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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #309

Welcome to the three hundredth and ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, we discover a hidden secret about Hank Pym’s domestic abuse incident, learn about the comic book writer who discussed radiation creating “Homo Superior” ten years before X-Men #1 and figure out whether Jack Kirby invented the double-page comic book spread!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and eight.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Jim Shooter did not intend for Hank Pym to punch Janet Van Dyne in Avengers #213.

STATUS: Apparently True

In Avengers #213, Yellowjacket (Hank Pym) is under court martial by his fellow Avengers for actions in the previous issue (where he blasted a villain from behind while she was getting ready to surrender).

Pym spends the issue dreading the decision of his teammates, and he comes up with a bizarre plan to build a robot to attack his teammates (he, of course, would know how to stop it so he would look good in front of them all). His wife and fellow Avenger the Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) tried to convince him of the folly of his ways but this led to the following page, which still reverberates in Marvel Comics to this day…

Interestingly enough, on his blog (which is a really fun read), Jim Shooter revealed a secret about that page (in a piece titled “Hank Pym Was Not a Wife-Beater”):

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

Isn’t that amazing?

One SLIGHT change in the art and that story would have been seen so differently over the years. Imagine what that would have meant to the character of Hank Pym!!

Bob Hall posted on Bleeding Cool about the story and effectively states that he can’t say that Shooter is wrong (be sure to check out the link to see Hall’s well-written response to the topic).

Thanks to Andy E Nystrom for letting me know that Shooter had written this, and thanks to Jim Shooter for the information! And thanks to Rich Johnston and Bob Hall for Hall’s take on the topic!
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Check out the latest Music Legends Revealed to learn whether a missing “D” led to the name of a famous rock band, whether 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” infringed on a bizarre 2 Live Crew copyright and discover what famous rock song was named after an insurance company!
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COMIC LEGEND: Otto Binder wrote a “scholarly” article about nuclear radiation creating “Homo Superior” in 1953, ten years before X-Men #1!

STATUS: True

In 1963, X-Men #1 was released, which was about a group of super-powered mutants. Here, let’s see them discuss their powers…

Amazingly enough, this stuff had been written about a decade earlier, in the pages of Mechanix Illustrated, by a famous comic book writer!

Mechanix Illustrated was created by Fawcett Publications in 1928 as an answer to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. It went by a few different names, graduating from Home Mechanix to Modern Mechanics (in this 1931 issue)….

to Modern Mechanix (later in the 1930s)…

to finally settling on Mechanix Illustrated…

It went by Mechanix Illustrated for the rest of its time at Fawcett, which was 1977. It was purchased by CBS who went back to the original name Home Mechanix in 1984. It was given another name in 1996, Today’s Homeowner, before going out of business in 2001.

In any event, the issue at hand came out in 1953, in this tale of the possible effects of nuclear radiation…

Yes, that O.O. Binder is, in fact, the same Otto Binder who was a legendary comic book writer for Fawcett’s comic book line and later for DC Comics (he recently appeared on our Top 250 Comic Book Writers and Artists countdown here). And the artwork is done by Kurt Schaffenberger, who also worked for Fawcett for years before going to work for DC for even longer (becoming THE Lois Lane artist).

Crazy stuff.

Thanks to my pal, Loren, who alerted me to this story. You can find the full article here.
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Check out the latest Football Legends Revealed to learn the story of how a future U.S. President essentially saved the game of football, reveal whether the creator of basketball also invented the football helmet and discover what future Hall of Fame quarterback was given away by a league commissioner because his current team was too good!
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COMIC LEGEND: Jack Kirby drew the first double-page spread in a comic book story.

STATUS: False

Awhile back, I addressed the idea that Jack Kirby was the first comic book artist to draw splash pages. He was not, but that led to discussions about the first artist to do an interior splash page within a comic. And the general consensus is that while it is unclear if Kirby was the first to do an interior splash page, Kirby was definitely the first to use a two-page spread.

The two-page spread that gets referred to as “the first” is the following, from Captain America Comics #6, from September 1941…

It’s really a remarkably well done image. I got the image courtesy of Harry Mendryk, who runs the brilliant Joe Simon/Jack Kirby website, titled (appropriately enough), Simon and Kirby (be sure to check it out here – it’s excellent). Harry believed that he recalled an earlier example of a double-page spread, and upon looking into it, I did, indeed, find an earlier example (by the way, I, of course, mean a double-page spread in the middle of a story – there had been plenty of examples of two-page spreads in the comic strip comics where there were two pages that was the entire story, much like a pin-up – we’re not talking about those here, we’re talking about a two-page spread that is within a larger story, like the Captain America spread above).

Ka-Zar the Great was a pulp character created and written by Bob Byrd. His stories were released by Martin Goodman’s line of pulp magazines.

When Goodman began a line of superhero comics, writer/artist Ben Thompson adapted Byrd’s character into the pages of Marvel Comics and then Marvel Mystery Comics.

Thompson was a fine artist, but his work was pretty much par for the course at the time. He was not doing things that were too different than anyone else was doing at the time. Here’s a sample page from Marvel Mystery Comics #10.

However, in Marvel Mystery Comics #11, rather than being the LAST story in the issue, which it typically was, Ka-Zar the Great was in the MIDDLE of the book. This meant that Thompson would have the center of the comic to play with, and quite surprisingly, he burst out what was, as far as I can tell, the first double-page spread in a comic book story ever…

This was September 1940, a full YEAR before Captain America Comics #6!

Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks to Harry Mendryk for putting me on the right trail to find the Ka-Zar story in question!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook or 3,000 followers on Twitter, you’ll have the option to get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes or 3,000 followers! So go like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!

134 Comments

Great, as always, Brian. I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the mistake that Jim Shooter makes in his description. He says that Bob Hall drew it as a “right cross”, when it’s plainly a left backhand.
Otherwise, very interesting.

I’d love to hear what Bob Hall and editor Jim Salicrup have to say about that Avengers one. Shooter’s been known to spin a tall tale or two… I’m curious what the original plot would have said (I assume the dialogue was scripted after Hall drew it, in the classic Marvel style). I can’t imagine Hall would have drawn the scene like that if the plot said “Hank accidentally strikes Jan while throwing his hands up,” even if he was just trying to make it dynamic…

There is a definite part of me that wishes the Hank Pym slapping his wife thing never happened, just because of the hysterical reactions of both fans and professionals. I find it funny how, at the end of that run, Hank Pym did redeem himself for this actions in that comic book, but other comic book professionals keep having to bring up the wife beating incident and have to get him to be ‘redeemed’ all over again. And there are fans who violently hate Hank Pym after this incident. Yet, I could name a number of heroes who went nuts and killed thousands of people (ex. Red Tornado) and go back to being a hero and the incident is never brought up again. I suspect that this is because what Hank did was just such a personal incident, something we all have known someone in our lives who went through it. Because of that, someone being hit by a loved one seems to have more resonance than someone going nuts and killing a lot of unnamed strangers.

During the Clone Saga, Peter Parker hit Mary Jane- who was PREGNANT- and no one ever mentions that one.

Jesse, that’s because Mephisto made everyone forget. ;-)

Jim Shooter:”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”

I have a few problems with this account:

1. Right cross: As others have said, it was a backhand blow, not a right cross. A small error, to be sure, but it does tend to diminish one’s faith in Shooter’s memory.

2. It was Bob Hall’s fault: To believe this, we have to accept one of three possibilities:

A. Shooter was very vague in describing the action that he wanted, and this very vagueness allowed Hall to misinterpret the action. I find this somewhat hard to believe. Given the importance of the scene, I would expect an old pro like Shooter to be very careful in his description, especially when dealing with a “John Buscema go for the most extreme action” artist like Hall.

B. Hall intentionally went against Shooter’s intentions: Seeing as how Shooter was MARVEL’s EIC at the time,I find it hard to believe that an artist would be so willful.

C. Hall simply forgot what Shooter wanted: It happens from time to time.

3. No time to correct it: I find this hard to swallow. This is one panel;if the artist lacks the time, why not have the inker fix it? For that matter, if there really was no one around with the time to redraw one panel, why didn’t they publish a “deadline doom” issue instead? Shooter, as a matter of policy, had a backlog of stand-alones ready to go to press in emergencies (cf the Ditko drawn DAREDEVIL #162).

