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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Is This the Craziest Avengers Wedding Ever or What?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the wedding between Hank Pym and Jan Van Dyne and how Joe Casey later tried to explain away some of the odd behavior surrounding one of the oddest comic book weddings of all-time.

It all began in 1968′s Avengers #59, by Roy Thomas, John Buscema and George Klein, when a new hero named Yellowjacket shows up.

The Avengers have been waiting for their fifth member, Goliath, to show up for their morning meeting and he is quite late…

He tells them a story of a great conflict between himself and Goliath that ended with Goliath seemingly at death’s door…

The Avengers obviously then try to beat him up but he takes the Wasp hostage and escapes.

While in captivity, her feelings for Yellowjacket take a strange turn…

So when her teammates finally find them, she has shocking news for them…

Man, how great was Buscema with facial expressions?

So the next issue (same creative team, except now Mike Esposito was on inks), the wedding happens. Captain America is rightfully confused…

Hawkeye is captured by the Circus of Crime, who are crashing the wedding (the jerks!). Before they reveal themselves, they first have a giant python burst out of the wedding cake. Black Panther suspects Yellowjacket is behind it…

But later, when the Circus attacks in full force, Yellowjacket has a secret he must confess….

And this, somehow, is treated as “oh, okay, everything’s hunky dory!”

Years later, of course, Hank Pym’s mental problems were further explored, but at the time, it sure seems weird that Wasp’s teammates would let her marry some nutjob off of the street who claims to have killed her boyfriend.

So when Joe Casey got to this point in Avengers history in 2007′s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes II #5-7, Casey (along with artists Will Rosado and Tom Palmer), shows that the Avengers knew it was Hank right away…

And that a SHIELD mental health expert convinced them it was best to play along with it all…

Therefore, everything from this point on was just the Avengers play-acting (even, I guess, Panther’s inner thoughts?).

Jan has a great mini-meltdown with Cap in the next issue…

Nicely done by Casey.

Commenter snell noted that Brian Michael Bendis also tried to retcon the wedding in the Oral History section of New Avengers #7 (the most recent volume). It is…well, odd…

So to avoid publicity you faked the death of your boyfriend and then announced that you’re marrying a stranger? And you show up in front of everyone in a hovercraft? To control the publicity? That really does not make any sense.

That’s it for this week. If anyone has a future idea for an abandoned an’ forsaked, let me know at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

55 Comments

It should be noted that in New Avengers #7, Bendis tried another retcon, claiming the whole thing was a massive PR stunt concocted by Jan’s public relations people to “trick” the media:
http://slaymonstrobot.blogspot.com/2010/12/joaquin-phoenix-ing-avengers.html

As Breevort pointed out, the original story makes no sense if you think about it even a little. Why didn’t T’Challa’s senses tell him Yellowjacket was Hank? A confession is probable cause to ARREST someone, if not convict them,so why didn’t the Avengers arrest Yellowjacket? (Cops do it all the time when someone confesses to a murder and they’re not sure if the guy who confessed is nuts.) Is a marriage when you’re nuts and think that you’re someone else really valid in the Marvel Universe? Don’t you have to reveal your real name to get married? And so forth.

Even as a wee kid I could see that this story made absolutely made no sense. I know the Avengers run by Roy Thomas is fondly rememered by many but it’s really over-rated. I’m rereading it now and his stories are uninvolving, contrived and full of lop-sided characterisation. The wedding issue is an excellent example of this. What keeps saving these stories is John Buscema.

You’d think that with SHIELD’s budget they could hire someone who knew what schizophrenia is. It wasn’t until Peter David’s run on the Hulk that they got the terms right for multiple personalities.

Shucks, from the “before the fold” teaser, I thought this would be about the Avengers wedding I consider wackiest: Mantis marrying a tree! (Alongside Vision and the Scarlet Witch.)

And I’m sure we all know the Avengers and Yellowjacket are wrong with that “corpus delecti” nonsense. You don’t need a body to prove a murder.

Story craziness aside, I am always struck by just how beautiful Buscema’s art is during that run of the Avengers.

Man, it was a REALLY bad idea to color the Wasp’s outfit just like the Scarlet Witch’s for that flashback.

And apparently the Black Panther, Hawkeye and the Vision were SO commited to their charade that they even kept it up when the three of them were alone in the Quinjet.

Are these two versions even in the same continuity? I’ve read Casey’s series, but the whole thing seems as much like a reimagining of Avengers history as a recounting. I’ll readily admit that I have no idea how things like it and the “Season One” graphic novels are supposed to fit into established continuity, or replace it, or… well, I just don’t know.

