The Replacements: Hank Pym And The Legacy Of Ant-Man, Giant-Man And Yellowjacket
Since the dawn of the Silver Age, legacy characters have been a staple of superhero fiction, and having a new character step into a well loved role can open up new opportunities for writers and artists to tell different kinds of stories. In The Replacements, we’ll look back at the notable and not-so-notable heroes and villains to assume some of the most iconic mantles in the superhero genre.
Hank Pym has been many things throughout his career, and he's a man of many names. He started out as Ant-Man, and shortly after joining The Avengers he became Giant-Man. He created the Yellowjacket personality after being expelled from the group, he went by his own name as Dr. Pym for a while, and he briefly adopted the codename The Wasp in honor of his fallen ex-wife, original Wasp Janet Van Dyne. This week we look at the proteges, successors, and even villains that have walked in the footsteps of Hank Pym.
Erik Josten first became Power Man via the same machine that imbued Wonder Man with ionic power, and he worked alongside the likes of The Enchantress and The Lethal Legion. When Luke Cage took the name Power Man, Josten fought for and lost the right to use it, and as his powers began to wane he instead took the name The Smuggler.
Seeking power once more, he made a deal with Dr. Karl Malus, who granted him size changing abilties, and he took the name Goliath, taking pride in stealing a hero’s name as one had once stolen his. As Goliath, he fought the West Coast Avengers on multiple occasions, but was soundly defeated by the likes of Hawkeye, Mockingbird and Wonder Man.
Goliath was recruited by Baron Zemo for a new Master of Evil, and they masqueraded in new heroic identities in the absence of Earth’s heroes. As Atlas of the Thunderbolts, Josten grew to like being a hero more than being a villain, and when he was forced to choose between his allegiance to Zemo and his budding romance with mayoral assistant Dallas Riordan, he chose heroism.
Although he more than proved himself as a hero, he was repeatedly shunned by the hero community and sought revenge as a member of Wonder Man’s Revengers. He was later imprisoned in the prison of Pleasant Hill, and following the breakout he reunited with his former allies in The Thunderbolts under the leadership of The Winter Soldier.
Clint Barton, better known to the world as Hawkeye, first joined The Avengers as a member of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” alongside two other supervillains attempting to make the switch to the good guys, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Although brash, headstrong and occasionally downright insubordinate, Barton proved himself to be a valuable member of the team.
When Hank Pym abandoned the Goliath persona permanently to become Yellowjacket, Hawkeye took on the mantle and the powers that came along with it to rescue Black Widow, who was being held captive in Coney Island. He remained Goliath until the end of the Kree-Skrull War, where he rejoined The Avengers as Hawkeye.
He briefly returned to the Goliath identity during The Avengers trip into space as part of Operation: Galactic Storm, but for the most part Clint Barton’s dalliance with size changing powers is an odd blip in the history of the world’s greatest archer.
Bill Foster was a genius scientist and protege of Doctor Henry Pym. After unlocking the secret to Pym Particles, he became Black Goliath in an attempt to win back his ex-wife by tricking her into think he was stuck at giant size, and while moonlighting as a circus performer, he accidentally fell under the influence of the Circus of Crime.
After fighting Luke Cage, he moved to Los Angeles, where he began a career as a costumed hero and later went by the name Giant Man. He briefly lost his size-changing powers following a clash with the alien race of Kosmosians, but regained them and changed his superhero identity again, this time to Goliath.
Foster joined Captain America’s side during the Civil War, and when Thor seemingly returned on Iron Man’s side, Goliath attempted to stop him. Tragically, it was an imperfect cyborg clone of Thor, which struck Goliath through the chest with lightning, killing the hero instantly.
Scott Lang was a former engineer who turned to crime in order to find a way to help his sick daughter Cassie. He stole Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit and broke into Cross Technological Enterprises to rescue the doctor who could save his daughter, and having witnessed the whole thing, Hank Pym gave Scott his blessing to be the new Ant-Man.
Scott served as a proud Avenger for many years, but was tragically killed during the Scarlet Witch’s breakdown when she resurrected Jack of Harts and had him explode on the lawn of Avengers Mansion. Although Scott was later brought forward in time from that moment by the Young Avengers, moments later he witnesses his daughter’s death at the hands of Doctor Doom.