Perhaps Shooter is telling the truth (or at least the truth as he remembers it), but I would like to see some support from other sources. How about it Brian, ? Any chance of getting Bob Hall’s side of it? What about having Bill Sienkiewicz confirm that he saw the “true intent” behind the art?

“I’m curious what the original plot would have said (I assume the dialogue was scripted after Hall drew it, in the classic Marvel style).”

Good call; ’cause, yeah, I was wondering about the dialogue “SHUT UP!” Kinda makes it less ambiguous. So, yeah, I think you’re right, and it saved me a question.

“During the Clone Saga, Peter Parker hit Mary Jane- who was PREGNANT”

Wasn’t that done more like him throwing up his arms in frustration? It’s been a while since I read the Clone Saga. Charles is wrong, though; everybody forgot The Clone Saga before it was even over (which explains why the one thing they remember is Norman coming back to end it).

actually, Jesse, I also think that people like Wasp more than Ant-Man, so it’s seen more as *her* getting hit, rather than him hitting her. Does that make sense? [As a (possibly-further) distinction from Spider-Man, I mean.]

“What about having Bill Sienkiewicz confirm that he saw the “true intent” behind the art?”

I’m really curious how he could’ve even understood the original intent based on how it turned out. It’s not present in either the dialogue or the art. I bet he came to him saying something like, “You fucked up, this is bad, this is what you should’ve done,” and Shooter said, “Yeah, that’s what I *meant*, but you know how that artist guy is.”

“The George Washington Bridge was jammed as usual.”

What did Hank and Jan do? Drive? Take a cab? In his Yellowjacket outfit and her dark “I ran into a door” glasses? That must have been an extremely silent and awkward car ride.

Weren’t those 1953 Homo Superior designs used in Marvels or New X-Men or something?

Jesse Farrell: “During the Clone Saga, Peter Parker hit Mary Jane- who was PREGNANT- and no one ever mentions that one.”

Actually, as drawn (leaving aside Shooter’s claims as to authorial intent), the scene was quite different from Hank’s striking Janet. Peter, having just learned that he, not Ben Reilly, is the clone, violently attacks Ben. Mary-Jane approaches the two figures as they are fighting.Peter, his back turned, strikes the figure behind him. Immediately upon seeing what he has done, Peter is distraught, crying out “My God-!What have I done?” (SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #226).

This is very different from the Hank-Janet scene.

Weren’t those 1953 Homo Superior designs used in Marvels or New X-Men or something?

I know what you’re thinking of (both Marvels and New X-Men used it), but I think that’s from a different drawing.

I haven’t read the Spider-Man story, but going by trajan23′s description that’s still bad. He once accidentally killed someone in a similar situation, admittledly, someone suicidal (in Spider-Man vs Wolverine); After that he should really have been more careful about people approaching from behind.

Bleeding Cool ran with the Shooter/Hank Pym story recent and Bob Hall did respond on that thread.

Bob Hall pretty much agreed with Shooter’s version.

I’ll post the link later if I can find the thread.

The illustrated spread in Binder’s article immediately brought to mind Bolivar Trask’s newspaper article seen in (UNCANNY) X-MEN #14.

Weren’t those 1953 Homo Superior designs used in Marvels or New X-Men or something?

Brian Cronin:”I know what you’re thinking of (both Marvels and New X-Men used it), but I think that’s from a different drawing.”

Although they have hair, they do resemble the newspaper artist’s interpretation of Bolivar Trask’s ant-mutant screed in X-MEN #14, page 6, panels 2-4.

I think the Marvels/New X-Men stuff might be a reference to the Prof. X prototype that had appeared in a Marvel comic some time before the original X-Men #1. Blanking on the specific details right now.

Here’s Bob Hall’s post in BLEEDING COOL:
No, I think JIm probably has it right.
I never heard Jim’s side of the story. He never said he didn’t like the slap panel — on the other hand, I can’t imagine that he did. I would never have drawn that panel two or three years later and I certainly wouldn’t draw it now the way I did then.

There were two or three things operable when I drew that issue.

1. I didn’t like the the story. I didn’t hate Jim’s writing or the plot or that it advanced the characters etc. It’s just that I was getting to do The Avengers and I wasn’t crazy about Hank Pym having a breakdown. It was relatively early in my career and I wanted to draw the Avengers that I loved. A few years later I would have jumped at the chance but not right then. That means I didn’t have an affinity for the story and should probably have turned it down or at least discussed this with Jim. But I didn’t. I was trying to be a pro and do my job.

2. I was I wasn’t really a pro at that point. I was a fan with some skill. I could not have drawn the panel the way JIm wanted it. In fact, I remember re-drawing that particular panel several times — not for JIm but because I didn’t like the results. The final panel was the point where I gave up and thought — I know how to do Marvel action — I’ll make it Marvel action cause nothing else I’ve done seems right either. This particular assignment — the Hank Pym story, convinced me that I needed to go off and learn to draw. I started taking life drawing classes etc. in an effort to be able to do something more subtle than the pseudo Buscema/ Kirby stuff I had been doing and doing badly. I was just not able to produce what I wanted to produce. I think by the time I got to Squadron Supreme I was doing some stuff that at least seemed to have some humanity.

3. Even at the point of doing Squadron I was slow as molasses. Why I kept getting group books is beyond me. While I was doing Avengers that time I was even worse and as I kept trying to do the “character arcs” that JIm was developing I kept redrawing and redrawing. I don’t remember but I can’t imagine the book wasn’t late.

4. I have no memory of how the panel was described in the synopsis but the Marvel method gave you lot of lee way. What I interpreted then might have been quite different from how I would look at it now. I can’t imagine Shooter would not have asked for a re-draw had there been time.

I hope this clarifies things a bit. I’m not ashamed of the issue — I did the best I could then — but I in this instance, I don’t doubt Jim’s story

Thanks, guys!

Does somebody have a link for the Bleeding Cool bit?

Yeah, it’s the Bolivar Trask article from x-Men #14 that Marvels and New X-Men both later homaged.

So the question is was Kirby riffing off of this article?

Brian Cronin:”Yeah, it’s the Bolivar Trask article from x-Men #14 that Marvels and New X-Men both later homaged.

So the question is was Kirby riffing off of this article?”

My feeling is yes, he probably was “riffing” on it.

I’d say, it’s too close for Kirby not to be riffing on it.

Notice how all the Homo Superiors, kinda looks like Prof X, from X-Men#1!

Isn’t it interesting how Hank Pym gets characterized as a wife beater for accidentally smacking Jan, but Spider-Man gets off the hook for doing the same exact thing to MJ? Maybe it’s because Marvel and Marvel fans were so desperate to forget about the Clone Saga and everything that happened therein, but it’s a little sad ho this is how Hank Pym has been defined from there on out. I wonder if his character might have evolved differently had Shooter not even included this sequence at all.

cookepuss:”Isn’t it interesting how Hank Pym gets characterized as a wife beater for accidentally smacking Jan, but Spider-Man gets off the hook for doing the same exact thing to MJ?”

Well, the reason why fans have forgiven Spider-Man is because it clearly was accidental; in contrast, the Hank hitting Janet scene, as drawn, was clearly intentional. If the Hank hitting Janet scene had been drawn as Shooter intended (assuming, of course, that Shooter’s recollection of his intentions is correct), I think that fans would have been more forgiving.

Here’s that Spider-Man page for those who don’t remember it.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_FVXCQBs2iUU/THOK32naidI/AAAAAAAAERU/Kt6LNCdMO_w/s320/SSM226.jpg

Ben VS Peter in the height of the clone BS. MJ gets in the way and Peter pimp smacks her across the room.

