Hank Pym: An Irredeemable Ant-Man

A look into how one shocking moment forever changed the perception of one of Marvel's iconic characters.

Whenever something shocking happens it naturally becomes the talk of the town. Naturally, as time passes and much more shocking things occur, the previous shocking event that preceded becomes old news. It gets buried and put away along with the other former "Oh my god" moments. However, in the case of the character, Hank Pym, this is not the case. By now everyone can see where this is headed, so let's get to it. Hank Pym, regardless of what he does or says in the comics will always be seen as a wife beater.



Now, let's not try to justify what happened. However one may try to spin it the fact of the matter still remains that Hank Pym hit his wife, Janet Van Dyne/The Wasp right across her face. I get that Hank was under immense emotional stress and that he just wanted to prove that he belonged on the Avengers after his screw up in a battle against the Elfqueen, which saw Pym shoot her from behind whilst Captain America was trying to talk her down. But this was of course due to his troubled mental state at the time. He was so troubled that Pym decided to build one of the Avengers greatest threats in Ultron an an attempt to save the day by attacking it's weak spot/fail safe.

Of course Hank's wife, janet finds out about this and tries to stop him which leads to the infamous panel seen around the world. Now, I'm not defending what Hank did. Any form of abuse against both man and woman at anyone's hands (especially those that are supposed to love them so dearly) is a horrible and barbaric act. And that was it. That's all it took. That one event is what is forever engraved into the minds of those who hear the name, Hank Pym. Regardless of what happens, the general consensus when it comes to Hank Pym seems to be as follows:



Now, of course this was due to Hank suffering from a mental breakdown (one of which was caused by a chemical spill that caused him to become Yellow Jacket) , but the event still happened and it's still being brought up. Why is this? Is it because what he's done is really so horrible that it stacks up alongside the infamous "women in refrigerators" incident. Or, could it be that with such a "so-so" personality that that was the only thing remotely noticeable about Hank Pym? Even with the multiple persona's the size altering hero has donned (Ant-Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellow Jacket, and in honor of Janet Van Dyne, Wasp). According to a blog from Jim Shooter, the writer of the infamous scene in Avengers #213, the very action itself was one big mistake.

"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." (Shooter)

Yet still, the stigma of "Wife-Beater" still lingers. Even when trying to redeem himself by addressing his actions and taking responsibility for the man he once was :



As a 22-year-old comic fan who grew up with these characters and who also happens to be learning about other characters for the first time due to other media outlets (cartoons, video games, comic book films) I find myself strangely sympathetic and upset that someone who doesn't even exist can get such a bad rap for something that happened fifty years ago. This makes me wonder: Is there ever really a such thing as redemption for certain characters in the medium of comic books? Or is the title, "Irredeemable Ant-Man", more suited for Hank Pym instead of Eric O"Grady?


Sources:

Shooter, Jim. "Hank Pym was Not a Wife-Beater." jimshooter.com. N.p., 11 Mar 2011. Web. 16 Aug. 2013.

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