Warning – full episode spoilers follow.
My biggest complaint about the previous episode of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, "Ultron Unlimited," was that it didn’t focus enough on the bizarre Pym/Ultron family dynamic. A major part of the problem was that Hank Pym was still in superhero retirement at the time and thus not around to confront his creation. But while that was a bit of wasted potential, at least Hank made his long-awaited return for "Yellowjacket." This episode borrowed from some classic Bronze Age Avengers material as it chronicled Pym’s descent into madness and his misguided attempt to reinvent himself as a more proactive hero.
This isn’t easy material for a more family-oriented superhero show to tackle, but the writers seemed to handle the challenge well. Speaking of which, the Man of Action team were responsible for this week’s installment. They seemed to bring an extra dose of sly humor to the characters, particularly when it came to Hawkeye and his quips. But despite that extra dose of humor, the episode was fairly dark in tone. The writers didn’t shy away from Pym’s deteriorating mental state. If anything, they pushed him a step further than he went in the comics. Though he didn’t get to the point of physically abusing Jan as he did in the infamous Avengers #213 (good luck convincing Disney to air that), Yellowjacket‘s schizophrenic desire to kill off his Hank Pym personality was arguably more extreme than it was in the source material.
All of this made for a very interesting character study. The characterization in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has always been a bit wooden and straightforward compared to some of the more ambitious superhero cartoons out there, but Hank may be the lone exception on the team. The show is immediately better off for having him back in action. And kudos to Wally Wingert for providing a Yellowjacket voice that was convincingly different from his regular Pym voice. Even for viewers who haven’t read an Avengers comic, I’m sure the identity reveal was about as surprising as Senator Palpatine turning out to be Darth Sidious, but the effort was appreciated anyway. That said, hopefully Wingert can find more of a happy vocal medium if Pym really is determined to keep up his Yellowjacket persona going forward.
The one down side to this episode is that it didn’t offer the resolution regarding Pym’s mental state I was hoping for. Iron Man’s brief outburst aside, the Avengers seemed perfectly willing to accept Hank back in the fold despite his recent misdeeds. That’s to say nothing of the bizarre public reaction to Yellowjacket’s debut. For all anyone was aware, Yellowjacket was caught on video giving the Punisher treatment to the Serpent Society, yet he was being praised on the news as a welcome addition to New York’s costumed community. Will there be opportunity to keep exploring Hank’s tenuous grip on sanity in the remaining episodes, or is this it? And is it just me, or is anyone getting tired of the Serpent Society being the de facto characters whenever the writers need a group of bad guy punching bags? The Marvel Universe is a crowded place, and surely there are some other C-Listers out there deserving of being punched in the face.
But if not as conclusive as I would have liked, "Yellowjacket" was nonetheless a strong return for Hank Pym. With more episodes slated for the remainder of September, we’ll see if Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can keep building on its recent momentum.
Source : feeds[dot]ign[dot]com