Avengers (1st series) #60

Issue Date: 
January 1969
Story Title: 
“…Till Death Do Us Part!”

Stan Lee (Editor), Roy Thomas (Writer), John Buscema (Artist), Mickey Demeo (inker), Sam Rosen (Letterer)

Brief Description: 

Engraved invitations announce the wedding of Janet Van Dyne and the masked superhero Yellowjacket. Jan’s fellow Avengers are confused and angry, since Yellowjacket introduced himself to the Wasp and the Avengers by bragging about having killed Jan’s longtime boyfriend, Hank Pym. Hawkeye in particular is unwilling to hide his disgust at the wedding. However, Jan tells anyone who asks that she’s happy marrying Yellowjacket, even as her private thoughts reveal her doubts. Nearly every costumed hero in the world attends the wedding. Meanwhile, the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime sneak in, disguised as caterers. They capture Jarvis and then Hawkeye. After the ceremony is completed, the Circus serve a wedding cake containing a deadly python, htough Black Panther and the Vision contain it. Just as all the other heroes leave, the Circus of Crime launches an all-out attack. The Vision and Black Panther hold their own, but the python captures the Wasp, and Yellowjacket is pinned down by the Ringmaster’s fire. Driven nearly mad by his inability to save Jan, Yellowjacket actually grows in size, revealing himself to be Hank Pym, aka Goliath, and helps the Avengers defeat the Circus of Crime. After the police lead the criminals away, Hank explains that the Yellowjacket persona was created and took over through a combination of Hank’s guilt over not marrying Jan and chemicals spilled in an experiment. Jan had realized it was Hank when Yellowjacket kissed her and had agreed to marry him because she wanted to marry Hank under whatever name he was calling himself.

Full Summary: 

Captain America clenches a fist in anger and disbelief, while his other gloved holds a wedding invitation. Miss Janet Van Dyne requests the pleasure of his company at her marriage to the superhero known as Yellowjacket taking place Tuesday, the 21st of November at 4 o’clock in the afternoon at the Avengers’ Mansion. “It can’t be!” Captain America argues to himself. “Yet… it is.” The Wasp is getting married in a few hours to a man that world had never heard of only days ago. Captain America insists there must be more to this wedding than meets the eye but decides the only way to find out more is to become a member of the wedding.

Cap walks through a crowd of eager admirers, absorbed by his own thoughts about Hank Pym, Cap’s fellow Avenger and the man Jan always loved. A couple of children beg him for another autograph, insisting it’s not for them but for their mom. Two patrolmen discuss how it must make a man quietly proud to be the hero of two different generations, while a too-hip couple nearby also observe, the man mocking Cap’s patriotic costume to the woman.

Cap finally strides into Avengers’ mansion. Jarvis the butler offers Captain American a cup of coffee, while pushing the door back on the autograph seekers. Captain America passes on coffee because he’s in the middle of an important project. He’s just there to find out a few things.

Blank Panther, Vision and Hawkeye are gathered in a living room. Blank Panther finishes telling Cap what Avengers know about Yellowjacket, which Hawkeye complains isn’t very much. Cap still cannot believe that Jan is marrying a masked man she hardly knows. T’Challa hasn’t even reached the bad part, Hawkeye says, taking over the story.

Hawkeye reads from the look on Cap’s face that he’s wondering why Hank isn’t at the mansion. Hawkeye explains that Yellowjacket has claimed that he shrank Hank down to the size of a flea’s ears and left him to die. The Avengers don’t know if Yellowjacket is telling the truth, but Hawkeye’s story creates the image of Giant-Man trapped in the web of a menacing, relatively enormous spider. Hawkeye further describes the events of recent past when Jan announced that she was going to marry Yellowjacket. On realizing that Jan meant her words, Hawkeye accused her of selling out Hank and all of the Avengers.

Back in the present, Cap understands that the Avengers haven’t brought Yellowjacket to justice because, as Hawkeye finishes the thought, without the corpus delecti, any jury would laugh them out of court. Oh, Hawkeye remembers to add that Yellowjacket wants to be an Avenger! The Vision cuts them both off because, from the shouting outside, he suspects that the happy couple is approaching.

Outside, the crowd shouts and the television camera pans up. Yellowjacket and Jan fly over the crowd in a small hovercraft. Yellowjacket asks how Jan likes the craft he built with his brains and her money. Jan says she wouldn’t mind flying around on a used hula-hoop, as long as Yellowjacket was there besides her.