Well, sure, and Reed has slapped the hell out of Sue (http://davinder.blogspot.com/2007/11/reed-richards-mr-fantastic-jerk.html), and the Atom did the same to Jean Loring (http://absorbascon.blogspot.com/2007/09/madness-of-queen-jean-2.html), but those were totally different because it was “for their own good.” Heck, there was a whole SIlver Age Jimmy Olsen story where all he did was “accidentally” beat Lucy Lane up over and over again (http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/09/29/best-jimmy-olsen-comics/). Hank certainly deserves some grief for Pym-slapping Jan, but the way it’s all landed on him while everyone else has been let off the hook entirely seems awfully selective.

No one ever brings up this image of Reed smacking Sue, obviously intentionally, either.

http://firthofforth.tumblr.com/post/560055510/pertoleum-heres-a-photo-of-reed-richards

I’ve got to think there’s probably numerous examples of super-heroes hitting or attacking signifigant others in some way. I’m sure a decent amount of them are mind-control issues or whatever, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t more out there. But for some reason Hank is the one that everyone remembers and brings up. While it’s lead to some good stories, I think it’s lead to way more bad ones. In the long run I would have prefered if it hadn’t happened.

@trajan23: Doesn’t look too accidental by the looks of that page. Regardless of whether or not he felt remorse a few panels after, it’s pretty clear that he intentionally smacked her. I mean, he was looking right at her. No mistaking her for a bad guy. Nothing like that. He was pissed and lashed out at anyone in his way – including MJ. Contextually, it doesn’t look to different than the Hank Pym thing. The only difference is that There were 3 parties in the MJ incident.

I recall reading this when it came out and being shocked that Marvel could let Spider-Man sink so low. I had gotten the feeling that they were doing this to set the stage and dispose of Peter in favor of Ben. In hindsight, with the Clone Saga being tossed aside, this looks like one of those incidents that Marvel and Marvel fans would rather forget. Had Ben stayed in the webs, we might have remembered Peter as an insane clone. Probably as Marvel had intended.

@Jazzbo: Yeah. Looks like Marvel’s male writers have got some pent up rage against the women in their lives. LOL

Will Marvel and DC stop publishing paper comics in 2011? Truth or fiction?

@Darius: Doubtful. No real reason for fans to switch over if Marvel isn’t going to reduce prices. Thus far, digital has been either equally expensive or even more so. No idea if the long term cost for all that extra bandwidth necessary for digital will end up being less or more than that of paper. Plus, without long term DRM-free offline storage of these comics, I doubt that many hardcore collectors will want to go digital. It’s still too risky of a proposition for consumers.

S’funny, Jazzbo, I brought that Reed slap up a little earlier in this thread (along with Ray Palmer slapping Jean Loring), but the comment is still awaiting moderation, probably because of multiple links.

cookepuss:”@trajan23: Doesn’t look too accidental by the looks of that page. Regardless of whether or not he felt remorse a few panels after, it’s pretty clear that he intentionally smacked her. I mean, he was looking right at her. No mistaking her for a bad guy. Nothing like that. He was pissed and lashed out at anyone in his way – including MJ. Contextually, it doesn’t look to different than the Hank Pym thing. The only difference is that There were 3 parties in the MJ incident.”

Looking right at her: I disagree. Peter is focusing on attacking Ben as Mary-Jane approaches; when he lashes out at the figure behind him, he is in the process of turning around. Mary-Jane only fully comes into Peter’s sight at the exact moment of impact. Furthermore, Peter expressed immediate remorse over his accidental action. Contextually, it is completely different from Hank’s full-view, intentional hitting of Janet.

I know I’m digressing here, but I find it weird that nobody finds Prof. Xavier’s “origin” problematic. He says that he is a mutant because his parent’s worked on the first A-bomb project. Presumably, that’s the Manhattan Project, which only became an active project in 1942. Even if we assume his folks got a dose of radiation right then, that means Charlie-boy can’t be older than 21 in 1963!

Now, that could actually be kind of cool in a way: he’s a powerful mutant, with a brain so big that he’s gone through grad school by most folks are getting out of undergrad, but he also appears to have some kind of advanced aging going on. Hmn, it also makes his crush on Jean a lot less creepy.

Reed slapping Sue:

Reed slapped Sue when she was under the mental control of the Psycho-Man; that is not at all similar to Hank hitting Janet.

Actually, it’s not too different. In both cases, the guys start facing away then spin around to smack the women. The only thing that’s different is camera placement. The lines of action are the same. Place the camera at a different point in Peter’s scene and the incident is nearly the same.

trajan23: You’re starting to sound like an apologist for spousal abuse. The fact is, these guys all smacked their women. Not cool. I know that people fight in comics, but it’s pretty misogynistic when it’s portrayed like this, regardless of context.

But Reed did it for her own good, so she wouldn’t be bad anymore… um, yeah, I got nothing. Not one of the FF’s brighter moments for sure.

cookepuss:”Actually, it’s not too different. In both cases, the guys start facing away then spin around to smack the women. The only thing that’s different is camera placement. The lines of action are the same. Place the camera at a different point in Peter’s scene and the incident is nearly the same.”

Hank is walking away from Janet. Janet reaches out to him. Hank hits Janet and walks off, displaying no remorse.

Peter has just been told that he is a clone. Enraged over what he believes to be a trick, he attacks Ben Reilly. Ben Reilly and Peter engage in an all-out brawl (cf Trainer’s statement on page 20, panel 1, that “They’re out of control!Both [Ben and Peter] of them!).Peter gains the upper hand and begins to choke Ben with a metal rod (page 20, panels 3 and 5). Mary-Jane rushes up to Peter (page 20, panel 5). Peter, his focus on Ben, Strikes out at the figure behind him (page 21, panel 1). Peter only sees Mary-Jane at the moment of impact. Peter displays immediate remorse when he realizes what he has done (page 21, panel 3).

these two scenes are completely different,

What’s the page like BEFORE Peter hits MJ? That is, is it clear that he knows that it’s MJ right behind him or does he just feel someone behind him and lash out blindly only realizing once he connects who it was? If it’s the latter, that’s WAAAAAAAY different than Pym who was engaged in an argument with Jan and only Jan. I’m not saying it’s good or right that he hit her, but that the circumstances are different. If I was fighting with someone and then someone else came up and grabbed my shoulder and I didn’t know who they were, in a split second decision, who knows, I may knock them away, especially if, again, I didn’t know who it was.

There was an old issue of Spider-Man in one of those issues with the holograms on the cover in the early 90s where he explains how his powers work and the short story opens up with him walking through the dark apartment and MJ coming at him with a pillow and threatening him in a disguised voice. It triggers his spider-sense and he assumes it’s an attacker and almost hits her before he realizes the mistake. Then MJ asks him to explain how the sense works and why it activated even though she wasn’t really a threat.

Also, Reed hitting a mind controlled Sue does not make the poster who pointed that out an “apologist for spousal abuse.” That’s absurd. Should no woman ever be hit by a man in any circumstance in comics, even if she is being aggressive herself possessed or mind controlled or whatever? I’d never hit my wife in an argument or anything like that, but if she came after me with a knife in a rage, you’d better be darn sure, I’m not getting stabbed just to uphold some faux moral absolutism! lol

butttler:”But Reed did it for her own good, so she wouldn’t be bad anymore… um, yeah, I got nothing. Not one of the FF’s brighter moments for sure.”

So, being under the mental control of the Psycho-Man is all right? Would this scene have worked for you if Reed had slapped Johnny?

cookepuss:”trajan23: You’re starting to sound like an apologist for spousal abuse. The fact is, these guys all smacked their women. Not cool. I know that people fight in comics, but it’s pretty misogynistic when it’s portrayed like this, regardless of context.”

If I were an apologist for spousal abuse, would’t I be attempting to defend Hank Pym? Hank’s action, as printed, was spousal abuse. Peter’s scene was not.

So all is good then, right? LOL

trajan23, smack your lady in the heat of the moment. I dare ya’. Not only will she NEVER let you forget about it, she might even press domestic violence charges. If she doesn’t break up with you or have you arrested, you will be in the dog house for the next 3 decades. She’ll bring it up to you 30 years later when you refuse to lower the toilet seat.

Seriously. Play that comic scene out in the real world. No way it would end up nicely for Peter. I’m related to a lot of cops. Trust me. No excusing it. Peter would’ve gotten charged for assault, as would Reed and Hank.

