Hank Pym: Where Do I Start?

Henry “3088822-age_of_ultron_vol_1_10a.i._rivera_variant_textlessHank” Pym is the Rodney Dangerfield of Marvel Comics. He gets no respect, even from himself sometimes.

Pym is one of the foremost scientific minds in the Marvel Universe, at the same level as Tony Stark, Reed Richards and others. As Ant-Man, he was one of the founding Avengers and its earliest team leader. But despite all of that, what he’s best known for is his erratic temperament that’s seen him adopt five different superhero names in the past 50 years and also come to strike his one-time wife Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp. He’s also the reluctant father of a robot that went on to become one of the Avenger’s chief villains: Ultron. But even with all that baggage, Hank Pym remains a key part of the Marvel U and one of the idiosyncratic characters in superhero comics.

In this week’s Where Do I Start?, we cover the sometimes diminutive founding Avenger and  pore over his 50+ history in comics. It brings up an interesting footnote in Marvel Comics’ lore — Hank Pym has never had his own solo series in any of his incarnations. The closest thing he’s had is an abysmal Season One book not on this list, and some one-shots and a miniseries co-starring the Wasp. Despite those long odds, we’ve got some great stories to get to know Hank Pym.

2aa8136205c4d7d0407d148ed2421271The Avengers: The Many Faces Of Henry PymThis is a great little hodge-podge collection Marvel put together recently. It pulls together Pym’s first appearance way back in Tales To Astonish #27, and also some more recent work like Dan Slott’s story from Secret Invasion: Requiem and the great Kurt Busiek story from Avengers 2001 Annual. But chief amongst these stories for me is the two-part “His Name Is Yellowjacket!” story from Avengers #59-60 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. As the title suggests, it features the debut of Pym as Yellowjacket but also does two more gems: the marriage of Pym and Janet Van Dyne, but also the first seeds being sown of Pym’s mental instability.

The Avengers: The Trial of Yellowjacket: This is one of the darkest periods for Hank Pym, on full display of his fellow Avengers. This collection bridges about 80 issues of Avengers to tell how Pym went from being a hero living in the shadow of Thor, Iron Man, Cap and others to being one of the most vilified characters in the Marvel U. This documents his decision to step out of superhero retirement to impress the Wasp, but has some trouble managing his expectations and his place within the team. This sees him hatch a plot to put the Avengers in danger to ride in as their savior, and also the much-talked-about slap Pym gave to his wife. Also included is the trial of 254776_20120803152729_largeYellowjacket, which sees one of Pym’s primary foes, Yellowjacket, tricking the hero into stealing the U.S. government’s reserve of adamantium and being caught by the Avengers and put on trial. The Avengers then put their former ally on trial for the theft and previous deeds, giving one of the most nuanced superhero stories of its time. As a bonus, this also has Pym’s hero moment from the West Coast Avengers “Lost In Space Time” story-arc featuring Pym saves the entire team.

The Mighty Avengers: The Unspoken: This late 2009/early 2010 arc shows Pym really re-claiming his place in the Avengers franchise, albeit as the leader of a second-tier Avengers team. Dan Slott and Christos Gage team-up with artists Khoi Pham and Sean Chen to show Pym’s gaining a new level of confidence of being dubbed the Scientist Supreme, a scientific counterpart to Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme. This is later revealed to be a trick by Loki, but on its own it’s a great little story showing Pym constant battles with self-image, confidence and you know, super villains.


  1. There are actually a lt of great Pym stories out there. This is a really throng list, but I would lo include the storyline from the Busiak/Perez run on Afengers where te team fought Ultron, after Ultron wiped out an entire country. While it isn’t really a Pym story, he does play a central role in it, and I thought Busiak did a fantastic job of writing a story where Pym finally comes to terms with his inner demons. Of course, since it was o great, it was written away later, but that’s comics for you!

    • Yeah, that was a great story.

      I would also add in Avengers Forever. Greatness that spans Avengers history and heavily features Pym and Wasp both. Even if you’re not an Avengers veteran it’s a fun story.

      I seem to recall a good, early Exiles adventure where they jumped to a world where Pym was the only hero left.

    • Yes! I second the Avengers Forever suggestion! Not only is Pym in it, it’s two seperate Pyms from two different points in time. Very interesting story.

  2. Avenger’s: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes volume 2 does a pretty solid rehashing of The Trial of Yellowjacket stuff.

  3. Peter David wrote a terrific Ant-Man, Wasp, Hulk team-up in which the villain was Loki! This was a some sort of special one shot with a special cover. I don’t know when it was originally published, because I found it in the dollar bin. I’ve seen copies of it in various dollar bins, so if you come across this comic, it’s very worth reading.

    By the way, am I the only one who noticed that Kevin Feige let slip during SDCC that Hank Pym is going to be the Ant-Man in the movie? I would have thought that this would be bigger news, since there was a great deal of speculation as to which Ant-Man would be the hero of the film.

  4. My favorite Hank Pym was the scientist/superhero who appeared in the old Tales to Astonish comics. I recommend Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol.1 for the good old early Silver Age spy-fi tone.

    I’d also recommend the first several years of Avengers stories, available in Essential Avengers phonebook collections. At least the first three volumes.

    I enjoyed Pym as portrayed in the recent Mighty Avengers series. I’m pretty sure the correct volume is Mighty Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest.

    The EMH cartoon was a real return to classic Pym for me.