Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Many Faces Of Henry Pym!

I stumbled across The Many Faces of Henry Pym yesterday and was enticed to pick this collection up by the eyeball-vibrating cover (which showcases the weird personal dynamic perfectly),  the relatively low price (under twenty bucks) and the fascinating assortment of sources. This is the story (mostly) of Dr.Henry Pym, one of the earliest Marvel Age superheroes, a man who has always it seemed had a hard time finding his niche in the larger Marvel Universe tapestry.

Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
The first story by Stan Lee and his sibling Larry Lieber is the very first monster-genre story of Pym in his pre-hero days as the protagonist who gets shrunk and finds himself a man among ants. He survives, even thrives.

Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers
So much so that he becomes a diminutive costumed superhero, an Ant-Man who battles larger foes with the aid of the insect world. The dynamite team of Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers lavish their talents on the littlest Marvel superhero.

Don Heck
Soon enough though his tiny powers prove insufficiently impressive and Pym adds getting big to his repertoire and Giant-Man is born, aided by his girlfriend the always lovely Wasp. (On a side note, it's neat to have the infamous Living Eraser story in full color--what a magnificent creation!)  Don Heck is at his best here.

Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia
The saga of Pym continues and getting large proves insufficient to stave off an early retirement. But it is a short-lived hiatus as Pym rejoins the Assemblers and adopts the colorful role of Goliath. This has more awesome artwork by the always Dashing Don Heck.

John Buscema and George Klein
John Buscema and George Klein
Pym as Goliath becomes a mainstay of the team until a lab accident toys with his mind and Pym becomes the swashbuckling Yellowjacket, a role better suited to woo his longtime love Janet Van Dyne. They wed and it's Yellowjacket he remains for many years to come until tragedy and near madness end that career also. Roy Thomas and John Buscema created a classic. 

Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott
After failing as a superhero (more on that tomorrow), Pym tries to find footing as himself, a scientist who has significant skills to bring to the aid of the Avengers, this time allying himself with the West Coast contingent. Steven Englehart and Al Milgrom tell this tale.

Many years pass and finally Pym is forced to confront the chaotic career he has led. It brings resolution for a time.

But the death of Janet Van Dyne lures Pym to take on another role entirely, that of The Wasp, a hero who still seeks to stride a heroic path the best way he knows how.

A dandy little tome, though with some significant gaps, but those are sufficiently collected in other volumes of some classic Avengers stories. It's especially neat to have the wedding story with pulse-pounding artwork by John  Buscema and George Klein, a duo at the height of their powers.

This collection was not unlike a travelogue of the Marvel Universe, spanning decades, but delivering some fascinating glimpses of the what was happening once upon a time.

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1 comment:

  1. Must catch up with the story of YJ Got early issues of tales to Astonish a great underrated hero didn't know Wasp had been killed will have to buy the lot sometime!


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