Saturday

OMU History: Defenders 1970

The Defenders gather in the Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange, July 1970.


L to R: Hellcat, Nighthawk, Clea, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Silver Surfer, Valkyrie, Gargoyle, Devil-Slayer

Wednesday

OMU: Ant-Man -- Year Three

During the third year of the superhero career of Henry Pym, known variously as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket, his exploits were confined mainly to the team book The Avengers, as he and his crimefighting partner and girlfriend, the Wasp, had proved unable to sustain a solo title. Still, this period features life-changing events that would have significant repercussions for Pym individually and for the Marvel Universe at large for many years to come. The two main storylines that are launched here are Pym’s guilt over the menace of Ultron, the indestructible killer robot he inadvertently creates, and the relationship problems caused by Pym’s inability to reconcile himself to the income disparity between himself and the Wasp after she inherits a vast family fortune. The combination of the two would eventually drag Hank Pym down, wreck his marriage, and nearly destroy his life.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Continuing on with… The True History of Ant-Man!


January 1964 – Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne continue to deal with the publicity following the revelation of their secret identities as Goliath and the Wasp, founding members of the world-famous superhero team the Avengers. Though Jan enjoys being in the spotlight, Hank retreats to his private laboratory in Cresskill, New Jersey, where he and his assistant, Bill Foster, are working on a new project: the creation of the world’s first “synthezoid,” a sophisticated synthesis of android and robot. As a preliminary measure, Hank gets his early artificial-intelligence computer system out of storage, where it has lain seemingly inert for six months, and begins reactivating it. He also builds a crude robot body, incorporating technology back-engineered from the wrecked robot the Avengers captured from their old enemy Kang nearly a year ago. Hank intends to install the artificial-intelligence program in the robot so it can aid them with their synthezoid project. However, Hank’s research time is frequently interrupted by his duties as an Avenger.

To relieve Hank of some of his responsibilities to the team, Jan convinces him to relinquish the role of Avengers chairman to her. Hawkeye objects, but Jan points out she is the only founding member of the team not to have served in that capacity. Captain America gives her a vote of confidence, and the matter is settled. However, Hawkeye begins insisting that his girlfriend, the Black Widow, be made a member of the Avengers. Hank is vehemently opposed to the idea, citing her past as a Communist spy and enemy of the Avengers. Neither Jan nor Captain America understand why he is so upset about the issue, but deep down Hank still hates the Soviets for killing his wife.

When the Scarlet Witch apparently returns to request the Avengers’ aid in rescuing her brother, Quicksilver, her former teammates immediately jet across the Atlantic Ocean to the tiny Balkan nation of Transia. Rather than continue their argument, the team decides to allow the Black Widow to accompany them on the rescue mission. Upon arrival, the Avengers find an enormous spaceship looming over a village at the foot of Wundagore Mountain. As they enter the ship, though, they discover that the Scarlet Witch is an impostor. The real Wanda and Pietro are being held prisoner within the ship, and an army of powerful green androids called “Ultroids” quickly captures the rest of the heroes as well. Luckily, Goliath is able to escape the stasis tube in which he is being held by shrinking down to insect size. He frees his teammates, but the ship has already lifted off and is speeding into outer space. With the help of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, the Avengers defeat the Ultroids that try to recapture them, but they reach a stalemate when the Ultroids’ leader, Ixar, reveals that he holds the village’s burgomeister hostage. Then, assuming the form of a 15-foot-tall armored android, Ixar battles the Avengers. During the fight, Goliath is knocked out by a jolt of electricity. When he wakes up, Goliath learns that Hawkeye and the Black Widow somehow forced Ixar to surrender, and that the “burgomeister” was in fact Ixar himself. The spaceship returns the Avengers to Earth, where Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch rejoin the team’s active roster.

Soon after, the Black Widow shocks the team by rejecting Hawkeye’s bid to secure her Avengers membership, announcing that she is leaving the United States to go to Communist China. Hank is very rude to her, which angers Jan. Later, however, Hank explains to Wanda and Pietro that he does not believe the Black Widow is really defecting to Red China, but must be up to something she doesn’t want Hawkeye involved in. They are interrupted when the Enchantress attacks Avengers Mansion with her latest lackey, the ancient Greek hero Hercules. Goliath’s strength is no match for Hercules, and he soon passes out from sheer exhaustion. He comes to in time to see Hercules turn on the Enchantress, having broken the spell she put on him. The Enchantress flees, but suddenly, in a display of thunder and lightning, the image of Zeus appears and exiles Hercules to Earth as punishment for leaving Olympus without permission. Having read Thor’s accounts of his meetings with Hercules last year, the Avengers offer the Olympian outcast their hospitality.

A week later, Hercules helps the Avengers defeat the Mad Thinker and his three henchmen, Pile-Driver, Hammerhead, and Thunderboot, when they invade the team’s headquarters. Immediately after the battle, the Scarlet Witch succumbs to a bad case of the flu. The Avengers are concerned by reports that the Black Widow has stolen the plans for America’s newest atomic submarine from a military installation in Arizona, but Hank maintains his belief that there is more to her apparent betrayal than meets the eye. Likewise, when it seems that Captain America has joined forces with the Red Skull to terrorize New York, Hank does not lose faith in his teammate. He is relieved when Cap manages to contact the team and asks them to track down the Cosmic Cube before the Red Skull can locate it. Immediately, Goliath, Wasp, Hawkeye, and Hercules jet down to the Caribbean islands, where they encounter the Sub-Mariner on a rampage. Namor retrieves the Cosmic Cube and tries to use it against the Avengers, but during the battle, the object drops into a deep fissure and is lost in the bowels of the earth. Satisfied that the Cosmic Cube is now impossible to find, the Avengers return to New York.