Whatever. An apologist says what an apologist says.

So, being under the mental control of the Psycho-Man is all right? Would this scene have worked for you if Reed had slapped Johnny?

Maybe you’re misremembering how it played out. Reed, for whatever reason of his own, chose to play the role of an extremely abusive husband in order to snap her out of it. It’s not like he was striking her in self-defense or anything. The trickiest thing is, that the way he talked down to her before capping it all off with that slap wasn’t all that far off from the way he actually talked to her in the old days, belitling her as a foolish female.

So no, it wouldn’t have worked with Johnny, because that scene would never have happened with Johnny. It was entirely about spousal abuse as an extremely bizarre psychological strategy. You can say it was the only way to foil Psycho-Man’s fiendish plan, but that’s a really hard and dubious claim to make.

Bottom line, trajan23… You’ve created reasons where it’s okay or not okay to hit your woman. Comic or not, when you create a situation where you male protagonist is hitting his significant other…. Kinda shady. No excuse. No special case scenarios where it’s okay or not okay.

Sorry, Pat Benatar, love is NOT a battlefield.

Charles J Baserap:” What’s the page like BEFORE Peter hits MJ? That is, is it clear that he knows that it’s MJ right behind him or does he just feel someone behind him and lash out blindly only realizing once he connects who it was? If it’s the latter, that’s WAAAAAAAY different than Pym who was engaged in an argument with Jan and only Jan. I’m not saying it’s good or right that he hit her, but that the circumstances are different. If I was fighting with someone and then someone else came up and grabbed my shoulder and I didn’t know who they were, in a split second decision, who knows, I may knock them away, especially if, again, I didn’t know who it was.”

There were four people in the room: Peter, Ben, Trainer, and MJ. At the moment, Peter regarded both Ben and Trainer as enemies (Peter:”You and Trainer are messing with my mind–just like Kaine and the Jackal have done for months!” page 19, panel 3).

I find it amusing that the guy being blasted by the mutant in the 1953 pic above, with the hair tufts on either side going up, looks somewhat like Wolverine…

Sebastian Smolarek

April 15, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I’m not getting “homo superior” legend. Isn’t it common knowledge that this term wasn’t coined by Stan Lee? Concepts of humans mutated by radiation, superior race conquering the world and mutant teenagers weren’t really new in 1963.

First sci-fi story to deal with radiation creating a mutant race was “Metal Man” novel written in 1928 by Jack Williamson.

The term “homo superior” was first used in 1935 in Olaf Stapledon novel “Odd John”. That story features mutants born in different parts of the world banding together.

In 1940 Alfred Elton van Vogt wrote “Slan”, a series of stories (later collected as a novel) dealing with a mutant race who appear human and hide to avoid persecution.

And let’s not forget about the “CHILDREN OF THE ATOM” novel by Wilmar H. Shiras published in 1953.
It’s a story about super children with immeasurably high intelligence who have to hide their youth, and work from hiding in order to get along in the less-intelligent world.
They were born to workers caught in an explosion at an atomic weapons facility, and orphaned just a few months after birth when their parents succumbed to delayed effects from the blast.
These mutant children were brought together to explore their unique abilities and study in secret at an exclusive school for gifted children, lest they be hated and feared by a world that would not understand them.

Sounds familiar, isn’t it?

Look this up:
http://technoccult.net/archives/2009/03/18/evolution-of-the-mutant-in-popular-fiction/

buttler:”Maybe you’re misremembering how it played out. Reed, for whatever reason of his own, chose to play the role of an extremely abusive husband in order to snap her out of it. It’s not like he was striking her in self-defense or anything. The trickiest thing is, that the way he talked down to her before capping it all off with that slap wasn’t all that far off from the way he actually talked to her in the old days, belitling her as a foolish female.

So no, it wouldn’t have worked with Johnny, because that scene would never have happened with Johnny. It was entirely about spousal abuse as an extremely bizarre psychological strategy. You can say it was the only way to foil Psycho-Man’s fiendish plan, but that’s a really hard and dubious claim to make.”

Reed’s plan was to end the Psycho-Man’s mental control by actually making Sue hate him (the logic being that real emotion would end the mind-control FF #281, page 22, panel 4).

Not work on Johnny: Actually, the belittling strategy would have worked on every member of the FF; Reed, in the classic Kirby-Lee stories, made damn sure that everyone knew that he was smarter than everyone else (cf STRANGE TALES #127, where Reed disguises himself as a “mystery villain” to prove to Johnny and Ben that he is top dog).

Was anyone this righteously offended when Dinah Lance punched Ollie Queen in JLA because she disagreed with him going against her wishes and going off with Hal? TWICE.

Was anyone this righteously offended when Dinah Lance punched Ollie Queen in JLA because she disagreed with him going against her wishes and going off with Hal? TWICE.

Yes, there was a stink about that at the time, but it was a little lost in everything surrounding Cry for Justice also being horrible.

cookepuss:”So all is good then, right? LOL”: Actually, Peter seems pretty upset about it.

cookepuss:”Seriously. Play that comic scene out in the real world. No way it would end up nicely for Peter. I’m related to a lot of cops. Trust me. No excusing it. Peter would’ve gotten charged for assault, as would Reed and Hank.”: I’m not sure how I could “play that comic scene out in the real world.” Has cloning been perfected yet?Maybe things are a bit more advanced where you live.

cookepuss:”Whatever. An apologist says what an apologist says.” How very eloquent.

cookepuss:”Bottom line, trajan23… You’ve created reasons where it’s okay or not okay to hit your woman. Comic or not, when you create a situation where you male protagonist is hitting his significant other…. Kinda shady. No excuse. No special case scenarios where it’s okay or not okay.

Sorry, Pat Benatar, love is NOT a battlefield.”

I don’t recall saying that Peter’s actions were “okay.’ What I have said is that they were quite different from Hank’s.

LOVE the Pym Legend and the Hall response is fascinating.

Not work on Johnny: Actually, the belittling strategy would have worked on every member of the FF;

You asked whether it would have worked for me, not whether it would have worked on him. What I said was that that scene would never have been written if it were Johnny in Sue’s place. It required a base level of misogyny for that plan (or that scene) to even have been conceived.

buttler:”You asked whether it would have worked for me, not whether it would have worked on him. What I said was that that scene would never have been written if it were Johnny in Sue’s place. It required a base level of misogyny for that plan (or that scene) to even have been conceived.”

So, your point is that John Byrne is a misogynist?

Re the whole Reed-slapping-Sue Psycho-Man context — while a jarring image, it might help to remember that (1) Susan had nearly just killed Reed — he’d wrapped himself around her force-field and it goes in an instant from a round sphere to a spiky sea-urchin shape as Reed screams in agony — and (2) I think this was one of the storylines which emphasized that Sue was actually the most powerful members of the team, if not the most powerful. I do recall that when various teammates (Johnny, Ben, and pretty much every member of every super-hero team ever) get mind-controlled by someone or other (which over the decades has happened with alarming frequency to, again, just about every character I can think of), everyone attacks everyone else in ways much more violent than slapping. It’s also, I think, the first story I’ve ever seen (leaving aside the more overtly sexual Carol/Marcus/Immortus thing from earlier) which actually tries to deal with what a traumatic violation mind-control would be — normally characters just sort of shrug it off, unless it’s a long-term kind of thing like Rachel being a Hound in her dystopic future for years. With Sue, it was a real turning point, and it’s the storyline that led to her deciding not to call herself a “Girl” anymore, although the whole “vengeance, not justice, against the Psycho-Man” thing was still disturbing and opens up yet another can of worms about gender and emotion and how that’s portrayed in comics. (Would a previously-rational male character have been depicted that way? What about the whole Jean Grey Dark Phoenix thing? Etc.)

That said, the image of husband-slapping-wife is still creepy. Heck, Wyatt Wingfoot slapping She-Hulk would be a disturbing image even though it wouldn’t cause her any pain at all. (Er, apart from consensual kink and the like, of course. That’s a different matter…) I don’t know if it’s a chivalry issue, or just because of too much real-world domestic abuse (though I hasten to mention that I know men myself who were the victims of female physical spousal abuse, so it isn’t always the male who is the abuser–usually, but not always), but the image is icky.

