Normally, when comic legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby worked together, they created masterpieces. In the case of Ant-Man, they created a character with a justifiable inferiority complex.
Some may question my choice of Ant-Man for the #2 slot of my list, and indeed they may have a point if they are considering the word, “Useless” in the list’s title. Perhaps “egregious” or ‘disastrous” would be better.
It seems Kirby and Lee understood their blunder in creating such a weak character, one whose only powers consisted of being able to shrink himself using his “Pym Particle”, so named after Henry Pym, aka: the magnanimously impotent Ant-Man, and to control insects. Kirby and Lee began to write entire story arcs around Ant-Man’s weakness. They made him a founding member of the Avengers. Yeah, those Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And with his ability to control insects, seems to me he had a promising career working for Orkin, not fighting power-mongering world-beaters.
Picture this: Your super-power is to shrink–thus making yourself less impressive looking and unable to even drive a car. No chick potential there at all. Supposedly Ant-Man retained his normal strength when in micro-form. So what? Now throw yourself onto a super-team which consists of The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. To make matters even worse, have your future wife on the team (The Wasp). Here the seeds of envy and strife are sown. Every time Thor lifts a beer to his mouth or checks the time on his wristwatch, you think he’s flexing to impress your woman. You have auditory hallucinations at night, believing your girl is mumbling in her sleep about Iron Man’s possibilities as a knight in shining armor. And maybe there really is something going on between the Hulk and Wasp, because you found a letter, written in Bruce Banner’s handwriting and addressing your spouse: “Take one for the team–Go green!”
Make no mistake about it, Henry Pym had potential. He was a brilliant scientist who decided that making himself itty-bitty would make life more challenging. And he almost did enough to escape this list when he made himself Giant-Man. He finally understood that being able to smash buildings and lift cars was more important in getting things done in this tough world then was the ability to be tea-bagged by hamsters…
But then Pym went nuts.
Distraught and wanting to prove his worth, Pym decided he’d tinker with robotics. The result? Ultron, a robot so powerful that Doctor Doom made it his personal bodyguard in the Secret Wars series. Ultron’s later configuration sported an adamantium shell (indestructible metal) to go along with his passe’ Oedipus Complex and desire to wipe humans from the face of the Earth.
And yet Pym remained with The Mighty Avengers, a government sponsored super-team. Can’t you see it? Captain America walks into the Avenger’s Mansion after a long day of fighting the Red Skull. He notices a twelve-pack torn asunder and 10 empty 12 oz. cans of Schlitz littering the kitchen floor.
Captain America: “Hey, umm, Thor. Sorry to bug you but, where’s Hank Pym?”
Thor: (Watching American Idol) “Dunno. Downstairs in his lab I think.”
Captain America: “Has he been drinking?”
Thor: “I think.”
Captain America: “Dammit! Thor get your ass off the couch. You know what happened last time we let him drink! He started welding cans and rusty bike frames together and Voila!: Indestructible Automaton!
In between building the Avenger’s enemies, recreating himself as the arrogant Yellow Jacket and bouts with psychosis, Pym found the time to start slapping the Wasp around too. Writers tried again and again to make Pym’s character work. They had him revive the heroic android Vision, but then they’d sucker-punch the readers by having Pym get duped by a villain named Egghead. That pretty much says it all.
Regardless of how many times the writers tried to redeem Pym, he will forever be Ant Man to me; a terrible amalgamation of weakness, pride, incompetence and downright perniciousness.
It’s time for a giant can of Raid.