as he tries to keep his life in order. You can actually track his emotional state by seeing what costume he's in. If you ever see a small blur of yellow and black, you know trouble's coming.
He has also managed to reconcile with his one true love, Janet Van Dyne, though the two still haven't tied the proverbial knot again. Janet's not ready to say "I do" until she's sure Hank will be fine forevermore. She's been down that path once already, she doesn't need it again.
Oh yeah, and as for the Wasp? Well, she's gone on to surpass her dearly beloved and has become one of the (if not the
) most efficient leaders the Avengers has had to date. When you're her size, and a sharp word can get Thor to click his boots without realizing it, you know you're doing something right. Lately, she's even been shown to be attempting the other side of the size-change field, and it will be interesting to see how it goes.
(For those of you keeping track at home, picture that image above standing as tall as a house, in the same skin-tight outfit. Never let it be said I don't know my audience.)
Both are still showing up in the Avengers, and the occasional special one-shot, but surely, for two characters with this much history, depth, and human emotion, that can't surely be enough.
Not for this regular reader.