Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BREAKING - Hank Pym No Wife Beater, Says Shooter

It's the slap heard through all continuity, Hank Pym struck his wife, Janet Van Dyne, and never got to live it down. It really does look like a brutal moment, and any time a man takes violent recourse against a women it is harsh, but it seems this moment has been overplayed. Scribe Jim Shooter, sets us straight on the real deal of what went in behind this moment and why we've gotten it wrong ever since. Hit the jump to get the scoop.

It was Avengers #213, written by Jim Shooter and penciled by Bob Hall, where Hank Pym hits Janet Van Dyne in a moment of weakness. He's frustrated, at the ends of his wits, and we get a panel of him striking her down. That's what's gone down in history because it was on the page but now Shooter comes forward on his blog and says that wasn't how it was supposed to go down.

"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."

A subtle moment misinterpreted by an artist and we have a wife-beater for all eternity. Such a shame.

That paragraph right there, from the horse's mouth, paints such a tragic image of poor Hank. It wasn't supposed to go down like this but I guess there's no changing it now. No matter how many creators come forward with the real story.

Conclusion

What do you think about this situation? Is Hank still a wife-beater because that's what ended up on the page or does Shooter's commentary thirty years later redeem this hero? Do you think Shooter's stories can even be trusted, what's his motivation to reveal all now? Surely this story has been told by him before at a convention. Let us know in the comments what you think.


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31 comments:

Peter F DiSilvio said...

I think it's a case of too little, too late. Hank Pym, like it or not, had been defined by this moment. The story of how he has dealt with it has become just as much a part of the character as Tony Stark being an alcoholic or Roy Harper having been on heroin (technically back on but you see where I'm going with this).

Characters aren't defined by how they wave at the crowd when teh fights over, its how they deal with the fight. The stress, the anxiety, the responsibility. Its all part of it.

Hank may have one through hell because of it but it added to the character.

On a purely political note I think its a great story. This guy who seems so great to the outside world and, in reality abuses his wife. It shows you that anyone can be an abuser and no one is above being abused. Its important lesson and I think its overlooked for how much of an impact it has had on readers.

Then again Batman slapped a woman and delivered the infamous "Papa spank" and he gets like 9 books. Go figure...

TheGaf said...

wifebeater.

Ivan said...

Peter Parker did almost the same thing to MJ but few people remember. Poor unlucky Hank Pym.

Matt Duarte said...

Yeah, if this had been a one time thing, it could have easily been rectified, BUT every writer since then has picked up on this and expanded it.

Eric in Ottawa said...

Is Pym still a wife beater? I say yes. Even if Shooter's story is true (and I don't doubt him), it doesn't change how Pym has been defined or treated in the last 30 years.

I gotta say, the idea of Pym accidentally hitting Wasp when throwing his arms up is much less compelling. As it was drawn by Bob Hall, there is so much more emotional impact: "Look at what Pym has been driven to!!"

Of course, I abhor spousal abuse. But from a story-telling standpoint, a character with serious problems is much more interesting than one who is simply misunderstood.

Phillyradiogeek said...

Have other writers expanded the story to make Pym a habitual abuser, or was this the only time he hit her?

Klep said...

@Phillyradiogeek: As far as I can recall, that's the only time.

Space Jawa said...

@ Kelp: If that's the case, it's pretty sad that villains are allowed to get away with far worse and get multiple second chances, yet Hank isn't allowed to get past this single incident.

Maith said...

I think there should be a way to redeem Hank.

I don't like the wife beating aspect of the character, because I like the character very much, but it did create a lot of potential story telling.

Matt Duarte said...

Yeah, I should have added: I think the "wife beater" label for him IS harsh, because it was a one time thing, not a perpetual abuse of Wasp. Is it still a heinous thing to hit your spouse? Of course.

However, what I meant to say is that all the writers after it interpreted it as a him really losing control that one time. Even if Shooter intended it to be something far less dramatic, no one else interpreted it as such.

Of course, this is without getting into all the mind games that Janet was playing with poor Hank, which is a whole post in of itself...

Anonymous said...

Spidey backhanded is very pregnanrt wife across a room with superhumand strngt and in the middle of a fight with his clone...because he was in extreme emotional turmoil....yet not a single writer ever referenced this again...pym is not a wifebeater,or an physically abusive husband

Peter F DiSilvio said...

I think the fact that Parker did it too doesn't absolve Hank but damns Parker. You hit your wife or husband or w/e, you have committed spousal abuse. Domestic violence has occurred. Someone might as well have run into the room and yelled "No take backs" because its over.

It doesn't make Hank less compelling or take away from him being a hero. He just did something really bad.

One of the above posters said that it's not fair to Hank because villains get second chances all the time. To that I say Hank has gotten multiple chances, no one pressed charges against him and banned him from the hero community forever.

I can't help but think of Chris Brown as we discuss this. It doesn't matter all the great things he did before he beat Rhianna or all the great things he did after. He still beat a woman. He will always have to bear that mark and I think that is the least he, or anyone, could do for committing such an act.

Matt Duarte said...

@Anon #11: To be fair, that happened during the Clone Saga, and most people would rather forget all about it or just ignore it. Hank Pym's breakdown came at one of the highest and most popular eras of the Avengers.

twobitspecialist said...

@Maith - There was an opportunity, but Bendis or anyone else for that matter didn't take it.

When they revealed that Hank Pym was a Skrull, they should've made it so that he had taken his place BEFORE he beat Janet.

Alas, that probably would've brought a whole new world of problems.

Matt Duarte said...

Apparently they discussed the whole skrull thing, but they weren't comfortable retconing away so much stuff all at once.

Space Jawa said...

@ Peter F DiSilvio: So even though it happened once, it's been made clear that he regrets it, he's been shown to make efforts to atone for it, and it was something didn't do in the most sensible state of mind, it's still impossible for him to ever be forgiven for it?

I'm not saying what he did was right, I'm just questioning the mindset of "one strike and you're out, no exceptions ever"

Peter F DiSilvio said...

Maybe I sounded a little harsh. I'm not saying he's out in anyway or that he's not a hero. If Janet forgave him in story that's touching and if the readers forgive him that's great.

It doesn't change the fact that he is a wife beater. If you do something once you can be forgiven, found innocent, and it can even be forgotten, but it doesn't matter. You still did it.

Again, he can be forgive and it can be forgotten but, short of a recon, he is still and will always be a wife beater.

Space Jawa said...

I still think even that sounds harsh. He hit her once, correct? Not even multiple times the one time he did it? "Wife Beater" seems to imply he made a regular thing of it or he beat her up aggressively rather than allowing himself to be beat up (metaphorically) over this one mistake.

Jake said...

Yeah, I know fiction is partly about happy accidents along the way and this is definently one of them. Hank Pym is now a a wife hitting guy. Even if it were just that moment, that's what he is.

As for Spider-man. that part was messed up. The whole point was to make Ben Reilly more like the real Spider-man for the switch. I'm shocked people still read Spider-man these days. I'd love to see Ben Reilly come back and take over because he was a great character and he was a Spider 'MAN'. Peter Parker in the books is nothing but a boy who would do anything to not face up to the consequences of his actions.

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