Soon, Goliath and the Wasp hear a broadcast made by the leader of the terrorist organization HYDRA, threatening to release billions of deadly germs into the atmosphere unless the nations of the world submit to HYDRA’s rule. Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. quickly defeats the terrorists before the “Death-Spore” can be released. In the week to follow, Hank and Bill Foster complete assembly of their robot assistant, but have no time to activate it for testing, as word comes down that the government has approved Hank’s request to take custody of the android creature known as Dragon Man. They immediately begin making preparations to study the artificial monster, feeling it will be invaluable to their synthezoid project.

About a week later, the deactivated Dragon Man is delivered to Hank’s laboratory in Cresskill, New Jersey. They are interrupted, however, by a commotion outside. Goliath and the Wasp go to investigate and find the building across the street has somehow been transmuted to pure gold. A crowd of fortune-hunters is on the verge of turning into an uncontrollable mob, so Goliath calls in the rest of the Avengers to help. As soon as their teammates’ aero-car appears on the scene, Goliath and the Wasp race back to the lab, only to discover that the villainous alchemist Diablo has reanimated the Dragon Man and injured Bill. Diablo knocks out the Wasp with a force beam as Dragon Man bludgeons Goliath into unconsciousness. When he wakes up, Hank finds himself in Diablo’s castle in Transylvania, amidst dozens of inert copies of Dragon Man. Diablo threatens to kill the Wasp unless Hank helps him recreate the potion he originally used to give a semblance of life to the original Dragon Man. Fortunately, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Hercules soon storm the castle, rescue the Wasp, and capture Diablo. However, Hank is frustrated that the Dragon Man has apparently been destroyed, knocked into a pool of lava by Hercules, so he won’t be able to study the android after all. Worse, when he gets home to Cresskill, he finds that his laboratory was almost completely demolished during Dragon Man’s fight with the Avengers. He decides to stay at Avengers Mansion until he can sort things out, and celebrating Jan’s birthday takes a back seat to salvaging their possessions.

A few days later, while cleaning up his wrecked lab, Hank somehow hits his head on the damaged ceiling and passes out. Jan finds him later, sitting in the rubble, confused and groggy. Though she promises they’ll have the lab rebuilt in no time, Hank decides to board up the property and conduct his experiments at Avengers Mansion from now on. Later, he visits Bill Foster in the hospital and tells Bill that, since their robot assistant was apparently destroyed and the opportunity to study Dragon Man was lost, he has decided to cancel the entire synthezoid project.

February 1964 – Hank and Jan are visited at Avengers Mansion by one of the Van Dyne family attorneys, one Ebenezer Wallaby, who reminds Jan that, as she has recently passed her 23rd birthday, she has come into her full inheritance. Jan is thrilled to now have a fortune worth approximately three million dollars, though Hank counsels her to invest the money wisely.

Later that night, Goliath, Wasp, Captain America, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch jet to a secret high-tech weapons R&D facility in the desolate wastes of western China, after learning that Hawkeye and Hercules went on an unauthorized mission to rescue the Black Widow from the Red Chinese Army. After a furious battle with the soldiers and their experimental weapons, the Avengers rescue their comrades and make their escape. The Black Widow has received a near-fatal gunshot wound, though, so the team rockets to a military hospital in Hawaii where she is rushed into surgery. After several tense hours, the doctors announce that she is expected to pull through.

The Avengers spend the next few days relaxing on the beaches of Hawaii while the Black Widow recuperates. Hank and Jan learn from Captain America that during the fight in China, he battled a Russian-born costumed champion called the Red Guardian who turned out to be the Black Widow’s husband. The Red Guardian sacrificed himself to allow the Black Widow to destroy the doomsday weapon the Chinese were developing. The Avengers are also debriefed by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents regarding the incident in China. Hank is glad to know that his instincts about Natasha were correct; her apparent defection was merely part of a covert operation.

March 1964 – After Captain America checks in with the team following an assignment with S.H.I.E.L.D., Goliath worries that Cap is fighting off another bout of depression, and the Scarlet Witch agrees that Cap seemed to be trying a little too hard to sound happy.

Goliath and the Wasp respond when Iron Man calls an emergency meeting of the Avengers. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Hercules also attend. Nick Fury contacts the team and confirms their fears that a number of their old enemies have teamed up against them. The Wasp defers to Cap, given his tactical skills and experience, so Cap sends Goliath, Wasp, and Iron Man to Brasília, Brazil, while Thor and Hawkeye go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Hercules and the Scarlet Witch head for India. Upon arrival in Brazil, Goliath, Wasp, and Iron Man find Power Man and the Swordsman at the Palácio da Alvorada trying to force President João Goulart to sign over control of the country’s diamond rights. During the battle, which damages the presidential palace, the heroes learn that the pair of villains is in the employ of the Mandarin. After Power Man and the Swordsman are taken into custody, Goliath, Wasp, and Iron Man rendezvous with their teammates at the Mandarin’s orbiting space-station headquarters. Though the arch-fiend uses a “hate ray” to make the Avengers attack each other, the Wasp manages to deactivate the device before anyone gets hurt. The Mandarin’s second attack goes awry, blasting a hole in the hull of the space station through which the villain is swept out into space. Thor and Hercules seal the breach, then Cap rigs the entire complex to self-destruct. The Avengers watch the Mandarin’s orbiting platform explode as they return to Earth. On the trip back, Iron Man and Thor agree to rejoin the team as reserve members.

The following weekend, the Avengers gather in Central Park for a ceremony honoring the team for their defeat of the Mandarin and his cronies, as well as their other charitable deeds. Hank is a bit annoyed when Jan arrives in a brand-new Lamborghini 350 GT. She is dressed in a sparkly new red-and-gold costume, which she shows off to a gang of reporters before flirting shamelessly with Hercules. After some long, boring speeches by New York City politicians, Captain America gives a few brief remarks. He then turns the microphone over to Goliath, who invites Hercules up on the stage and announces that the team has voted to make Hercules a full-fledged member of the Avengers. Hercules accepts the honor with uncharacteristic humility. Suddenly, the festival is disrupted by the Super-Adaptoid, who turns the Avengers’ own powers against them. Luckily, the heroes are able to cause the android to overload his systems and short out. After the police cart the inert Super-Adaptoid away, the city’s “Avengers Day” celebration resumes. Afterwards, Jan tries to convince Hank to swing by their property in Cresskill to look for a pair of earrings she’s lost. Hank refuses, claiming he is not feeling well.