Inside the mansion, Jan flashes a big smile as she introduces her finance Yellowjacket to Captain America. Cap forces out a pleasant greeting. Janet gushes that Yellowjacket built the hovercraft in just five hours. Hawkeye says that Hank could have built it in three, without letting Janet pay for it. Yellowjacket points out that Hawkeye couldn’t have built it all and soon Hawkeye and Yellowjacket threaten to fight. Janet steps in front of Yellowjacket, while Cap holds back Hawkeye. Janet tells them both not to fight on her wedding day, but Hawkeye accuses Yellowjacket of marrying Janet for her money and Janet for welching out on Hank. Janet shouts back that she loved Hank, but he let too many things stand in his way. Now that Hank’s gone, Janet’s not going to let another chance for happiness slip away… not for anything!

Meanwhile, Jarvis shows around the reverend who will be performing the ceremony. The reverend says he’d prefer a ceremony in his church, but he supposes this wedding is a sort of civic event. Jarvis excuses himself to answer the doorbell. The reverend sits quietly, silently hoping this is will be a quiet, peaceful wedding, unlike the one he read about at the Baxter Building a few years ago.

Jarvis greats a chef, a maid and two waiters at the kitchen’s service entrance. He observes that they’re late, but then excuses their tardiness because of the short notice. Jarvis continues talking about the deactivating device that got the caterers through the alarm system. He then discovers their tray is empty but the chef has already pulled out a gun. The chef warns Jarvis to raise his hands quietly.

After Jarvis is bound, gagged and hung up on a kitchen rack, one of the waiters compliments his boss on the idea to waylay the real caterers. The chef announces that a few burglar alarms could not stop the vengeance of… the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime!

The half-dozen members of the Circus quickly discard their disguises. The Human Cannonball lights a cigar and one of the Gambonno Brothers acrobats relaxes in a chair, delighted to be in the Avengers’ fancy digs. The other Gambonno warns his fellow acrobat and brother not to forget their mission to bury the Avengers. Princes Python bickers with him. The Ringmaster agrees with Princess Python but admits (while twirling his mustache) that it is delightful to relish in the prospect of destroying so many superheroes in one fell swoop. The Clown asks permission to set up the nitro. The Ringmaster grants permission but says they’ll continue to play at catering until the arrival of Thor, the hero who last defeated the Circus.

Hawkeye thinks he should apologize to Jan but an orange-haired woman in a blue Fantastic Four uniform blocks the door. Hawkeye doesn’t recognize her. She introduces herself as Crystal and explains she and Sue Richards are helping the Wasp with her bridal gown. Hawkeye backs away. A voice from inside asks who was at the door. Crystal starts to explain but is rendered speechless by a gorgeous sight.

Janet stands in her white wedding gown. Sue Richards hunches over, balancing pins in her teeth, while helping Janet finish up. Sue says that Crystal is too busy “oohing and ahhing” over Jan’s dress to answer her. It is one of the loveliest she’s ever seen, Sue continues. Jan says the dress is the best Saks Fifth Avenue has to offer but that it’s having friends that really counts. Crystal then starts to ask a question she knows she probably has no right to ask, since she just meet Jan that morning…

Why is she marrying Yellowjacket after being Goliath’s unofficial finance for years? Jan finishes Crystal’s question. Because she loves him, Jan answers. Crystal wants to know how she can love him when they just met. Jan playfully pokes Crystal, comparing her situation to Crystal’s romance with the Human Torch. Sue announces that Jan is ready, looking like a picture out of Millie the Model. Jan admires herself in a hand held mirror. She thanks Sue and observes that the guests sound like they’re having a good time. But her thoughts reveal she is unsure she is doing the right thing.

Downstairs, some of the world’s most dynamic costumed figures are engaged in small talk. Hawkeye, the Black Night and Daredevil talk while Marvel Girl, Iceman, the Angel and Beast are in a circle on the other side of the room. The Thing sits with a drink and cigar on one end of the couch. Johnny Storm sits on the other end of the couch lifted into the air by the Thing’s weight. Mr. Fantastic talks with the Blank Panther, while Dr. Strange, the Vision, Iron Man and Captain America mingle. Nick Fury lights a cigarette next to Spiderman and Cyclops is alone surveying the crowd.

