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mygif

Hasn’t Wright gone on record about this story featuring both Pym and either Lang or O’Grady? That wouldn’t leave much time for any wife-beating?

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Hey, are we already sure that the movie will feature Hank Pym? I always thought that bringing O’Grady to the screen would be neat. Marvel movies could use a comedic character and it seems that there is always a demand for douchebag protagonists.

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mygif

It’s true, Pym has always been known as “that guy who hit his wife that one time.”

Fortunately for me, the most recent memory I have of him is trying to act as a mentor/father figure to the Avengers Academy kids, which is a pleasant change. Still can’t get over Janet, though.

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I always thought that it was Reed slapping Sue around!

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“[T]hey can never write him as a sympathetic character because he beat his wife, as was said about Pym” – Chuck Austen, I think?

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ScienceGiant said on October 26th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

So, Pym could be Time’s “Man of the Year” and the universe’s scientist supreme, but he’ll always be written with the loaded question, “Do you still beat your wife?”

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I was going to say, the Scientist Supreme idea (as goofy as it probably sounded) was the first time in a while I thought that Hank Pym was handled really well. After all, he’s someone that discovered a way to shrink and grow ANYTHING with relative safety and made the laws of conversation of mass his servant, so having someone focus on that more than his relationship with Jan was very interesting. Plus, he makes it explicit when he’s offered the chance to basically be a version of himself before he hit Jan. He refuses because he thinks it would just be running away from what he did, thus learning nothing from it.

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SilverHammerMan said on October 26th, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Someone trying to get Ant-Man’s ants to betray him in exchange for sugar cubes sounds like an AMAZING story. Personally I love what I’ve read of the bizarre Silver Age Ant-Man, when he rode around on a flying ant that had a name and a personality, and traveled by loading himself into an tiny aircannon and radioing ahead to have the ants form a living cushion for his fall.
I think you make a really good point here, it seems obvious now that you’ve said it, but I never really thought of it like that before. Hank Pym has never been well defined by anything other than the times that he’s gone crazy and that one time he hit his wife, during the middle of a nervous breakdown, which doesn’t excuse it, but certainy contextualizes it, something people always seem to gloss over, so it makes it hard for him to be written about in new ways.
Of course this also brings to mind the sad fact that PROFESSIONAL GODDAMN WRITERS can’t seem to to write the character in a way that isn’t based on story from decades ago, which says something very shitty about the quality of new ideas in the comic industry.

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ralphdibny said on October 26th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I really liked the version of Ant Man from the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon. (Haven’t seen season 2 yet–hope they don’t turn him into a wasp beater.) Of course, most Marvel and DC characters are better in cartoon form.

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Actually, (and I apologize for the minor spoiler) in season 2, they basically create a new take on Ant Man entirely, turning him into the Wolverine-ish loner of the team. It couldn’t really work on the comics, but it offers another interpretation than the wife beating thing.

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Bryan Rasmussen said on October 26th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I think the other thing is that a slightly sub-par day for Peter Parker probably has as much stress in it as all of Pym’s life combined, also most of the thing’s stressing Peter Parker are not exactly his fault (given the basic silliness of a superhero universe) and are things that should probably stress someone, whereas the things that stress Pym have to do with his feelings of inadequacy and hyper-competitiveness (narratively – Pym is stressed because he’s an asshole, and Parker is stressed because he’s surrounded by assholes).

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@Ralph: The Disney Corporation allowing a wife(or girlfriend, in this case)-beating storyline on one of it series(networks), aimed at 8-12 year olds? Yeah, no, that’s not happening…..

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FAN 1: Yeah, well, SPIDER-MAN beat his wife once
FAN 2: Wait, when did that happen?
FAN 1: See, back during the Clone Saga …
FAN 2: I’m just gonna stop you right there

And that’s basically the entire reason.

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narratively – Pym is stressed because he’s an asshole

Well, and because he’s naturally outclassed in the Marvel Universe at his own specialities. For example, is it clear that Pym on a good day was a better scientist than Curt Conners on a good day?

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LazyCustomizer said on October 26th, 2012 at 9:39 pm

There’s also the element that Hank is a much more public figure than Spider-Man and has the wife-beater reputation in-universe, meaning that a lot of people know that it happened and will remind him of it (as in an early issue of The Initiative). Peter hit Mary Jane in a rather private situation, and almost everyone else who knew about it was dead for a pretty long time afterwards.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on October 26th, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Thok, I was going to say he’s better than Curt because he can be a righty or a southpaw, but when you think about it they both did something stupid with their science. Good point about Pym’s “moment of infamy”. It’s like Aquaman; can’t get past a preconception about him.

