Hank Pym was NOT a Wife Beater!

Just stumbled upon this article on Jim Shooter’s blog and it’s quite an interesting read so I thought I’d do a quick share before heading to bed. Hank Pym hitting his wife is pretty much the most definitive moment in the character’s history so to hear the writer who created it admit that it may have been an accident is rather curious. Accident or not, it shifted Pym from from a character whose only defining trait was his bad pun of a name (He’s giant, he can control ants, he’s Gi-ant Man!) and turned him into one of the more interesting members of the Avengers. So in that regard I guess we should be thankful, though that sounds all kinds of wrong now that I read it back. Anyway, here’s the full text right from the Shooter’s mouth:

“Back in 1981 I was writing the Avengers. Hank Pym aka Yellowjacket was married to Janet Van Dyne aka The Wasp and things had not been going well for him for a long time.

Before I embarked on the storyline that led to the end of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne’s marriage, I reread every single appearance of both characters.  His history was largely a litany of failure, always changing guises and switching back and forth from research to hero-ing because he wasn’t succeeding at either.  He was never the Avenger who saved the day at the end and usually the first knocked out or captured.  His most notable “achievement” in the lab was creating Ultron.  Meanwhile, his rich, beautiful wife succeeded in everything she tried.  She was also always flitting around his shoulders, flirting, saying things to prop up his ego.

As I was developing the storyline, I discussed the potential pathology of their relationship with a psychologist who happened to be sitting next to me on a five-hour flight.  The story made sense, he thought.  I went ahead with it.  During the time the story was running, I got a great deal of hate mail.  It worried me enough to ask Stan what he thought.  He said he got the same kind of mail in the ‘60’s regarding Peter Parker’s various romantic travails.  He asked me how Avengers sales were doing.  They were in fact, increasing by 10,000 copies per issue.  Stan said that people obviously cared passionately about what was happening to Hank and Janet, as if they were real people.  That’s the key.  And he said, “Don’t worry about the mail.”

In that story (issue 213, I think), there is a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration—making a sort of “get away from me” gesture while not looking at her.  Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross!  There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.

When that issue came out, Bill Sienkiewicz came to me upset that I hadn’t asked him to draw it!  He saw the intent right through Hall’s mistake, and was moved enough by the story to wish he’d had the chance to do it properly.

By the way, I was too busy to finish the story, so Roger Stern took over two-thirds of the way through.  I thought he did a great job.  He’s an excellent writer who doesn’t get enough credit.”

Fascinating stuff…and before you ask. No I don’t think Mark Millar’s ant-rape take on the event in Ultimates was an accident.

Don’t make me feel small, Bunkerites. You won’t like me when I’m small.

D
x

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