Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Trial Of Yellowjacket!


The Trial of Yellowjacket is one of the most notorious storylines in the long history of comics. Featuring the downfall of a founding member of the Mighty Avengers, this saga seemed to follow on relentlessly from one of the most debated scenes in comics history. For Jim Shooter's reflection on how it was that Hank Pym came to be comics poster boy for wife beaters see this link.

Whatever the truth of that situation, this story was intended to document the collapse of a fundamentally good man when confronted with his own percieved relative uselessness to those around him. That frustration leading to one bad decision after another until his colleagues are left with only bad choices. Happily this collection not only tells the story of that fall from grace, but showcases how the completely humbled Hank Pym gathered himself and eventually re-entered the ranks of the pantheon of Assembers.

Below is a cover gallery for this sprawling storyline which ran from late 1981 into 1983. The Avengers battled many a foe during this time, not always focused specifically on the drama of Hank Pym, but always that personal tragedy develops through most of these tales if not directly then in terms of a similar theme, not something I realized when these first hit the stands way back when. Artistically it was a somewhat chaotic period for the team, but the storytelling was most memorable. 




















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4 comments:

  1. I have such mixed feelings about Hank being accepted back into the ranks of the Avengers--i.e., whether or not an "expulsion" from the team is just that. If being accepted back is simply a question of redemption, I have no problem with that, as other characters have redeemed themselves through Avengers membership. But Hank's case is different in that he was already a member who had proven himself in the ranks, and who consciously made (as you point out) one bad decision after another to both compromise the team as well as to play out a deception to fend off a formal inquiry. I suppose Shooter's intention vis-a-vis Hank's treatment of Jan will always fall into the what-might-have-been category--but as it stands, the events that ended up in print were crucial to this storyline since, otherwise, I think Hank could have reasonably redeemed himself for his past actions.

    I would much rather have left Hank's story the way he left it in Avengers #230--owning up to his mistakes, and making clear that he was responsible for his own actions. It was a dignified and remarkable exit for this founding member, an amazing Avengers story in itself, and a great cap to this overall storyline. But it's been virtually sandpapered over by Hank once again assembling with the Avengers, business as usual. Cap suggested in this issue as Hank was walking out the door that they could amend the by-laws--which clearly state the words "with no possibility of reinstatement" as applied to an expelled member (see link)--in order to have Hank work with them again in some capacity. It looks like that was Avengers business that may have been conducted under the table.

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    1. I think Shooter's explanations don't really change much. I've always been a bit confused that Hank's one-time striking of his wife during a period when everyone agrees he was mentally unstable has taken on such sinister implications. His act always seems to be seen as unforgivable, but then you have guys like Magneto, a mass murderer get transformed into quasi heroes. Strange.

      I like how Hank's story ends in this arc, but I also like that he returns and continues to develop as a character.

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  2. This is one of my favorite periods. I have almost every issue. The only ones I'm not sure if I have are 218 and 222. Both those covers look unfamiliar to me. I'll have to check and see. :)

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    1. I think this era of stories often gets overlooked, obscured by the George Perez and John Byrne stuff which preceded it. I haven't read some of these again in decades.

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