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@BringTheNoise

Don’t worry, they’ll find some room for it in the sequel.

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Ah, and here I thought I was the only one who still despises comic book Tony Stark for all the horrible things he did during Civil War.

Good point about Peter smacking his pregnant wife, by the way, but really I had no idea that event happened because I wasn’t buying any of that clone crap. Still, good point regarding double standards.

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To beg fair to Peter, he wasn’t just under “mental strain” but actual brainwashing and other mind-tampering by the Jackal. Later on, he tried to kill MJ, again due to the Jackal’s programming.

Wheras most of Pym’s stresses were self-imposed, I believe (although I haven’t read the actual issue).

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the peter parker thing was also yet another lame attempt to show that he was truly just a clone who shouldn’t be spider-man, and ben reily is the one, true Spider-Man.

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ladypeyton said on October 27th, 2012 at 12:23 am

“Ah, and here I thought I was the only one who still despises comic book Tony Stark for all the horrible things he did during Civil War.”

You’re not. The only reason I was able to rise above it for the movies was due to the absolute awesomeness of Robert Downey, Jr.

*she said not knowing whether or not to be chagrined or feel a little awesome that something she said seems to have inspired someone to write something*

I have to admit that while I started reading comics in the 70s, I have not read them continuously and the 1994-96 Clone Wars period was a rather tough time in my life so I have never *read* it. Also, IIRC the timeline of my life correctly I was in the middle of a huge Vertigo obsession. And Wizard was very busy warning me how awful it was so I never went back to catch up. I’m glad because I don’t want to see Peter Parker do something I’ll have a hard time forgiving him for. Especially since I already adore the new movie series. If it hadn’t been for Whedon it may have actually been my favorite superhero movie of the year.

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Two things.

One, I am willing to bet a whole paycheck against it being Millar saying they couldn’t ever write Pym as a sympathetic character because he beat his wife, because this is Mark fuckin’ Millar we’re talking about here. Given the attitudes towards women his work displays, and hell, given his work itself as a whole, I’d be shocked if he held that position.

Second, you should give Iron Man another chance, because Matt Fraction.

Seriously. Matt Fraction. His run on Iron Man is going to be legendary at some point, right up there with Waid on The Flash and Simonson on Thor. Everything he’s done, from the extremely elegant manner in which he accomplished the editorial mandate of rebooting Tony back to not being evil, to doing the inevitable Tony-and-alcohol storyline, has been just great.

And that’s without even discussing what he’s done with Pepper, which is totally awesome in its own right.

Basically, Matt Fraction is an excellent writer and you should read any book he writes.

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Bryan Rasmussen said on October 27th, 2012 at 3:15 am

“Well, and because he’s naturally outclassed in the Marvel Universe at his own specialities. For example, is it clear that Pym on a good day was a better scientist than Curt Conners on a good day?”

exactly my point, he’s a good scientist but can’t hack not being the best, he’s a superhero but can’t hack not being the best. And that is the totality of his stress. Hanky Pym, overcompensating asshole with esteem issues.

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“You’re not. The only reason I was able to rise above it for the movies was due to the absolute awesomeness of Robert Downey, Jr.”

Who I think is pretty much the ultimate universe tony stark, which is a dozen times over the better character (although I haven’t read much of Fraction’s run). But are there any defining personality traits of the main universe’s iron man? He’s always seemed to be someone defined by what he does and what happens to him rather than by who he is.

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malakim2099 said on October 27th, 2012 at 6:24 am

Besides, Mephisto deleted the whole “Peter hitting MJ” thing anyway as part of the OMD, right? ;)

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Bryan, I’ve got to take issue with your interpretation. Pym can hack not being the best. He’s been doing that for at least 30 years. Here we have Pym defined by a terrible comic. It’s generically bad and people seem to have taken to Jim Shooter’s “I totally didn’t mean it” cop-out that comes y’know 30 years too late.

Pym is a guy who defies physics. Yeah, he’s a better scientist than Curt Conners. Pym can manipulate his own body, create killer robots, build transport and created a way to communicate with insects. Yet, since Shooter, Pym’s been defined as this soft spoken, worrisome guy. I’ve always imagined Pym still has a hard time looking in the mirror.

