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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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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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@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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