What’s Wrong With You? The Hank Pym Issue

Yesterday, I found myself kind of shocked about comics fans. This shouldn’t surprise me, but sometimes, I forget how the lines of fiction and reality can blur when fans put so much stock into these made up characters, but then you have Hank Pym.

Right away, I’m going to come clean. I am not an expert on Hank Pym. I know he was Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and of course, Yellowjacket at one time or another. He’s an original Avenger, and he’s got a scarlet letter on him like no one else in comics. That is because at one point, Pym smacked his wife Janet around, and has since been labeled a wife beater. I don’t know the details of every Pym story since then, but I do know that since the incidence of abuse, the character (and I stress character, because it’s not a real person) had never lived it down. I have read the official response that this was an error, or that it isn’t what it looks like, or he didn’t mean to hit her, or mind control, or whatever. Doesn’t matter. That panel speaks for itself, and it’s done so for about thirty years.

There are fans of Pym who wish this had never happened, because it ruined the character. They’re right. It did. Almost no one who has read comics for any length of time, or spent any time reading the Avengers since the smacking back in the 80s happened isn’t aware of Pym’s past. The character will never live it down. Even if the creators using the character never mentioned it again, it’s too late. The thing is, they can’t not mention it. It’s big of a ripe fruit of drama not to touch, even if just in subtext. I didn’t read the issue where this started. I don’t know how I know about it, but I do know about it, and not a thing can be done about it, because when you bring in a story element like spousal abuse, it’s way more real than alien genocide, and it sticks to our consciousness, as well it should.

To my mind, spousal abuse is just something too real to live down and chalk up to fiction. It’s a charge people don’t usually recover from, right up there with murderer or pedophile. You don’t do it. Even if you do it once, that’s it, because it means that it’s in you. That capability is always there, and it can become unlocked once more if the right kind of stress and pressure are applied. Because of that, the character of Hank Pym is irreparably broken. The writers went too far, and it can’t be taken back. Our minds can forgive all sorts of things in fiction, but not this. There are fans who wish it was not the case, but it is, and whenever Hank Pym shows up, to the majority of readers, there is going to be a giant elephant standing in that room that no one will be able to ignore. His story then becomes one of redemption, always. That’s all we’re thinking of. These characters are archetypes, and while the backstory is rich and full, they still mostly boil down to a few key characteristics. Captain America is about leadership and courage. Hank Pym is about intelligence, and emotions he can’t control. That’s just the way it is.

I’ve read reactions along the lines of “this isn’t fair to his legacy”. To that I’d say, two things. One, he’s not real, and the legacy is made up, and therefore requires nor deserves any respect. Or two, yes, that’s true, but he did it, and he’s got to live with it forever. In real life, Chris Brown is going to be hounded by critics for the rest of his days, because he beat up his girlfriend and it’s never going to get lived down. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the names Ike Turner, Warren Moon, or Phil Specter? I, regardless of all their other notable qualities, first think that they beat up women, and are and were disgusting scumbags first and foremost.

And that’s why Hank Pym is done, unless you’re cool with him being labeled a wife beater. That’s why there have been at least two replacements in the Ant-Man suits. I suspect that’s why the movie never happened. I also suspect they killed off Janet Pym in some backwards and misguided, but telling, effort to cleanse Hank. I think they need to let Hank go. I think he needs to go down in a blaze of heroic glory, trying to atone for what he did, but knowing that he never fully can. Only then can he be forgiven. But Hank Pym fans need to stop being upset with other fans for bringing it up, or creators for putting it into their stories, and accept that what’s done is done, and go on to understand why, and what sort of effect these actions, even fictional ones, can have on our collective consciousness.

Comments

  1. I think of the “Be My Baby” drum beat, but the point is valid.

    It is pretty awful/weird/disturbing/notthatsurprising that they erased the Wasp instead of Ant Man…. IN TWO SEPARATE UNIVERSES. Ugh don’t even mention Ultimatum. Fuck that book.

    I mean the Wasp is awesome. Avengers founder! Shameful.

  2. JDC JDC says:

    Hank Pym is actually my favourite character in the Avengers animated show, but I’ve read next to nothing of him in the comics. So there you go.

    How long before there’s a video of somebody crying and shouting “Leave Hank alone!”? Hopefully, the answer is infinity.

  3. “Even if you do it once, that’s it, because it means that it’s in you. That capability is always there, and it can become unlocked once more if the right kind of stress and pressure are applied. Because of that, the character of Hank Pym is irreparably broken.”

    I think it’s always a bit gross when people say that he can’t be considered a wife beater because he only did it once, because as you mentioned, you only need to do it once to have that capability placed inside you. Domestic violence or ANY type of abuse isn’t a simple “X = abuse” equation, as it can take up to many forms. In fact, the worst type of abuse is the type where the abuser says “I’m not abusing you because I’m not doing X, Y, or Z!”, which not only justify’s the abuser’s actions, but also places doubt in your mind that you were abused. I know all about this, as I was a victim of this.

  4. Spiffy Spiffy says:

    I’m a fan of the character, but I do agree it’s not something that can be whitewashed. I just like the idea of the struggling scientist who’s not as perfect as Tony or Reed, but still just as smart/smarter in a lot of ways.

    That said, and I only ask out of curiosity, is it just because they were married that this is such a terrible thing? (and it is, I’m just trying to think about *why* it is.) Other male superheros beat on other female superheros/villans all the time. Does that make them just as flawed?

    Like I said, I agree with the article. I’m just curious of other peoples opinions.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Hitting someone while engaged in combat or self-defense is one thing. Hitting someone you are in, what is supposed to be, a loving and trusting relationship with is another. It’s a pretty Grand Canyon sized difference.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      Yes, it is worse because they were married (though, even it’d be the same if they were just dating.) Bottom line, in combat or war, we expect our heroes / soldiers to do many things that would otherwise be unconscionable. We excuse inexcusable things when done in the context of battle.

  5. I actually wish Marvel had used Secret Invasion to retcon this. they had the perfect opportunity! Just say Pym was captive of the Skrulls, and it was a Skrull impostor who hit Jan. Then you can have stories where Pym is all pissed at th Avengers. “Yu thought I could beat my wife? And create ULTRON!?!?!”

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      I was thinking “time travel story,” but the Skrull thing would have been a perfect way to do it. Wonder if that was brought up at the time? They could have cleaned out a lot of closets during Secret Invasion!

    • neums neums says:

      Hank did use that excuse to most of the world, at the beginning, saying it was Criti Nol that struck Janet. He has since admitted he lied about that to (at least) those involved in the Initiative and the Academy. Although the majority of the super-hero community have known that he just used that as an excuse and are more or less wearing blinders. There are only a few that openly dispute his claim that don’t know the truth..

    • captamerica101 captamerica101 (@Autobot_Hunter) says:

      @neums wow, I did not know about that. In my opinion, that kind of makes it worse that he tried to cover it up. it kind of invalidates the idea that he is atoning since you have to confess to your mistakes if you want to be forgiven.

  6. har13quin har13quin says:

    Of course all the above is only relevant if you live in a world of absolute dichotomies. Which unfortunately a lot of people do. I don’t worry about Hank Pym’s past so much.

    He did a terrible thing and as a result is looked down upon in the real and fictional worlds. But to me, in the context of the Marvel Universe, he has saved the world hundreds of times over which balances out a single act of domestic abuse.