A few days later, Hank gets angry at Jan when she brings her new chauffeur, Charles Matthews, into Avengers Mansion without prior authorization, a violation of the team’s by-laws. Hank has been short-tempered lately, partly due to Jan’s spending spree, but mostly because he fears Hercules has made Goliath redundant. Realizing he can never hope to match the Olympian’s sheer physical strength, Hank considers resuming his Ant-Man identity. As such, he returns to his research on ants, trying to reestablish the control over the little creatures that he formerly possessed through his cybernetic helmet. However, his old foe, the Human Top, now calling himself Whirlwind, smashes into the team’s headquarters and attacks. Caught off guard, both Hank and Jan become trapped inside a large ant colony without their technological defenses. Nevertheless, they manage to fight off the ants long enough for Hank to cannibalize some components into a crude cybernetic helmet. They escape from the ant colony to find Captain America and Quicksilver have stopped Whirlwind. Unfortunately, the villain gets away while the Avengers are dealing with a bomb he planted. Hank immediately sets about incorporating a new cybernetic system into his Goliath costume. Jan hands the team chairman duties over to Hawkeye.

April 1964 – After Captain America unexpectedly resigns from the Avengers, Hank and Jan fly out to Las Vegas on the private jet she has just purchased. Their night at a casino is interrupted, though, when Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch send out a mayday. Thus, Goliath and the Wasp rendezvous with Hawkeye at Avengers Mansion, where they learn the twins have been kidnapped by Magneto. A new Black Knight appears on the scene, but the three heroes initially mistake him for their old enemy, Nathan Garrett. During the brief scuffle that follows, Goliath is forced to suddenly shoot up to his 25-foot height and then back down to six feet. He immediately feels the strain such rapid size-changing puts on his body. Finally, the new Black Knight informs the Avengers that Magneto captured Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch at a castle on Long Island owned by his predecessor. However, when the knight leads the trio out to Garrett’s castle, they find Magneto and the twins have already departed. The Black Knight is ready to continue the search, but he is offended when Goliath makes it clear the Avengers do not trust him. Angry, the knight flies off on his winged horse. Unable to find any clues, Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye return to Avengers Mansion. Once there, Hank discovers that he can no longer grow any larger than his normal six-foot height, although his ability to become insect-sized is unimpaired. Feeling insecure, he decides not to tell his teammates about this handicap until he’s had a chance to investigate it further. Stressed out, Hank argues with both Hawkeye and the Wasp.

The next day, Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye head for the United Nations Building when Magneto, Toad, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch barge in to address the assembly of delegates. Things do not go well, and during the ensuing fracas, two security guards suddenly open fire and strafe the Scarlet Witch. Quicksilver goes berserk and punches Goliath in the face at super-speed, stunning him. When he revives, Goliath learns the four mutant activists have left the scene. The trio of Avengers returns to the mansion in defeat, convinced that Wanda and Pietro have rejoined Magneto of their own free will. Tensions only rise when Goliath finally tells his teammates he has lost his ability to become giant-sized.

Fearing that Hercules has disappeared while visiting Greece, Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye decide to go look for him. While flying over the Mediterranean Sea, they save an American Navy destroyer being attacked by a ten-foot tall armored man wielding a gigantic ax. The giant identifies himself as the Greek god Typhon, and the Avengers prove to be no match for him. Fortunately, Hercules comes to the rescue, but after Hercules takes his defeated foe back to Olympus, he does not return. Once back in New York, Hawkeye suggests the team had better hold a membership drive. Dutifully, Hank promises he will try to restore his growth powers. Over the next few days, he and Bill Foster work on building a device to do just that, and Hank also creates a new, better-insulated costume to protect himself during their experiments. He decides to revert to his original color scheme of red and blue.

Hank’s first tests of the new device end in failure, but before he can try again, he and his two teammates are kidnapped by the Collector and taken to his spaceship hovering high in the atmosphere. They are horrified to discover that the Collector has also captured Thor and managed to turn the thunder god into his obedient slave. Hank is unable to resist as Thor helps the Collector perform excruciatingly painful experiments on him to restore his full size-changing powers. His alien captor explains that he doesn’t want a “broken” Avenger in his collection. Hank finally passes out, and awakens sometime later inside an ornate prison cell. Luckily, the Wasp has already escaped her cell and frees Goliath and Hawkeye. As a giant robot tries to recapture them, Hank discovers that the Collector’s experiment worked—he can once again reach a height of 25 feet with no ill effects. Their battle wrecks the ship, prompting the Collector to teleport himself to safety. Thor returns, having captured Iron Man, but shakes off the Collector’s control and saves his teammates before the ship explodes. Once back at Avengers Mansion, Iron Man helps Hank stabilize the effects the Collector’s procedure had on his body.

Knowing the Avengers are short-handed, Captain America recommends the African superhero known as the Black Panther as a new member, and the team agrees to give him a chance. Cap informs them that the Black Panther is really T’Challa, prince of the mysterious nation of Wakanda. While waiting for the Black Panther to arrive at their headquarters, Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye are suddenly attacked by a costumed man brandishing a high-tech metal scythe who calls himself the Grim Reaper. The madman accuses the Avengers of murder, then fires an electric blast that shocks the trio into unconsciousness. When they revive, the three heroes find that the Black Panther has driven the Grim Reaper off and saved their lives. He explains that the Grim Reaper sought revenge because he held the team responsible for the death of his brother, Simon Williams, last year. The Avengers vote unanimously to induct the Black Panther into their ranks. Hank is pleasantly surprised to discover that T’Challa is also a brilliant scientist and engineer, and the two men find they have a lot to talk about.

