Or – “Psychotic Break, Anyone?”

aemh10.jpgreviewbubble.jpgThere’s a lot of potential a character with real human failings. When Stan and Jack created Spider-Man four decades ago, they set the standard: A hero with flaws, foibles, one who even caught colds on occasion. In the case of Yellowjacket, however, Roy Thomas remembered the feet of clay, but the kiln wasn’t working, cause he’s acts about half-baked. The last time we saw Hank Pym and his team of Avengers, they had beaten back the menace of a legion of Super-Adaptoids, but the stress caused Hank to have… Well, let’s just call it a “setback.” Wake the kids, phone the neighbors, it’s about to get weird, because the stage is set for the cah-RAY-zy…

This issue opens in a bad part of the Bronx. Two minor thugs pull up in a dark alley, to drop off some stolen goods and ditch a body, all the while talking about going to the strip club. Nice couple of guys… Luckily for the good citizens of Manhattan, a new mystery man is stalking the streets, and their illegal activities have not gone unnoticed.


Who is this dark figure? How did he come to be? Were his mother and father gunned down behind the midnight showing of Zorro? And what’s with the pointy ears? Oh, all right, we all know by now what the story is here… Henry J. Pym, esquire, has gone around the bend, but he’s apparently still got his sense of justice and his combat skills about him. We cut to the next morning, and revisit the Black Panther’s subplot at Public School 76. In an attempt to find out more about Delroy, a student for whom Panther has become concerned, he checks with the other teachers…


“We can’t save everyone…” As T’Challa leaves the teacher’s lounge, appalled at their callousness, Delroy’s main tormentor stands menacingly in the hallway, apparently ready to go from minor-league extortion to messing up teachers. It’s wrong to wish this on some teenage punk, but I really want to see The Panther kick his teeth out of his smug little face. Across town, Hawkeye is trying to patch things up with his on again/off again flame Natasha Romanov (aka The Black Widow.) ‘Tasha isn’t sure that it’s a good idea, and is at work anyway, aboard SHIELD’s helicarrier. When Hawkeye makes a remark about her “consorting with the enemy,” meaning Jasper Sitwell, Natasha informs him where Sitwell IS…


The calls are coming from inside the HOUSE! No, wait, that’s Black Christmas, not Black Widow. No, it turns out Jasper is once again fixating on The Vision, going to far as to bring in a psychiatrist to analyze Vision’s mental state. A very odd sort of thought process, isn’t it? As all the Avengers gather in the briefing room (with Hawkeye and Sitwell barking in each other’s faces AGAIN) there’s a sudden radio call from downstairs. An obviously shaken Wasp tells them all to get downstairs, as bigger fish are getting fried, so to speak… We all know what they’re gonna find…


In the Silver Age of Comics, putting on a cowl and tights allowed Pym to join up without the other Avengers knowing who he was (or so my memory tells me). That’s simply not going to fly in the 21st century, anymore than Super-Pets, Bat-Shark-Repellent, or Matter-Eater Lad. It’s clear to all of them that this is Hank, even to the agents of SHIELD. Jasper Sitwell, in the care of Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, uses the security sensors to positively ID their visitor.


Heh. That’s actually pretty funny. Jan is overwhelmed by this looney turn of events, and faints, and the other Avengers tell Yellow J to cool his heels while they “make their decision.” Once out of YJ’s earshot, Hawkeye suggests that he needs a good belt to bring him back to his senses, but Agent Carver disagrees. She thinks Hank is in real trouble, and the best thing to do is play along with his delusions.


Returning to the multiple personality in question, the group tentatively offers him membership, but he thinks high: he suggest that they just make him chairman. He knows there’s an opening, after all, since he killed their last one and all. Yellowjacket horrifies them all by claiming to have beaten Henry Pym senseless, shrunken him, and let the bugs rip “Pym” to pieces. That’s creepy on any level, but when he’s talking about himself, it’s doubly disturbing. Hawkeye returns to his initial theory, and goes to smack Yellowjacket back to his senses, but stinger blasts and swarms of wasps are his only reward.


So, let’s get this straight: Hank has a fantasy where he kills himself, steals his own woman, and is cooler than he would normally ever have been? That is a pretty impressive self-esteem problem, there. The issue ends with The Wasp a prisoner of Yellowjacket, and everyone very confused.

The coolest thing about this story is the way Joe Casey fills in the blanks of a 35 year old story and brings it up-to-date. I won’t even k decompressed storytelling by noting how what was a two issue story in 1968 is apparently equal to 8 issues today, because this issue was quite good. While not as action-packed as previous issues, it finally gave us a believable reason why Hank’s friends and teammates would know him right off, even with a big black cowl on. They even brought in SHIELD’s top psychoanalyst to take the curse off it. While not as spectacular as previous issues, A:EMH II #5 earns a more than respectable 3 and a half stars…



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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