    More’s to the point, he has never done it again and I don’t buy into the “capability is always there” idea. Its horribly absolute and counter productive, in the fictional and real worlds.

    Just to make it clear, I don’t condone domestic abuse, or abuse of any kind. I just dont see the value in judging a person, real or imagined, on an isolated incident for which they have only shown contrition over the past 30 years. If there are things that can be done that put a person beyond fogiveness then the whole concept of forgiveness is utterly hollow.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      He can be forgiven, he can be redeemed and he can still be a hero. But he still beat up his wife. It doesn’t matter that is was only once. I think Josh is mainly saying that no matter what, it is a part of his character along with all the other good things that are a part of his character. It happened and yes, it will stay with him forever. Is it fair? Yeah, I think it is.

    • I agree with a bit of har13quin and maxpower above. I too don’t think anyone should be judged on the single worst action/moment of their life. But it’s something they must live with and except the label for the rest of their life. The “forgive, but never forget” theory.

      But seriously… that only pertains to real people. This guy is a fictional comic book character. We can and should be able to judge him for those actions until the end of time.

    • Rhymer Rhymer says:

      I think a person should “be judged on the single worst action/moment of their life”. There are things that can’t be undone. If a person rapes, kills or beats a dependant/weaker person, such a crime defines this person more than any other action.

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      @rhymer, Raping, Killing and Beating are one thing. Striking someone once is a whole other. Human beings, in the real world, are flawed, and often make mistakes that result in horrible actions. The capability of those horrible actions are there in all of us, whether we actually do it or not. I can’t imagine a situation where I would strike my wife, but that doesn’t mean the situation does not or cannot exist. It just means I can’t imagine it. So if the capability is there in everyone, then we shouldn’t condemn someone for one instance like that, without looking at the circumstances. This is why we have judges and juries rather than just a clerk looking at what laws you violated and sentencing according to a chart. Everything is case by case. Having said all this, there is also the fact that society does judge people based on one action or one image of the person, because that’s what we do as a society. Right or wrong, the stigma of that one action will remain as a marker. In the case of Pym, I think it just makes him that much more interesting. So, I wouldn’t be behind just killing him off because he’s unlikeable. Quite the opposite. I say play it up. See what happens if the world he lives in doesn’t let him live it down. Where does that take him. (this may have already been done, I don’t really read Avengers).

  7. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    Josh, great article and very well spoken. I think your solution, Hank’s heroic death in attempt to atone, is probably the best way to put this “long national nightmare” behind us. Or, alternatively, Marvel could milk it for all its worth. Peter Parker’s guilt over failing to stop Uncle Ben’s killer has fueled 40 years of fantastic stories. Often the best characters are also the most tragic. Regardless, your point is sound — Regardless of what we may wish, Hank will carry the mark of “spousal abuser” till the end of his days, whenever that might be.

    • Rhymer Rhymer says:

      The problem with such a “heroic death” is just that Marvel would resurrect HP sooner or later. And this stain would still be on him …

  8. Minion Minion says:

    Josh’s feelings here are a lot like my own. I do believe that Hank is a character ripe for the heroic death. Unlike many who have received that treatment his funeral would be interesting because there is this discussion. It wouldn’t just be a “He was a great guy” issue. It would be an examination of a human being with flaws and massive psychological baggage. Especially since he has been a teacher for so long. How have those young hero’s thought of their teacher since they have learned about all he’s done?

    I also find it disturbing how many people are trying to justify him. I understand the mind control argument if that were truly the case but I believe that he has admitted to being in control when he did it. He admits that he did this thing and no excuses should be made. Why do people insist on making them?

  9. mtthwclmnt says:

    Basically, fans of Pym get angry about him being forever labelled a wife-beater because he hit her ONCE while he was in the middle of a mental breakdown.
    But you never see people calling Reed Richards or Peter Parker women-beaters even though there are multiple occasions when Reed has hit Sue, and Peter has hit MJ from the old comics.
    Pym has basically done nothing but try to atone for hitting Jan and his other mistakes since those incidents, but the writers seem to want him to be the joke character who hit his wife forever.

  10. I had no idea this was a thing. I’ve only heard little mumblings every so often about it, but i had no idea it was such a volatile issue.

    Do we hate Looney Toons (and Bugs Bunny and all the rest) because they used to be all kinds of racist?
    Captain Kirk had his fair share of slapping women, but his character is loved… I mean the list goes on and on from those times.

    Lots of things that we find abhorrent today were widely accepted as normal not too long ago and i’m sure future generations will look back at us with the same perspective for some of our collective BS.

    I agree Its not a real person. Its a fictional character. I guess you gotta kill him off in a blaze of redemptive glory.

  11. I have a thought that will probably make everyone hate me: Should it be considered as bad if the wife that you hit is an Avenger? I mean, the woman gets shot at by Kang the Conquerer on a regular basis. I’m sure sometime in her life she got hit by the Hulk. I would think a slap from Hank Pym wasn’t even the worst thing that happened to her that day.

    It is still a disgusting act and Pym should rightfully never forgive himself, but if Jan was being written true to character, wouldn’t she have just kicked his ass in retaliation? Why was one of the all-time great Avengers being written as such a victim?

    • a social commentary and reflection of the times?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It’s about the betrayal of trust from the person you’re supposed to trust the most. Without that, what do you have? People frequently stay with their abusers, because they want the world back to the way it used to be.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Again, this isn’t about her toughness as a super-hero and whether she can take a punch. She should never have to worry about being hit at all from someone she is in a loving and trusting relationship with! It’s not about her being defenseless.

  12. jcwell01 jcwell01 says:

    I think there were a lot of great points brought up in this article. I personally have no problem with the character, I’ve liked most of the stuff they’ve been doing with him since his Mighty Avengers team, but I really do feel like they need to get past his hang ups with Wasp. And I don’t just mean the slapping, I mean all of it. Maybe Josh is right, maybe the only way to make that happen is to kill him off in one final blaze of glory. But personally I think acceptance, instead of redemption, is a better route. If writers would just allow Pym to accept his demons and then push him forward in a new direction(which it seems when they try to take a step in that direction they eventually take 2 back). Pym’s a smart sciency guy, those are a dime a dozen in comic books. There has to be something else to give him a focus, something beside bringing the Wasp back, teaching ‘bad’ children, or what have you.

    But I honestly don’t see any of that happening. Let’s have him ride the missile, that would be fun at least.

  13. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    Guys, bottom line: there is no defending domestic abuse on any ground. Even if it was just once. If the main argument is that you are frustrated that it keeps getting brought up when he has worked hard to redeem himself a thousand times over, then get mad at the writers for not adding more interesting facets to his character, but you can’t blame them for running with a good dramatic element. Are you frustrated that it is the first thing that pops into people’s minds when Pym is brought up? Well, I can’t help you and neither can anyone on this website. It’s part of who he is. Frankly, this topic is getting disturbingly close to people trying to justify an act of abuse because of fandom of one fictional character. Feel free to disagree.

  14. halik halik says:

    Remember when comics were fun? I’m sick of all the lawsuits, fighting on Twitter, and issues like this. Yes it makes conversation it’s just lately the community has pushed me away from wanting to continue to read comic books.

    Hank Pym screwed up. Who hasn’t? I don’t think it’s fair you say we can take the character’s one action in a single panel into consideration and nothing else he’s done. I also do not at all agree that he can’t redeem himself or those saying he should suffer a heroic death. Flawed good guys are the best characters and while I don’t think he should continue to hit his wife I do think it should push him to be the best hero.

