With the Age of Ultron drifting away in our rearview mirror, what does the Marvel Universe hold for Hank Pym? Will we continue to make fun of him all the time? Probably not, surprisingly enough! Spoilers ahead!
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Andre Araujo
• One of Marvel’s most classic characters, Hank Pym, stands at the crossroads!
• Faced with a dilemma only he can solve, Pym gambles his past and his future!
• Some men are beyond redemption! By story’s end, Hank Pym will have an entirely new role in the Marvel Universe!
There is a good chance that name caused one of the following three thoughts to free associate its way into your headspace.
1.) That dude who went crazy and hit his wife.
2.) That dude who went crazy and built Ultron.
3.) That dude who nailed his dead best friend’s girlfriend on his grave. Man, Eric O’Grady was awesome.
And you’re right, third person. Eric O’Grady was awesome. Yet, “Age of Ultron #10AI”, the epilogue to the recently completed Age of Ultron event and the latest in the comic industry’s ongoing experiment to see how long it takes to drive fans insane with alternative forms of issue numbering, focuses instead on Hank Pym: the punching bag of the Marvel Universe. Rather than dealing with the direct fallout of Age of Ultron, “AI” seeks to refocus one of the most misunderstood characters in comics with some help fromMark Waid. The story itself is completely different than what the solicitations would suggest. Rather than Hank Pym sitting, bottle in hand, and screaming about Ultron for twenty pages, the plot focuses on Pym’s early days and lessons learnt from the Age of Ultron and, while going into some pretty heavy stuff, ends on a rather bright note. Waid’s work here is extremely similar to his run on Daredevil: a character who hasn’t smiled since the 1970’s ends up taking a more light-hearted look on life. This change in tone helps Pym’s character immeasurably since, for Marvel’s most Silver-Age style hero, it feels like he hasn’t been taken seriously in a long time.
The new origin presented here actually provides a good reason for Pym to want to be a hero in the first place. Rather than just making Pym Particles one day and shrugging, Hank’s given a whole new backstory that explains what type of scientist he is. Indirectly, and probably unintentionally, playing off of the ideas Kieron Gillen’s been illustrating in “Iron Man,” all of the Marvel Universe’s geniuses have a specific role to fill. If Tony Stark does weapons, and Bruce Banner does radiation, then Pym has been reinvented here as a kind of eccentric inventor who’s using his talents in order to express himself. Rather than doing heroics because hes’ out for revenge or has a sense of reluctant duty, Hank Pym WANTS to be a superhero. He’s doing it, not just to save lives, but to have fun while using his imagination too! Yes, it may seem odd for a character so wrapped up in years of angst, but step back and look: he’s a man whose first instinct when discovering size-altering technology wasn’t “I need to grow the size of the world’s food supplies to end world hunger!” but “I need to go learn how to train ants so I can punch Loki in the face RIGHT NOW!” Of course he’s going to want to have fun with his powers.
That sense of fun exudes in the pages thanks to Andre Araujo’s art. Hank Pym actually looks like he’s enjoying himself when fighting the bad guys, and Araujo gives him the widest, most shit-eating grins, while effortlessly taking on the nameless cronies he faces here. Plus, Araujo does a stellar job of showing off unique ways for Pym to use his powers. Unfortunately, that uniqueness only really shows through in one scene in particular (“Don’t worry, I’m a doctor!”) and most of the issue’s big fight scenes are typical “Hank gets big and punches a lot of people” fights, but bigger fight scenes would only detract from the personal intimacy of the issue. However, Araujo should really be praised for Ant-Man’s new costume that, just like Pym itself, accepts fully what the character is. The exaggerated antennae, bright blue details, and just genuinely “superhero” look of the costume show a character who is no longer afraid to be who they are.Continued below
In the end, that’s what “Age of Ultron #10AI” is about. The cover itself, beautifully illustrated by Sara Pichelli. At first glance, it looks like Hank Pym crying: something you’ve seen before. But look closer and it’s so much more than that. Hank Pym is breaking free from the guilt of Ultron, (and Yellowjacket and Janet) to reinvent himself as something better. Unfortunately, while the guilt from being Ultron is clearly shown being resolved with, any angst from Janet (which has been the other half of Hank’s problems) is rarely mentioned. She’s brought up namelessly for a second and can be seen in the background of a splash panel, but other than that Hank’s acceptance of who he is has nothing to do with The Wasp. Glossing over their relationship, in which Hank was sort of the absolute worst, does help Pym look like a more likable character but there’s still a question of whether or not he’s cool with everything that happened with Janet.
Marvel’s been hyping Hank Pym’s comeback with this issue and somehow… it actually worked! “Avengers AI” just went from least likely to glance twice at to earning a first issue try!
Final Verdict: 8.8 – If you like Hank Pym, then you’re already commenting on how you didn’t think one of the three thoughts mentioned before. If you don’t, this issue might change your mind.