“Always on My Mind”
The return of a classic Avengers villain leads to the return of Giant Man, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Hank Pym intends to bring back the Wasp in more than just an honorific, and this disturbs the senior staff at Avengers Academy.
Though writer Christos Gage focuses on Hank Pym, he still wisely allows for Tigra time. Tigra appears in 22 panels. Gage accents her new status as a mother. He reveals that William, the child she conceived with the Hank Pym Skrull, is half-human/half-feline, just like she. Gage also devises a satisfying means to explain why the alien DNA doesn’t appear in William’s genetic code. It’s good science fiction.
Mike McKone’s name appears in the credits, but Tom Raney illustrates this issue of Avengers Academy. His Tigra differs from McKone’s version. Raney emphasizes her sinew more than her sensuality and his Tigra behaves more emotionally rather than Sphinx-like enigmatic. Still, Tigra fans will not be disappointed by Raney’s interpretation. Tigra is still an attractive, effective hero. Tigra is still love.
Hank Pym’s devotion for his deceased wife threatens his sanity status. Pym’s reasoning and his dialogue convinces the reader that perhaps he really can bring Janet Pym back to life. Marvel’s Earth proper is similar to our Earth. At least, that’s how the argument goes, but perhaps in response to DC severely dulling the larger than life aspect of their universe, the Powers That Be at Marvel reversed their decision for parallels and allowed super-science to openly characterize the Heroic Age.
Gage’s Hank Pym is beyond brilliant. I would argue that he is actually more intelligent than Reed Richards. He certainly possesses a better grasp of ethics. Gage reveals a secret about the Avengers Academy Tower. In a surprise move, the secret lacks a hint of darkness. Rather it represents some realism referring to the organization of the human body and the type of astounding achievement that can only be found in science fiction. It also refers to a practical use of Pym Particles.
Avengers Academy not only delves into the depths of Hank’s brilliance and his philosophy, it also generates action through a showcase of his power. Yes, he becomes Giant Man again to face Crusher Creel, but the expected kaiju match–gorgeously choreographed by Raney– does not last long. Rather Gage pays lip service to Hank’s obvious exhibitions. He finishes Hank’s fight with a surprising twist that catalyzes an epiphany and channels Hank’s humanity.
I would have given Avengers Academy five bullets even had Tigra not appeared. Gage’s Hank Pym spotlight is immensely entertaining and engrossing, and his actions best represent the heroic ideal.