The A:EMH cartoon did a good job with the story recently.

And yeah, why is Jan cosplaying as the Scarlet Witch?

Avengers vol1 #52-62 is in my top four favorite runs of al-time, my favorite Avengers stories PERIOD. I have several of the issues autographed Rascalin’ Roy Thomas himself. These stories are canon to me. Thanks for the mention, thanks for mentioning George Klein (the best Avengers AND Superman inker EVER, IMHO), thank for the GLORIOUS pages. I ‘ve been coming to this site for years, and for the most part I disagree with many things posted, today you’ve made my normal happy Sunday even brighter. Thank you and God Bless.

Yeah, the cartoon covers this material in a much better fashion: Yellowjacket is really just a way for the “old” Hank to “die” so that he can find his place in the world…

I have never understood why Jan does not get more hate for this, she took advantage of a mentally unstable man, having a psychotic episode so she could get married, yet when he has further episodes and hits her one time and it was only once, it’s hank the evil wife beater for the next 30 years. Jan have never been taken to task for using him in the first place and escapes the marriage as a victim and chair of the avengers.

The strike was wrong but the marriage was doomed from the start and that is Jan’s doing for taking advantage of hank.

Alastair I’ve thought the same thing, though Casey’s reworking seems to cover that. It’s true the retcon doesn’t fit perfectly but few retcons do (I liked both that and the first series).
Another point that makes no sense in Avengers 60 is that the Circus of Crime sneaks into Avengers Mansion to plant a bomb and wipe out the team and its many guests (FF, Xmen, Dr. Strange, Black Knight). Being perfectly set up to kill everyone before their presence is known … they then stick Python’s python in the wedding cake and have it attack. After which they grumble about how it’s the Avengers who ruined their clever plan.
I do like Thomas’ run but this story was all kinds of stupid.
It does, however, give me some ideas for two other columns:
•An I Love You But Your Strange on when the Avengers ruined the Absorbing Man’s wedding (it’s a great role-reversal on the usual super-wedding cliches).
•A Hell of a Past on the Black Knight. It was right around this time that Thomas had dumped the original concept of a high-tech guy in favor of making him heir to the Arthurian Black Knight. And many, many, many weird changes would follow over the next 40 years.

In fairness, this isn’t the last time the Avengers let a teammate randomly marry a new villain they just fought. It is an odd trend.

Those Thomas/Buscema Avengers issues could have just as easily been included in I Love Ya But You’re Strange, because damn, they’re pretty strange.

That’s actually what I intended this for and then I remembered that Casey abandoned and forsaked it, so I switched gears.

Yeah, the colouring of Jan in the reinterpretation is weird – even if the colourist can’t keep Jan and Wanda straight in their head, you’d think they’d have a scan of the original book for reference. Maybe there was a production problem?

Much as I enjoyed Joe Casey’s attempt to inject sense, once the SHIELD psychs are on the case, the question is begged: why on Earth didn’t they get Hank some therapy the minute he returned from honeymoon? It might have saved a bit of heartache later.

Every version of this wedding keeps trying to make Jan seem like the good guy/victim. She was manipulative. Why wash her hands of everything but keep insisting that Hank be viewed as a wife beater forever??

And, in the Casey story, I think the Wasp was cosplaying as the Scarlet Witch, cause Wanda is hot. Jan is just trying to ride her team mates coat tails…

Much as I enjoyed Joe Casey’s attempt to inject sense, once the SHIELD psychs are on the case, the question is begged: why on Earth didn’t they get Hank some therapy the minute he returned from honeymoon? It might have saved a bit of heartache later.

I felt I was already including a lot of pages, Martin, so I didn’t include those pages, but they actually do address what you’re referring to. Hank refuses treatment, claiming that it was just a momentary lapse and that he was better now.

“Corpus delicti” doesn’t mean a dead body. It refers to the evidence a crime has been committed.

Thanks Brian, sorry, I did read it – but bloomin’ ‘eck, Hank should have been required to get that head shrunk ;)

I am very glad I have never read the Oral history, i know Bendis has played fast and loose in the main books, with things like the Infinity gems, the beyonder and most things to do with wanda, simon or anyone not called luke or jessica, but that was a horrible read, and Jan did not have any real friends so she used Sue to be popular, that is not the Jan I know and love (even if i blame her for her bad marriage.)