So, your point is that John Byrne is a misogynist?

Eh, that would be (and is) a cheap shot. People are complicated, and everyone has their racist or sexist moments, no matter how enlightened they are most of the time–some more than others, of course.

My point is that it is an inherently misogynistic scene, and trying to explaining it away doesn’t do any good and doesn’t reflect well on anyone.

buttler:”My point is that it is an inherently misogynistic scene, and trying to explaining it away doesn’t do any good and doesn’t reflect well on anyone.”

Actually, my take on the scene is that it is a commentary on “misogyny.” Byrne is attempting to address the long history of belittling Sue.

that kirby page is nice, but it’s not really a double page splash…

Cookepuss said:

“.Looks like Marvel’s male writers have got some pent up rage against the women in their lives. ”

On occasion it’s been the women taking the shots. There are at least two times Big Barda belts the heck out of Scott Free.

Actually, my take on the scene is that it is a commentary on “misogyny.” Byrne is attempting to address the long history of belittling Sue.

But at the same time, “slapping some sense into” a woman who’s gone mad or hysterical or whatever is an old, old trope, and there’s not much difference between the way it’s done there and the way it shows up in the Atom story I linked above (now that the comment’s finally been approved) ,or in old movies from the 1930s, except that Reed is intentionally much more cruel about it. It plays into that old myth of women as irrational creatures who need level-headed male guidance. As David mentions, there was certainly a lot elsewhere in that same storyline that attempted to empower Sue and address some of her problematic treatment to date, but there’s also a lot about that story that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the modern reader–and not just the mullet-and-bikini combo.

With Sue, it was a real turning point, and it’s the storyline that led to her deciding not to call herself a “Girl” anymore, although the whole “vengeance, not justice, against the Psycho-Man” thing was still disturbing and opens up yet another can of worms about gender and emotion and how that’s portrayed in comics. (Would a previously-rational male character have been depicted that way? What about the whole Jean Grey Dark Phoenix thing? Etc.)

Male characters are treated as “going dark” and pursuing “vengeance not justice” all the time. Just off the top of my head I remember Spider-Man losing it in the story leading up to the Clone Saga where he just lost his robotic parents with all that awful “I am the Spider!” crap. Daredevil goes through those phases a lot ever since Frank Miller and I think they recently did it again in Andy Diggle’s run.

ironically, cookpuss’s utter lack of nuance makes him/her kind of come off as an apologist for domestic violence, as he/she seems to be adamant that hank deliberately hitting janet is really no worse than pete accidentally hitting MJ

But we all agree Jan deserved it, right?

:)

“…where he just lost his robotic parents with all that awful “I am the Spider!” crap…”

*shudder* I’m glad I missed that one.

I’ve been trying to find in my Essential Avengers a scene I recall with Hank zapping Janet unconscious or something like that. I’m still looking for it, but in Avengers#32 page 6 panel 3 Hank does accidentally elbow Janet in the face (the f/x suggests a bit of pain) and she seems more concerned about him breaking a beaker. Mind you, in this case it was a clear cut accident but it’s still interesting in light of later events.

buttler:”But at the same time, “slapping some sense into” a woman who’s gone mad or hysterical or whatever is an old, old trope, and there’s not much difference between the way it’s done there and the way it shows up in the Atom story I linked above (now that the comment’s finally been approved) ,or in old movies from the 1930s, except that Reed is intentionally much more cruel about it. “: Actually, I would argue that Reed’s intentional cruelty is what elevates this story above the Atom story. Byrne is fully aware that he is addressing an entire body of tropes and character history in this scene.

buttler:”It plays into that old myth of women as irrational creatures who need level-headed male guidance.”: Yes, but as I noted earlier, Byrne is clearly playing off (not merely “playing into”) that tradition in a very direct fashion.

buttler:” As David mentions, there was certainly a lot elsewhere in that same storyline that attempted to empower Sue and address some of her problematic treatment to date, but there’s also a lot about that story that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the modern reader–and not just the mullet-and-bikini combo.”: I’m not so sure about the “modern reader” bit. I just showed the story to my girlfriend (Born in 1985: I think that that qualifies as “modern.”), and she was surprised by the sophistication of the story (Her comic reading experience is largely limited to things like WATCHMEN and Y: THE LAST MAN. Hence, she has a rather imperfect awareness of superhero comics).

So it’s NOT ok to slap Sue if she’s possessed by an evil entity?

Actually, it’s not too different. In both cases, the guys start facing away then spin around to smack the women. The only thing that’s different is camera placement. The lines of action are the same. Place the camera at a different point in Peter’s scene and the incident is nearly the same.

Now that the preceding page has been posted, it’s clear that it IS pretty much the same, at least at first. Wife comes up behind him touching his arm and begging him to stop, and the husband reels ’round and decks her. In both cases she’s spoken before he hits her, so he clearly knows who he’s hitting. Peter has the added excuse of heat of battle, but he can’t credibly be said to have thought it was someone else. The only redeeming difference is that Peter is instantly horrified by what he’s done, whereas Hank just stomps off implying that she deserved it.

I reread the “Time Bomb” issues of Spider-Man not too long ago, and as I recall, Tom DeFalco disavowed the scene where Peter struck Mary Jane almost as soon as it was published (I think in a letters page of the next installment, one or two weeks later). Supposedly, the script meant for Peter to push Mary Jane away in anger, still to his own shame as she was pregnant, but this was either misconstrued or exaggerated for dramatic effect in the artwork, much to the continued misery of the already beleaguered Spidey offices. Amusingly enough, the person responsible for finished artwork in the controversial issue was Bill Sienkiewicz.

Carlton Donaghe

April 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm

The concept for the X-Men– gathering mutants with super-human powers all over the world, including the term “Homo superior” (spelled that way, do not capitalize “superior,” and italicized)– originate in the book ODD JOHN by Olaf Stapledon.

You had another poster mention this above.

I read this book in high school. It was first published in 1935. Anything you could say about the Otto Binder article, would be better said about the Olaf Stapledon work. I’ve often wondered if either Lee or Kirby didn’t read the book. It would have been available when both of them were young, and it is not inconceivable that they would have read it.

@Gavin: My “lack of nuance” stems from the fact that I currently have an entrapped nerve and really shouldn’t be typing atm. I most certainly could have gone into further detail. However, I’m in a bit of pain currently. Simply put, me lumping Pete together with Hank doesn’t make me any sort of apologist. There’s no attempt being made to generalize or blur any lines. Although it has already been said, I maintain that Pete’s actions to be equally deliberate.

While there may have been mitigating circumstances leading up to MJ’s smack, none of them take away from the fact that he [Pete] knowing hit her. The fact that he felt guilty immediately after doesn’t necessarily make it an accident. It could have been, and probably was, what you might call a “crime of passion.” It wasn’t an accident, but he was clearly caught up in the heat of the moment and “x” is what happened. That being the case, you still can’t wholly separate it from what Hank did. Both men, regardless of their intentions, were establishing their dominance by force. The end effect was still, “B****, know your place! *SMACK!*” (Okay, I’m exaggerate, but you get what I mean.) The end result was still one partner shutting the other up by force.

I find it hard to believe that some people AREN’T seeing that Spider-Man page as anything other than intentional. Erase Ben from the scene. Here you have this guy in a rage. His back is to his woman. She interjects and he turns to pop her in the mouth. It’s not like Peter swung his hand and accidentally hit her. That’d be something else. Look at the panel. He turns, shouts for her to get away, and backhands her into a wall. Where’s the accident? Is it an accident because he thought he was hitting somebody else? I’m pretty sure his hand didn’t have a mind all its own. Did he think it was an enemy? He’s got a Spider-Sense. I don’t buy that excuse. He didn’t see her as a threat. He just wanted her to f*** off while he fought with Ben. What stopped him is probably what stopped us as readers all those years ago. It was out of character for him and even the character realized it. That doesn’t necessarily change what he did though.

