AVENGERS: THE TRIAL OF YELLOWJACKET (Marvel, First Printing, 2012; Softcover)
Collects Avengers #212-230 (cover dates October, 1981- April, 1983)
Writers: J.M. DeMatteis, Steven Grant, Bob Hall, David Michelinie, Don Perlin, Jim Shooter, Roger Stern, and Alan Zelentez
Artists: Pencilers- Mark D. Bright, Sal Buscema, Bob Hall, Alan Kupperberg Greg LaRocque, Al Milgrom, Don Perlin, and Alan Weiss
Inkers- Jack Abel, Brett Breeding, Vince Colletta, Frank Giacoia, Dan Green, Al Milgrom, Joe Rubinstein, Marie Severin, Joe Sinnott, Chic Stone, and Sal Trapani
This is one of the those thick chunky proto-Epic trades, where Marvel was playing with expanded page counts at higher price points before realizing that the market for complete runs in color sell like hotcakes. This book went out of print instantly and goes for stupid money on eBay and Amazon now. I am lucky that I grabbed it on the week of release.
Things begin with #212, which was the only one out of this particular run that I bought off of the stands when it was released back in July of 1981. I was pleased to see how well it held up nearly 35 years later. The third party narrative captions are a turnoff to many modern comic book fans, but then again, decompression is a turnoff to me. The amount of characterization that writers were able to cram into each and every issue back then is staggering when compared to how slowly things move now. High praise to everyone involved in the making of these comics, as this was handed off like a baton between creative teams and it didn't miss a beat.
Due to the events in issue 212, where Yellowjacket shot an opponent in the back after Captain America had talked her down, ol' Hank Pym (Yellowjacket to the uninitiated) faces a court-martial and is expelled from the team. This causes him to become unraveled. Pym has always shown signs of instability, as evidenced in his never-ending parade of identities (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and finally Yellowjacket) and his personality quirks. This book features the infamous scene where Pym beats his wife, The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne Pym). The Wasp divorces Pym, causing him to further plummet into the depths of despair. While there are multiple arcs the overall theme of these issues is the fall and redemption of Henry Pym. Things are nowhere near the same for him at the end of this run, though.
There is lots of goodness here, such as Hawkeye and Ant-Man (II, the Scott Lang version) taking on Taskmaster. Also enjoyable are Egghead's new Masters Of Evil and the short-lived romance between Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp). The latter was a great character development moment which was wrapped up in one issue. I could see a lesser writer (like, say, Brian Michael Bendis) milking that for an entire trade.
Roger Stern arrives with #227, kicking off one of the greatest runs in the history of The Avengers. While he handled a few issues before, those were pinch hitting. This was the beginning of his true run. The biggest difference between the beginning of Stern's run and the way that runs begin today is that Stern first had to clean house of all of the dangling subplots. Most new writers completely disregard what has come before. Stern not only honored what came before but built on it. He was just getting up to speed as this book ended. He brought the then-new Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau, later Photon) and drops hints at the Black Knight and Starfox, both of who became staples of his run on the title The best is yet to come!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I like big books, and I cannot lie...
Linework and Color restoration: Very very good overall. I am certain that when this material receives the Marvel Masterworks treatment in a few years that things will be tightened up here and there. Most people won't notice but the trained eye will be able to spot differences. The original color palette is faithfully maintained.
Paper stock: Off white matte coated stock. This is the same stock found in softcover Masterworks, Classic line trades, and Epic line trades. It is my favorite paper stock for comics with flat coloring.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.