I loved Avengers #59 and #60. A fun story and some great art.
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes II #5-7 was a story that did not needed to be told.

always found the hank being yellow jacket because of a break down a little odd then jan deciding to marry him kind of nuts herself using his mental problem due her love for him kind of messed up plus the python in the cake. proved that even the avengers can have runs that one has to go wtf

@Alastair- Part of the reason is that the Official Handbook claimed that Jan was just playing along because she was afraid of exacerbating Hank’s mental state. Since the Avengers didn’t resent her for this, many people accepted the Handbook’s explanation.
The idea that Jan and Sue aren’t friends is weird, since we’ve seen Jan invite Sue to dinner and vice versa on several occasions. As is the idea that Sue doesn’t have any real female friends- Alicia doesn’t count?

That is odd, Michael. After all, it’s not like we see Reed with much in the way of friends besides Ben, so why single Sue out? It would make more sense to assume we just don’t see a lot of their lives away from the group.

I just love the fact that the characters all kept using “corpus delecti” like it was an everyday phrase. Sooo much easier to say that than a highfalutin’ word like “evidence”.

I really love Joe Casey’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes comics, and strongly suggest that anyone who hasn’t read them go out and get the Ultimate Collection containing both series. It would be impressive enough if Casey took that ridiculous story filled with unfortunate implications and made it workable; that he made it actually moving was a brilliant feat.

Especially since he made Jan sympathetic, whereas in the original story she basically played the role of the Vegas prostitute who put a ring on the drunk guy.

” The A:EMH cartoon did a good job with the story recently. ”

@ Squashua; I agree with you except for the ending of the story; Tony shouldn’t have let Hank rejoin the team, no matter how much Jan begged him or Hank goaded him. Hank clearly wasn’t repentant for all the crap he pulled earlier in the episode, so why would the usually rational Tony recruit someone so clearly unbalanced? Even the Hulk was never as much of a danger to the team as Yellowjacket.

Just out of curiosity: was that Hornet’s Nest secret HQ ever used or even referenced again?

Eric, on a rare occassion, yes. Rare being the operative word.

IIRC, Busiek had Pym’s wacky Yellowjacket half keep his rational Goliath half hostage in that Hornet’s Nest HQ.

The Casey retcon works for me. The Bendis retcon is actually more puzzling than the original story, unless the Avengers were just bullshitting the interviewer to downplay Hank Pym’s mental instability.

For the people asking why Jan’s weird behavior didn’t stick and Hank’s did, I think it’s because 1.) Jan being willing to do anything to get married plays into a lot of unfortunate gender stereotypes that were pretty common in comics and elsewhere at the time. How fair it is to criticize the widespread “desperate to land a man” depiction in hindsight is up for debate, but it’s not really something we need to keep around in modern comics.

More importantly is 2.) no one’s reaction in this story makes a whole lot of sense. Hence the retcon. It’s possible for characters to talk about the “Hank hit Jan” story because she left him and the rest of the team went after him to shut him down. Here, a clearly fragile and desperate team member marries a villain, everyone attends, and the best they can muster up is some quiet grumbling. When they find out it’s another team member performing a needlessly complicated and frankly mean-spirited ruse, it’s treated as a happy ending. The only sane discussion of something like that is “What the hell were we thinking?”

Montemike72,you beat me to it! I bought that avengers mini, because I greatly love the 1968 avengers.I was hoping for stories that fit between those story arcs,not such major alteration.I pulled that mini out of my collection, and put in my sell box.

Were Hank and Janet’s secret identities public back then? Because the answer to how they both behaved could have just been part of a plot by Ringmaster to distract the Avengers while the Circus of Crime went on a crime spree. Even if the public didn’t know who he was, someone would put together that Goliath, Giant-Man, and Ant-Man were the same guy (either that or Wasp got around) I just read the Casey reworking of this ,but haven’t read the original story, but my thought the whole time was blame it on Ringmaster (He does hypnotize people right?)

My viewpoint on Bendis’ retelling is that it isn’t a retcon but the Avengers trying to cover what really happened.

Yeah, the original story was kind of silly, with all the comic psycho-babble and waaaay over the top characterizations. The Casey retcon really overdramatized the whole mess, especially Jan. I can’t even read the Bendis retcon, because it’s so goddamn insane.

What I find amazing is that when clicking the link for “craziest Avengers wedding,” there are multiple choices that come to mind. Much like Mike Blake, I thought of the Wanda & Vision / Swordsman & Mantis wedding before Jan and Hank’s. Because to my mind, just about anything involving the history of Mantis veers into “I Love Ya But You’re Strange” territory.

I was twelve when I bought this comic off the stands. Even at that age, I thought it was a dumb story, about as illogical and unrealistic as the goofy stuff DC was publishing. But I was addicted to John Buscema’s art.

