Jan took the team back to shortly after she and Hank were married. She mentioned the accident that led to Hank taking the Yellowjacket identity and that subsequent to that his lab work began to go awry. Hank had begun to respond with rage and violence, often destroying machinery and other resources. Jan said that in days past it was always she who went to Hank for strength and support, but during this period their roles reversed. Knowing this, the reader had to ask if the exchange on the quinjet mere issues before was a smart conversation to have had in mixed company. Jan mentioned that she had suggested therapy but that Hank would never have agreed to it; she went instead and was told to try to bring Hank back to life as it had existed before he had become YJ. She stated that things had been going well, and that she was excited when he agreed (seen in #151) to join her back on the team. But, as they flew back to the lab mere days before this, Hank sped away from her (see quote from #160, above). And then the attack in the guise of Ant-Man…
Actually chapter one of a four-part story spread over almost a year, #162 was a first “conclusion”. Ultron was revealed as the true villain, having somehow mind wiped Hank and placed his memories well before he and Jan were married, and before the time when Hank had created Ultron. Ultron’s goal was to sap the life essence from Jan and instill it into his cybernetic bride (later to be known as Jocasta). Another battle royal ensues, Ultron is ultimately defeated, but at a cost of Hank’s permanent sanity. As the story winds down, and Hank is in custody, he screams out, “Ultron will be back to free me – and then we’ll crush you! That includes you, Janet! Now that they’ve somehow managed to make you whole again, your loyalties are apparently with them! How could I have ever thought I loved you (Avengers #162, page 31)?” In comfort, Iron Man says, “It…seems he’s gone totally mad, now – but don’t worry, Jan. After we study Ultron’s equipment, we may be able to restore his mind!” “Aye, ‘tis possible,” agreed Thor (ibid).
A pretty depressing way to leave a reader hanging, don’t you think? I was frankly crushed at this new development in the Pyms’ lives. How could Hank have let himself get to the point where he could speak to Jan that way? It was warming to see the other Avengers embrace and care for Jan in her time of need; that same picture, however, made me think of Hank as all alone and somewhat hopeless. Yes, the team had said they’d try to help him, but it seemed to me lines had been drawn; whilst one may forgive, can they ever truly forget? What Hank said – even if they could restore his mind, he’d said those words. Nothing could change that.
I was eager to see how events would unfold over the next several stories. I assumed Hank and Jan would be missing for several issues, much as they had after the events of #’s 139-140. After a seeming fill-in in #163, where Iron Man did battle with the Champions and Typhon (years later, I’d see this for the marketing gimmick that it was – an attempt to build up sagging sales on a title Marvel would have liked to save), the team was back in action in #164 against a revised line-up of baddies calling themselves the Lethal Legion. The opening scene showed Simon Williams going through tests under the supervision of Tony Stark, the Black Panther, the Beast and… Yellowjacket?? After I had read the issue, I went back to look for clues to Hank’s sudden sanity. None. When the next issue came out, same thing. And again, and again – and no hint whatsoever as to how Hank had gotten back up and running. Nada. When #170 arrived and I saw that the "Bride of Ultron" story was apparently being continued, I thought surely Hank’s mental state would be addressed. Even when he was brought face-to-face with the robot for whom Jan’s life force was intended, he remained calm, almost as analytical as the Vision might have been. And that was that. The story, which was very good – I certainly don’t mean to diminish its wonderment and lasting greatness – ended and Hank was just status quo.And he remained that way until Avengers #193 (March 1980), when I quit buying new comics. I was about to enter high school. I had big disco hair, acne, and no girlfriend. Solution = quit being a “comic geek”. So I quit cold turkey. It wasn’t until I was in the second semester of my freshman year in college that I found out there were friends of mine who were interested in comics – and at that time I had a decent haircut, my face had cleared up, and I was dating the girl who would become my wife. The first issue I bought off the spinner rack at the drug store closest to my campus was Avengers #257, drawn by one of my childhood idols, John Buscema. The line-up took a bit of getting used to, with the new Captain Marvel and Starfox seeming somewhat out-of-place. It took several issues, too, to get used to the Wasp being in the book without Hank in some incarnation. But I soon began to figure out why he wasn’t around. His betrayal of the team, physical abuse of Jan, and their divorce became apparent. As money was available (God bless student loans!), and as I found out that there were now comics shops run through a “direct market”, I attempted to fill in the gaps in my collection that had in reality become a chasm during my high school hiatus. I also decided I’d attempt to get a complete run of the Avengers.