Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This Hero No More!

Following Henry Pym's court-martial and subsequent expulsion from the Avengers, the disgraced and humiliated former hero left the premises almost immediately without waiting for the formal and inevitable vote that effectively ended his Avengers career; but the aftershocks of his disrepute continue to ripple through Avengers Mansion and beyond, as each of the Avengers comes to terms with the loss and the breakdown of a man who goes back to the beginning, one of the team's founding members.

As part-epilogue to that story, writer Jim Shooter once more takes a look at the Avengers one by one--and there is also the fate of Pym to consider, now directionless and likely having lost his wife and his home, as well. Most of the Avengers would tackle a new threat in the issue's main plot--but it's clear that the situation with their former teammate still haunts them, which certainly holds true for the man himself.

First, we look in on two of Pym's... erstwhile comrades, Iron Man and Thor, as they meet in their respective civilian identities as Tony Stark and Donald Blake to discuss how to help Pym hopefully get back on his feet as well as, it goes without saying, getting him the necessary medical therapy to deal with his issues. It was almost tempting to use the word "friends" for a moment there--but were they ever that to Pym, really? It might be much easier to say that of Steve Rogers--but it's high time for these two people, who operate in their own separate circles, to admit that they never knew Pym on that level. That said, Pym's contribution and dedication to the Avengers has been unequivocal, and it's gratifying to see that these two men want to reach out to him, rather than just going about their business after having taken him off the Avengers roster (if reluctantly).

Strange--I would have at least thought that the first reflex of either of these men would be to call Pym by his real name rather than that of his costumed identity--yet Stark correcting himself perhaps underscores the distant relationship they've had with him over the years. We forget sometimes how private all of the original Avengers were with each other when they first worked together (even making a point to put that condition in writing in their charter). Pym and the Wasp, in particular, didn't reveal their identities until they returned to the group when Cap was leading the team, while Stark and Thor shared their identities only with each other at a later point. Add to that the fact that Avengers Mansion was mainly a meeting site, with Iron Man, Thor, and the Pyms never in residence, and it's easy to understand why this sort of conversation between Stark and Blake regarding Pym was bound to be awkward.

One Avenger who is currently in residence--Tigra--also has an opinion on the situation, especially after seeing Captain America take out his frustration in the gym. As we saw prior to the court-martial, Tigra's opinion of Pym wasn't favorable, and Pym's transparent ruse to absolve himself only sent it plummeting further. Yet Jarvis, the mansion's butler, has a wealth of perspective on the Avengers gained during his long tenure with them, and he's present to offer Tigra a different opinion on her harsh assessment of Pym--tactfully, of course.

One wonders if Jarvis would speak the same glowing words of Pym to the Wasp, if it were she he was speaking to instead of Tigra, eh?

And speaking of Jan, she is no doubt an important stop for Shooter to make as he continues to take the temperature of the Avengers after Pym's expulsion. As we can see, Jan's is decidedly... chilly.

With artist Bob Hall's rendering of Pym's assault on Jan now canon, Shooter appears willing to advance this story as if Pym struck Jan intentionally, rather than the way he had originally wanted the scene to come across; otherwise, divorce would seem an extreme step to take for being unintentionally knocked to the ground out of a mixture of anger and frustration. But now that Jan has faced facts and asserted herself, it would seem the only step left for her to take--and Shooter now has a much stronger scene to script, featuring a woman who has finally stepped out from behind her own shadow.

Which naturally brings us to Pym, and his feelings. So much has already been said by and about him on this subject; yet now that he's cleared his head to a degree and things have calmed down, what are his thoughts on how he's conducted himself? How things have turned out? In response we're only given narrative that amounts to "to be continued"; for now, we can only assume that what he feels is mostly regret. There was a time when Pym mostly called the shots for the Avengers--and as he sits in solitude, he paints a sobering picture of how much his prospects have changed.

Finally, there's Captain America, who had the unpleasant duty of bringing the charges against Pym and prosecuting him during the court-martial. Since Pym's expulsion, he's also insisted on taking the lion's share of responsibility for the pressure that Pym was under, perhaps out of guilt for an Avenger on his watch washing out--and someone of Pym's reputation and dedication, at that. The gym equipment he's faced today, as a result, hasn't stood a chance against his bottled rage--but Jarvis, again, has an opinion to offer that will hopefully save at least the pommel horse from the scrap heap.

In both instances, Jarvis's words boil down to giving Henry Pym every chance to pull himself out of his nosedive and redeem himself--knowing that journey will need to start with Pym himself. The question is:  Is Pym ready to do so?

Things go from bad to worse, as Yellowjacket is accused of a federal crime!
PLUS: The return of Egghead!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The art in this run is just awful.
Bob Hall was an absolutely poor choice for a team book like TMA.


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