    I don’t care if domestic abuse is right or wrong because how is that even a question? That’s not the question any of us are actually asking. It’s those who thing this one moment should define a character or a “person” and those who don’t think it should. I personally think a society which labels individuals so strongly is only screwing themselves over.

  15. Firevine Firevine says:

    You can build a a thousand bridges, and never be called a bridgebuilder.

  16. halik halik says:

    Also I do think Pym would be a great character for a heroic death in the long run but death in comics is obviously pointless and ruins any meaning his death could be given.

  17. I don’t really disagree with much of this. Hank Pym is essentially damaged goods, but it makes him a pretty interesting character to follow. Eric O’grady may have the title, but Hank Pym is the real Irredeemable Ant-man.

    But, I have to respond to this…

    “To my mind, spousal abuse is just something too real to live down and chalk up to fiction. It’s a charge people don’t usually recover from, right up there with murderer or pedophile. You don’t do it. Even if you do it once, that’s it, because it means that it’s in you. That capability is always there, and it can become unlocked once more if the right kind of stress and pressure are applied.”

    So, does this mean that Peter Parker should always be remembered as a wife beater? Being under stress from possibly being a clone doesn’t justify hitting his pregnant wife.
    How about Reed Richards? He’s even done it more than once.
    Will Hal Jordan forever be remembered as a pedophile?

    Of course, the real issue here is that they have all had more interesting stories told about them over the years. People are willing to forget these incidents, because writers have plenty of other things to draw from. Hank and Jan were always the second stringers on that original Avengers line-up, and it’s only in recent years that Hank Pym has had a decent amount of stories told about him, and of course, by now it’s too late to change the image people have of him. His depiction in Ultimates didn’t help matters either.

    For anyone interested in reading stories about Hank Pym, definitely check out the West Coast Avengers, and Dan Slott’s Mighty Avengers run. The quite recent Ant-man and Wasp mini-series was also pretty fun.

  18. MutantSentry MutantSentry says:
  19. Major McMeat says:

    Yet Spider-Man still gets a free pass for hitting his then-pregnant wife.

  20. player1 player1 says:

    On a related note, Rihanna is back with Chris Brown, personally and professionally.

    :-\

  21. boosebaster boosebaster says:

    The Ant Man movie is still happening by the way, or I recently heard as much. Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright have finished the script I believe and Wright is set to direct.

    • srh1son srh1son says:

      Wasn’t there a rumor about Joss Whedon getting Nathan Fillion to do a Hank Pym cameo in the Avengers? Or was that just fanboy speculation?

      I can imagine the phone conversation of Fillion being asked and learning about the character.

      “Oh yeah… he hit his wife”. CLICK.

  22. bobby2889 says:

    Why do people find it negative to have a more in depth character? Maybe less heroic but Marvel has a legacy of taking violent criminals and having them try to atone. Hawkeye outgrew is sins but Hank commited his while a hero. Can’t people accept it happened and go ‘Okay lets just see what stories come from this.’ Sure it might leave him one note but done well it can be a thought-provoking note.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      I agree with you – I disagree with Josh’s statement that the character is broken.

      If you were a story writer, you wouldn’t consider a fallible, human character who’d made a terrible mistake that would always weigh on him to be “broken” at at all. Surely that’s the sort of depth you want. Surely that’s where drama comes from? And character growth. And all that other lovely stuff.

    • bobby2889 says:

      Oh he is broken as a figure. As a person. That’s OK. You can’t ignore it that’s stupid. But to make his redemption all he has doesn’t work either. Problem is, like Josh is saying I think, its a Catch 22. You can’t gloss over it cos its too far gone now. Its in people’s minds since its all that he’s been for years. If you dwell on it then you continue that which makes him one note. You need a smart writer to say ‘this isn’t bad for character development. We can do something with this’. No he will not be the world’s greatest hero and his attempts to (or the attempts of writers to make him) just that only exemplify his lacking and faults. They need to stop overcompensating is essentially what I’m saying. Try to help us think about something else but let that come through quality of story-telling not forced story features. Sure it’ll always be there but it doesn’t need to be all that is there imo.

    • bobby2889 says:

      Dying in a blaze of glory is one way to do that I guess.

  23. Major McMeat says:

    And wait, if you’re using the “he’s not real” argument, then hitting his wife should be no big deal at all. Neither they nor the incident ever existed, so there’s nothing to hold against the fictional character.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      I can hold a fictional incident against a fictional character who committed a fictional act. If Hank Pym were real and someone wrote a fictional story about him hitting his wife, I would not hold it against him because that would make me a crazy person.

    • Major McMeat says:

      Okay, but Flanagan is treating the “fictional character” angle as a one-way street. That the good Pym’s done to atone since he struck Jan doesn’t matter since he isn’t real. By that logic, should the incident itself not also be meaningless?

      And again, Pym’s hardly the only superhero to ever hit his wife, but for some reason it was only unforgivable when he did it.

  24. mutielover says:

    In the Marvel Universe alone there are examples of much worse treatment between characters: Scott Summers abandoning his wife and child for his returned-from-the-dead girlfriend, the physical and mental rape of Ms. Marvel by Immortus (made even worst by uncaring nature of her fellow Avengers, especially Hawkeye) and Rogue, respectively, etc.

    Why are Scott, the Avengers (who had Wasp on the line-up), and Rogue able to move on beyond these individual plotlines while Hank is stuck as the wife-beater? Is beating your wife worse than abandoning her? Or being strangely ok with your friend’s rape?

  25. So maybe this character should exist as is to show people that one despicable, cowardly act will stick with you and haunt others perception of you for the rest of your life….there are no “re-boots” in real life.

    My firm we used a similar strategy for a DUI campaign, showing the lasting, long term results of one bad decision. Very effective campaign.

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      one strike and you are out huh?

    • its the reality of our society. Some things stick with you forever and define your life. Ask Pete Rose or OJ Simpson what they’ll be remembered for…it won’t be their athletic careers.

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      I guess by your point of view you better hope you never make a mistake.
      People Should be defined by the whole of their actions.
      Negating the possibility of true redemption goes against logic and compassion.
      And fills our prisons with broken human beings that might otherwise become valuable members of society.
      Pointing to sensationalized media examples isn’t a compelling argument and putting betting on your team to a brutal murder case is also nuts.

    • You missed the entire point. Society won’t allow some sins to be forgiven…good or bad thats just the brutal truth. I do agree with you about redemption and how things *should be*, But really thats an abstract, academic conversation that ignores reality.

      Sadly, Its a very real truth that in this world, some mistakes will fuck you over for the rest of your life.

    • TomSwift TomSwift says:

      If one lets it.
      There are ways to combat opinion and stigma.
      And since this IS fiction the writer can handle it anyway they want.
      And I say stop playing that record it’s played out.
      I think Slott had a great take on Pym he didn’t forget the issue he just made it part of the whole.
      And was doing some really interesting things with Pym instead of pulling the old “I need some weight here oh I know- Hank is a wife beater trick”

    • MisterJ says:

      TomSwift: I think that you missed wally’s point again. (Please correct me if I am wrong wally) The ‘actor’ doesn’t have any say in it. It is society that has to dismiss it. Nobody is arguing that Pym is wallowing or stuck due to his actions, it is us, the readers, who will not let it pass. OJ doesn’t think of himself as a murderer, we do. His great work in athletics and as a comedic actor are completely secondary to the belief that he is a murderer. Pete Rose cheated his game, he is the ‘Hit King’ and that comes after his betting. The majority of comic readers are stuck on this, for whatever reason, as such, the writers will continue to use it as background. It’s that simple.