May 1964 – Goliath and the Black Panther capture an intruder who turns out to be the Angel, a member of the X-Men. The Angel leads the Avengers to Magneto’s island fortress in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where the mutant terrorist has taken Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, and has imprisoned Angel’s own teammates. The Avengers storm Magneto’s complex, but find they must fight the other X-Men, as Magneto has used some kind of brainwashing machine on them. The Avengers overcome the X-Men and smash their way into Magneto’s command center. However, the Toad activates a self-destruct mechanism, informing the heroes that the entire island will be destroyed in less than a minute. The Avengers and the X-Men evacuate the fortress as Magneto and the Toad flee for their lives. Reaching the Avengers’ aero-car on the beach, the two teams see Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch escaping with the Toad in another airship. Magneto tries to join them, but the Toad kicks him away. Magneto falls into the ocean from a great height, as a series of tremendous explosions obliterate the island. As the aero-car takes to the skies, Goliath can only assume that Wanda and Pietro want nothing more to do with the Avengers. Dejectedly, the Avengers drop the X-Men off in Manhattan on their way home.

Goliath and the Black Panther work together to improve the security systems at Avengers Mansion. However, just hours after informing Jarvis about the new protocols, the mansion is invaded by a new version of the Masters of Evil, comprised of Whirlwind, the Melter, the Radioactive Man, and Klaw. Taken unawares, the Avengers are quickly captured by their enemies. The team is shocked when the new leader of the Masters of Evil, the Crimson Cowl, is revealed to be Edwin Jarvis himself. Goliath is then knocked unconscious, and when he wakes up, he finds himself strapped to a motorized gurney alongside his teammates, being moved through their foes’ headquarters. Though they try to escape, the Avengers are knocked out again, and revive to find themselves trapped inside a missile with an armed nuclear warhead. The Crimson Cowl appears on a closed-circuit TV monitor and taunts the Avengers by revealing Jarvis to be merely his hypnotized pawn. The real Crimson Cowl is in fact a robot calling himself Ultron-5. The missile is then launched, with the Avengers still aboard, but they are saved in mid-flight by the new Black Knight, who had tried to infiltrate the Masters of Evil by posing as his predecessor. After a quick battle, the heroes capture the Melter, the Radioactive Man, and Klaw, but Whirlwind manages to escape. Once the missile’s hydrogen bomb has been disarmed, the Black Knight explains how Jarvis helped him to save the Avengers’ lives, and explains that the butler betrayed the team because he needed money to pay for his mother’s chemotherapy treatments. Back at the mansion, Jarvis insists that he believed the Avengers would easily defeat the Masters of Evil, and was desperate to help his ailing mother. However, he is unable to explain why he didn’t seek help from Tony Stark, or why he can’t remember where the hidden base of Ultron-5 is located. Nevertheless, the Avengers decide to give Jarvis a second chance, since he did risk his life to save theirs. Still, Jan finds it difficult to forgive Jarvis for his betrayal, and the rest of the team remains somewhat wary of their butler. Hank is haunted by the strange feeling that he’s seen Ultron-5 somewhere before.

June 1964 – Hank spends a quiet month working in the lab with Bill Foster. He is frustrated, however, by the lack of progress he’s made with his research. As Jan continues to spend large sums of money, Hank realizes he’ll never be able to support her as he believes a husband should. The realization that they would always be living off her money does not sit well with him, and he begins to worry they may never get married after all. Jan is still upset with Jarvis and avoids going to Avengers Mansion as much as possible, so she and Hank see less of each other than usual.

July 1964 – A few days after hosting a fourth-of-July picnic attended by the Fantastic Four, the Avengers receive a mysterious summons from Captain America which leads them to Doctor Doom’s abandoned castle in upstate New York. Having learned about Doom’s time machine from Reed Richards, Cap is intent on using it to find out if there’s any way his old junior partner, Bucky, could have escaped his fiery death in 1945. Leaving the Wasp to operate the time machine’s control panel, Goliath, Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther journey back to the fateful day when Cap entered a state of suspended animation. Materializing as invisible, intangible phantoms, they watch Cap and Bucky’s encounter with Baron Heinrich Zemo at a U.S. Army base on the British coast. However, when Zemo knocks his foes out and binds them to the drone plane he is about to launch, the Avengers unexpectedly materialize fully, allowing Cap to free his past self. After a brief struggle with Zemo’s android henchmen, the Avengers return to their previous wraith-like state. The heroes watch grimly as Bucky is engulfed in a fireball while trying to deactivate the drone plane and Cap’s past self plunges into the sea. The time machine then takes the Avengers back to Doctor Doom’s castle. The Wasp admits she momentarily dozed off at the controls, and Goliath speculates that that must have been what caused them to fully phase into the past. The team locks up the castle and jets back to Manhattan.

After dropping Jan off at her apartment one evening, Hank makes excuses to rush back to his laboratory. However, he receives a distress signal that sends him racing back to Jan. He shoots up to his 25-foot height to scale the building, and when he reaches the penthouse suite, he smashes in through a large picture window, much to Jan’s annoyance. He finds Jan had been attacked by a red-faced man in a green-and-gold costume, who now lies unconscious on the floor. Jan says the man walked right through the wall, like a ghost, and attacked her with heat-rays from his eyes, then suddenly collapsed in great pain and passed out. Hank guesses the man may be some form of android and takes him to Avengers Mansion for study. He is joined in the lab by the Black Panther and Hawkeye, and they discuss Pym’s earlier “synthezoid” project. Suddenly, the android revives and attacks them, and during the fight he adopts the name “The Vision” for himself, based on a comment Jan had made about him. Goliath realizes that the Vision possesses the power to control his own density and tries to reason with him. The android agrees to stop fighting as he attempts to remember where he came from and why he felt compelled to attack the Avengers. The Avengers are shocked when the Vision recalls that his creator was a robot called Ultron-5. He then agrees to lead the Avengers to Ultron-5’s headquarters, hidden beneath an abandoned tenement on New York’s Lower East Side. When they arrive, the Avengers come under fire from automated defensive systems, and Goliath is separated from his teammates. A gigantic android appears and bludgeons Goliath into unconsciousness. When he revives, Goliath sees his foe has collapsed, like a puppet with its strings cut. Rejoining the others, Goliath learns that the Vision defeated Ultron-5 and saved them all. Hank takes the wreckage of Ultron-5’s body back to his lab for study, but is unable to find the robot’s head. When they arrive at their headquarters, Hawkeye introduces the Vision to Jarvis, since the android will be staying at Avengers Mansion for the time being.