He does overcompensate though. He’s constantly trying to prove himself. Maybe no longer to the Avengers or to Wasp, but to himself. What I loved in Busiek’s run, my own introduction to the character, was that everyone else had way past forgiven Pym, but Pym was harder on himself. He blamed himself for everything and he chooses each and every day to keep pushing himself and trying to do something right.

He’s made peace with hqaving committed the act, but the fact he did it? Pym can never forgive himself. That said, it should be possible to push him forward. Lots of characters have made mistakes (this is a particularly glaring one, mind you) and aren’t defined by it. Maybe it’s time to push Pym past one terrible story and give him something more.

Also, John, Pym used to have a go to that wasn’t “redemption” or “crazy”, it used to be all about his health problems. At least since he became Giant-Man he was plagued with “His powers are dangerous!” as his hook. Obviously that’s been way past dropped by now.

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Alexi Sargeant said on October 27th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

This is an interesting discussion that the movie is almost certain to skirt entirely, since what Wright’s said about the film makes it sound like it will revolve around Scot Lang stealing Pym’s technology. There’s no confirmation that Wasp will be in the movie (though I think she will be) but I would be shocked if CASSIE (Stature) were not featured or foreshadowed.

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ladypeyton said on October 27th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

“Maybe it’s time to push Pym past one terrible story and give him something more.”

I’ll say here another thing that I said at i09. He should never be allowed to push past it. Regardless of why he’s become synonymous with wife beating, he *is* and in a world where actual woman beaters can go on and have gold records despite beating their girlfriends bruised, swollen, and bloody and a world where women go back to their abusers every day until many of them end up being killed by them fiction shouldn’t set the, “yeah, but otherwise he’s really an okay guy!” precedent.

I know we’re in the minority, but women do actually read super hero comics in much larger numbers than the industry seems to give us credit for. It would really be cool if it stopped going out of its way to show us how worthless they think we are. My daughter has started reading them and I’d really like to be able to allow her to continue. In fact I’d welcome the opportunity to allow her to read more of them. I loved DC growing up but there’s no way in hell I’d allow her to read most of the New 52.

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@ladypeyton: Honestly, hope you’re glad about this. It was an interesting comment that I just couldn’t give appropriate time or space to engage with on io9 and wanted to discuss more deeply. I left it up to you to decide whether you wanted to weigh in here, and I’m glad you did.

And for the record, I agree with you. I don’t think the story should have been done, really…I just don’t think that the topic of spousal abuse can really be handled with appropriate weight in between battles with the Skrulls and an attack by Doctor Demonicus…but once it’s done, I don’t think it should be shoved under the carpet in the interests of not making it feel uncomfortable. If I were writing ‘Avengers’, I think I would probably establish early on that Pym is making regular visits to a psychiatrist for his anger issues, and I would not have him getting back together with Janet (the whole OTP-ness of that is a major problem.)

But what gets me is that we don’t get Pym as a realistic portrayal of someone with psychological problems who is getting treatment so that he doesn’t repeat his abusive behavior. We get Pym having big, redemptive arcs where he realizes that the true reason for his abusive behavior is (insert breakthrough here) and now that he knows that, he’s cured and he and Janet can get back together again! …which is, if I’m reading you right, exactly the kind of shit that justifiably bugs the hell out of you. :)

That’s more or less what I mean when I wonder why writers “can’t get past it”. It’s a part of his character, and always will be. But there’s something weird about the way it always seems so cyclical in the comics.

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The funniest thing about the Pymslap, of course, is that it was an accident. Of the artist.

Shooter had given the outline to the artist that Hank was ranting and raving about his avengers-attacking robot while Jan came up behind him, then he threw his hands up in the air in the classic ‘I’LL SHOW THEM ALL! HAHAHA’ pose, and accidently smacks her with one of them, not having even seen her there. Then the artist misinterpreted that into the deliberate backhand we all know so well.

And Shooter just rolled with it, altering the situation from an accident into a deliberate attack, and the rest is history.

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bad johnny got out said on October 27th, 2012 at 11:57 pm

I can’t think of a polite way to say this so I’ll just spit it out. Ready? You dumb dickholes are making excuses for a wife beater, who isn’t even real, as if he were your best friend from college. “No, no. We’re contextualizing.” Really? What context is that?

