“War is brewing, as Hank Pym must calm the ruffled feathers of the Kosmosians, while trying to convince them he is not the same as the only other humanoid they know, the blue faced man of which their legends speak. But while he’s away, who protects the citizens of Phoenix from a new evil in their midst? And is the fiery woman flying overhead friend or foe?”
I know that we teased a Defenders title in our last post, but that was only one of many titles we suggested would be on the way. Title number nine out of thirty-nine is devoted to Dr. Hank Pym, often the punching bag and punch line of the old Marvel Universe. However, the new MU doesn’t have that baggage, and I’d like to show that Hank Pym can be a neat character. There are a few things we have to do. First, we strip away all of the continuity that’s been holding him down. We already removed Ultron from his history, by revealing that the Thinker and Reed Richards built the evil robot, over in our Fantastic Four recap. We’re also going to remove the Wasp from his life. While I very much enjoy the character, I think that Pym and the Wasp are, at this point in time, too interconnected to be good for each other, and even with a continuity restart, I’d prefer to keep them separate. Third, we’re going to remove his apparent psychological need to change superhero code names every few years by taking away all superhero code names from him.
Ok, let’s start at the beginning. Hank Pym is born and raised in Phoenix Arizona. A brilliant student, he becomes a master scientist and after graduating with a doctorate, he moves back to his home city to begin doing some research. He gets a job with Roxxon Oil, but becomes tired of the corporate life and with not being able to pursue the science he really enjoys. He soon quits, applies for some government grants, and goes to work for himself. He needs help, so he tracks down his old college roommate Buck Mitty to join him. The two of them begin working on all kinds of crazy projects, from ways to transport cargo more effectively to ways to communicate with other life on Earth, such as insects and reptiles. One night, while working late in the lab, Pym stumbles upon an amazing discovery…particles that enable him to change his own size, and the size of those things around him. He dubs them Pym particles, or at least he will. At the moment he’s too busy dealing with the fact that high concentrations of Pym particles apparently open a doorway into another dimension, one ruled by a highly advanced race of insectoids.
When this portal opens, Pym can’t help but go inside for a short look, and is promptly captured by some of the insectoids and taken to meet their ruler, Jekuakket. Pym is quickly sentenced to die, as the Kosmosians have a legend about a blue faced man who will one day destroy them all. Pym uses his new particles to effect an escape, and flees back to our dimension, shutting the doorway behind him. However, he now realizes that he could put these Pym particles to good use and help people at the same time. Thus, a new hero is born!
So, with that description we have everything in place. Pym believes that he can help people, and he protects Phoenix and the surrounding area. However, he wouldn’t call himself a hero…he’s rather too practical to be wasting time conjuring up a costume and a silly name. He’s simply Hank Pym. This is a Hank Pym with full control of his powers….he can either shrink or grow in height, and he can also shrink and grow other objects or people. However, this is not an innate ability. He has no powers. He does this through use of the Pym particles, and so he has to administer them to himself or to other objects. He carries several capsules of them, which release the particles when broken. Some capsules release shrinking particles while some release growing particles, and how much something or someone shrinks or grows depends on the amount of particles used.
Pym was operating under government grants when he got his powers, and it doesn’t even occur to him to get a secret identity and hide what he’s discovered from the government. He informs them of what happened, and they quickly begin working closely with him. They may occasionally ask him to perform specific missions for them, and he will often be working on new projects for them. His liaison with the government is a young and ambitious agent named Maria Hill, and the two often disagree.
As far as supporting cast goes, we start with his fellow scientist, Buck Mitty. Mitty is quickly informed of what Pym can do, and when Pym shows how small he can shrink, Mitty, who is an amateur entomologist, suggests that it might be helpful if Pym could talk with insects when he is at that height. Mitty helps Pym design a helmet for just such a purpose that Pym can use. Mitty also begins to wonder if he could help Pym and become a hero himself. He soon designs himself devices which give him powers based on insect abilities. Being much more dramatic than his partner, Mitty devises a costumes and the name Humbug, and becomes Pym’s sometime partner. Humbug enjoys the spotlight much more than Pym does, and will often stay behind after missions to pose for pictures and give interviews while Pym returns to his home or the lab.
There is also a new hero that has been seen flying through the skies of Phoenix. Her name is Firebird, and she and Pym meet on one of his missions, as they both try to save civilians after a deadly bus crash. They meet more and more often on cases, and a budding romance develops. I like putting Firebird and Pym together. She’s a devout Roman Catholic, while he is a pragmatic athiest. I don’t want to shy away from religion in this comic, and I want to see how well these two philosophies can coexist.