By the time the ceremony finishes, Captain America and Iron Man have left on urgent matters. The reverend pronounces Yellowjacket and Janet man and wife and Yellowjacket kisses the bride. Hawkeye grumbles under his breath that the Avengers should be making a citizen’s arrest, rather than just watching Yellowjacket and Jan embrace. Black Panther whispers back that they made a promise to Jan…

Yellowjacket announces the cake will arrive shortly. Hawkeye whispers that he hopes the cake sticks in Yellowjacket’s antennae. Janet quietly pleads with him but Yellowjacket answers that Hawkeye was just leaving. Hawkeye agrees to leave because he is tired of breathing the same air as Yellowjacket and to check on the cake. Hawkeye flings open the kitchen’s swinging doors and immediately recognizes the Ringmaster and his circus hoods. One of the Gambonno brothers recognizes Hawkeye and worries that they’re not set up yet for the big boom.

Cannonball dives head first at the archer, but Hawkeye leaps over him, saying the hardhead couldn’t stop a sink. Hawkeye suddenly decides that the intruders must be in league with Yellowjacket. Hawkeyes asks if he’s right but one of the Gambonno acrobats strikes Hawkeye in the face with his boot. He quickly tosses Hawkeye towards his other brother, who’s ready to juggle the Avenger with his feet.

Cannonball comes between them, so Hawkeye’s back lands on Cannonball’s metal helmet. The Cannonball dismisses the acrobat brothers as fools and says his way is surer and faster. The Ringmaster declares that Hawkeye will bother them no more. He lights a cigarette and tells his crew that they’ve been neglecting the newly-weds and it’s time for their wedding cake.

Back in the reception, Yellowjacket says it’s time to cut the cake. The Black Knight presents Janet a replica of his enchanted sword to serve as the cake cutter. Angel, Cyclops and Beast watch from behind the cake. The Thing stands in front, wishing that Black Knight would talk less because the he’s hungry. As she holds the sword with both hands and starts to cut the cake, Janet tells Yellowjacket that this is the happiest day of her life and she wants to share a secret. Yellowjacket asks her to spill it but then he’s suddenly shouting, “Watch out!”

A Python writhes from the cake, barring his fangs at Jan, who drops the sword and falls back. The python wraps itself around Jan and lifts her into the air. As Jan pleads for Yellowjacket’s help, the Black Panther jumps into the fry, wrestling with the python’s neck. Jan thanks T’Challa for his help but wonders what he can do against the snake. In fact, the snake is wrapping itself around the Panther’s legs and arms. The Vision then shoots thermscopic blasts out of his eyes, frying the snake. Panther and Vision exchange praise for each other, but Yellowjacket, holding Janet, says his super powered stingers could have done the job just as well.

Daredevil, Mr. Fantastic, the Panther and Vision examine the limp snake. Daredevil says he’d swear the snake is Princess Python’s pet. Mr. Fantastic starts to offer help looking for Princess Python but Panther insists it is Avengers business. The Vision says they’ll have to halt the reception and the guest leave. Yellowjacket comforts Jan, who is apologizing for panicking, but wonders if someone wants to kill her on her wedding day. Yellowjacket says that’s silly, but the Black Panther thinks that Yellowjacket would have motive to kill her since he would inherit her millions.

However, the speculation is interrupted when the Ringmaster’s Circus of Crime reveal themselves. One of Gambonno brothers complains that they’ll have to destroy Thor separately. Princess Python is worried about her snake. The Human Cannonball complains their plans to wipe out a city block of superheroes have been jinxed. The Clown is also upset. The second Gambonno tells his comrades enough talk and yells at them to get the Avengers.

The Gambonnos both dive at the Panther but he darts out of way and they crash into each other. The Ringmaster shoots at Jan and Yellowjacket. Jan encourages Yellowjacket to run from the Avengers’ enemies. Yellowjacket says it is his fight when they threaten her, although he is hit before he can finish his protestation.

The Vision grabs the Clown by his vest and offers him a chance to surrender. The Clown calls for Cannonball to attack. The Human Cannonball plows into the Visio but is knocked into incoherence. The Vision calmly explains that he’s increased his body mass. The Clown squirms in the Vision’s grasp.

