Friday, November 25, 2016

The Guilt Of The Innocent

We're wrapping up what's turned into "Pile Onto Pym" Week here at the PPC, as we continue our look at Henry Pym's downward spiral following his expulsion from the Avengers. Things are hardly looking up for Pym since that disgrace; destitute, he returned to his wife to ask for her forgiveness, only to find that she'd kicked him out and was pursuing divorce proceedings.

Since then, the Avengers have put themselves in order and moved on, with Pym's estranged wife, Jan, having expedited her divorce in the Dominican Republic and then returning to nominate herself for and be accepted as the new Avengers chairwoman--while Tigra, following the team's conflict with the Molecule Man, has decided that she's not yet cut out to be an Avenger and has resigned. But from the looks of this issue's cover, the first order of business for the refurbished Avengers appears to be to add to the woes of their former comrade, Henry Pym.

Either Yellowjacket is gunning for the Avengers, or the other way around--
but which one is it?

Believe it or not, it's going to turn out to be a little of both!

As this story begins, Henry Pym is unquestionably what's commonly known as "down and out," his life and career in shambles and having no future to speak of. And if you're a former super-hero and you're at your lowest point and mired in depression, who's likely the last person you want to see aside from bill collectors? Why, your oldest nemesis, of course.

Egghead's niece is Trish Starr, a young lady whom Egghead hasn't hesitated to involve in more than one of his schemes, to her detriment; the last such incident resulted in serious injury that cost her an arm. As a brilliant inventor in his own right, Egghead has approached Pym in an effort to make reparations with Trish, restoring to her what he bears responsibility for taking.

If it seems like Egghead has sweetened this deal a little too much for Pym, your instincts are likely right on the money (so to speak). On the other hand, Egghead could be sincere--and Pym's expertise has told him that the arm that Egghead has built is meant to do what Egghead says it will. There's no apparent reason for duplicity on Egghead's part--what would be the point?

As for Pym, a man at the end of his rope, Egghead's offer comes at just the right time. Unable to reach Tony Stark to ask for help, he's now been given the means to pick himself up and put the pieces of his life back together, as well as helping a young woman regain her own life.

Of course, judging by the virtual bow that's wrapped around this turn of events, it's almost too happy an ending that's been handed to Pym, his trials being too quickly put behind him. It's only when he arrives at Trish's residence in Arizona and completes the procedure that he realizes how seriously he's underestimated this foe who has dogged him since Day One.

Egghead's true goal lies in the Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, an installation that he's now able to gain entry to thanks to the reluctant cooperation of Yellowjacket, one who can shrink down to such a size as to avoid detection.

With the entranced Trish parked nearby in a tractor-trailer rig, Yellowjacket proceeds to an underground bunker which, when opened to the surface, will allow Trish to join him. But on the way, Pym thinks to take precautions.

With the bunker opened, Trish joins Pym at the installation's vault--and together, they find and retrieve Egghead's prize.

"Then," however, they find that their getaway has been compromised, as Pym's plan to bring the Avengers to the scene succeeds. But Egghead, one of Marvel's most tenacious foes even when he seems to be on the verge of defeat, throws Pym another curve thanks to still having Trish serve as a hostage--and this situation now becomes a standoff, with the Avengers astonished to find their former comrade apparently complicit in the commission of a felony.

With Egghead remotely monitoring this scene in New York, writer Jim Shooter and artist Bob Hall provide some action sequences that are as intriguing as when Pym, in his Ant-Man identity, faced the team while he was under the influence of Ultron. Here's, it's the Avengers vs. Yellowjacket (or vice versa, depending on how you look at it), with Yellowjacket the admitted underdog--but though the Avengers can't help but see Pym's behavior as further evidence of his instability, just look at the savvy fight he puts up against opponents who would seem to have him outmatched.

(Pym certainly has that backhand down with Jan, hasn't he?)

I don't really recall instances of Iron Man having radar capability, since it would make all the times he's been taken by surprise or unable to locate a foe seem ridiculous (for instance, someone engulfing him in a smoke screen or some other gimmick). He often uses other means to track a foe's movements, instead:

So far, though, Yellowjacket's resourcefulness has offset any efforts to track his movements--and his size-changing ability makes him uniquely suited to a hit-and-run strategy that lets him make his strikes while depriving his foes of a target.  But soon enough he has to face facts as to what he's up against, when the Avengers decide that enough is enough.

Again, unfortunately, Egghead is one step ahead of Pym (technically, more than a few steps), ensuring not only that the Avengers don't detect his involvement here but also that Pym takes the complete fall for this incident. Nor is Trish, Pym's only possible witness, any the wiser.

And so Pym's lot looks dismal indeed, now in custody for a federal crime and awaiting trial. Pym's story continues in detail in further PPC posts, as his incarceration gives him the opportunity to assess his life and what's brought him to this point, followed by his dramatic trial that takes a turn for the worse and forces him once again to put his fate into the hands of Egghead. It's arguably the most difficult struggle for an Avenger to take on--the struggle for exoneration and forgiveness, which even Pym's staunchest supporter, Jarvis, might now have cause to doubt.

The Avengers #217

Script: Jim Shooter
Pencils: Bob Hall
Inks: Dan Green
Letterer: Joe Rosen


George Chambers said...

I can accept remote-controlled morphing circuitry in the arm. I can accept that the Avengers didn't bother to look deeper into the evidence that apparently condemned YJ.

What I can't accept is that Egghead managed to stuff HALF A MILLION BUCKS into an envelope!

Comicsfan said...

Well, George, they don't call it "easy money" for nothing! :D

Anonymous said...

Again, great YJ story.

Again, terrible, scratchy artwork, just tough to look at.