I think that gives you something to chew on before I delve into villains. What do you see that you like, what do you think needs changed, and can this concept work?
Okay, I see where you’re going here. I like the idea of stripping Pym down to just a guy who discovered something special. Size-changing heroes are a classic archetype and I think we definitely need that in our NewMU, but I also like how you’ve incorporated bits of his West Coast Avengers persona in there too…the ability to shrink and/or grow inanimate objects as needed. Nice to see Roxxon Oil being established as an entity in the NewMU. I also don’t mind Firebird as a love interest and exploring the dichotomy between their respective “religions.” And I enjoy the inclusion of Humbug and the potential for some wacky hijinks involving insectoids from another dimension. Could be fun to see Pym try to hide all of this from the Feds in a comedy of errors.
Here’s my problem: what the hell other plausible villains are you going to pull out of a hat that would want to make their stomping grounds Phoenix, Arizona? Have you ever been there? It’s just a sprawling sauna in shades of brown. Aside from Armadillo trying to rob a bank, I can’t see any catalyst that would cause nefarious activity. I see you’re doing some Kang foreshadowing (you know how I feel about Kang). Maybe you could expand on that?
Does Pym warrant his own title, removed from the rest of the superhero community? Is it going to have enough going on to keep readers’ attention? I’m just asking.
Good questions all. Let me tackle the Kang question first. Kang is a character that I don’t want to see in this book very often, at least not for a few years, or not in anything more than shadow. As we begin our series, we don’t even have a name for Kang, only vague references to a blue faced man who comes to destroy Kosmos. The Kosmosians fear him (he’s like their bogeyman) but Pym has no idea who he is. For the first few years of the title, we would only see Kang in shadow, manipulating events on Kosmos to his own ends. No one would ever see him, but we might hear his voice and see his silhouette from time to time. One of the first things Kang would do is begin to steal technology from the Kosmosians, starting with a new weapon they’ve built…an android which grows bigger as it absorbs kinetic energy, which they call The Growing Man. Kang steals and reprograms this machine to serve him. I also believe that Kang would be able to convince some of the Kosmosians to aid his plans, promising them riches and glory if they throw their lot in with him. One of these traitors, named Pilai, gains super powers from Kang’s genetic engineering, making him super strong, hard to hurt, and able to project an aura of fear. It should be some time before Kang actually appears in the series, and we should spend the time wondering exactly who he is, and more importantly, what he wants from this world.
I should also point out that Kosmos will be playing into the stories on a regular basis. Once Pym accidentally opens up the portal between the dimensions, he alerts the Kosmosians to Earth’s existence. For a species that has never seen a humanoid before, except in ancient writings as the destroyer of their world, to find an entire dimension of these creatures is cause for some concern. It’s going to be tricky for Pym to try to prevent a war between Kosmos and Earth, and as you say, he doesn’t want the governments of Earth to know about Kosmos, because he’s afraid they’d react to the Kosmosian’s concerns with a first strike. Even though he doesn’t have a secret identity, Pym will be dealing with a lot of the same problems as he can’t explain to the government why he keeps disappearing whenever he has to go to Kosmos.
So, we’ve got Kang and his agents, as well as the Kosmosians themselves, to keep things interesting. But what’s happening back on Earth? Is there anything going on in Phoenix? Well, you wouldn’t think so, but ever since Pym’s discovery and his heroics became public knowledge, a new group has been sniffing around: AIM. Yes, Advanced Idea Mechanics is a group that believes the smartest people deserve to rule the planet. They’re fascinated by Pym’s discovery and think he may make a good addition to their ranks. He refuses, so they decide that perhaps they’ll simply capture him and force his secrets from him. They also want to watch him, in case he makes any other discoveries they feel could be useful. Pym is constantly going to be hassled by them. Pym also works for the government, and has his own SHIELD liaison. They have no problem calling on him if they feel he can be useful to them. They can send him anywhere in the country, and sometimes out of the country, on all sorts of different missions.
Might that be enough to hold the interest of readers?
Fair enough, as long as MODOK shows up at least once. I’m imagining horrible things could happen if AIM finds out about Kosmos, huh?
Okay, I’m sold.
Just one more thought. I hadn’t brought up MODOK, because I know you love him and didn’t want to snag him for this book if you had plans for him, but since you brought him up, I did have an idea about him. Pym is something of your generic scientist that superhero universes love, but when they do give him a specialty, it’s bio-engineering. I think it could be a great plot if he’s kidnapped by AIM and they force him to help create MODOK. To an extent, MODOK could replace Ultron for him in this universe, but without the odd Oedipus complex thrown in. Just a thought, but I’m glad you think the book can work!