Is it the context that none of this is really happening? No, here’s the context: you’re living vicariously through fictional characters to such a maladaptive extent that, despite being aware on some level that it’s all fiction written across decades by different writers, you somehow believe the word canon means this entire pile of bullshit should be read historically.

This is the warped way in which you learned how to read. Therefore in this context the word “contextualize” has a meaning that’s just as perverted as you are. Identifying with a fictional character, for you, is an opportunity to engage in actor-observer bias on behalf of someone who isn’t yourself.

Before you decide that subverting bias is good and therefore you’re a good person, let me remind you you’re doing it in order to make excuses for a wife beater. But that’s okay. I don’t judge, because I’m going to do something even worse. I’m going to deny that someone beat their wife in the face of incontrovertible proof that in fact they did.

Spider-Man is not a wife beater. Sorry, that never happened. No one will ever believe you. (This is what “canon” actually means.) If you stopped someone and showed them the proof, that Spider-Man beat Mary Jane, they would still never believe you. Instead they will blame whichever sick fuck wrote that comic book. (It was probably JMS.) They will not wait around for another writer to come along and “retcon” the wife beating away. That’s fucking ridiculous. They’ll just tell you, “Spider-Man isn’t like that.”

Ant Man is like that. Ant Man hits women. Ant Man lets shit get to him, and so do you.

You shouldn’t be friends with people like that. And you shouldn’t admire people like that especially when they don’t have any other notable qualities, otherwise it would be perfectly reasonable to assume you approve. Because why else would you defend him, you dumb dickholes?

Mr. Fantastic probably is like that.

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Bryan Rasmussen said on October 28th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

On the one hand Spider-Man has the proportionate strength of a spider and pregnant Mary Jane has the proportionate strength of pregnant Mary Jane while Hank and Jan Pym are both superheroes – I mean really Jan Pym got backhanded by Hank Pym and it’s a big deal because did you ever think about how much damage Ultron would do with such a move?

On the other hand yeah Spider-man was probably being mind controlled and stuff.

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mygif

Does anyone else think “dickholes” is a mysoginistic or homophobic slur?

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mygif

No. I always thought it referred to the hole in your dick.

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Wolfthomas said on October 28th, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I think that a big thing that annoys me about the event in question is that it really belittles Janet. She’s a metahuman superhero, a woman who has lead the Avengers and independent of that made her own millions.

Everyone forgets that at the end of the issue SHE saves all the Avengers from Pym’s robot. She dumped his ass and now she’s fine. No need to keep bringing it up.

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@Wolfthomas: Well aside from being currently dead, the character is totally fine…

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Wolfthomas said on October 28th, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Good chance she’s hale and hearty as of the most recent Avengers.

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SilverHammerMan said on October 28th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Wasp is actually alive again, she appeared alive and healthy in the Microverse in Bendis’ last issue, as part of his surprisingly classy replacing of all the toys in the box.

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notsobadjohny said on October 29th, 2012 at 1:09 am

Fuck you dickbags. I’m cussing the most, so I’m clearly making the best point. Dick fuck assholes shit!

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bad johnny got out said on October 29th, 2012 at 1:29 am

@Hello Sean B

Yes “dickholes” is homophobic because dick.

Yes “dumb dickholes” is misogynistic because… the abbreviation is Double D. Ha ha, boobies!

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Roger Stern probably did the best job during his Avengers run of having Hank grapple with his issues (“It takes a strong man to live at the size of an ant and not feel threatened. I was never that strong.”).
Egghead (of the sugar cubes) was a guy who should never have been used again. But he was. Even taking on the Avengers. Sigh.

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Carlos Futino said on October 29th, 2012 at 7:55 am

I know I’m late to the party, but I really wanted to give my two cents:

Ant-man (actually Yellow-Jacket, but you get the gist) beating janet is part of the origin of Ultron. That makes it a big part of Avengers “canon”. Peter hitting Mary Jane was part of the Clone Saga, a part of Spider-man history people try to ignore. Maybe that helps with the whole double standard thing.

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I don’t have anything worthwhile to say about the Yellowjacket slap, other than part of me wished that everybody would have quietly agreed to stop bringing it up after Kurt Busiek dealt with it during his Avengers run.

I mostly just want to agree with John Seavey about Batman.