  26. MagnetGirl MagnetGirl says:

    The conversations yesterday and today have made one thing abundantly clear to me:

    I don’t want to see domestic abuse in my comics. Ever. It clearly cannot be addressed in an appropriate way. Because of the way it has been done via the examples given in commentary (Hank Pym, Reed Richards, Vision, Clone Peter Parker*) we have reasonable people arguing that these acts of violence should not be that important to the characters or plots or comic book fandom. And that is a horrible thing surrounded by horrible things.

    If a company or creator wanted to address this very important issue in a thoughtful and respectful way, I would support it. But it would require something that the comic book medium simply does not lend itself to: continuity of consequence. It could not be retconned ever. It could not be forgotten ever. It could not be minimized EVER. Doing any of that would be a metaphorical slap in the face to all the real world real life actual victims of actual slaps and far worse and that is, plainly and simply, wrong.

    As it is, the idea of domestic abuse has been used in these stories to create drama for and add depth of character to the male protagonist. The abuser. And has then been excused away with “mind control”, “one time loss of control”, “clone”, etc. And that is basically disgusting. And I never ever want to see it in a comic book again.

    *I admit freely that commenters bring up Peter hitting Mary Jane while she was pregnant and he was probably a clone (during the Clone Saga which I also freely admit to never reading nor ever wanting to read) engenders the knee-jerk reaction “Leave Peter alone, he would never!” in me (the biggest Spider-fan and strongest Spider-defender you don’t know) so I can understand and relate to people who legitimately like the character of Hank Pym. It’s my opinion he’s too problematic to be used well, but I get you.

    • markish markish says:

      The Peter that hit her thought at that point in time that he was the clone, but he’s actually the same Peter that’s in Amazing right now .Just to clarify. :)

  27. RaceMcCloud RaceMcCloud says:

    Can I throw something out there? As Josh is very clear to point out, Hank Pym is a fictional character. I’d like to suggest that he is actually MORE INTERESTING as a character with this baggage, and background. So, in terms of fiction and storytelling… this isn’t such a bad thing. To retcon it would be to cheap out on it.

    Of course, Mark Millar dealt with this whole storyline much better in Ultimates Vol. 1 & 2 than it’s ever been dealt with in 616. And animated Hank Pym has never hit Jan, so we can’t really factor this flaw into our judgments of THAT character. Ah, multiple universes…

  28. I think his past domestic abuse actually makes this character. He is a tragic hero, constantly trying to attone for this sin he committed to someone he supposedly loved. He knows he will never be forgiven, there was that scene post Secret Invasion wasnt there where he made Jocasta pretend to be Janet and asked if she forgiven him? – she didnt!

    In this regard he is unique in the Marvel Universe. There are a few super scientists; a few who can grow real tall; and a few who are original Avengers but only one man who has to live with this on his conscience.

    That’s what I want to read about, people going through real emotions, they’re not perfect but they want to be – I know it’s fiction so I dont feel like it’s condoning domestic violence. If anything it shows that there is no recovery from this, and this great man is forever tainted

  29. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    “we have reasonable people arguing that these acts of violence should not be that important to the characters or plots or comic book fandom. And that is a horrible thing surrounded by horrible things”

    Exactly.

    • clint7480 says:

      I don’t really see anyone here saying the acts of violence aren’t important, or that they don’t have a big impact on Hank as a character. The reaction against Josh’s point is that all of this doesn’t necessarily “break” Hank as character. It gives him a deeply horrible flaw that he will always have to push against and try to overcome. It makes the character more compelling if anything. No one is trying to sweep wife beating under the rug.

  30. Blargo Blargo says:

    So the only way to fix a character is to kill them off? Gotcha.

    • Yeah, apparently you did a horrible thing, a thing you have tried so hard to make up for, and now all that’s left for you to do is die.

      I mean, WOW. And people are actually agreeing with this nihilistic point of view. That’s almost as disgusting as absolving the domestic abuse, honestly.

    • captamerica101 captamerica101 (@Autobot_Hunter) says:

      ok, 2 things. first, people are not advocating simply killing him off and neither am I. what I, (as well as most of the people who agree with me) am/are saying is this; pym is a character who’s flaws make him hard to root for. a good way to make up for those flaws in a dramatic medium such as comics is to give him a redemptive death. this technique was used on Hal Jordan in final night, and on literally thousands of characters throughout fiction. it is not a simple death for the sake of death.
      secondly, I have seen the words horrible and disgusting tossed around a lot in these comments. come on guys, its comics, there meant to be enjoyable. getting pissed off can’t be enjoyable for many people. have fun.

    • MisterJ says:

      Pssst, Psst. (hey Jeremey c’mere. Little secret, these aren’t actual people)

      Seriously, you cannot be considering that getting rid of a fictional character is anywhere near to the same thing as absolving domestic abuse, can you??

  31. JDA190 JDA190 says:

    I’ve always read the Avengers. It’s always been one of my favorite books and I will always read it. I’ve always liked just about every character they bring onto the team in one form or another with some exceptions (I’m looking at you Triathlon!), but I have never liked Hank Pym. Even before the infamous slap heard round the comics world. He was never going to be as smart as Tony Stark and he always seemed out of place to me. I love the Wasp though and was always torn because she was always with such a chump like Pym.

    When Avengers Disassembled happened I thought FINALLY! They’re going to kill Pym. But instead they killed off Hawkeye (Not like this!), Vision and several other members. I thought ‘What a waste’! They had the perfect opportunity to kill off a founding member who no one really cared about like Pym and wasted it.

    Pym will always be around. I don’t know why but I wish they would finally just kill him off and bring back Janet!

    He also created Ultron, what a douche.

  32. BornIn1142 BornIn1142 says:

    This must be the first time that a What’s Wrong With You? article rails FOR the very attitude I would expect a What’s Wrong With You article to rail AGAINST.

    This attitude that one mistake – disproportionately small compared to other ones from the same storyline – renders the character beyond redemption is frankly shocking to me. In the context of real life, it’s even slightly disturbing.

    For the record, Josh, do you regard Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic as “ruined” characters as well?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      For whatever reason, the taint of what they did didn’t stick with them. Again, they’re not real. If they were real, and they did that, they could go fuck themselves. But when you say Hank Pym, you think “wife beater”. I didn’t make that up, that’s just how it is.

      You’ll have to continue to be frankly shocked.

    • No, because as he said in the beginning, he doesn’t read anything with Hank Pym in it. He knows one aspect of his life, one mistake that he’s tried to atone for, and he has cast an entire net on this character to judge him on. And the best solution is for him to die. There’s just no hope left for you, no matter how much good you do, how many lives you save, how much you love or accomplish, no. You just need to die, that’s the best solution Josh has for this character he doesn’t even know.

      I just joined last month and I’m already disgusted by this community.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Wow.

    • It’s not like he’s asking for a fucking real life human to be put to death. Fick-shun-al Car-act-tor!

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It’s not ire. I’m not mad about it. I don’t care about it. I’m talking about the effect of the ideas in my opinion.

      People getting mad at me for talking about it? That’s weird.

    • Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

      I always find it ridiculous when people get so angry at Josh about these articles. Can’t you just disagree with him and call it a day? I don’t agree with some of this article, either, but so what. I hate to get on an anti-rant rant, but chill out. Not everyone has the same opinion.

    • mtthwclmnt says:

      Josh, in regards to your comment about Reed and Peter not being straddled with the domestic abuser labels, its because they have so much more to their characters, most likely because they’ve been consistently in books for 50 years. Pym moves in and out of books and occasionally goes a year or two without being seen, so what happens to him follows him more.
      The people who write Reed and Peter either ignore that they hit their wives, or don’t feel like its relevant to their stories to bring up. Pym on the other hand has it brought up regardless of its relevance. It has become one of his defining traits because EVERYONE brings it up.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      @mtthwclmnt: That’s correct.

    • BornIn1142 BornIn1142 says:

      Yes, that’s precisely the point. According to this article, there’s something wrong with the people who get over this ridiculous and tiresome hang-up, as opposed to the far more reasonable people that LET an incidental writer’s whim from decades ago “ruin” a character for them and refuse to see the big picture. How does this make sense? It doesn’t.

    • BornIn1142 BornIn1142 says:

      Note: that should read “far less resonable people,” obviously.

    • edward says:

      @Jeremy Carrier: that’s not how you change that

  33. It’s like Hank Pym won the worse lottery ever. A good amount of heroes from DC, Marvel, and other publishers at the time would berate or hit women all the time. Because, as sad as this sounds, it wasn’t totally unacceptable at the time. Of course we now live in an, slightly, sane world and anyone beating up women knows it’s a terrible idea. But again, Pym got the raw end of the deal because he’s the only hero I know of that can’t shake what he did. That doesn’t mean I feel bad for him because hitting your wife is terrible. But considering everyone else seems to be getting a free pass (whether they’re real or not) is kinda not fair.

    Also, I love how quickly this turned into an article by the way. The fastest turnaround for a ‘What’s Wrong With You?’ article I believe.

    • Major McMeat says:

      Seriously, if you’re going to hold anything against him, it should be the Ultron thing or how he tried to stage a supervillain fight to get back into people’s good graces.

      I mean, people do still remember and bring that stuff up, but it’s always secondary to that one time he hit his wife.

  34. Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

    I don’t know much about Pym, I do think wife beater when he is mentioned. Unless I’m watching that Avengers cartoon, in which case I don’t bring any baggage to any of them.

    However I think that Hank Pym, the wife beating one, would be a really interesting character to write. A flawed genius.

    I don’t understand the vitriol though….

  35. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    If a character somehow manages to atone for spousal abuse, to prove he’s really truly remorseful and that he’ll never forgive himself for the act–that’s a story. That’s an ongoing conflict.

    Add the baggage of creating the world’s most horrifying artificial intelligence…why would you want to give this guy a clean slate? It’s Greek tragedy with robots and insect costumes.

    Don’t forgive. Don’t forget. Explore.

    • And Bingo was his name-o.

    • Jay Jay says:

      Exactly this.

      These kinds of thorny, complex issues are what makes a story and reveals character. We could take Hank Pym out of this conversation and replace him with the comedian from WATCHMEN. We can judge his actions, his character, his integrity, but thats part of what makes for interesting story. To give up on something like that would be to relegate comics to the kind of simplistic story telling that many non-readers seem to think dominate the art form.

      Frank Castle is a serial killer, but folks don’t want that aspect of his character washed away. Tony Stark is more interesting because he’s an addict. Matt Murdock is more interesting because…well…because of about a million flaws. Including cheating on his wife, and on ex-girlfriends.

      In novels, L.A. Confidential would be a much less interesting book if we took out all of the pretty nasty people, or the people trying to live down bad deeds from their past. Same with films and TV. Do we hold comics to a different standard?

      I disagree with Josh on this. But I also think it’s a good debate to have, I think this post today proves exactly why it’s good to not wash this history away- it keeps a conversation going.

  36. This is going to sound weird but…..Has the Avengers, or anyone in the Marvel U, sort of forgave Hank? I mean not like ‘Hey buddy, we all have bad days’ type of forgiveness; but just after so many years of it happening and Hank trying to be a better person since the incident have they grown to try and ignore what happened? I know Janet has never fully forgiven him even though they have sort of tried and move on at certain points.

    I mean Tony did some terrible stuff when he was an alcoholic and even though they are quick to remind him they don’t seem to be angry at him anymore about it.

  37. WHATTHEDAST WHATTHEDAST says:

    If you look in the Aquaman TPB for ‘Death of a Prince’, Aquaman punches the hell out of Mera!

    It looks WORSE than Pym’s back slap.

    I am also tired of Pym constantly being labeled a wife beater.

    ESPECIALLY since it was the artist’s decision to put him slapping her in the issue. The writer had no intention of Pym doing such a thing.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      Doesn’t matter what the intention was, it happened. And it’s been referred to over and over in the stories.

      You’re also assuming that Jim Shooter is not practicing revisionist history.

    • WHATTHEDAST WHATTHEDAST says:

      I prefer to remember Pym the way that Dan Slott portrayed him in Mighty Avengers.

      I’m pretty sure everyone has already forgotten about Hal Jordan/Parallax (How many people did he kill again?).

      So why don’t we forget about Pym’s slap?

    • captamerica101 captamerica101 (@Autobot_Hunter) says:

      we forget about hal because it was explained that parallax was in the drivers seat when it happened. pym was not possessed by anything.

  38. flakbait flakbait says:

    It should be noted that Kurt Busiek dealt with all of this in his run, giving all parties involved acceptance, etc. But that was all forgotten as soon as the next writer came on board.

  39. Wow. What an absolutely HORRIFYING attitude the article writer has. It’s funny how he’s in shock, because I’m in shock, too.

    My brother used to be quite the drinker, and he did a lot of, quite frankly, appallingly stupid things. It cost him his house, his fiance, and the respect of a lot of his friends and family. One day he came to me, knowing he needed help, and he just needed somebody to help him. I did everything I could to oblige his request.

    That was seven years ago. My brother has not so much as even sipped a drink since. He’s happily married and has a beautiful daughter in Orlando, I mean just the cutest little girl you’ve ever seen. He’s made mistakes in the past, terrible mistakes…but he’s learned from those experiences, built new bridges where they were burned, and tried to move on with his life the best way he can.

    And yeah, he’s had to deal with judgmental a-holes for years. Big white, shinning knights who have never so much as even THOUGHT of being drunk their entire lives, I imagine. They hold his past against him, no matter what he’s done, because of “well, the capacity to do it again is there!” They barely even know the man, but will cast stones based off past deeds. I not saying you have to like the man, and the years don’t erase what happened, but can you move on and put it behind you? Alex has.

    I know Hank Pym is fictional, but it doesn’t matter. The article draws comparisons to horrible real life incidents and judges accordingly, then tries to hide their attitude behind “well its all fake, you guys!”. It’s horsecrap. It’s a mindset that doesn’t just switch off when you’re dealing with real life and escapist entertainment. These are characters crafted to mimic and imitate human beings, people we can relate to, and see through their eyes, and judge their decisions.

    It’s ignorant, its hateful, and its disgusting. I joined today just to tell you how VEHEMENTLY I disagree with viewpoints like this. Absolutely disgusting.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I’m really not writing about your brother. And I’ve had to go to AA meetings for loved ones many times in my life. You might want to take a wee step back.

