Monday, August 24, 2009

Me and Hank -- a preview!

It's not easy sharing the spotlight with a noted author like my partner, Karen. Seems she's everywhere these days, what with a Thor essay in Assembled 2, and articles in Back Issue 34 and 38. Well, just to show that I'm not some sort of wallflower, I thought I'd give you a brief preview of my own musings on the subject of Dr. Henry Pym -- hopefully soon to be seen in the pages of Assembled 3 (and by the way, Karen will also be featured in that book, telling us the inside scoop on the Vision!! -- it's tough to keep up with her!). So, here ya go!

We pick up the essay near the beginning. I've so far detailed how I was given a copy of Marvel Triple Action #13, which reprinted Avengers #19 -- that began my love affair with the Avengers. Later, I obtained Marvel Triple Action #22, which reprinted Avengers #28. Thus begins our sneak peek --

Right from the get-go, Hank seemed like such a tortured soul. As I said, at this point I’d had no exposure to Marvel and all its angst – this seemed like a guy genuinely down on his luck and desperate. Early in Avengers #28 (henceforth, I’m moving away from the Marvel Triple Action numbering), in regard to a call to the team for help in finding the missing Jan, Hank said,
“I had to reveal my true identity. Secrecy means nothing now! Not when Jan may be in danger! …If only I hadn’t let her transform herself into the Wasp once more! I should have insisted we stay in retirement! But I had no choice! The need was there – and at heart, we’ll both always be – Avengers (page 2)!”
Hawkeye reluctantly went to fetch Dr. Pym, and upon their return greetings with the rest of the Kooky Quartet were exchanged. Of course, nothing is easy and Hawkeye asked for proof that Pym was truly Giant-Man. Cap agreed and asked Pym to prove himself before they embarked on their search for the Wasp. Hank told Cap, “One of the reasons I resigned from the Avengers was – I realized that changing size so often was dangerous to my body! The unimaginable strain might some day be fatal (page 5)!” Nevertheless, protocol is protocol. Despite a warning that 25 feet was now the only height he dared attain, a brief step into the alley (after donning some new duds sewn by Wanda “in case you ever did return (ibid)!”) proved Hank the real deal.

What struck me about Hank in the first half of this story was his self-doubt, almost whining about his problems. I thought, hey, here’s a guy who should be on top of the world – top-notch scientist with his own very large research ship, Avengers founder, and with one of the coolest super powers around! Look at the Avengers of that era: Hawkeye wasn’t in my mind much different from what I’d seen of Green Arrow, Captain America was no doubt in charge but leadership seemed to be his finest attribute, Quicksilver was a poor man’s Flash, and I’d yet to truly figure out what the Scarlet Witch could do. At that point in my readership I didn’t fully grasp the nature or intensity of Wanda’s prowess (nor for that matter did her writers, it seemed). Throw in now a guy who was 25 feet tall and strong as a tank… yeah, that’s who my seven-year old mind gravitated to, identified with in an envious way. Incidentally, giants would go on to dominate on my cool-o-meter as a youngster: Goliath, Galactus, Black Goliath, Colossal Boy… shoot – even Stilt-Man was a treat. I should also say that years later, I had to wonder if the different drugs Hank had used to create his ability to change sizes had not caused unknown side effects that may have affected him mentally. Could that have been a cause of his self-doubt?

The second half of the story is what has caused me to admire the character and appreciate him as complex, heroic, and never-say-die. Once the Avengers arrived at the Collector’s castle, Hank (although taken aback at Hawkeye’s disrespect for Cap’s lead, and amazed at how Cap had taken ownership of the team) came to the fore, freeing his teammates from bondage and on the attack – aggressive, leading, angry, and when it looked to be over in a gas attack, lashing out with the last effort he could muster. This Hank Pym would not be denied. Of course the kicker was on the last page when, attempting to shrink back to normal size to greet the newly freed Wasp, Hank stopped at ten feet.

So there ya have it -- hope that whets the appetite for Assembled 3. In that upcoming tome, you'll find a lot of love for all Avengers outside of the Big Three, which were dutifully covered from many different angles in the now-available Assembled 2 (see the link on the left side of this page).

1 comment:

david_b said...

Doug, I'm not familiar with this issue, nor much with Goliath (Hank's version), but it seems to be Dr. Pym at his best..!!

Having started with the Avengers from ishs 114-130, I never saw Hank in action (weren't covered in the Triple Action reprints at that time either..). The only glimpse I had of Hank was as YJ in Defenders, which with Sal's drawing was with typical excellence. I wanted MORE.

I grew loving YJ as the best incarnation, but thanks for the great review of Goliath's premiere!

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