It was bad enough that he somehow managed to launch an illegal spy satellite that he then used to invade the privacy of a bunch of superheroes on the off chance that he might have to “protocol” them into submission and/or kill them. But then to have that illegal spy satellite be responsible for the OMAC Project and the deaths of a whole slew of characters who basically only died because Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns didn’t like them?

I already hated “With time to prepare…” Batman, but the stuff leading up to Infinite Crisis had me wondering how anybody could still see him as a good guy. The dude was flat out acting like a supervillain, but we were supposed to think it was cool because it’s awesome whenever Batman beats up or tries to kill another superhero.

It was a huge relief to find out I’m not the only one who reacted that way.

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@bad johnny: So let me get this straight…it’s bad to defend fictional characters who are wife-beaters, because those characters don’t even exist and it’s pathetic that they’re siding with the imaginary wife-beater over the imaginary wife, because that’s just like defending real wife-beaters, save when those fictional wife-beaters aren’t really wife-beaters at all, in which case it’s okay to defend them by stating that you refuse to accept the existence of the stories in which they beat their wife, which is okay to do because they’re not wife-beaters but it wouldn’t be okay to do that if they really were wife-beaters which some people are despite not really existing and it’s sad that these people keep suggesting that the fictional wife-beaters aren’t really fictional wife-beaters and the fictional non-wife-beaters really are fictional wife-beaters?

…I think I just sprained my brain trying to parse that.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on October 29th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Why do people keep saying that the Pymslap story was also the origin of Ultron? Ultron was introduced way earlier, and Hank never called the robot in that story Ultron, he called it Salvation-1. And it was roughly two stories tall and did not look like Ultron I don’t think.

All of which is to say you could ditch that story and still keep Ultron.

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Carlos Futino said on October 29th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

@The Unstoppable Gravy, I’ll admit I’m not really into Avengers, so old Avengers lore may get a bit mixed up in my head.
Still, Shooter’s run is really popular, while the Clone Saga is widely despised. I’m not saying there is no double standard, just pointing out one (of many) reasons it may exist.

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bad johnny got out said on October 29th, 2012 at 6:21 pm

@Dear Mr. Godking,

Ha ha, no. Defending Peter Parker is still monstrous, just in a different way: some excuses for hitting women can be more easily disguised as literary discussions. Defending Pym, a task to which you are adequate, but some of your commenters less so, requires advanced technique.

Let me put it this way. If you wanted to excuse someone’s alcoholism (E.G. NO HE’S JUST A SOCIAL DRINKER), would you begin with Tony Stark or with Andy Capp?

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bad johnny got out said on October 30th, 2012 at 3:13 am

Hey guys what’s up?

Offered for your consideration, and sort of on-topic even, please compare the courtship and wedding of Hank and Janet to the marriage proposal of this lunatic Russian “businessman.”

I was going to let this go, honest, this whole Hank and Janet thing. But seriously guys oh my God. They’re so messed up.

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@bad johnny: Wow. I mean, normally when people are wrong about everything, they don’t usually extend it to “the name of the person they’re talking to”, but you’re going the extra mile here. To clarify: I have the honor and good fortune to be a regular guest columnist on this blog, but I am not the esteemed Chris Bird.

I am also neither defending Hank Pym nor Peter Parker. (Nor Reed Richards, nor Bruce Banner, nor any of the vast numbers of Marvel and DC characters who have, under one circumstance or another, committed spousal abuse.) They’re fictional characters. I don’t have to care if Hank Pym’s feelings get hurt because people refuse to forgive him for his actions.

(Jim Shooter probably should have, because he was editor-in-chief as well as writer on the series in question, and he has a professional responsibility not to have characters do things that would make readers drop the book rather than continue to follow their stories, but that’s a whole other issue.)

But the point is, I do not care if people hate Hank Pym. That story was designed to make him an unsympathetic monster, and it did its job in that score. (It was also designed to later redeem him, and it apparently failed there. That’s something we could discuss, without it implying that Pym merits redemption or that his actions are defensible, a distinction you are apparently lacking, but that’s also not the point.)

The point is, there are many other characters guilty of the same offenses that people do defend. So why, apart from your not-particularly-helpful suggestion that they are “dumb dickholes”, do people defend Peter Parker for the same exact action? (Including you, in fact. While self-righteously accusing others of being bad people for defending fictional wife-beaters, which does make it hard to engage you as a serious commenter.) Is it because Peter is more sympathetic? Is it because the event occurred, as many suggested, during an entire era that is being thrown down the memory hole? Is it because the action was more out of character for Peter than Hank? Is it because Peter was being psychologically manipulated by the Jackal and the Green Goblin at the time, whereas Hank just experienced a psychotic break? Does that say anything about our attitudes to mental illness, as a society, that we consider Hank’s nervous breakdown to be a character flaw?

