How do you want to be remembered?
Seriously, take a moment. It doesn’t have to get all maudlin, just think about what you want others to be thinking about when you’ve gone where all the Jean Greys go. You don’t even have to dwell on it, though it sort of puts things in perspective for a moment. Whether that’s wanting to be remembered for some great accomplishment or boon to society or just that you had a great .sig file in your email, people will remember you.
When the House of Ideas recently splattered the winsome Wasp on the windshield of Big Event Comics (in two universes, no less!), they published Secret Invasion: Requiem for fans to remember her by. This over-sized issue has a story weaving two reprints together as a something of a memorial to the now kind-of-deceased-mostly-tornado-ed founding Avenger. This is the legacy all heroes should leave behind, the idea that what you did and who you are can live on through the ages as a requiem, a prayer in your honor for the Great Beyond.
Man, that sounds so pretty, and it would have been awesome if that’s what we got for the fallen Janet Van Dyne. Looking at how the House of Ideas chose to pull all that off, it’s the worst titling of a story since Dark Reign – Avengers: the Initiative Disassembled #20. This has nothing to do with the Wasp and everything to say about … the Wasp?
You’ll have to forgive me for looking back at Secret Invasion: Requiem, I’m sure not a lot of people did. First off, it’s $4.99, nearly guaranteeing people will pass. I’m under no delusions here that the final end to one of the founding Avengers came off anything more than sort of a yawn to most readers. She was big, she was purple, she had some Kirby dots and then Thor swung his mighty hammer and she was gone. It was a loss, but it was far from the punchline of Secret Invasion; her ‘death’ was buried under Norman Osborn’s lucky shot and subsequent power grab. So here’s an expensive book with two reprints and eight pages of new story.
Well, reprints can be cool, right? I remember a couple of Hulk specials that were right stinkers until I found they had some pretty cool issues tucked inside them, so maybe Marvel has chosen the best of the Wasp’s 45 year history (45? Man, she aged well!) to provide this tribute. In this one-shot, Jocasta is helping out Hank Pym at Janet’s place, packing and putting her to rest. Actually, Jocasta’s doing all that while Hank’s fooling around in the labs, trying to make sure no one kills him.
Oh Hank. Depressingly predictable.
That’s what this is all about, folks. Hank Pym. The reprints inside are his memories of her and speak more about him than they ever would about Jan. Through his eyes we see her first appearance as ‘his greatest experiment’ and then, yes, we drag out the spousal abuse as his greatest failure. Instead of celebrating the third-longest tenure of an Avengers chairperson, her strength of character to see the Avengers through some serious threats or the fact that she’s endured for 45 years, we have to remember that Hank Pym, in a moment of madness, gave her a black eye. Yes, she did go on to defeat her own husband at the worst point in his life, so there is some strength there, but it just feels like we’ve had enough of Avengers #213 and would have rather seen something brighter to remember her by.
If we did, we would have never gotten to the real story of Secret Invasion: Requiem, which is Hank Pym’s usurpation of the Wasp legacy. His own attempts at establishing himself as a hero never go well, so what better way to finally get some credit than by taking his ex-wife’s?
This is actually a good idea. After the events of Secret Invasion, the name Hank Pym isn’t one to stand by. Bendis has been dragging out that black eye since he got on the Avengers titles, people with Pym Particles have had disastrous ends as of late and the Hank Pym Fan Club has always been a little bleak in membership. In taking on the identity of the Wasp, he not only has an obligation to himself, but to Jan’s memory to make sure he straightens out and flies right this time. Go by your own name, you’re only beholden to yourself but mess with someone else’s legacy, there will be plenty around to keep you in line. This one-shot isn’t a Requiem, but a Rebirth for Hank Pym and his never-ending quest to be a hero, remembering him at his best and worst and setting him on a new path.
Just wish we didn’t have to lose Janet to do it. I hope somehow she won’t be forgotten, her contributions noted, her heroics standing the test of time.
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