Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and ninety-first installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
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Jim Shooter planned on having Hank Pym remain as Yellowjacket.
In case you were unaware of this, in the Avengers during the early 1980s, Jim Shooter took over writing the book and did a storyline where Hank Pym (as Yellowjacket) returned to the Avengers because he was feeling depressed about his life and then almost right away, screwed up and opened himself up to a court martial (he blasted a bad guy in the back while Captain America was talking her down).
Hank was getting really unstable and he convinced himself that the way to get out of this mess was to build a robot to attack the team and then he would swoop in and save the day, leading to the team forgetting all about the court martial. When his wife, the Wasp, discovered what he was doing, things did not go well...
Jim Shooter has said (and artist Bob Hall has BAAAASICALLY backed him up on this, more like a general, "If he says that's what happened, I guess I believe him") that he intended for Hank to only accidentally strike Janet.
At the end of the issue, either way, things went wrong and Janet had to take down the robot and Hank left the team in disgrace...
A few issues later, Hank's old enemy, Egghead, took the opportunity of Hank's downfall to take advantage of Hank and force him to steal some stuff for him...
And in the end, Hank was framed for the crimes...
Then Shooter twisted the knife a bit by having Tony Stark woo Janet Van Dyne while Hank was in prison (she broke up with Tony when he revealed that he was Iron Man as, well, come on, that's totally a jerk move, right? Dating someone you know while not letting her know that you know her?)
The problem for Shooter was that he was extremely busy as the Editor-in-Chief of the whole Marvel Comics operation, so he was having a lot of trouble finding the time to write an ongoing series. In fact, Shooter notes that that is partially why they didn't change the scene in Avengers #213 with Hank hitting Janet, as the book was so late that they didn't have time to go back and fix it.
Other writers helped plot and/or script the last few issues and there was a fill-in issue thrown in, as well, but Shooter had to give the book up and Roger Stern took over.
Stern had to come up with an ending to Shooter's plot and he came up with the plan that Hank would save the day but then retire as a superhero in Avengers #230...
It was really well done and this kicked off a legendary stint as the writer on Avengers for Roger Stern. Just one of the all-time great Avengers runs. Shooter thought Stern handled it really well, but the question, of course, remains, what would Shooter have done had he remained on the book?
I asked Shooter about it and he explained that this comment he made a number of years ago accurately reflects what he would have done with Hank, "My plan was to bring all birds to roost, to have him break down, lose his beloved wife, fail catastrophically, end up in prison….hit bottom. Then come back, become a great hero and save the world. The ultimate fall from grace and redemption. The very stuff of heroes."
So, in other words, not retire as a superhero. It would be interesting to see if that would have affected how people have treated the character in the years since.
Thanks to Jim Shooter for the information!
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Check back later for the final part of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!