Lots of interesting questions, to my mind. Some of them very sensitive, and needing to be handled with care. But they’re ones that can’t be answered if someone is in the discussion saying that even talking about them is tantamount to saying that wife-beating is a good thing.

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bad johnny got out said on October 30th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

@John Seavey NOT Chris Bird my bad.

Oh it’s getting real* in here. Very well. No whistling past the graveyard this time. I shall be serious.

Yes, the underlying questions here revolve around which actions are in character and which are not. Who decides? Shooter decided, apparently as a result of a complete accident, to have Hank abuse his spouse. He must have suspected it would work, aesthetically, and he was right. It stuck.

So, did Shooter decide? An author’s intent might be interesting, and we don’t have to ignore it, but relying on it is a fallacy. For serial characters written by successive authors, the question of who decides, paradoxically becomes easier: the audience decides, always. It’s us. Superheros are a weird variation on oral tradition and we’re Homer.

Since it’s all about us, questions of redemption vs justification, whether there’s even a distinction, or why it would even matter if there were, are hardly beside the point.

As far as your impression goes that I think “even talking about [these issue] is tantamount to saying that wife-beating is a good thing,” here’s the point: excusing Hank for reasons within the story is problematic. Excusing Peter by going meta and dismissing the story entirely isn’t problematic in the same way; nevertheless the danger of denying the reality of a problem vs excusing or mitigating a problem each have their own unpleasant real world parallels.

Can these issues be “answered” in any final way? No of course not. Can these “sensitive” questions be discussed with “sufficient” care? Sufficient to what end? Sensitive to whom?

To victims of abuse? To what end are we drawing distinctions between excuse and redemption, if the sensitivities we’re concerned with are the victims’ of abuse? Therefore, no, not theirs.

Then whose?

*a theme!

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Hypo-Calvinist said on October 30th, 2012 at 8:05 pm

John, have you looked at the issue (Spectacular Spider-Man 226) recently? I never read the clone saga, so my read is based at looking over only those few pages where the incident occurs. First, Ben and Peter agree to run a series of tests in cooperation, but despite both agreeing on the results beforehand,

“Ben, our conclusions are identical! They’re a perfect match!”

Peter is somehow surprised when the results he’s already confirmed are revealed. He flies into a homicidal rage, attacking Ben Reilly with the stated goal of

“Choking the truth”

out of him. Then Mary Jane runs up behind Peter and grabs his arm to stop him from murdering Ben Reilly. Peter swings the arm back and hits Mary Jane hard enough that she flies at least 8 or 10 feet, its hard to tell exactly how far or hard he is meant to have hit her. I think if a man with Spider-Man’s strength actually hit a normal human being with anything near half-strength said human would have a modestly sized hole in their chest at the very least. It sure is drawn and lettered as full strength, though. There is a SPWAT! on the contact and then a WHAM when Mary Jane hits the giant-reebok shaped Clone-Adjudicator 2000. So, I don’t know what to think on that front. The next panel is his realization and remorse. My reading is:

Peter is enraged at Ben Reilly to the point of threatening torture and likely murdering Ben Reilly if not interrupted. There is no moral excuse for this in my book. Its mitigated by the comic book nonsense of not knowing if Peter (or Ben, for that matter) is a “real” person or not, but even if we substitute a more believable real world revelation for him to react to, where we buy that he is not in control, people will see him as more or less culpable (morally) depending on their beliefs. According to Brian Cronin’s article about this:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/04/15/that-time-peter-parker-struck-his-pregnant-wife/

Tom DeFalco’s script called for Peter to shrug MJ off rather than backhand her across the room. I don’t know if Cronin is basing that on DeFalco’s word after the fact or if he read the script. Whatever the intent of the writer, what is actually presented to the reader is clearly a very substantial punch. I can see how people would disagree on Peter’s culpability here, but I don’t get how you can call this worse than or even equate it to Pym’s completely intentional backhand. First he nearly crushes Wasp-size Jan with his fist, then sics his robot on her, then lays out his evil plan and when Janet tries to talk him out of it, he punches her while yelling, “Shut Up!” and then threatens her to ensure her silence. There are tons of things wrong with both of them, but if we compare punch A to punch B, I think they are vastly different. Compared to attempting to murder Ben, and then running away after realizing he’s hit MJ (who is now bleeding from the nose and mouth), I think actually hitting her comes third.