August 1964 – Goliath takes a phone call from New York City Police Commissioner Michael J. Murphy, who asks for the Avengers’ assistance transporting a strange-looking helmet to Washington, DC. Hank doesn’t think it sounds like it would be worth the Avengers’ time, even though the helmet was taken from the body of presidential candidate Paul Destine after he committed suicide during an altercation with the Sub-Mariner. When the Thing of the Fantastic Four turns up at police headquarters and offers to help, the Commissioner tells Goliath they won’t need the Avengers’ help after all.

Sometime later, Goliath summons Wasp, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Panther to Avengers Mansion to discuss the Vision’s petition for membership. Their questions about the android’s origins lead the team to Hank’s abandoned property in Cresskill, New Jersey. Mysteriously, though it is boarded up, the building has been repaired and the laboratory inside stocked with new equipment. With some technological assistance, Hank finally breaks through the blocks in his memory and recalls his encounter with Ultron-1 back in January, which ended with Ultron-1 hypnotizing Hank. Cap realizes that the renegade robot later returned to the site, rebuilt the laboratory, and evolved itself into Ultron-5. The Avengers are shocked to discover that Hank Pym is responsible for the creation of Ultron. It occurs to Hank that, in creating the synthezoid Vision, Ultron was fulfilling the purpose for which he had been built. Iron Man finds that the recordings he and Hank made of Simon Williams’s brain patterns last year have disappeared, which leads the Vision to realize that those brain patterns serve as the basis for his own mind. Soberly, the eight heroes return to Avengers Mansion, where the Vision is made an official member of the team. In the days that follow, Hank is overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, blaming himself for the deadly menace of Ultron.

September 1964 – Hank becomes a veritable recluse in his renovated laboratory in Cresskill as he struggles to deal with his crumbling self-esteem. His anguish over the creation of Ultron also stirs up all the frustrations he’s been feeling in his relationship with Janet, until he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After pushing himself too hard one night, Hank becomes careless and accidentally exposes himself to some psychotropic gasses which drive him into a fugue state. He assumes a new identity as Yellowjacket, a man in many ways the complete opposite of Goliath. Donning a black-and-yellow costume, Yellowjacket comes upon the heist of a shipment of fur coats. He beats the crooks into unconsciousness, but when the police arrive, he refuses to cooperate, claiming to be interested only in gaining notoriety. The next morning, Yellowjacket crashes a meeting of the Avengers, demanding that Wasp, Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Vision admit him as a member. When the outraged heroes scoff at his overinflated ego, Yellowjacket claims to have killed Henry Pym. The Wasp nearly faints at this news. With the help of a swarm of wasps, Yellowjacket fights off the three male Avengers and kidnaps Jan. He takes her to his secret hideout, a miniaturized complex hidden in the branches of a tree on the New Jersey Palisades. When Jan comes to, she struggles with Yellowjacket until he forces a kiss on her. Then she suddenly changes her entire attitude towards him, even suggesting that they go immediately to get a marriage license. Believing he has conquered her with his masculine virility, Yellowjacket agrees. When the couple comes out of Cresskill City Hall, they are confronted by Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Vision, but Jan informs her confused teammates that she intends to marry Yellowjacket as soon as possible.

A couple of days later, Yellowjacket and the Wasp arrive at Avengers Mansion for their wedding ceremony. The event is attended by Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Thing, the Human Torch and his girlfriend Crystal, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and his girlfriend Clea, Nick Fury, the Black Knight, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and the Beast. The ceremony is simple and brief, but the tension in the room is palpable. Yellowjacket has no one to stand by his side. Afterwards, as Jan is cutting the cake, a giant python suddenly springs out and attacks her. The Black Panther and Vision immediately subdue the serpent, then the Avengers ask their guests to step outside while they investigate. The team is suddenly confronted by the notorious Circus of Crime, made up of the Ringmaster, Princess Python, the crafty Clown, Ernesto and Luigi Gambonno, and the Human Cannonball. The ensuing battle trashes the residential wing of the mansion. When the Ringmaster stuns Jan and the python is about to crush her to death, Yellowjacket instinctively grows to giant-size, causing Hank to emerge from his fugue state. The Circus of Crime panics and is quickly captured. As the police arrive to take the villains into custody, Hank explains to his teammates that his accident in the laboratory enabled him to create an alternate persona to get around his inhibitions about getting married again. They invite the guests back in and the party continues. Everyone except Jan, who knew all along, is stunned to discover that the mysterious Yellowjacket was really Hank Pym. At the end of the evening, the newlyweds depart for their honeymoon at an exclusive resort.

After a blissful week or so, Hank & Janet Pym return to Avengers Mansion to announce that, due to health reasons, Hank has permanently abandoned his Goliath identity in favor of being Yellowjacket. He is about to destroy his growth serums when the Avengers receive an emergency message they believe to be from Nick Fury, which sends Yellowjacket, Wasp, Black Panther, and Vision on a wild goose chase to the Caribbean Islands searching for the Black Widow. Hank is very impressed with the team’s new Wakandan-built Quinjets, which are a vast improvement over the old Stark Industries aero-cars. When they return to their headquarters, the Avengers discover that Hawkeye, ordered to remain behind by current team chairman T’Challa, has disappeared. Soon after, Hank and his three teammates hear a message broadcast by his old enemy Egghead over hijacked radio and TV signals. Egghead claims to be causing a string of blackouts across the nation, and will shut down the entire nation’s power grid if his demands are not met. While the Black Panther goes out in search of Hawkeye, Yellowjacket tries to determine where Egghead’s broadcast originated.

