Reviews Of Old Comics: Avengers 214
Ant-Man came out this weekend, and knowing at what period in Hank Pym‘s history this issue came out, I thought I’d give it a review, so we don’t get confused about the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s Hank Pym being entirely a good guy. As a matter of fact, it’s because of the events that affect this issue that I was very glad to learn that Ant-Man would feature Scott Lang.
Captain America is working out some frustrations in the Avengers’ training room. Tigra, realizing that Cap would prefer to be left alone, encounters Jarvis in the hall and discuss the recent expulsion of Yellowjacket after he disgraced himself twice over. Tigra is glad to see him gone, but Jarvis misses the good man inside of the disgraced man Hank Pym had become.
Thor flies to meet Iron Man in their secret identities of Tony Stark and Dr. Don Blake and discuss the fate of Hank Pym, and how they want to help him, convinced that his recent actions were the result of too much stress. Hank visits the Wasp who tells him that after he struck her, she is filing for divorce. She offers him money if he needs it and he declines, saying he has income from his patents and books. Unfortunately, he’s already sold his patents and his books are out of print, so Hank Pym crashes that evening at a seedy hotel. At Avengers Mansion, Jarvis and Captain America express their confidence that Hank Pym will pick himself up from this disgrace.
In New Mexico, Johnny Blaze is brooding over the state of his life when he sees a sportscar, coincidentally driven by his former teammate, Warren Worthington III, the Angel. Transforming into Ghost Rider, he runs the car off the road, challenging Angel to a race across the desert that ends in a physical confrontation. Ghost Rider unleashes the soul-burning fire that he controls, leaving Angel in a coma.
Angel’s girlfriend calls the Avengers for help, and the four active Avengers fly to New Mexico where they begin a search for the Ghost Rider. When a boy, emulating Thor, falls from a water tower, Johnny Blaze release Ghost Rider again, who then leads the Avengers on a chase into the desert where, when confronted, projects his flame into the unsealed openings in Iron Man’s helmet, and takes down Thor using the momentum of his returning hammer against him. The Avengers confront the Ghost Rider a second time, who stop him long enough for Angel to confront him and in appeal to Johnny Blaze inside the Ghost Rider, offers him a chance to kill him, which Johnny Blaze uses to take control again.
This comic uses Johnny Blaze as a proxy for the Avengers to deal with their feelings surrounding Hank Pym, who has hit a low point similar to Johnny Blaze. What writer Jim Shooter has to deal with is Hank Pym having committed an act of violence against his wife, something that’s an anathema to most people. The Avengers don’t talk about it, which is the type of thing that used to happen. Unfortunately, what also happens is what happens at the end of this story, and those knowledgeable of the violence choose not to do anything about it. Don’t worry, it eventually works as well for the Avengers as it does in real life. Fortunately, the Wasp is quickly divorcing her abusive spouse, something that does not always happen in real life.
The artwork is by Bob Hall, who is very adequate, but relies too strongly on shots that show off the full figure, not allowing for some things to be shown, such as Tigra’s fear at facing the Ghost Rider, although the shot of Iron Man being incapacitated by Ghost Rider is still done well, although not as striking as on the cover. Strongly above average on the artwork, but a lot of missed opportunities.
This issue has been collected in The Trial of Yellowjacket (ISBN: 0785162070), as well as a couple of Ghost Rider collections, which is appropriate as it shows how effective a character can be against superior power and numbers. You can find it in Ghost Rider Team Up (ISBN: 0785122575) and Essential Ghost Rider Vol. 3 (ISBN: 0785130640).
(FULL DISCLOSURE: The Recommended Reading links to pages on Amazon where you can buy those books and support Needless Essentials through their Associates program.)
FINAL RATING: 7.0 (out of a possible 10) It’s simply an above average issue of a comic. Shooter does a good job of translating the main conflict into meaning from outside of it. Bob Hall’s artwork just has too many missed opportunities to rank it much higher.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence you can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233