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@Hypo-Calvinist: So your stated reason why Spider-Man shouldn’t be considered a wife-beater is that he was too busy trying to be a murderer at the time to notice that he hit his pregnant wife?

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Hypo-Calvinist said on October 31st, 2012 at 1:55 am

No, I’m not trying to defend him. I know I ramble, so my point my not have been clear. I think all comic characters who have been written by more than a dozen or so writers have done some pretty heinous things if you read every issue. John raised some good questions as to why the two men are perceived (and written) so differently, but I just don’t see those two punches being comparable. I wish comics would deal with this sort of real-life issue more seriously. I have no problem with either of those scenes appearing, but I have a huge problem with the resolutions. Sadly, Spidey totally gets a free pass from a huge number of people, and while Pym is defined by this incident, the repercussions never seem to be there. His friends and allies don’t treat him all that differently, save for a few issues. We may get a “very special issue” arc once in a while, but status quo always jumps back to normal except for those issues where the theme is Hank Pym: Wifebeater. Also why not do some research on a particular mental illness if you want to use someone’s mental state a plot device. Pym’s “schizophrenia” seems typical of the diagnosis out of the hat treatment all too often on display in comics. “What’s that thing the crazy people have? Oh yeah, he has Pym-Particle induced Schizophrenia”

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mygif

I was just curious because you’re citing the script calling for something other than the blow that the artist drew being a reason not to hold Peter hitting MJ against him while dismissing that the scene with Hank and Janet is an example of the exact same thing taking place.

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 1st, 2012 at 5:38 am

You’re absolutely right, the claim of a creative team miscommunication is pretty much the same in both cases. It changes nothing either way. We have to judge the comic based on the comic as printed. It would be another story if the next issue printed a clarification or something, but what’s on the page is on the page. If you believe DeFalco, the only thing that changes is you blame editorial instead of DeFalco. I am fully prepared to file an amicus brief on behalf of the prosecution in the case The People V. Friendly-Neighborhood Identical Twin Murderer. I just suggest we drop the spousal abuse charge, as I feel we cannot get past reasonable doubt.

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mygif

@Hypo-Calvinist: “Cannot get past reasonable doubt”? I count at least three witnesses in that scene who would say that he hit his spouse with a closed fist hard enough to knock her across the room. If anything, the question should be, “How did MJ get off without any broken bones?” And again, all this takes place during his spirited murder attempt on an innocent man.

Again, this isn’t intended as a “Which of these is a worse human being?” competition. But it’s striking that so many people are trying to explain why Peter’s attack (which is extremely brutal on the page) is not really as bad as what Pym did, when there are just as many post-hoc justifications for Pym’s actions floating around (he’s suffering from unresolved guilt over creating Ultron, size-changing causes mental instability over prolonged periods, he was going insane from the stress of resisting Kang’s constant attempts at mind control, et cetera et cetera.)

I think there’s something maybe kind of profound at the root of why people are willing to defend Peter but not Hank, if only I knew what it was. :)

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Hypo-Calvinist said on November 1st, 2012 at 6:38 pm

“I think there’s something maybe kind of profound at the root of why people are willing to defend Peter but not Hank, if only I knew what it was.”

I think we tend to judge people (fictional or otherwise) on a grading curve, based on how much we like them.

As far as the attacks, if you and I are both referring to only the moment when each man actually backhands his wife, I still don’t find them comparable. Pym is arguing with his wife and makes a conscious decision to punch her. Peter is trying to strangle a third party and when his wife tries to stop him he punches her with much the same physical result, but not at all the same intent.

To me this is equivalent to the difference between driving drunk and killing someone with your car, versus getting into your car sober and intentionally killing someone.

The result is the same, they are both inexcusable, but one is still much worse than the other morally.

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mygif

Wasn’t Pym going through a mental breakdown at the time that happened? Because if so, your “getting into your car sober” analogy just imploded.

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Dan LaLande said on May 26th, 2013 at 2:10 am

I would LOVE it if the Peter wife-beating episode was brought up as the reason why Mary Jane and Peter didn’t get married even when she was pregnant.

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