Hey, there’s a movie out! So comics writer (and HOT PICKS expert) Scott Tipton, the biggest Ant-Man fanatic we know, picks some little stories with big impact…
By SCOTT TIPTON
Anyone who knows me or has been following my writing over at Comics 101 for the last decade probably knows that I’m something of an Ant-Man fanatic. Can’t explain it; he’s just always been my favorite superhero, as long as I can remember. So when Dan asked me if I felt like putting together a list of “the most underrated stories starring Marvel‘s most underrated hero,” I said “Yeah, that shouldn’t be a problem”:
1. Tales to Astonish #44: “The Creature from Kosmos!”
One thing I’ve always liked about Hank Pym: When he gets an idea, he jumps in with both feet. For example, in this, the Wasp‘s origin story, when he decides to accept Janet Van Dyne as his new crime-fighting partner, he doesn’t just give her a costume and helmet like his; no, he genetically grafts wings and antennae to her in a completely untested procedure.
2. Avengers #223 – “Of Robin Hoods and Roustabouts!”
A Scott Lang story, this tale finds the new Ant-Man drawn into an adventure with Hawkeye, working to shut down the Taskmaster‘s latest henchman-training facility, hidden behind the scenes of a traveling carnival. A fine little done-in-one adventure, this issue is probably best known for its Ed Hannigan cover, which, according to the rumor mill, we may see re-created in an upcoming Marvel Studios film.
3. Avengers #217 – “Double-Cross!”
In a long-running ’80s storyline, Hank Pym, by this time in his costumed identity as Yellowjacket, has resigned from the Avengers in disgrace following another mental breakdown, and is blackmailed by his old nemesis Egghead into undertaking a heist of adamantium, the famed unbreakable metal. In the course of the robbery, Pym is forced to face his former teammates in battle (and not just any lineup, but the founding and arguably most powerful lineup of Avengers: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and his former partner and wife, the Wasp). And not only does he face them, he has them on the ropes.
But my favorite moment here is when the Avengers first arrive, and a despondent Hank Pym is caught muttering to himself dejectedly.
It just feels genuine, and it always catches my eye.
4. Avengers #224 – “Two From the Heart”
Hank‘s barely in this issue, but it’s a real kick in the ribs nonetheless. By now framed and imprisoned for the aforementioned adamantium heist, poor Hank Pym rots in the slammer, while Tony Stark starts dating his ex-wife, who still has no idea that Stark is her partner (and Hank‘s longtime friend) Iron Man. With friends like Stark, who needs archenemies? It’s all skeevy enough that eventually even Captain America can’t stand it:
Stark eventually fesses up to Jan that he’s Iron Man and the relationship ends, but even that only brings Hank Pym more pain.
5. Avengers #229 – “Final Curtain”
In this, the wrap-up to the lengthy Trial of Hank Pym storyline, Pym is kidnapped during his robbery trial by the Masters of Evil, under the command of (once again) Egghead, who wants to put Pym‘s biochemical genius to work creating a “longevity machine” to extend his life indefinitely. When Pym succeeds too quickly, Egghead get suspicious and forces Pym to test the machine on himself. Which is when we find out what it really does.
It’s a Masters-of-Evil Ass-Kicking Suit. Attaboy, Hank.
Once the Avengers arrive, Pym‘s name is cleared and he goes into a lengthy retirement from superheroics, but it’s very satisfying to see him mopping the floor with the Masters of Evil.
Avengers, Vol. 2, #22 – “This Evil Triumphant!”
In this final installment of Kurt Busiek and George Perez‘s epic storyline, Hank Pym finally puts an end to his murderous robotic creation Ultron, pounding him to dust with fists full of vibranium.
After years of Pym struggling with his own self-doubt, crippling guilt over accidentally creating Ultron in the first place, and his own mistakes as an Avenger, a husband and a man, it was nice to see the big galoot finally get a happy ending.
Scott Tipton will be at the IMAX theater to see Ant-Man on Sunday and not before, so everyone keep your damned mouths shut, you hear me?
NOTE: If all this Ant-Man talk now has you in the mood to see the movie, Dan has 13 QUICK THOUGHTS on it, right here…