Aug 6, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 893: Avengers v.1 #229, March 1983

Egghead is a very interesting villain. In a lot of ways he's indicative of the simplicity with which comics were conceived in the early 60s, labouring under the Comics Code and, ostensibly, for kids. But the intervening years, 20 or so to be exact, have turned him into an actual villain, one that conceals beneath a ridiculous exterior a deep and abiding evil. Though not nearly as charismatic or important, there's something of The Joker to this character, the outwardly ridiculous, hearkening back to childhood nursery rhymes, but inside a dark, dark pit.

What's most interesting, then, is that he's defeated not by one of his counters in ridiculousness, a costumed hero with a heart of gold, but instead by a broken man, one clambering back up the slopes of depression and mental illness, who manages to find his heroic side only after removing the costume and being the man.

Henry Pym is a very interesting character. He's best known, these days, as being the superhero who completely fell apart, the cautionary tale. He's donned numerous guises, and states of mental health, over the course of his existence, and for that reason I come to think of him as something of a metaphor for the constant rearrangement of creative teams that goes on in comics. The reason poor Henry couldn't keep his head together is because he kept getting new storytellers and, in the end, it's tough to figure out what to do with Ant-Man. But moving forward from this issue, at least for a few years, writers and artists realized that Pym was much better off being Pym, that it was in his research and his scientific knowledge that his heroism is able to properly shine through. Hopefully, again at least for a little while, that'll work out for him.

To be continued.

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