www.cbr.com

When Doctor Pym Decided to Become Doctor Who

This is Foggy Ruins of Time, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

Today, we look at the brief period where Hank Pym essentially became Doctor Who.

In this instance, it is a bit of a twist on the general theme of the column, as the pop culture reference itself is not all that obscure, but rather the reference itself is obscure, as in not that many people recall this period in Hank Pym's comic book career (as it really only lasted three issues).

Continue scrolling to keep reading Click the button below to start this article in quick view.

Okay, so Hank Pym was obviously not in great shape when he joined the West Coast Avengers as their scientific expert and sort of major domo in the 1985 West Coast Avengers series. He had only recently been cleared of trumped up criminal charges, but he had also dealt with a nervous breakdown that had resulted in him slapping his then-wife, the Wasp. They divorced and once Hank was cleared of criminal charges, he decided to abandon being a superhero.

He seemed to be making progress with his life, but in West Coast Avengers #16 (by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott), his old enemy, Whirlwind, really made Hank feel terrible about his life...

In the next issue, as the Avengers went off on a mission, Hank stayed behind in turmoil.

After writing a suicide note and having one last talk with the Wasp, Hank prepared to take his own life...

Luckily, the superhero known as Firebird (who the Avengers were about to ask to join the team) interrupted Hank...

In the next issue, Firebird asked Hank to talk about his life some...

And in the next issue, she slowly got him to see that he still had a lot to offer this world...

Finally, in West Coast Avengers #21, he decides to become a hero again, but not a SUPERHERO, in the sense that he will not wear a costume anymore, but instead just use his scientific prowess and shrinking abilities to fight crime and call himself Doctor Pym!

Meanwhile, a very popular, longrunning science fiction series in England is called Doctor Who. The Doctor would regenerate (allowing different actors to play the role). The Fourth Doctor was perhaps the most iconic Doctor. He was played by Tom Baker...

Baker's Doctor was marked by the iconic scarf that he would wear...

And sure enough, in West Coast Avengers #22, Hank became to dress like Doctor Who and start calling himself, "Doctor Pym, Scientific Adventurer"...

The look continued into the next issue, as he, Moon Knight and Firebird tried to save their teammates from the past...

They succeeded.

After a fight with the villain who sent the Avengers through time in the first place in the next issue, West Coast Avengers #25 was a Wonder Man spotlight issue. The following issue (with Mike Machlan taking over from Joe Sinnott), Hank drops the Doctor Who get-up and begins to use a jumpsuit instead...

So the Doctor Who time in his life was brief, but it was certainly memorable! Years later, Hank would make another nod to Doctor Who in the pages of Mighty Avengers, but that's probably a story for another time!

If anyone else has a suggestion for a future edition of Foggy Ruins of Time, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

Azrael Curse of the White Knight
Curse of the White Knight Finally Exposes the Dark Truth About the Waynes

More in CBR Exclusives