Sunday

OMU: Ant-Man -- Year Five

Henry Pym, known variously as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket, continues to enjoy his retirement over the next twelve months of his life, keeping a low profile and largely staying out of the path of danger. His crimefighting partner and wife, the Wasp, remains supportive, though she would prefer to return to their life of adventure. They remain behind the scenes in comic book character limbo throughout, except for a random guest-appearance in a couple issues of Captain Marvel. Even so, as founding members of the Avengers, they maintain an interest in the team’s activities.

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 with… The True History of Ant-Man!


January 1966 – Hank Pym and his wife, Janet Pym, continue to stay at their ritzy hotel in Manhattan while their house in Southampton on Long Island is rebuilt. Jan prefers living in the heart of the city, but she accepts that her husband needs a more remote location to safely carry on his various scientific research projects. Hank continues to collaborate occasionally with Bill Foster, who rents his own lab facilities from Jan elsewhere in the city. When Hank discovers a leftover microbe from the A.I.M. virus still in his bloodstream, he decides he’d better avoid using his size-changing abilities whenever possible, lest the microbe be reactivated and trap him at ant-size again. This does not overly concern him, as he is happy to have retired from his role as a superhero.

February 1966 – Hank and Jan send their best wishes to the Scarlet Witch and the Vision at Avengers Mansion after news breaks that the mutant woman and synthezoid man have fallen in love. Their relationship proves to be extremely controversial, but Jan thinks it’s all very romantic, despite not understanding why Wanda would want an artificial lover.

April 1966 – Hank and Jan are shocked to learn that the Avengers have inducted their old enemy the Swordsman into their ranks. Their former teammates assure them that the Swordsman really seems to have reformed this time, thanks to his Vietnamese girlfriend, a martial-arts expert called Mantis.

May 1966 – Hank is shocked when Jan inexplicably changes into a hideous, demonic monster and attacks him. Their battle wrecks their hotel room as the entire city transforms into a weird, alien landscape. Finally, less than an hour after it began, the fight ends as Jan reverts to normal along with the rest of the city. She is in a daze until a few minutes later, when all the damage is suddenly undone, as if by magic. Later, Hank contacts the Avengers, and they explain that the phenomenon was part of one of Loki’ schemes, but the god of mischief has been defeated. Hank and Jan are irritated when the government subsequently insists that it was all the work of a mutant terrorist.

July 1966 – Hank and Jan finally move into their rebuilt house in Southampton, which includes laboratory facilities tailored to Hank’s needs. He is excited to get back to full-time biochemical research and starts studying the dormant microbe in his bloodstream. Jan devotes her time to the Southampton social scene.

November 1966 – Hank and Jan are very concerned when, after a relentlessly negative media campaign tarnishes his reputation, Captain America is accused of murdering a small-time supervillain known as the Tumbler. Breaking out of jail, Cap becomes a fugitive from justice until he clears his name during a battle on the White House lawn with agents of the Secret Empire, a subversive organization bent on conquering America. The Pyms are relieved that their former teammate has been exonerated. Immediately afterward, President Morris N. Richardson appears on television and resigns from office, citing unspecified health problems. Vice President Miller is sworn in to succeed him.

December 1966 – While attending a biochemistry conference in Chicago, Illinois, Hank and Jan hear a report that Rick Jones has been hospitalized in the city after being exposed to a deadly nerve gas. They race to the hospital to see if they can help, whereupon they meet Carol Danvers, a friend of Rick’s who works as a security advisor for the Department of Defense. Carol informs them that Rick was not actually exposed to the nerve gas—that story was a publicity stunt arranged by his manager, Mordecai P. Boggs—though the youth has gone into an unexplained coma. Suddenly hearing the sounds of battle coming from Rick’s room, Hank and Jan change into Ant-Man and the Wasp and charge in to find their old foe the Living Laser menacing the comatose Rick, Boggs, and Rick’s singing partner Rachel Dandridge. The Living Laser reveals that he is working for a group called the Lunatic Legion, which sees Rick as an impediment to its plans to destroy the world. His ranting gives the Wasp the chance to sabotage the control panel on his belt so as to disable his laser weapons. However, when he then tries to activate them, they short out and the Living Laser is electrocuted. The Wasp is horrified to think she might have accidentally killed him, but when a doctor examines the body, he reports that the Living Laser was some kind of cyborg. Examining their foe’s weapons, Hank and Jan are curious to find highly polished moonstones incorporated into the control panel. Hank wonders if the name “Lunatic Legion” is some kind of inside joke, since the word lunatic derives from the Latin word for moon.

A little while later, Rick emerges from his coma and demands to know if there is an antidote to the nerve gas. Carol assures him that there is, and that some was delivered to the hospital in case he needed it. Rick leaps out of bed and leads Carol and the Pyms to a room down the hall, where they find Captain Marvel lying unconscious on the floor. Hank and Jan realize that Rick must have traded interdimensional places with Mar-Vell as soon as he entered the room. As it turns out, Captain Marvel was the one exposed to the nerve gas, and, after the antidote has been administered, he makes a full recovery. The Pyms share their ideas about the Lunatic Legion with Mar-Vell, who confirms that the evil organization has crossed paths with Rick twice now. Hank suggests they may actually be based on the moon, and Mar-Vell agrees to check it out. Later, Hank reports to the Avengers that the Living Laser is dead.

Returning to New York, Hank and Jan celebrate a festive Christmas at their home in Southampton.


Notes:

January 1966 – The dormant microbe in Hank Pym’s bloodstream will be revealed in Giant-Size Defenders #4.

February 1966 – News of the love affair between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision breaks in Avengers #113. Janet’s opinion of the Vision is revealed in Avengers West Coast Annual #4.

April 1966 – The Swordsman joins the Avengers (for real this time) in Avengers #114.

May 1966 – Hank and Jan remain behind the scenes in Avengers #118 when Dormammu, working with Loki, tries to merge Earth with his own mystical realm, the Dark Dimension. The Avengers decide to conceal the truth about that event from the public to avoid mass panic, a fact that President Morris N. Richardson’s anti-mutant administration would surely take advantage of.

November 1966 – Captain America’s travails at the hands of the Secret Empire are chronicled in Captain America #169–175. The Morris Richardson who resigns on camera is actually a Life Model Decoy, part of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s cover-up of the President’s role as leader of the Secret Empire.

December 1966 – Ant-Man and the Wasp make their only appearance for the year in Captain Marvel #35–37. (They are behind the scenes in #36, which is mostly a reprint.) The Living Laser is actually an android duplicate and not Arthur Parks transformed into a cyborg, as Hank would have known if he’d examined the body himself. Apparently, he just took the doctor’s word for it.


Jump Back: Ant-Man – Year Four

Next Issue: Ant-Man – Year Six


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