I’ve known a lot of strong willed women over the years. Some of them really test your patience. Some of them are always under foot at the wrong times. Even with my temper being what it is, I’d have never struck any one of them. First off, I was always taught never to hit a woman. This is one case where I’m an “equal rights be damned” sort of guy. I just won’t hit a woman, no matter the situation. There’s no honor in it. Second, how fair is it for me to attack anybody who’s half my size and strength? Not at all.

You can argue that Peter had gone off the deep end. You can argue that Peter might have acted in haste and without premeditation. You can even argue that MJ might have just been collateral damage in a much larger fight. What you can’t argue is that Peter turned to MJ and said, “GET AWAY FROM ME! LEAVE ME ALONE!” and then smacked her. It’s right there on the page. I fail to see how that makes Pete any better than Hank. Maybe that just makes Hank a one-on-one sort of douche where Pete can do it in groups. =P

Okay. My hand hurts a lot now. =) I’ll just leave it at Hank & Pete both having really needed anger management at that point in their fictional lives.

I think we might be projecting back onto Shooter our disgust at Mark Millar’s version of events, in which Hank sadistically tortures Janet with an army of ants. Now that’s a writer who has serious problems with women. Shooter’s story, which I read at age 7, was a strong story about how actions have consequences.

Yes, Charles’ claim would make him awfully young (even given his hair fell out in high school). Heck, his original battle with Lucifer must have taken place in his teens.
But then it’s often clear Lee and Kirby were making it up as they went along. There’s one story where Reed claims he’s known Sue since childhood, yet a few issues later knows absolutely nothing about her family’s tragic history a couple of issues later.

It is assault pure and simple….. the reason why people let Reed and Peter off the hook is that they “like” them more than Hank.

But then again comics have “always” been a paragon for virtue in this world….

Riiiiight…. having read the 3 books in question, all three situations fit the story as it was happening (i.e. Reed as a prick “out of love”, Hank being “ego crazy”, and Peter slowly losing his moral center). Fans and writers just believe what they want to and have chosen to not notice any of the significant character growth done with Hank.

So he will ever remain a wife beater thanks to the close-minded majority.

I thought it was known that Xavier isn’t that much older than the students( in the beginning at least). That’s how they can have Xavier pining for Jean.

And of course Charles (and his step-brother Cain Marko aka The Juggernaut) both fought in Korea, so he likely wasn’t a teen there either. That was established in The Juggernaut’s origin story (I think X-Men 12).

So come to think of it, the battle that resulted in the loss of the use of his legs couldn’t have been in his teens. Man, that would make that scene where Charles was pining for Jean rather awkward ^_^.

The main difference to me between the Hank and Peter scenes is that with his super strength, Peter could have easily crippled MJ or thrown her through a wall or something.

Meanwhile, the way Janet just casually lays on the ground saying ‘Yes Hank’ after he smacks her pretty much shows how this kind of abuse was likely a common occurrence but it was the first time it happened on-panel.

@ IAM FeAR: Were many writers really thinking about such consequences in the 90s? I’m not so sure. There was some pretty sloppy writing back in the 90s and the Clone Saga was its poster child. The worst of the 90s had more to do with the visuals and less about plot stuff that actually made sense.

The reason why people don’t see the Spider-Man hit as intentional is that the writers realized that people were pissed off about Peter hitting MJ and had Peter think to himself “I hit MJ by accident”. In the original story, MJ was talking to Peter, so unless Peter doesn’t know what MJ’s voice sounds like, it was intentional.

@IAM FeAR: Despite being the primary one people seem to remember, the sequence above ISN’T the first time something like that is shown on panel. In the early parts of “The Kree-Skrull War” Hank is shown backhanding Jan off of a Dragonfly they’re both riding on. I think that was just prior to his mutation into a cave man, which is probably why that particular moment was swept under the rug. Found the issue where that happened while bin-diving years ago and remember being pretty jarred by it.

Found a page that has a scan of the panel I’m referring to:

http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/avengers_8997.shtml

Bob Hall is clearly a gentleman, what a well-worded (and insightful response).

BONUS: Say that the Marvel guidelines allow for lots of “lee way.” A fortunate typo, and one with which Stan could not possibly be happier…

Yeah, as IAMFEAR is saying, it seems from Jan’s body language, and the last panel on that page, Hank’s hit her before, and maybe the rest of the Avengers are “aware” of it but don’t speak of it.

Which I think happens.

But apparently, now, wasn’t Shooter’s intention.

What I want to know is when this was actually addressed in story, and whether or not the editors at the time mentioned anything about it in the letter column? That is, as someone said about DeFalco and the Spidey thing, it was disavowed/apologized for almost immediately, but how soon was the Pym thing addressed?

I honestly don’t know which Bullpen Bulletin page it was, but there is one from ABOUT the time of the Avengers issue where Shooter talks about having dinner with Sienkiewicz, and Bill saying that he’d wished he’d drawn that issue of the Avengers.

Except I’m pretty sure that it was 217, not 213 that Bill wished he’d drawn. And it wasn’t presented as “Hall screwed up the Hank hitting Jan panel”, it was presented as “that issue was really good, I wish I’d drawn it for you”. So right there, based on the story Shooter told in print at the time, it seems the memory of this issue is…questionable.

I really can’t say where that Bullpen Bulletin page was from, but it was sometime within a year or so of the Avengers issues. Anyone else remember it?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Ka-zar pretty much the very first Marvel property ever created, and the only to predate Marvel Comics #1 published in 1939 (barring that Namor story in Motion Picture Funnies or whatever it was called)?

Yes, John, if you count pulp characters, Ka-Zar does predate pretty much every other character at Marvel.

Huh. Good finding!

A few more notes:

1) In Joe Simon’s Autobiography, he claims to have invented the double page spread. (This isn’t, as you’ve proven, true. But it’s probably where the legend originated.

2) As far as I can tell – based on my sample size of, like, seven – ALL early (even mid) Golden Age two page splashes were in the middle of the comic. I guess it was easier to organize that way.

Well, Puff Daddy claimed “we invented the remix”, and that’s so wrong, so you gotta take some of this stuff with a grain of salt.

But it just makes more sense that any of the early 2 page spreads were in the middle of the comic, because the printing quality would require the middle (I’m blanking on the term, but the 4 pages that happen when you fold a piece of paper in half) pages be easiest to organize. Anywhere else, you’re bleeding one page over, another page over, and who knows how well they match up.

Even comics into the 80s, I have copies where the fold of the pages makes the bleed from one page “cross over” onto the later page that it shares, and some where a spread doesn’t quite match up.

The earliest reference to super powered mutants being persecuted by the human majority that I had read was Philip K. Dick’s “The Golden Man”. I think he even called them Homo Superior in that. That was published in 1954 (written in 53), so it’s also not the first. But it predates that article and the X-Men.

@Travis: the word you’re looking for is “folio.”

Ah, thanks random. “folio”.

So yeah, the middle folio would be easiest to assemble/align the double page spread, and any other folio would be harder to match up.

If Hank hitting Jan was an accident, he should have apologized. Yeah, he was going through a breakdown, but why would Shooter write such a scene if he didn’t intend for Hank to look like a douche. I think Avengers fans pretty much hated Shooter’s post 200 run, and he knows it. In many ways, the Avengers never recovered from this low point.

I didn’t read all the comments (I gave up around the 4/15 12:45pm timestamp) but perhaps one reason why the “Hank-beats-Jan” point has stuck around so much more clearly in people’s minds might have something to do with Hank’s entire history. From the earliest stories, we know that Hank was married before he met Jan and that Jan is described as having a strong resemblance to Hank’s dead wife. (That, my friends, is typically a bad sign). Then, when Hank becomes Yellowjacket, it’s the result of a nervous breakdown–one that is so extreme that Yellowjacket BRAGS–to Jan–that he “killed” Hank. Then, of course, Yellowjacket forces himself on Jan albeit in that 1960s soft-pedal version (with a forced kiss). And, just to really put the icing on the cake, Jan announces (to a very stunned assemblage of Avengers) that she’s going to marry the murdering nutjob. Naturally, she reveals that she knew it was Hank all along (thanks to that kiss) and, for some reason that escapes me at the moment, the proposal and acceptance are considered to be legally binding.