      Or maybe I am horrible and disgusting and ignorant and hateful for being against domestic abuse. I guess.

    • Dr.Casanova says:

      This is how i feel in a sense too. Yet there are few things i want to bring to the table.

      Why do writers/artists need to add these sort of things to any character. In watchmen, i can understand Moore portraying the comedian as a horrible piece of crap of a man because that was how he always was right up to the end. But in the role of Hank Pym, I don’t think that was the original artists vision. Maybe he wasn’t squeaky clean, but he was still a good guy. Then somebody decided this and it’s all downhill from there. Its just awfully depressing that Pym was made into this as opposed to my two favorite versions of him (avengers cartoon and thor: tma). If we as a community need to turn a hero into a wife beater just to get us interested, maybe we don’t deserve heroes.

      I got a second part to this that I’ll put up later.

    • No one is advocating for domestic abuse, for Christ’s sake, Josh. Stop falling back on that crap because of your faulty reading comprehension.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I want to make this clear, since we’re talking about reading comprehension, this article is about a fictional character who is tainted with a very heavy idea. I’m trying to explore why this idea has stuck and why it causes such reactions. I suppose you can be mad at me about that, but that doesn’t make much sense to me, and wasn’t the purpose.

    • homiegfunk03 homiegfunk03 says:

      I agree. The man was going thought a mental breakdown but took responsibility for his actions and will be the last person to forgive himself. The world is a very gray place with honorable crooks and merciless saints. I think the moral event horizon if further away than this instance.

      I wasn’t a fan of Hank initially but the fact that he does have this moment of great weakness that haunts him is compelling. Reading the Initiative, the Ant-Man/Wasp mini series, and Avengers Academy has made me a fan of not just Hank but the fact that this is a part of his history that both haunts and motivates him. I think his imperfection is what has made him a driven mentor because he knows the highest highs and the lowest lows of the game.

      Yes he’s fictional but this a website that has a community of people united in our shared passion about the stories being told. The whole “it’s fake you idiots” tone was unnecessary and insulting.

      The “fake” tale of Hank Pym also has something missing from the Chris Brown story: remorse in both words and deeds. Chris Brown has still shown angry and homophobic tendencies in the years since the event.

    • MisterJ says:

      As a counterpoint Mr Hickman, alcoholics and addicts have the mantra, ‘once an addict, always an addict.’ So, why do you bring up an example that kinda counters the point you are making??

  40. BC1 BC1 says:

    See, here’s what I don’t get. I’m assuming that this happened while Jim Shooter was Executive Editor. The same Jim Shooter who said “Jean Grey has to be punished because she killed an entire planet of innocent creatures, and our characters don’t do that kind of thing.” So, one character must be punished (in her case, killed) for doing a rather sci-fi exaggerated act, while one does a very grounded and real act and has no long-term consequences? It isn’t the acts themselves that I find issue with; it’s the inconsistency of editorial directive in their consequences. If one must be punished in the pages of the story, why not the other?

  41. standardman standardman says:

    Maybe he’ll win a Grammy.

  42. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    wow. i didnt know spider-man and mr. fantastic beat on their wives. that is quite literally heartbreaking for me to read.
    does anyone have the time or inclination to fill me in on what happened?

  43. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    So…um…does anyone else like comic books? I like comic books.

  44. Barry1222 Barry1222 says:

    If Marvel wanted to fix Hank Pym, they missed their chance with Secret Invasion. Could have just blamed it on a Skrull.

  45. srh1son srh1son says:

    I was really hoping the controversy was going to be about Archie playing both Betty and Veronica. But what can you do?

  46. ed209AF ed209AF says:

    I like Hank Pym. I like how all his F* ups have led him to be this broken hero trying desperately to matter. I’m not pretending he didn’t hit his wife. He did. it happened. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t an enjoyable character to read.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      And if that was the case, where people want him to continue as is, and have that be part of his story, I totally agree. It makes for a more interesting character. But it doesn’t make for a guy who can be accepted as a hero, 100%, if that’s what people want, and some do.

    • Major McMeat says:

      Yet Spider-Man can be accepted as a hero, 100%, simply because nobody talks about that time he hit his pregnant wife.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      I honestly think marvel is trying TOO hard to right the wrongs. I mean keeping your dead wife suspended in this alternate dimension infinite mansion thing. that was crazy.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @Major McMeat: Basically, yes. I think Marvel realized that that entire era of Spider-Man as a mistake and basically swept it all under the rug. (Not to mention that now the marriage never happened so it’s been retconned out entirely.) For some reason Marvel has decided to not do that with Pym as it keeps getting mentioned in stories.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      @Major McMeat: No, no one does talk about that. People talking about it and revisiting it makes it relevant. They left that behind, because no one wants to read a story about wife-beater Peter Parker. That’s not an issue anyone has. Hank Pym has that issue. It clings to him like herpes. I didn’t make that so, but it is so.

    • I never knew about Peter hitting MJ until I read a trade that had that incident in it. I just remember going:

      “Whoa! Why is no one talking about this!?”

      It’s funny how Marvel will let that go by but for some reason Hank has to suffer. But I guess with retconning you can just ignore an entire history of a character (snaps) just like that!

    • i never knew Peter hit MJ until today. I think Josh is right…Pym’s faults are by design. Controversy sells, as long as its not tooo much. You can’t damage Spiderman as a brand like that, but a B list character…not a big deal.

    • @wally: Wasn’t Pym a big character at the time the incident happened? Maybe he wasn’t Cap/Iron Man/Thor, but I’m pretty sure he was ‘A’-material back in the day.

    • @TNC…maybe…but Spiderman was always bigger right? Maybe Pym was big in Germany. Wasn’t around back then. =)

    • @Wally: I hear Stilt Man KILLS in Yemen.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      I think one reason that Peter Parker and Reed Richards get a pass on their “past transgressions” is that their actions were out of character for them, so the writers / artists that have come after said transgressions, have chosen, rightly, to ignore those moments. On the other hand, Hank Pym has always been a flawed character. He is the IRREDEEMABLE Ant Man. In Hank’s case, becasue the shoe fits, writers from here until the end of time will force him to wear it over and over and over again.

    • @TNC–would love to see a documentary or photo essay about a comic shop in Yemen…that would be awesome.

  47. Major McMeat says:

    You do make it so. You help perpetuate that image based on your own complete ignorance.

    • No one here writes Hank Pym currently for Marvel, so blaming people here for this character continuously having this aspect to him is ridiculous.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      Yup Ifanboy writers control Marvels Editing department. What they are saying is that Marvel has chosen to keep it an issue.

      I remember when they made those Avengers mini’s a few years back, the ones with each cover being a letter spelling out AVENGERS. They were meant as kind of a retelling/consolidation of the Early Avengers Years. And guess what plot point they included?

    • WheelHands WheelHands says:

      @ed209AF: Was it Hank hitting Jan? I don’t believe it. It couldn’t have been. iFanboy alone is responsible for perpetuating the stigma.

  48. Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

    WHY ARE PEOPLE SO MAD, THIS IS SO WEIRD! Seriously

  49. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    I honestly don’t know how anyone could argue against Josh’s point. Good one, Mr Flanagan

  50. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    Man, I’m late to this shit storm. I love these. Josh writes an article about how absurd it is to demand a clean slate for a fictional character, and a third of the users comment on how Hank Pym should get a clean slate. Some even offer suggestions on how Marvel could clean said slate. Other sign up just to express their disgust with our community. It’s fascinating.

