SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Infinity Countdown Prime #1 by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato Jr., Frank Martin and Cory Petit, on sale now.
Things for Hank Pym have never been all that great. From his contentious turn as a domestic abuser back in the ’80s to his often self-destructive grabs for glory and respect from his fellow Avengers, it really seems like Hank just can’t win. And, well, that trend has kept up pretty constantly, even now.
Infinity War Countdown Prime #1 adds yet another chapter in the tragic comedy that is the once and future Ant-Man’s life. But to really understand what that means, and where things might be going, you’ve got to take a look back at just where the last three years have taken him.
In the Name of the Father
The modern (read: post-2015) life and times of Hank Pym can be charted back to Rage of Ultron, an original graphic novel by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena and Pepe Laraz which took a new look at the relationship between Hank and one of his most famous (and famously complicated) creations: Ultron.
Ultron, having reached a fever pitch in his token nihilism about humanity and his otherwise unsalvageable relationship with Hank, winds up using his father’s compassion for him to literally merge them into one physical entity, half man and half machine. The Avengers consider this Hank’s death, despite the fact he is still, essentially, half of Ultron’s consciousness.
Things only proceeded to get more complicated when the Hank-and-Ultron fusion returned to reunite with his (its?) ex-wife Jan in Uncanny Avengers by Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman. Here, he claimed to have beaten out the Ultron part of his consciousness and, despite all outward appearances, had become Hank once more.
Of course, things are never that simple, and the entire situation is eventually revealed to be a ruse perpetrated by the Ultron portion of Hank’s mind to lure his team into a trap. The resulting fight ends with the Uncanny Avengers team forced to fuse the metal in Hank Ultron’s body into the metal of a spaceship and send the ship rocketing in the sun.
Despite all pulp action connotations, the moment manages to be genuinely gut wrenching, leaning into the unstable and manipulative angle that’s formed a cornerstone of the Ultron Pym character since its inception. You can never really tell just which side you’re dealing with when he’s on the page, and making the wrong choice about what to believe or disbelieve could quite literally cost people their lives.
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