Trying to ret-con awful storytelling is too much like picking scabs on old wounds. Geez, why can’t they let it stay dead and buried?

I agree with those who say this wedding isn’t nearly as crazy as Mantis marrying a tree. And it’s nowhere near as awful as that stupid, horrible story where Ms. Marvel suddenly has a baby and goes off to some other dimension (Avengers 200). I can’t blame the writer for wanting to get rid of that less-than-mediocre character, Ms. Marvel, but there were hundreds of more graceful ways to dump her.

I can’t add anything except to reiterate what’s already been said: There is not a single panel of the Wasp-Yellowjacket wedding that makes sense. Not the original story. Not either one of the retcons. Someone asked to what purpose the Circus of Crime might have hidden a forty-foot python inside a wedding cake. I’ll tell you. It’s so we could have a huge splash page of a forty-foot python bursting out of a wedding cake to menace Jan in her couture wedding gown. There was literally no purpose to it except to have a cool splash page. And IIRC, the snake was quickly dispatched by Black Panther and the Vision … while Thor, Iron Man, the FF, the X-Men and Spider-Man just stood there like idiots. And then, after expressly commenting on the fact that the python’s presence meant the Circus was nearby, most of the assembled superheroes just left without so much as interviewing the catering staff, which was the Circus who had apparently mugged the real caterers in the subway and stolen their clothes. Just a bizarre issue.

I’ve disliked Jan for twenty years because of how Hank got treated in this episode. I STILL feel that she acted, as someone elegantly put it, like a Vegas tramp who slipped a wedding ring onto a drunk guy. The only time Hank ever got any serious treatment for his mental health issues was when the Avengers put him in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. BTW, I can’t remember and can’t find the answer online, but wasn’t his first wife, the one murdered in front of his eyes by commies, a ringer for Jan? If so, was it not even creepier for her to basically stalk him for years before marrying him while he was in a delusional state?

@CitizenAlan Was Hank’s first wife a dead ringer for Jan? Well, Hank said so, but she wasn’t actually drawn that way, as pointed out in one of several Hank’n'Jan posts over at Colin Smith’s Too Busy Thinking About My Comics blog last month: http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/how-strange-can-itsy-bitsy-superhero-be.html

Stalking is an unfair assessment. There’s no question he was in love with her–they were engaged by the time of the story–so it’s not as if she was imagining a relationship that didn’t exist, despite his nervousness about actually tying the knot. Not that this makes the story any more sensible.
I also cant agree Thor was standing around like an idiot. It was a python. Why bother exerting his godly muscles when the Vision can zap it just as well. But again, still a stupid criminal scheme.

The Jo Casey Avengers is the only reworking of classic Marvel I’ve ever read and liked, unless you count that Deadpool issue with Spider-Man.

@Martin Gray- This is the same problem with Madelyne Pryor and Jean Grey, Sue Storm and Alicia Masters, Bucky, Jack Monroe and Rick Jones- they’re supposed to be dead ringers but half the time the artists don’t draw them that way.

Wow, Joe Casey really did a good bit of history-doctoring, there. Is he still around?

“I should say not. He hasn’t changed identities in over a year.”

Snarky human Jarvis: 1
A.I. movie Jarvis: 0 .

While the Casey retcon isn’t perfect, it’s probably the best of a bad situation (and because it’s the wedding, it’s hard to just ignore the story and forget it ever happened). I always find it puzzling when people consider the wife hitting to be Hank’s most serious breakdown or that his breakdown then was out of character. This was a far more serious mental breakdown.

While I agree the python in the cake is dumb – and yes it’s possible it made for a great splash page and thus we have a story – an argument can be made to view it not as an act of bad writing, but as an act of bad villainy (and therefore, arguably, clever writing). That is, the Circus were stupid villains! Not every villain can be equally formidable. These jokers put a snake in a cake. They suck, and the Avengers stopped them. Does it insult the audience to make them pay for an issue, only to view bad villains? Maybe. But one could also argue that the wedding and/or the YJ origin story served as the primary impetus for the purchase, anyway. I remember when I bought the issue, at a comics store circa 1986/7, at age 14/5. I bought it because I wanted to see the intro of YJ, not because of the snake splash page.

Those Roy Thomas issues are very hard to read. It’s a pity that so much vital Avengers history is muddled by the preposterous character motivations and egregious dialogue.

Uh-oh, gonna have to be the odd one out here. But I absolutely love everything about issue #60 The Avengers ‘Till Death Do Us Part!’ Fun, dynamic, stylish, dramatic. It’s one of my all time faves.

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