Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Intro to Comics: Hank Pym (Upgrade)

(I originally wrote this in June of 2010, this is the updated version.)
            Ever heard of Hank Pym?  Well, he is getting a movie made about him directed by Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz", "Scott Pilgrim Versus the World"), as I love both the character and Wright I thought I should throw out some info on him.  This character was a founding member of the Avengers super hero team along with Tony "Iron Man" Stark, Dr. Donald "Thor" Blake, Janet "The Wasp" Van Dyne, and Dr. Bruce "Hulk" Banner.  At the time Pym was called Ant Man, but he has carried on several other titles since then: Giant Man, Goliath, Yellow Jacket, Hank Pym (he got a little lazy when he was running the West Coast Avengers), the Wasp (taken after the death of his wife Janet Van Dyne), and now he is back to Giant Man because for some damn reason people think that costume changes will sell more issues of comic books.
The costume that everybody was waiting to make a come back.  How is this desired?

            Hank took the title Wasp to honor Janet Van Dyne who was killed by shape shifting aliens who kidnapped and replaced Pym, and while doing so spiked the super formula that gave Janet her powers, that spiked formula caused he to nearly explode and kill all of the other Avengers... You know when you write it all out like that this stuff sounds a little silly.  He since reverted to Giant Man because of very weak reasons, that he felt he needed to be his own man and not dwell on his dead wife.
Even though his 'Wasp' costume looked nothing like Janet's.  And was arguably his most distinctive look yet.

            Hank is the inventor of the Pym Particle a substance that allows for the acclimation and dissipation of mass and the manipulation of volume... In other words he can make shrinking and growing formulas.  He also has invented plasma wings that allow a person to fly quickly when shrank, a helmet that allows him to talk to ants and other insects, various gadgets for holographic projection (allowing him to make a swarm of winged ants look like an army of Avengers arrived to save the day, bluffing villains to surrender), he has created The Infinite Avengers Mansion (an extra dimensional house that is thousands of miles in size and has doors that lead to locations all over the world and various important locations throughout the Galaxy), and lastly he is also the inventor of modern artificial intelligence in the Marvel Universe, which leads to his greatest failures.
For a while there they thought this was the Wasp, who was exploding into a new universe somewhere in White Space (which is outside of our universe... Kinda)

            See if Peter "Spiderman" Parker is the kind of nice guy who gets a door slammed in his face in spite of his good intentions, Hank Pym is the type of guy who will run headlong into a locked door and knock himself unconscious in spite of all his best intentions.  Hank invented Ultron, the ultimate killer robot, a being who has nearly conquered the universe on at least one occasion and has nearly wiped the Avengers out on several... That is bad.  Hank has also failed to deal with his limitations well, he has in fact had serious incidents of manic depression and dissociative fugue states in which he has invented an alternate personality that has been more ruthless toward criminals, and toward his friends, having hit his wife, and building another killer robot for him to defeat in order to impress other people (the robot then handed him his own ass).
Ultron, the unkillable murderous android bent on the death of all organic life.  Why, you might ask?  Cause its evil, no other justification has been given, but as of yet no other justification has been needed.

            Hank is an incredibly intelligent person, and much like Doctor Voodoo was the Sorcerer Supreme of the Marvel Universe, Hank is the Scientist Supreme a being intended to utilize the elegance of science to make the universe safer and more beautiful.  He is not as intelligent as Mr. Fantastic, or as focused and driven as Iron Man, but has a natural creativity that surpasses the two of them and allows him to fabricate truly bizarre and powerful devices.  He actually carries around several different labs in his vest pockets so he can design, build, and utilize weapons as the situation dictates.
This is God telling Hank that he is important.  Cause he wasn't enough of a head case without the impossible expectations.

            Pym has led numerous teams of Avengers currently operating as the headmaster of the Avengers Academy, an institution for at risk kids with super powers who run the risk of becoming villains.  During the last big event Pym was one of the primary targets of the Skrulls, the shape shifting Aliens that killed Janet Van Dyne.  During the invasion he was replaced by a double and held prisoner, that double ended up having a relationship with Pym's friend Tigra, a fellow Avenger, and she now has a son that is genetically Pym's.  Sadly in recent times, while all of the stories have been good for the most part, and the concepts cool, the characters in "Avenger's Academy" are written a little stilted at times, and when Pym and Tigra had to discuss Tigra's son, whom she wanted Pym to be the godfather of, his response is so cold and robotic that it came off as obnoxious, especially considering how clever and driven he has been in the series that recently ended "Mighty Avengers".
Not that he can't be obnoxious, here is a picture of him calling Mr. Fantastic a bitch and challenging him to a nerd off.

            Rather than telling Tigra how sorry he was that he wasn't the guy she had a relationship with, and how he regrets that fact as she is his teammate, friend, and worthy romantic partner, how she has helped him save the world, and fought back aliens, gods and monsters, he instead babbles about how he never intended to have kids because of his history of mental illness, the whole conversation came off as whiny and self centered, when it should have been a scene full of regret while at the same time having hope for the future, making the characters much more human and connected.  I am disappointed with it to say the least as I feel it was a major missed opportunity, and I know I could have written the scene better.

Conversely, here is he and she behaving like human beings.  Though this is actually an alien impersonating Hank, so take that as you will.
            Pym is one of the most under appreciated characters in comics and I hope the movie does him justice.  I would say his personal best was in the miniseries "BEYOND!" by Dwayne McDuffie which I already covered in "Intro to Comics".

And here is a picture of his latest team, the Avengers Academy

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