Friday, June 17, 2011

Hank Pym: The Worst Avenger Ever (duh)

Honestly, I almost didn’t even want to do this one because it’s really kind of obvious and therefore not as much fun as Forge or Batman, but I’m a “need to complete the series” kind of guy.

I thought about if maybe this could be Doctor Druid because he broke up the team and led to Steve Rogers needing half the Fantastic Four to field a squad. I thought about Quicksilver since he’s betrayed the team plenty of times and really caused House of M and the de-powering of all this mutants. Even Iron Man killed a few second stringers during The Crossing.

But no, at the end of the day, whether it’s Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket or The Wasp, Hank Pym will always be the worst Avenger ever.

As with my previous two forays into this line of thinking, I must remind when I say “worst ever” I’m not referring to a bad character, I’m saying that in the world of fiction in which these stories take place, this person has had the least success and most failure as a member of their given team. Hank Pym is not a bad character; I rather enjoy him. Honestly though, being pretty bad at being a super hero is a big part of why Hank Pym occupies a unique place in the Marvel Universe and guys from Steve Englehart to Kurt Busiek to Mark Millar to Dan Slott to Christos Gage have been able to get mileage out of him with some good stories.

As a square-jawed Silver Age hero who didn’t even really have his own Marvel style “feet of clay” foible aside from yelling at his girlfriend a lot, Ant-Man was ok, but never really took off (hence why he switched identities so often, I figure). He started to flourish—to a degree—when writers like Roy Thomas started to explore the idea of Hank Pym being a scientist who didn’t really like being a super hero but did it to appease The Wasp. Subsequent folks like Roger Stern and Jim Shooter continued to up the ante as far as Pym not only chafing at his role as an Avenger, but being pretty bad at it; some have argued the character became damaged goods, but I think he just became more and more interesting, and gave the creators of today like Slott and Gage that much more to work with crafting his quests for redemption and frequent failures along the way.

Too many super heroes are perfect or at least win in the end despite hard luck along the way; Hank Pym frequently loses, and he’s a character with more depth for it.

However, he’s still the worst Avenger ever by far, and rather than drone on at length, I’m just gonna bullet point this one…

-First and foremost, of course, Hank created Ultron—check out recent episodes of the awesome Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! cartoon to see this story re-imagined—possibly the Avengers’ greatest foe and at the very least a genocidal killer robot who has slaughtered thousands. Intending to create a harmless robot to help him around the lab—and apparently never having read or seen any sci-fi books or movies involving artificial intelligence ever despite being a total nerd—Pym uploaded his own brain patterns into an indestructible shell, ignoring the fact that he was deeply screwed up to the point where his best friends were ants. Ultron turned on his creator—of course—and would spend the next several decades trying to kill his dad and his friends, attempting to romance his “mother” The Wasp, creating other robots to try and kill his “parents” and their friends, razing countries, trying to conquer the galaxy, and so on and so forth.

-Not quite as drastic, during another experiment—Hank Pym should never be allowed near a lab—our hero inhaled chemicals that made him go schizophrenic and become the obnoxious Yellowjacket, claiming he had killed Goliath and demanding The Wasp marry him. Jan knew the score and went along with the wedding, since she wanted one—which is pretty terrible—and then Hank reverted to normal, living in matrimonial bliss with a woman he apparently did really want to marry and who knew he’d only be her husband if he was suffering from a brain disorder.

-Another time, Ultron brainwashed Hank and he attacked the Avengers as Ant-Man. Actually, Ultron brainwashed him a lot.

-Trying to show off on a mission, Hank attacks a defeated foe from behind, making the Avengers look like total jerks in front of the world. Court-martialed by Captain America, Hank attempts to redeem himself by building a killer robot to attack the Avengers—essentially his go-to Plan B—with the idea that he’d save the day. He strikes his wife when she discovered what he’s up to, but then can’t defeat the robot he made, endangering all his teammates once more in the process, and requiring Wasp to rescue him; they booted him off the team and into jail, she divorced him.

-Hank and Jan would eventually reconcile years later, but when their relationship hit the skids again, he had a fling with a pretty young co-ed who turned out to be a Skrull and made him one of the first heroes to be kidnapped and replaced during the road to Secret Invasion—classic Pym!

-Proving that he had indeed done a pretty great job studying the guy he’d be posing as, the Skrull who acted as Yellowjacket helped create—what else—a killer robot version of Thor who killed the real Hank’s old buddy Bill Foster. He also knocks up Tigra and then implants Wasp with a Skrull weapon that takes her life during the final battle of the war with the aliens. The true Hank returns to Earth to learn that a guy who was supposed to be him—basically an alien Ultron—got his best friend and ex-wife killed all because he was thinking with his little Goliath.

-One last one: Ultron created The Vision, eventual hero and Avenger, meaning Hank at least indirectly did something good, right? Wrong. The Vision romanced and married The Scarlet Witch, they had fake magic babies, he got deprogrammed and lost his emotions, she slowly went nuts and caused the events of Avengers Disassembled, leading to the deaths of Scott Lang and Hawkeye as well as the disbanding of the team—all kinda sorta on Hank Pym’s head, y’know?

Lately, Hank has been doing a lot better as the founder of Avengers Academy—one of the best books on the market—but really it’s just a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. Why?

Because Hank Pym is the worst Avenger ever—and I hope he never changes.

5 comments:

Desert Cat said...

Poor Hank Pym doesn't even get a spot in the Avengers movie.

David Gallaher said...

I love Pym. And I do believe that Iron Man, who actually killed his team-mates, is kinda worse. There is no statue of limitations on murder, after all.

I think Pym's greatest story has yet to be told.

Ben Morse said...

Normally I'd go with that Iron Man rationale, as killing teammates generally tops the list, but that was one incident in a generally distinguished career--and c'mon, it was the female Yellowjacket--whereas Pym is consistently failing.

Plus: Ultron.

Peter Marino said...

Well, this is always the case with geniuses. Great things can come from them but great things always have an equal and opposite really bad thing that comes from them as well. Just look at the peace loving genius Einstein who inadvertantly created the nuclear bomb. From big minds come big mistakes! :)

safemeds said...

You are right hank pink is the most incredible avenger ever, you are wrong.