    @Josh: I was the one who used the word “legacy” yesterday. Just to clarify, I feel the same way you do. I used the word in a effort to calm down a user who was overreacting. It was intended as sarcasm. Guess I should’ve put it in quotes.

  51. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    SHOCKING! HORRIFYING! I JUST CANT BELIEVE IT!

    give me a fucking break. is this really a big deal. hank hit his wife. i cant believe so many of you give a shit about defending hank.
    makes me wonder: how many of you defenders have hit your own wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend. is that why you’re so sympathetic? or maybe you saw your fathers/mothers or some other family member do it and you dont want to hate them.
    i’ve seen this type of abuse first hand and i have no sympathy for the devil. they usually try and blame it on some sort of “mind control” whether it’s drugs, alcohol or just stress. no matter what the excuse, it’s pathetic.

    shame on you spider-man, mr. fantastic and hank pym. wait a minute….they dont feel shame. BECAUSE THEY’RE FICTIONAL FUCKING CHARACTERS.

    heres a question: did hank’s wife ever forgive him. if she did, you guys can always take comfort in that and continue loving the character regardless of what everyone else thinks of him. in the end, who gives a shit about what everyone else thinks. love him or hate him, just live with it and stop getting mad at people for talking about it. just makes your position look weak when you invest so much emotion and time in hating people for disagreeing with you

    • Blargo Blargo says:

      “makes me wonder: how many of you defenders have hit your own wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend. is that why you’re so sympathetic?”

      This shit is just getting ridiculous now.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I agree. I think that’s going a bit too far. I didn’t put that in my piece, because I don’t think it’s fair or true.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      Yeah, I’m with Blargo on this one. I agree with some of your comments, but don’t think you can tell people not to get mad at Josh and then imply that they may be real life domestic abusers.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      it may not be true, but that doesnt mean it’s not a fair question. look, i realize some people just wish hank never did it and just want to forget about it.
      what if he were a child molester? would any of you question the people supporting him? even if it only happened once.
      wife beaters, rapist and molesters all prey on weaker people and sail in the same boat as far as i’m concerned. i’m sorry, but my first thought is why would you defend someone like that.
      the comedian only raped someone once. does anyone care to defend his character other than rorschach?

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      @maxpower
      i also implied that they might also be domestic abuse victims

  52. SEChambers says:

    Holy Heck. Between the article that is just asking for moral crusading comments on either side of the fence, and then the 127 comments that follow. I had to triple check and make sure the url didn’t say Comicsalliance.com

  53. RaceMcCloud RaceMcCloud says:

    Also, I was thinking (and has probably been said above) maybe it’s so hard for the Hank Pym character to shake the “wife-beater” stigma because there’s really no other interesting stories told about the character. Peter Parker and Reed Richards have had thousands of great stories told about them. But what is there to Hank Pym, really? He’s, what, C-Level, at best?

    I think a parallel would be Tony Stark. Until recently (about the time of the first Iron Man movie) the best Iron Man story ever told was “Demon in a Bottle”. So the Tony Stark character always carried that around with him, the alcoholism. But how many of us even think about that anymore when we read/watch the character? That character has been redeemed by newer, more exciting, interesting and engaging stories. Hank hasn’t been given those.

    Because, c’mon… Ant-Man sucks. (j/k. Kind of.)

  54. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    The reason this label sticks, and the reason writers keep coming back to it, is that Hank Pym has always been a flawed character and writing flawed characters is more interesting. If he was a paragon of virtue, like Peter Parker, the incident would have been ignored.

  55. Smasher says:

    Great article, Josh. The pot is thoroughly stirred but I respectfully disagree that

    “…they need to let Hank go. I think he needs to go down in a blaze of heroic glory, trying to atone for what he did, but knowing that he never fully can. Only then can he be forgiven.”

    I’ve said this before but Hank Pym has the potential to be one of the greatest Avengers villains ever. Not because he’s a wife beater but because he’s never gotten his due for his scientific achievements. Tony Stark and Reed Richards get all the accolades. Bruce Banner is feared (don’t make him angry). What about Pym?

    Pym has the potential to be a truly complex super-villain in the Marvel Universe. Not some gimmicky cape wearing would-be world conqueror. A man of science who’s position to not “do good” could be based on logic and philosophical treatises.

    Plus how cool would it be to see Pym shrink Cap’s shield before it hits him or permanently shrink Wolverine to his OHOTMU height :)

  56. Quinn says:

    I’m not a huge Ant Man fan, but the fact that he made a mistake and will spend the rest of his fictional life trying to get past it is an interesting aspect of his character. He feels bad (as opposed to, say, Chris Brown), and that makes him marginally more acceptable. Flaws make characters interesting. This is why I don’t read any Captain America, Spider-Man or Thor: they lack flaws (Peter comes the closest, but in the end he always does everything just right, which is still boring).

    The character of Hank Pym may, if the past is any indication, be around for another 50 years, staying the same age and emotional maturity. The fact that he will carry his regret with him for the rest of my life, and probably the rest of my son’s (if copyright law continues the way it has been), makes this character more nuanced and interesting than a hundred Mary Sue Peter Parkers or Wish Fulfillment Tony Starks. He is a C-list character, which means that he can afford to be more nuanced. A-list characters, just like main characters on TV shows, can’t afford to be, nor can they afford to change much, because fans react badly to that kind of thing. Like I said, I’m generally agnostic on the character, but this aspect (not the wife-beating: the stories that came after) make him, for me, a more engaging character that most in the Avengers corner of the Marvel stable.

  57. Vuk Vuk says:

    Madness I tell you… Madness…

  58. srh1son srh1son says:

    That’s a lot of comments! I know it’s good for hits, but more often than not, this column and the responses generated seem more destructive than constructive. I thought comics were supposed to be fun.

    It seems like the worst tendencies of this community get provoked and a dialogue or real conversation, more often than not, never really gets going, which is unfortunate.

  59. Goddamn, this is still an issue?

  60. walterwhite walterwhite says:

    I think people are upset because Hank is still refered to as a wife beater but being someone who has dealt with family/friends who are drug addicts and alcoholics the title never leaves. The only way to get better is to admit you have a problem and to wear it like a badge of honor so you can get better. To me the fact Hank excepts the fact he’s a wife beater and stays on the path of self recovery makes him a more likable character. Now if you can’t forgive him of his past then that’s your prerogative but I don’t think he has to die to make a point..Come on people get off you crosses.

  61. Burinki says:

    First of all I just registered. I’ve been a lurker for a bit and I’ve always liked this site for going for a positive slant on comics which is saddingly rare. I haven’t really been into comics that long so it’s good to have somewhere mostly positive. I’m likely repeating what has been said before but honestly I’m not up to reading through some nerdrage to see if my point has already been made.

    Plenty of heroes have hit women. I mean look at Reed Richards, he slapped Sue in the face and we don’t have to demonize him so why demonize Pym?

    He’s not real. Marvel could actually retcon it and make it so it never happened to the character. REAL people who do that shit have to live with the consequences.

    In a 1940s cartoon Donald Duck was a Nazi. Should we hate him now because he was portrayed as being a part of a fascist regime? Should he have to “live with the consequences of that?

    Seriously this whole thing is invalid from all sides, it all comes down to this:

    Do you like Pym or not? That’s where this all stems from. Those who like him will endlessly justify him and those who don’t will demonize him.