About a day later, the Avengers learn that Egghead is threatening the United States from an orbiting space station. Unfortunately, the station is cloaked and they are unable to determine its precise coordinates. The villain ups the ante by revealing his powerful “death-ray,” which he demonstrates by obliterating an evacuated Midwestern town. Hawkeye finally returns, accompanied by the Black Widow, and reveals that he has given up archery to assume the Goliath identity. Hank agrees to give the new Goliath full use of his size-changing potions. Their meeting is interrupted when Jarvis escorts in the notorious racketeer Barney Barton, who has information on Egghead’s scheme. Yellowjacket and the Wasp are both suspicious of the obvious personal connection between the gangster and Hawkeye/Goliath, but they agree to allow Barton to accompany the team on their raid of Egghead’s space station. Using the orbital coordinates Barton provided, the Avengers reach the station aboard a Wakandan-built space rocket. There, they battle Egghead’s army of robots until they fall victim to a paralysis ray. Fortunately, Barney Barton sacrifices himself to save the Avengers. The Pyms are stunned to learn that Barton was Hawkeye’s brother.

Since Egghead managed to escape, the Avengers return to their headquarters to discuss their plan of action. Goliath tells them a bit about when he was just a circus performer named Clint Barton and how Barney helped him survive after they’d been orphaned. Suddenly, the Swordsman invades their meeting room, though he is a bit confused about Hawkeye’s new identity. Goliath tries to prevent his teammates from interfering in what he considers to be a private fight, which allows the Swordsman to fire energy beams from his sword that blast Yellowjacket, Wasp, Black Panther, and Vision into unconsciousness. When the Avengers revive, they find both Goliath and the Swordsman are gone, but before long reports come in that Goliath singlehandedly captured the Swordsman and Egghead and turned them over to the police. Hank is relieved that Egghead is back in custody, but finds it odd that he hadn’t actually come face-to-face with his old foe.

Soon after, the Avengers grow concerned when Captain America avoids them following a nearly fatal battle against HYDRA. Yellowjacket is certain Cap must have his reasons for his behavior. When Rick Jones turns up at the mansion looking for Cap, Yellowjacket gives him permission to use the Avengers’ communications room. A couple of hours later, after Rick has left, the Red Skull breaches the mansion’s defenses and storms into the team’s meeting room. The Red Skull tries to convince the Avengers that he’s really Captain America, but the heroes attack him and knock him out. Just then, an emergency summons comes in from S.H.I.E.L.D., so the Avengers leave the Red Skull tied up while they go to see what Nick Fury wants. When the Avengers return, they find that the Red Skull has somehow escaped.

Yellowjacket joins Wasp, Iron Man, Thor, Goliath, and Vision aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier to meet Dr. Myron MacLain and test his new super-metal, adamantium. The Avengers are very impressed by the properties of the new alloy. Later that night, however, they are disturbed to learn that the Vision has stolen the adamantium sample from the Helicarrier. The synthezoid returns to Avengers Mansion and fights his teammates, heralding a devastating attack by Ultron-6 in his new adamantium body. After driving off Ultron-6 and the Vision, the Avengers argue about the decision to make Vision a member of the team. However, the Pyms are sure Vision was not acting of his own free will. The Avengers track them to Ultron-5’s old hideout on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where Hank is horrified to discover that Ultron-6 has converted the entire installation into a bomb powerful enough to wipe New York City off the face of the earth. Thanks to the Vision, though, the bomb is deactivated and Ultron-6 is driven off once again. Unwilling to let the menace of Ultron continue, Hank hatches a desperate plan to destroy the robot once and for all, even if it means sacrificing his own life.

The next morning, Hank disguises himself as Myron MacLain to deliver a well-publicized speech to the United Nations, hoping to draw Ultron-6 into a trap. Vision has revealed that Ultron-6 plans to siphon MacLain’s knowledge of adamantium directly out of his brain, using a device that will leave him a mental vegetable. Without telling his teammates, Hank has Jan hypnotize him so his subconscious mind will be filled with thoughts he believes will drive the robot insane. As expected, Ultron-6 smashes his way into the assembly chamber, fights off Thor and Goliath, and grabs the disguised Hank. When the robot activates his mind-draining device, though, he is unprepared for the complex human emotions he absorbs from his creator. Ultron-6 overloads his circuits, causing the molecular rearranger unit in his chest to explode, resulting in all the adamantium molecules in his body being dispersed. With the threat ended, Jan removes Hank’s disguise and brings him out of his hypnotic trance. Hank realizes he is just lucky Ultron-6 exploded before the mind-probe fried his own brain as well.

Over the weekend, Yellowjacket and the Wasp take out some gun-toting gangsters on a rooftop. Nevertheless, Hank has decided that his days of being a superhero are numbered.

October 1964 – The Avengers receive an emergency call from Stark Industries, reporting that Iron Man has gone berserk. When the team arrives at the Long Island factory, they find Iron Man about to throw Tony Stark off a catwalk into a smelting pot full of molten metal. Stark manages to grab hold of a cable, causing Iron Man to plunge into the smelting pot, where he is instantly incinerated. However, Stark reveals that it was not the real Iron Man, but a sophisticated android known as a Life Model Decoy, which went haywire during a test. Stark then collapses into a coma as his weak heart gives out from the strain. The Avengers rush their benefactor to Hank’s lab at the mansion, where his ultra-rejuvenator device revives Stark long enough for them to transport him to a nearby hospital.