Then, a little over 100 issues later, Hank undergoes another breakdown (this one actually brought on by Ultron) and develops amnesia, returning to his Ant-Man days. This was when Jan decided to make a new low-cut lavender outfit with all the cutouts on the side to help “turn on” Hank when he attacks her, before he goes off and attacks the Avengers.

For most of the other spousal abuse/beat-up-innocent-women cases that were mentioned, there really wasn’t as much in the way of underlying history between abuser and victim that would have made the abusive action seem much more than accidental or brought on by an outside force.

It’s interesting that in the first issue of X-MEN, Henry McCoy seems to have been written more as a Ben Grimm-style ‘dese, dem and dose’ roughhewn character, rather than the erudite intellectual he would quickly become. Since he’s always reminded me of Monk Mayfair, I can see how Stan and Jack might have liked the appeal of a scientific mind within the body of a brute…they just needed to refine the Beast a bit after the initial introduction.

As for Hank Pym, I just wish Marvel had had the interest in keeping his latest incarnation as the new Wasp; for the first time ever, Hank truly interested me as a character. Unfortunately, Marvel seemed to not know what to do with him after his Avengers book was axed, so they just made him Giant Man again.

“The earliest reference to super powered mutants being persecuted by the human majority that I had read was Philip K. Dick’s “The Golden Man”.”
From his notes in the collected short stories, he regarded superhuman mutants as enough of an SF convention by that time that he wrote the story as a reaction against the wish-fulfilment of readers identifying themselves with the mutants.

Shiai, Stan said somewhere (Origins of Marvel Comics? I’m not sure) that the fan response to XMEN 1 was indeed that Hank came across too much like Ben, so he and Jack revamped him.

[...] which issue it was. Well sleuth Brian Cronin took my imprecise memory and nailed it down in Comic Book Legends Revealed #309. It was Marvel Mystery Comics #11 (September 1940) that had the Ka-Zar story in question. So Ben [...]

@trajan23
“Well, the reason why fans have forgiven Spider-Man is because it clearly was accidental; in contrast, the Hank hitting Janet scene, as drawn, was clearly intentional. If the Hank hitting Janet scene had been drawn as Shooter intended (assuming, of course, that Shooter’s recollection of his intentions is correct), I think that fans would have been more forgiving.”

This is generally what is claimed by many Spider-Man fans to excuse his actions as they overlook the fact that BOTH were accidental hits. BOTH charcters were in a fit of rage while being focused on harming someone else. The only difference is that Parker showed his remorse sooner than Pym as Pym showed his once he had cooled down from his rage. But Pym gets labeled as a wife-beater (implying it happened all the time) for a single mistake, yet Peter, who did the samething to his PREGNANT wife, is excused. Claiming that there were three people there is no excuse because the third person was a male, so Peter could easily tell it was his wife behind him and not someone else. Yet like with Pym, he wasn’t thinking clearly.

With Pym, his longtime nemesis Egghead got the better of him, not just in a physical sense, but mentally, to the point it caused his breakdown. Just like Jackel got the better of Parker by getting into his mind to make him have the breakdown.

Either way, one panel does not define a character. I wish fans and Marvel, who keep making that scene be his defining moment, let it go. It was an accident and nothing more. It is not who Pym is or was ever about.

An open hand for foreplay, or discipline. A closed fist is abusive. Superheroes know this.

Joseph is absolutely right.

The reason Hank’s slap stuck is because it’s chillingly in keeping with his long, previous story of mental instability.

Charles J. Baserap

April 16, 2011 at 7:02 am

I said it before but “There was an old issue of Spider-Man in one of those issues with the holograms on the cover in the early 90s where he explains how his powers work and the short story opens up with him walking through the dark apartment and MJ coming at him with a pillow and threatening him in a disguised voice. It triggers his spider-sense and he assumes it’s an attacker and almost hits her before he realizes the mistake. Then MJ asks him to explain how the sense works and why it activated even though she wasn’t really a threat.”

The excuse that Peter could tell automatically that MJ was MJ and not a man is disproved by the explanation of how his powers work as stated above. If his back was turned and his spider-sense went off, and he struck without looking, AND we saw that MJ with a PILLOW triggered his spider sense in the above issue I noted, how can one 100% say he would have known it was not a man behind him?

In the issue I mentioned, Peter cannot tell it’s MJ in an otherwise EMPTY apartment, and he’s NOT in the heat of the moment and she is “armed” with a PILLOW and STILL he couldn’t tell it was her. Why should that change in this instance?

Charles J. Baserap

April 16, 2011 at 7:04 am

Also, why does no one ever bring up Dinah hitting Ollie? That wasn’t heat of the moment. He walked into the JLA room and she slugged him, plain and simple. And yet no one ever brings it up. It was talked about for maybe a week then forgotten. And she had done it AGAIN and before that. We call that a double-standard, folks.

Charles, there’s so little consistency in handling spider-sense I’m not sure that flies. Most explanations I’ve seen emphasize that it has to be a real threat or enemy–but then there’s others that show him reacting even to Aunt May in awkward situations.

Fraser, yeah, some of the cases where the Spider-Sense go off make no sense. In one story, the Molten Man comes to Liz’s apartment to ask for a loan so that he can go straight, Peter mistakenly thinks it’s extortion and his Spider-Sense goes off when the Molten Man approaches. Why? The Molten Man wasn’t planning on attacking anyone until Peter attacked him. It seemed like the only reason it went off in that issue was that Peter would have realized the Molten Man wasn’t a threat if his Spider-Sense didn’t go off.

“…our disgust at Mark Millar’s version of events, in which Hank sadistically tortures Janet with an army of ants…”

… euggghhhhh. Totally missed that one, and glad I did.

There’s a Silver Age story where his spider-sense went off just because Electro was nearby, not planning to attack or anything. And at the other extreme, the Jackal in his original arc gets the drop on Spider-Man because he’s secretly one of Peter’s favorite professors (“Your power warns you against enemies—and you’ve always thought of me as a friend, right?”).

Charles J. Baserap

April 16, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Fraser, you’re right and in that same issue I mentioned, he sees a man who has a gun in his coat, and his spider-sense goes off, even though he doesn’t know exactly what it is about the guy. He’s explaining this all to MJ in the scene.

But that was my point. We have multiple instances where his spider-sense went off in situations involving what amounted to innocents, so the argument that he 100% would automatically have known who was grabbing him from behind in a room with two other people besides the guy he was facing–in a fight, mind you–does not hold water due to previous evidence to the contrary. Regardless of its consistency in portrayal, it still did happen that he perceived his wife with a pillow in an empty apartment as a threat, so it takes away the 100% certainty factor, which is what I challenge.

Again, no one is saying he’s a good guy for hitting MJ, but that there’s the totality of the circumstances that make it far different from Hank Pym, which some people are completely ignoring in lieu of creating some WiR nonsense, while also finding no faults with females slapping punching or attacking their male partners in any situations.

When it comes to radiation mutating humans into something “other,” my mind always goes back to John Taine’s 1931 novel “Seeds of Life,” in which an average guy is accidentally transformed into a mental and physical superman – sort of a super-smart version of Steve Rogers, though flawed in the moral dimension.

Edmond Hamilton’s short story, “The Man Who Evolved,” will be familiar to “Fantastic Four” readers, as well as fans of the old “Outer Limits” TV show episode “The Sixth Finger.” Also written in 1931, cosmic radiation is used to mutate a man into a superman, then a large domed genius with increasingly amoral intentions, and then … well, I won’t give away the ending.

I didn’t realize my ability to recognize my wife’s voice at close quarters, and especially to tell it’s her right behind me talking to me instead of some dude, is due to me having Spider-Sense. That’s pretty cool.

Billy Bissette

April 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

On spider-sense, either MJ’s approach set it off or she didn’t. I opt for “didn’t”. Regardless, if someone wants to use examples of other “misfires” of spider-sense to argue that it might have, then Pete’s spider-sense is so oversensitive and unreliable that he should have long learned to never trust it enough to launch a blind attack at an unseen opponent. If it triggered here, then we’ve a case of it being triggered by a woman he knows, loves, and cares for, who in turn cares for him, while she is trying to help him.