    I hope this is all some grave misunderstanding from my part because from where I’m standing it seems like you’re saying that Pym should “live” with the consequences of his actions but no other characters who are guilty of such things should?

    For the record I don’t like Pym. Anything I’ve read with him is full of whinging about mental anguish.

  62. I agree totally with Joshs article. It’s pretty clear cut, harm the ones that’s you should protect and love and you really are a scum bag. In real life and in comic books. And as usual josh gets the people talking, he is provocative!

  63. LucasEwalt says:

    I will also say I don’t know much about Hank Pym. I only started reading comics about ten years ago. But it’s so fascinating that characters, both heroes and villains, can be redeemed for almost anything. I just bought the Avengers Omnibus on Wednesday where former villains Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch join the team. Not to mention more recent examples like, say, Magneto (at least a couple of times) and Hal Jordan. Plus you’ve got characters like Batman and Daredevil who can just generally be a dick to people and/or use women for their own personal gain.

    But domestic violence? Not a chance. There’s no coming back from that. And I have to say, I pretty much agree with that sentiment. So let that be a lesson to everyone – if you hit your spouse (or kids), everybody will hate you forever, regardless of anything else you ever do.

  64. Batcaptain says:

    I’ve never read a comic with Hank in it, and I assume he realizes he was wrong and that he is constantly trying to make up for it because that’s what’s all over the comments.

    Given that, he sounds like he’s a morally good character. He’s done bad things but he’s spent a long time trying to make up for it. Hank hitting his wife will never be forgotten, but not liking the character because of it is missing the point, I think. That point, to me, is that (To my knowledge), Hank would never do this again, and he deserves a second chance. Not necessarily a clean slate, but he shouldn’t be looked at as the spousal-abuse character if he’s been so consistently portrayed as trying to redeem himself.

    Like I said I haven’t read any comic with him in it but, unless I’m mistaken, it sounds like he deserves that second chance.

  65. edward says:

    If I was married to iFanboy, this thread would be spousal abuse.

    Who am I kidding, we’ve be separated by now anyway

  66. T.G.Rogers T.G.Rogers says:

    I think it’s interesting how humans as a species remember the bad things more then the good.
    What does that say about us?

  67. TechNoir says:

    So… I don’t post often. As a result, I find it odd I am about to post about this particular subject, but there you go.

    I think the fact that Pym, did hit his wife and that he is remembered for being a wife beater, is what makes the character one of the more interesting ones in Marvel comics. Flawed characters are interesting. I don’t mean, “I have a fatal weakness” flawed, or “gee, I have to keep a secret identity” flawed or even “how am I going to make rent” flawed, but actual character flaws. Oliver Queen is a fuck up when it comes to relationships. Sherlock Holmes is an arrogant twat who is addicted to drugs, despite these problems, they still manage to be heroes. Pym, is a screw up and he lost his temper and hit his wife. Sure, the writer never meant for that to be there, but hey it is there on the page and they have acknowledged it since in continuity. Stories where he is trying to make up for that fact, to try and earn respect, when he can never have it, are actually very compelling. He had a very human and real character flaw.

    It is compelling for the contrast. In a world where you have Thor, Spiderman, and Captain America, three guys who are about as moral idealized as can be, you can paint an interesting tale with the guy who is counter point to them. Pym wants to be loved and he will never be loved, not even by himself. He wants to be a hero, but he keeps creating more problems than he fixes. I think Marvel should embrace him as a constantly tragic character who will always try to be redeemed, but will always fail.

    Of course, they should also bring back the Wasp. That story of Pym, is mainly interesting only if he has the reminders of it in his life.

    Don’t get me started on the Ultimate universe version. There he is not tragically flawed, there he is just a shit head.

    • T.G.Rogers T.G.Rogers says:

      @TechNoir I agree. And I think the reason I enjoy the Marvel characters more then the DC ones is BECAUSE there flawed. It’s the same with Iron Man and how he’s an alchoalic. I don’t believe Marvel should just simply kill off Pym, He really does speak how Marvel is wiling to keep there story’s grounded in the life we live.
      Also I think if Janet does get brought back, (I’m sure she will at some point) I’ll be a little sad because I think her death really pushed Pym and developed his character in a good way. The issue of Mighty Avengers were Pyms at Jans funral is one of my favorite and most powerful comic moments that I’ve experienced.

  68. xoman xoman says:

    Don’t have to read all of the comments but I can’t not comment myself…

    I’m exactly like Josh in that I will always think of Chris Brown, etc as beaters of women first and that it negatively shades everything else they’ve done. However, judging folks by the worst thing they’ve done is pretty short sighted. People that have done bad things still have the capability to change and do good. Sad fact is that, people don’t usually change that much.

    As someone who read those Avengers stories as they came out, I’ll never forget what Hank did to Janet. Forgive? Well, that depends on how his character acts in the stories after that. I’d be nice to see the issue referenced once in a while. Maybe Hawkeye brings it up while pissed at something else and it causes an awkward scene?

    My two cents…

    • T.G.Rogers T.G.Rogers says:

      That would be a very interesting moment.
      Maybe well get something like that out the Ultron storyline that’s coming.
      Pym must play a huge part in that.

  69. fx434 says:

    **COMMENT MODERATED** Everyone talks like they know what is spousal abuse Believe me, you do not know, I lived eight years watching my mother be a victim of spousal abuse a man beat his wife once in the case of a nervous breakdown is not true spousal abuse I watch my father beat my mother why he was not angry he just did not like how she cooked that day or how she clean the apartment that day or how she wash his clothes that day that what spousal abuse **COMMENT MODERATED**

  70. player1 player1 says:

    I’m gonna say this column really hit a nerve, Josh.

  71. I think the moment you say, “I’m not an expert on Hank Pym” you should stop talking about Hank Pym.
    Hank Pym is my favorite character and I am an expert. He’s NOT a wife beater. In the 616 universe he hit Janet ONE TIME. That does not make you a wife beater. He was also schizophrenic. He had a mental disorder. She knew that and she walked in there and started yelling at him. What do you expect to happen? Humanbeings make mistakes you know. And he spent a lot of time making up for his. Did Reed Richards make up for hitting and psychologically abusing Sue? Did Spider Man make up for pushing a pregnant MJ into a wall? No one calls them wife beaters. It’s crap like this that keeps Hank Pym down as a character.

  72. AlanRob AlanRob says:

    Man!

    I wish I had been monitoring this thread closer so I could have seen the crazy that the moderated comments surely were!

  73. captbastrd captbastrd says:

    You could have easily rejiggered this article to be about fans wanting Spider-Man to get over his guilt complex. It certainly wouldn’t have been as apt because I doubt there are fans rallying for such a change, but it would have been as accurate because this is, as per my interpretation, an article about fans wanting to remove an aspect of a character that they deem unfair to the character.
    This wasn’t a commentary on society’s inability to forgive the sins of a person (teens saying garbage like, “Chris Brown could beat me all he wants!” and the Grammy’s thinking that THEY were the victim in Brown not being on the show for the past three years because of his ‘one time incident’), this wasn’t a call for the head of Pym on a pike, this wasn’t even a statement on Hank Pym as a character. It was a statement on fans who defy logic and, in some cases, decency in order to keep their favorite character pristine in their minds despite the fact that it makes for a better story otherwise.

    And so many of you proved him exactly right. Bravo.

  74. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    OK, I’m shutting down the comments from here on out.