The next morning, they are joined at the hospital by Captain America and Thor, who has brought the renowned physician Dr. José Santini to treat Stark. Minutes later, a large android kidnaps Stark right out of his hospital bed. Thor identifies the android as a servitor of Kang called the Growing Man. Indeed, the android absorbs the force of every blow it receives, growing larger each time it is struck. The Avengers chase the now-gigantic android down the street until it begins to disappear in a nimbus of energy. Following Stark and his kidnapper into the energy beam, the Avengers find themselves transported through a spacetime vortex to the throne room of Kang the Conqueror at his fortress in the 41st century. Kang explains that he was challenged to a contest by a powerful alien called the Grandmaster. If Kang wins, his lover Ravonna, who hovers between life and death inside a nearby stasis tube, will be restored to full health. If Kang loses, though, the earth will be destroyed. Captain America agrees on behalf of the Avengers that they will cooperate for the sake of the earth, if not for Kang, on the condition that Kang returns Tony Stark to the hospital so he can undergo a life-saving operation. Kang agrees and teleports Stark back to his hospital bed. The Grandmaster then materializes in the room and teleports Thor, Captain America, and Goliath away for round one of their contest.

Yellowjacket, Wasp, Black Panther, and Vision watch helplessly as the Grandmaster sets four super-villains of his own creation against Thor, Captain America, Goliath, and Iron Man, who materializes out of nowhere to join his teammates. On Liberty Island, Cap defeats Nighthawk. At the Taj Mahal, Iron Man defeats Doctor Spectrum. At the Giza Necropolis in Egypt, Thor defeats Hyperion. However, in London, England, Goliath only beats the Whizzer with the unexpected help of the Black Knight. The Grandmaster calls a foul, since the Black Knight is not a member of the Avengers, and recalls the four heroes to their base. Then, for round two of the contest, Yellowjacket, Black Panther, and Vision are transported to Nazi-occupied Paris, France, in February 1942, where they encounter the Invaders. Assuming the Avengers to be Nazis, the contemporary Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch attack them. After a brief battle, Vision overcomes his three opponents by partially phasing through their bodies, thus disrupting their nervous systems. With victory achieved, Yellowjacket, Black Panther, and Vision are transported back to Kang’s 41st-century fortress. There, they rejoin Wasp, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Goliath, as well as the Black Knight, who has followed the Avengers to the future by his own means. Immediately, the heroes storm into Kang’s throne room and battle the time-traveling despot, to the Grandmaster’s great amusement. Once Kang is defeated, the Grandmaster teleports the Avengers home. Yellowjacket and the Wasp join their teammates in extending a unanimous offer of membership to the Black Knight.

Later that night, Captain America summons the Avengers to an emergency meeting, where they learn that three New York City officials have been kidnapped by a notorious terrorist called Scorpio. In a transmission from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, “Dum-Dum” Dugan reveals that Nick Fury is dead, having been gunned down by a HYDRA assassin. Then, Rick Jones, whom Cap has brought along, announces that he has information pertaining to the case. Rick reports that he was hanging around Nick Fury’s apartment, hoping for a chance to join S.H.I.E.L.D., when he was attacked by Scorpio and his strange weapon, the Zodiac Key. Luckily, Rick was rescued by a superhero called Captain Marvel. Before the Avengers can determine a course of action, though, Scorpio patches into their communications equipment and taunts them, then triggers an explosion that knocks everyone unconscious.

When Yellowjacket revives, he finds that he, Wasp, Cap, Goliath, Vision, and Rick have been brought to Scorpio’s secret headquarters and are being held prisoner in a paralysis ray. Scorpio then reveals the eleven other heads of the international crime cartel called Zodiac: Aquarius, Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Pisces, Sagittarius, Taurus, and Virgo. Yellowjacket frees his teammates by using his cybernetic systems to direct thousands of ants to sabotage Scorpio’s control panel. During the ensuing fight, Scorpio reveals himself to be Nick Fury in disguise. However, Aries has taken possession of the Zodiac Key and turns its energies on the Avengers, weakening them. Rick saves them by jumping on Aries, and with the Zodiac Key depleted, the criminals beat a hasty retreat. Nick Fury then explains how he escaped the assassination attempt and infiltrated Zodiac after learning the real Scorpio was his younger brother Jake. The Avengers leave Scorpio’s lair, finding it is now Saturday morning. Yellowjacket, Wasp, Goliath, and Vision return to Avengers Mansion, where they discuss the Sons of the Serpent, a hate-group which has been making headlines again recently.

On Sunday evening, a strange little man named Silas X. Cragg drops by Avengers Mansion looking for Captain America. Cragg tells Yellowjacket he wants to invite Cap to a charity benefit at the city orphanage. Hank phones Cap at the hotel where he’s staying and gives him the information. Later, the Avengers tune in to a late-night TV talk show hosted by notorious right-wing bigot Dan Dunn, who is arguing about Civil Rights with a controversial black agitator named Montague Hale. Also appearing on the program is Monica Lynne, an African American singer whom the Black Panther saved earlier from an attack by the Sons of the Serpent. Yellowjacket worries that the Sons of the Serpent may succeed in inciting a race war if something isn’t done. The Black Panther insists on having 24 hours to try to resolve the situation on his own.

All day Monday, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Goliath, and Vision are shocked by TV news reports of the Black Panther going on a rampage, smashing up storefronts that have indicated support for the Sons of the Serpent. Certain that the city is being menaced by an impostor, the Avengers head out to track him down. Unfortunately, the Sons of the Serpent rescue the impostor from the Avengers before he can be captured. Returning to the mansion, the Avengers are visited by Monica Lynne, who clearly has feelings for the Black Panther. When the leader of the hate-group, the Supreme Serpent, cuts into the network TV broadcasts with a racist tirade, the Avengers trace the signal to an abandoned television studio in the city. Once there, they rescue the Black Panther and reveal that there are, in fact, two Supreme Serpents—Dan Dunn and Montague Hale, who admit their race-baiting vendetta was merely an act to further their own interests. The Black Panther knocks them both out by kicking them in the head.