He joined the Future Foundation when the Fantastic Four journeyed through time and space, and used the resources at his disposal to take down Doom once and for all; in the process he learned the truth behind Pym Particles and how they effect size and density in different ways. Later, while inverted to the side of good, Doctor Doom used magic to resurrect Cassie Lang, regretful over his actions.
When Cassie’s mother moved to Florida, Scott also made the move to be closer to his daughter. He started the company Ant-Man Security Solutions as a means to earn money, and frequently clashed with the likes of Darren Cross and the Power Broker.
Rita DeMara initially started out as a criminal and villain, and stole Hank Pym’s Yellowjacket costume to use for her own ends. She fought with The Wasp, but found she could not cope with the size changing abilities, and was soundly defeated. She later joined Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil and was part of their raid on Avengers Mansion, but was sent back to jail following their defeat.
Later, when Captain America (going by The Captain at the time) sent out a call to all reserve members of The Avengers, it was picked up by Yellowjacket, and though she only went to the mansion to have it shut off, she found herself drafted as an Avenger to fight The High Evolutionary.
After a brief dalliance with the Masters of Evil, she turned on them to aid the Guardians of the Galaxy, and returned with them to the 30th century. After many adventures, she returned to her home time and attempted to warn The Avengers of a great crisis, but was murdered by Iron Man, who at the time was under the control of Immortus.
She was briefly resurrected alongside many other Dead Avengers during Amatsu-Mikaboshi’s attack on all creation, but following the crisis she returned to the grave.
Eric O’Grady became Ant-Man when his best friend was killed while they were goofing off with Pym’s latest design for the suit. He went on the run — hunted by his own superior at SHIELD — and was known for his less than heroic acts, including spying on Carol Danvers in the shower, or using his status as a superhero to coerce girls into dating him.
After he tricked Tony Stark into thinking he was a true hero, he was drafted into the Avengers Initiative and was later chosen to be a member of Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts. He would later betray The Thunderbolts to free the captive Captain America, and when Steve Rogers was putting together a new team of Secret Avengers, Eric O’Grady was given an opportunity to prove himself.
As a member of the Secret Avengers, Eric came into his own as a hero and sacrificed himself against The Descendents in order to get a child to freedom. He was resurrected as a Life Model Decoy and took the name Black Ant, allying with the villainous Descendents and later joining The Hood’s Illuminati team of supervillains.
Tom Foster, like his uncle Bill Foster before him, was a scientific genius, and following Goliath’s untimely death at the hands of the cyborg Thor, he vowed to unlock the secrets to Pym Particles and get revenge for the hero’s death. He led crowds against The Illuminati during The Hulk’s attack on Manhattan, but following The Hulk’s defeat he assisted in the clean up as Goliath and was pardoned by the Mighty Avengers.
He later resurfaced as part of Wonder Man’s team of Revengers, once again seeking revenge for the death of his late uncle. The team attacked Avengers Mansion before turning their attention to Avengers Tower, before being defeated by the combined might of two teams of Avengers.
While serving his sentence in The Raft, he was offered a chance to escape but instead saved the lives of many prison guards and prevented the prison break. He was granted early parole due to the testimony of a guard who previously saw him as nothing but a criminal. He indicated he planned to once again become Goliath upon release.
Raz Malhotra was a prodigy in the field of artificial intelligence, but when Hank Pym began ridding the world of A.I., the job market dried up, and Raz was forced to take a job as an on-call computer repairman. He was manipulated by Egghead to power up dormant artificial copies of the classic Avengers, but following the intervention of Ant-Man and Giant Man, he broke free of the villain’s control and was vital in stopping the "A.I.vengers."
Following Giant Man’s apparent death when he merged with Ultron, Scott Lang passed on the mantle to Raz, who cautiously made his first steps into the world of superheroism. He occasionally worked alongside The Ultimates as a consultant, but was advised by The Blue Marvel to get more experience before joining them on missions.
He joined Ant-Man Security Solutions as an unpaid intern to study under Scott Lang and learn how to control himself while at giant heights, after several very public blunders in his hometown of San Francisco. Together, they worked in practice environments in order to increase Raz’s confidence while giant, and make him a better hero.