The Gambonnos yell encouragement to the Clown. One of the acrobats holds the Panther’s leg, while the other strikes with his fists from above. Yellowjacket is already down and the Ringmaster demands he surrender. Princess Python challenges the Ringmaster’s claim to all the credit, since it is her snake that has the Wasp trapped. Yellowjacket threatens them both that should they harm one hair on Jan’s head…

“You’re scarcely in a position to make threats,” the Ringmaster boasts. The Ringmaster warns Yellowjacket that he will kill both Yellowjacket and Jan if Yellowjacket makes a move towards his bride. Yellowjacket realizes that Ringmaster would let Jan be crushed the python. Yellowjacket convulses as he thinks there’s nothing he can do to prevent Jan from dying and the Ringmaster turns away. However, the Ringmaster is then astonished to see Yellowjacket grow in size and bust out of the Yellowjacket costume to reveal Hank Pym, in his Goliath costume.

In one fleet movement, Goliath grabs the snake with one hand and cradles Jan in the other. The Ringmaster tries to escape through Goliath’s legs but the giant hero catches his jacket. Goliath uses the snake on Ringmaster, not for murder, which would be poetic justice, but as rope to tie up the Ringmaster.

The Gambonnos realize that Ringmaster has been defeated but are still tangling with the Panther and think they can finish him. The Panther suddenly slams the Gambonno who was holding him in a headlock into the wall, breaking the plaster. With his leg locked around the neck of the other acrobat, the Panther does a backflip, sending the second brother flying away.

The Clown says it was foolish for the Gambonnos to try to beat the Black Panther with acrobatics. He fires at the Panther with his cane ray gun, but he misses. He hits the Vision instead, who is unaffected. The Vision responds with a shot of blinding heat blasts from his eyes that knocks out the Clown.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, Hawkeye is gagged and bound on a hook next to Jarvis. Hawkeye hears the sounds of battle in the neck room and squires trying to get loose. Luckily, Hawkeye’s costume rips, allowing him to drop to the floor. He uses acid-tipped arrows to free his arms and then rushes out to join the battle, leaving Jarvis still hanging.

Princess Python is running to escape but Jan sees her and knocks her out with a right hook. Hawkeye comes around the corner but sees the battle is over. The police are leading off the members of the Circus of Crime, with the Ringmaster asking for a lawyer. Gambanno blames the Ringmaster for the plan failing, while the Clown complains that Thor never even showed up.

Hawkeye is confused that Yellowjacket has disappeared and Hank is alive and with Jan. Jan explains that Yellowjacket claiming to done away with Hank was true in way Yellowjacket couldn’t suspect. Yellowjacket was always Hank, with accident induced schizophrenia. Hank takes over, explaining how he was working in his lab thinking of Jan, their love and why he hadn’t proposed when he dropped some vials that released purple gas and caused Hank to collapse. When that happened, Hank angrily decided that, if Goliath wouldn’t marry Janet Van Dyne, then Goliath would be replaced by Yellowjacket! Jan finishes the story. She did not know Yellowjacket was the Goliath until he kissed her.

In the present, Hank and Jan start to kiss. Hank says he is floored that Jan could tell everything from one kiss. Janet cuts him off. She says the big news is that, even though he married her as Yellowjacket, it’s equally legal. And he can trust her on that. She looked it up.

Characters Involved: 

Blank Panther, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Yellowjacket/Goliath, Vision, Wasp, (all Avengers)

Angel, Beast, Black Knight, Crystal, Cyclops, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Nick Fury, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Marvel Girl, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man, the Thing, (wedding guests)

Jarvis (Avengers butler)

Clown, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Princess Python, Ringmaster (all Circus of Crime)

Police, Crowd outside Avengers mansion

Story Notes: 

This issue was published in January 1969, the same month as Uncanny X-Men #52, and presumably takes place after the X-Men returned from defeating Mesmero and the robot Magneto. Professor Xavier is not present because he recently faked his own death, even to the X-Men, in order to prepare a defense to an impending alien invasion.

The events Black Panther and Hawkeye described in flashback all occurred in the previous issue, Avengers (1st series) #59.

The wedding at the Baxter Building occurred between Reed Richards and Susan Storm in Fantastic Four Annual #3. That issue also brought Millie the Model, the subject of a running series published since 1945 by Marvel’s corporate predecessor Timely Comics, into the official Marvel Universe.

One of the police officers compares Yellowjacket and Jan to “Dick ‘an Liz”. In 1969, Hollywood stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were in the middle of their first marriage together.

The Clown mentions Emmett Kelly, a famous circus performer who invented and preformed the character of Weary Willie, a sad clown depicted as a depression era hobo.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by antisocial behavior and difficulty distinguishing reality. The term is often used incorrectly, as Jan does, to describe dissociative identity disorder, which itself is more often referred to as multiple personality disorder.

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