I don’t know if that is any good for women either, Charles. The reason their abusive actions aren’t taken seriously is still part of the stereotype that women have no real strength

Rene, it depends on the situation. Mockingbird hit Hawkeye after he drugged her and Maddie hit Scott after he accused her of being the Dark Phoenix a few days after Lilandra threatened Maddie with a light saber because Lilandra thought Maddie was Dark Phoenix. In both cases, the reader emphasized with Maddie and Bobbi because a reasonable person would feel provoked in those situations. In Peter’s and Hank’s situations, Jan and MJ were trying to stop them from endangering other heroes, so there’s less sympathy for them.

Charles J. Baserap

April 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm

“I didn’t realize my ability to recognize my wife’s voice at close quarters, and especially to tell it’s her right behind me talking to me instead of some dude, is due to me having Spider-Sense. That’s pretty cool.”

Straw Man with a dash of reductio ad absurdum…

The excuse that Peter could tell automatically that MJ was MJ and not a man is disproved by the explanation of how his powers work as stated above. If his back was turned and his spider-sense went off, and he struck without looking, AND we saw that MJ with a PILLOW triggered his spider sense in the above issue I noted, how can one 100% say he would have known it was not a man behind him?

Because she’s right behind him talking to him right before he strikes her. His ability to recognize his wife’s voice and touch is not dependent on Spider-Sense, nor indeed on any of his powers. It’s simply being able to tell your wife’s voice from a man’s. Saying he thought it was a guy coming up behind him is not credible, Spider-Sense or no Spider-Sense.

..

As usual, Stan Lee is shown to be an avid reader, pop culture sponge and “appropriator” of Other peoples ideas.

It’s just what he DOES.

..

It doesn’t cut it, Michael.

Just imagine the situation reversed. Madelyne unfairly accuses Cyclops of being a villain after he went through hell, and then Cyclops SLAPS her silly. Do you think readers would sympathize with Scott, because a reasonable person would be provocked?

It’s part of the stereotype that women can hit guys with no consequence, because they’re just weak girls. And that is not only for physical actions.

In the matter of psychological abuse, men are supposed to soak it like sponges and smile when it’s their woman doing the abuse. There are whole sitcoms about it. A woman abusing a man is funny. A man abusing a woman is creepy.

Actually both should be considered creepy. But the double standard cuts both ways. A woman’s actions and opinions are supposed to be of less consequence than a man’s, so that is why her abusive actions “don’t count.” On the other hand, a man’s feelings are supposed to be less important than a woman’s. On the face of abuse, he should just “man up.”

We’re very far from true equality, and I’m not sure we’ll ever have it.

Haven’t read the whole thread (because it’s huge), but on the Peter-slapping-MJ thing: wasn’t that explained away as being the result of his programming by the Jackal?

And wasn’t that just left as a huge open plothole after they decided that no wait, he was the real Peter Parker after all and NOT a clone programmed by the Jackal?

Haven’t read the whole thread (because it’s huge), but on the Peter-slapping-MJ thing: wasn’t that explained away as being the result of his programming by the Jackal?

I don’t believe so (he later did attack Mary Jane because of the Jackal, but I don’t believe they said that that was why he hit her in the earlier issue).

And wasn’t that just left as a huge open plothole after they decided that no wait, he was the real Peter Parker after all and NOT a clone programmed by the Jackal?

Yes.

Agree that there was a lot that was ‘creepy’ about the YJ/Wasp relationship before the slap. The previous poster listed a few, but the other creepy thing was that Sue was grieving for her father when she met Hank and kind of fell for him as a substitute father at the start. So there was an unhealthy power differential in Hank’s favour from the beginning.

And to think, if only there where robots you could have attack your friends in the real world, we’d have way less “Hank Pym, wife beater” discussions.

Seriously, the man was in serious need of medication.

For me, the reason that Hank slapping Janet in this scene is less forgivable than all the other examples provided is that it screams “abuse” to me, while the others come across as a mistake in the middle of a fight (Peter), an ill-thought out stragety (Reed), or a case of values dissonance.

Hank slaps Janet while telling her to “play along and keep (her) mouth shut.” Her response implies that he has done this before to get her to agree to something. This, in my mind, is clearly a case of one spouse using physical force to control the other.

I am willing to give Shooter the benefit of the doubt on this, though. Knowing that they were using the Marvel Method, I can easilly understand if the dialogue was written to support art that there wasn’t time to re-do.

Theno

..

Here’s the creepy thing about the Hank Pym character:

He implanted insect parts into his newlywed wife. But not HIM, no…no implants for Ant-Man, but the Wasp. She gets the Frankenstein treatment.

..

Actually in some ways I almost find Hank more forgivable than Peter because he suffers from mental illness (or least has in the past; he may have finally gotten past that). Even in his first appearance in one panel he had a crazed look on his face as he says this about his latest invention: “I won’t tell you yet! You would only laugh at me as you’ve done before! But when I’ve finished it, I’ll show you! Then, you shall know I’m a greater scientist than *any* of you!” So it could be argued that he only discovered how to shink by having his first nervous breakdown.

In contrast Peter is not mentally ill and once killed someone who snook up on him. I’m not condoning either’s actions, but I think between the mental illness and Spidey having crossing the line and actually killed someone under similar circumstances, Spidey comes out just a bit worse in mymind

I think that the genius of the early Avengers was the way it mixed and matched genre tropes in a post-modern way. You have the Monster, the techno-enhanced industrialist, the mythological god all thrown into the same story. An insect-man isn’t such a much-used trope, but Hank fits the bill of a Mad Scientist pretty easily…

Patrick Zartman

April 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I asked this in another, older comments section, but I’ll ask again. Whatever happened to ‘Hepcats’? The original run was being reprinted in the 90′s, in preparation for continuing issues. The new issues never came out and the creator dropped off the face of the planet. What happened to ‘Hepcats’ and it’s creator?

[...] Pym spousal abuse Jan. OC Here's a little tidbit about Hank's spanking to Jan in the comics- Comic Book Legends Revealed #309 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources Oh and here are some Season 2 spoilers that are just HYPE! Spoiler for [...]

My research indicates that this type of spread, with the victims and suspects all shown in the first frame, was common in the solve-them-yourself mysteries of the day. Damned if I know how Joe Simon and Jack Kirby got ahold of one of them, but they seem to have put Cap in a solve-it-yourself mystery.

I find hilarious that when it comes to fiction, people are often willing to forgive villains who murdered millions of people if they suddenly switch sides and (maybe) show some remorse, yet slapping a woman is considered a unforgivable crime. I mean, not to diminish the seriousness of violence against weaker ones such as women and children, but many times I get the impression that comic book readers have no sense of comparison or priorities.

Bob Hall had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action

That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I guess that kind of mentality explains why the concept of subtlety was alien to comics until the 80s or so.

I hardly comment, but i did some searching and wound
up here Comic Book Legends Revealed #309 | Comics Should Be Good!
@ Comic Book Resources. And I do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright.
Is it just me or does it give the impression like a few of the remarks
appear as if they are left by brain dead individuals?
:-P And, if you are writing at additional social sites, I
would like to follow everything new you have to post.
Could you list of all of your community pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or
twitter feed?

“actually, Jesse, I also think that people like Wasp more than Ant-Man, so it’s seen more as *her* getting hit, rather than him hitting her. Does that make sense?”

I’ve not read the issue. Are you guys aware that without that context, and without dividing/defining everybody by sex, the argument you guys appear to be having is about a superhero hitting another superhero? That happens all the time. I was just reading the issue of Justice last nite where Superman clocks Batman.

As for FF, I do own the issue, but I’ve not read it yet either. So likewise, the scenario you describe seems like “the most powerful member of the team is under the control of a ruthless killer, so another teammate slaps her”.
Oh wait, though, they’re married, so it’s super-spousal abuse…

This is why superhero comics should stay away from so-called “realistic” “issues”.

Peter hitting MJ, of course, is a different matter. He shouldn’t ever strike ANY non-powered person (though, again, I’ve not read the issue in question).

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