On Tuesday, Hank agrees to lead a government research project on the effects of the Alaskan oil industry on the native wildlife, and recruits Bill Foster to be his right-hand man. Jan is not thrilled by the prospect of spending the next several months living in the frigid wilderness of Alaska, but she agrees to accompany her husband wherever his work takes him. Hank is relieved to have a reason to give up being Yellowjacket for a while and return to full-time biochemical research. On Thursday morning, the three of them board an ocean liner bound for Alaska. Captain America, Goliath, Black Panther, and Vision come out to the pier to see them off.

At the end of the month, word reaches Jan that her aunt in New York has fallen ill, so she jets back to the city to visit with her. Hank is somewhat relieved to have Jan out of the way while he and Bill are setting up their laboratory facilities in Alaska.

November 1964 – When Jan returns to Alaska, she tells Hank and Bill of a strange adventure she had on Halloween during which she, the Scarlet Witch, the Black Widow, and Medusa of the Inhumans were tricked by the Enchantress into fighting the male Avengers. Calling their group the Liberators, they traveled to the Rutland, Vermont Halloween Parade where they defeated not only Goliath, Black Panther, Vision, and Quicksilver, but also Whirlwind, Radioactive Man, the Melter, and Klaw. Luckily, the Scarlet Witch saw through the Enchantress’s disguise and defeated her before she killed them all. Hank is relived that Jan is okay, but finds the whole story oddly funny.

December 1964 – After a couple of months of very productive research, Hank begins to consider resigning from the Avengers permanently. He and Jan celebrate Christmas in Alaska with Bill, and Jan spares no expense to make their holiday festive and bright.


Notes:

January 1964 – Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne continue their adventures in Avengers #36 and following. Goliath discusses his attempts to create a synthezoid in Avengers #57–58. The Supreme Hydra broadcasts his ransom demands in the S.H.I.E.L.D. story in Strange Tales #156. Diablo’s plan to blackmail Pym into using his expertise in biochemistry to help animate an army of Dragon Men in Avengers #42 proves that Hank and Jan’s true identities are now public knowledge. The gold-transformation effect Diablo used on Pym’s laboratory building (as well as the building across the street) was doubtless temporary. Hank decides to abandon his Cresskill property following his encounter with Ultron-1, as seen in the flashback in Avengers #58. His memory of the incident is blocked after the robot brainwashes him.

February 1964 – While three million may not sound like much today, in 2010 dollars, the Wasp’s inheritance would be roughly 20 million bucks. Before this, she had been living on “only” $160,000 a year (in 2010 dollars). Clearly, Vernon Van Dyne had been an extremely successful scientist (and also prudently managed whatever money he himself had inherited). From this point on, the Wasp will indulge herself in an ever-changing line of designer costumes. However, her family fortune will also be a source of tension in her relationship with Hank Pym, whose earning power will always be less than super.

March 1964 – Goliath, Wasp, and their teammates make a cameo appearance in the Captain America story in Tales of Suspense #92. The Avengers deal with the monstrous master plan of the Mandarin in Avengers Annual #1. The locations are not specifically named in the comic, but in 1964 these were the chief diamond-producing centers of the regions described in the story. Plus, the way the South American city is described, it can only be Brasília. Pym’s refusal to return to his abandoned laboratory in Cresskill after the battle with the Super-Adaptoid is due to the post-hypnotic suggestion of Ultron-1, as seen in the flashback in Avengers #135. Neither Goliath nor the Wasp suspect that the chauffeur Charles Matthews is really their old enemy David Cannon, a.k.a. the Human Top, a.k.a. Whirlwind.

April 1964 – Although Nathan Garrett’s American castle is commonly believed to be 30 miles from Washington, DC, the Iron Man storyline in which it first appears (Tales of Suspense #73–74) makes it clear it must actually be 30 miles from Stark Industries, and probably lies on Oyster Bay on the north shore of Long Island.

May 1964 – The Avengers make a cameo appearance in Uncanny X-Men #45 as the storylines in both books converge. It is some time before Jarvis remembers having been hypnotized by Ultron-5 into betraying the Avengers. The fallout from that betrayal is discussed in Avengers #280.

July 1964 – Due to the machinations of the Scarlet Centurion, the Avengers do not travel back into their own past, but into the parallel universe now known as Earth-689, which, incidentally, is the same world depicted in Avengers Annual #2 and What If? #4. However, Captain America does not remember the events of that night clearly enough (partly from the trauma itself and partly because of his post-cryogenic amnesia) to realize it, despite there being significant differences in how the events played out. The most important difference is that the Captain America of Earth-689 is killed by the same explosion that kills Bucky. The Avengers then travel to the 1964 of Earth-689 in Avengers Annual #2, where they battle the Scarlet Centurion and their own counterparts. As the team finally returns to their own reality, though, the Watcher erases their memories of this adventure, since the Scarlet Centurion, Pharaoh Rama-Tut, Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus are all the same person. Later, Goliath and the Wasp look on as Jarvis meets the Vision in one of the many flashbacks in Avengers #280.

August 1964 – Paul Destine’s helmet is really the Serpent Crown, an extremely dangerous artifact associated with the Elder God Set. Goliath blows off the Police Commissioner’s request for help in Sub-Mariner #8.

September 1964 – The Avengers hear Egghead’s demands in Sub-Mariner #14. Although the villain does not identify himself, both Hank and Jan would certainly recognize his voice. Yellowjacket’s appearance in Daredevil #52 is an error, as that story doesn’t take place until November. There, the Black Panther is probably actually speaking with the Vision. Following Egghead’s defeat, Yellowjacket makes a series of guest-appearances in Captain America #114–116. Yellowjacket and the Wasp’s defeat of the rooftop gangsters is revealed via newsreel footage in Avengers #83.

October 1964 – The Avengers save Tony Stark’s life in Iron Man #18. The battle of Yellowjacket, Black Panther, and Vision against the Invaders is revisited, with a few extra details added, in Invaders Annual #1. Silas X. Cragg drops by Avengers Mansion in Captain America #121. Then, Yellowjacket and the Wasp take another extended leave of absence from the Avengers beginning in Avengers #75. The Wasp’s Halloween adventure with the Liberators occurs in Avengers #83.