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That Time Peter Parker Struck His Pregnant Wife…

Since it has become a bone of contention in the latest edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed, let’s take a look at the actual scene in question, from Spectacular Spider-Man #226, by writer Tom DeFalco, layout artist Sal Buscema and finisher Bill Sienkiewicz…

Okay, so Peter Parker and Ben Reilly do a series of test to, once and for all, determine which of the two is the “original” Peter Parker and which one is the clone. Finally, they come to the answer – Ben is the “original” and Peter is the clone.

Peter does not take this well…

Now, as written by DeFalco, the intent is for Peter to basically “shrug” Mary Jane off of him (perhaps not even realizing it is her, but more likely he does), but because he was so caught up in rage, he did not realize that his “shrugging” her off would send her flying. That is the intent, but I think it is fairly evident, though, that Buscema and Sienkiewicz did not necessarily convey the subtleties of DeFalco’s intent.

Still, for better or worse, there is the scene and the context it came in.

72 Comments

I don’t think it matters. It wasn’t a good comic, so no one really cares. Hank “hitting” Jan (whatever you think of authorial intent) actually came during an important moment in the comic.

rather, it took place in an important run of the Avengers.

Ah, so there it’s clear that he knows exactly who he’s hitting, because she’s yelling at him to stop, so his only possibly excuse is not knowing his own strength. In fact, it’s a pretty direct parallel to the Hank Pym scene. Wife touches him and begs him to stop what he’s doing, and he rounds off and decks her.

Here is Glenn Greenberg’s comment on the scene:

“Now, on to the matter of Peter “hitting” Mary Jane. We got some heat over this, and some bad publicity. But come on, it’s not like Peter Parker was suddenly being presented as a wife-beater! Consider the circumstances. Peter was in a rage, his whole world had been turned upside down, and he was in the middle of a brutal fight with the man he believed had just robbed him of his life. Mary Jane was warned by Seward Trainer not to go near them, that Peter and Ben were both out of control, but she ignored Seward and tried to get in the middle of them and stop the fight. She is clearly shown grabbing Peter’s arm, and in the next panel, Peter is shown flinging that arm outward, to shove her away from him so that he can continue the fight. That’s how I always interpreted the scene. Peter was so angry, so on the edge, that he wasn’t fully aware of what he was doing. Had he been the slightest bit rational at that moment, he surely would have taken into account the fact that he had super-strength, and that he couldn’t just shove a normal human being away like that. And I know that’s how Tom DeFalco intended the scene to be interpreted. Looking at the issue now, though, I’ll grant that maybe some of these subtleties did not come through in the art as clearly as they should have. And that provided enough fodder for anyone who was really looking to make a big stink about the scene. ”

Glenn Greenberg, THE LIFE OF REILLY, PART 9.

The difference is that Hank knew he was hitting Jan, whereas Peter got a little out of control “shrugging off” an unknown person that turned out to be MJ. Plus Peter showed remorse and ran off in shame, whereas Hank just strolled out with a “bitch deserved it” attitude.

I think to add perspective and context, it’s important to know that DeFalco originally scripted “Time to beat some Spider-SENSE into you, witch!” and DeFalco later thought better of it and rewrote it to be an accident.

Damn, Buscema and Sienkiewicz are amazing artists, but these pages are harsh!

buttler:”Ah, so there it’s clear that he knows exactly who he’s hitting, because she’s yelling at him to stop, so his only possibly excuse is not knowing his own strength. In fact, it’s a pretty direct parallel to the Hank Pym scene. Wife touches him and begs him to stop what he’s doing, and he rounds off and decks her.”

Directly parallels the Hank Pym scene: Sure, because Hank Pym was right in the middle of a fight with his clone…

Knows who’s he is hitting:Debatable.Peter is as enraged as he has ever been (he is in the midst of choking Ben to death); in such a state, he might not be consciously aware of what anyone is saying.

The difference is that Hank knew he was hitting Jan, whereas Peter got a little out of control “shrugging off” an unknown person that turned out to be MJ.

In both cases it was the guy’s wife’s voice right behind him begging him to stop what he’s doing, so I can’t see how Peter could be said to think it was someone else who just happened to have MJ’s voice. (Also, there’s the old Spider-Sense.)

T:”I think to add perspective and context, it’s important to know that DeFalco originally scripted “Time to beat some Spider-SENSE into you, witch!” and DeFalco later thought better of it and rewrote it to be an accident.”

T, do have a reference for that?

Directly parallels the Hank Pym scene: Sure, because Hank Pym was right in the middle of a fight with his clone…

Well, by that logic, you could just as easily say “Right, because Spider-Man is blond and his name is Hank.” “Parallels” does not mean “is exactly the same as.”

And not to question your keen eye for nuance, but T. was obviously joking.

buttler:”In both cases it was the guy’s wife’s voice right behind him begging him to stop what he’s doing, so I can’t see how Peter could be said to think it was someone else who just happened to have MJ’s voice. (Also, there’s the old Spider-Sense.)”

Voice right behind him: Assumes that Peter was actually capable of consciously hearing her. Given his state, he might have blocked everything out (I was once mauled by a pit bull; my sister was yelling the entire time, but I have no memory of her voice).

Spider-sense: Would have been tingling already due to the fight with Ben. Plus, it assumes that he was even paying attention to his Spider-Sense.

I’m sorry, thought it was obvious I was joking. I forget sometimes humor doesn’t come across well online.

Hank showed no remorse. Peter did. Hank was plotting to attack his team in order to look good. Peter just found out his entire life was a lie (at least for a little while).

The differences are clear, although that doesn’t excuse what Peter did. It’s indefensible, and there should have been all kinds of hell to pay. It makes Peter’s gigantic wrong slightly less awful than Hank’s gargantuan wrong, if that makes any sense. Again, that doesn’t let Peter off the hook and the ramifications of the scene should have been severe.

Buttler:
I would assume that just because MJ is yelling at him, Peter wouldn’t immediately think that his pregnant wife would step into that hugely violent confrontation. It would make more sense, just intuitively, that it would be Seward who stepped forward to get Peter off his buddy.

Also, to my knowledge, the spider-sense only warns Peter of impending danger, not who is within his vicinity.

I don’t understand how Buscema or Sienkiewicz could drop the ball so badly. Put a slight bend in his elbow, open his hand, fingers slightly apart, back of his hand facing the reader. There. That’s all it would take to get the subtlety right. The way it was rendered, he is straight-up backfisting her.

buttler: “Well, by that logic, you could just as easily say “Right, because Spider-Man is blond and his name is Hank.” “Parallels” does not mean “is exactly the same as.”

Parallels does not mean completely different, either.

Keen eye for nuance: Well, in my defense, I have been reading a lot of un-nuanced comments recently….

The differences are clear, although that doesn’t excuse what Peter did. It’s indefensible, and there should have been all kinds of hell to pay. It makes Peter’s gigantic wrong slightly less awful than Hank’s gargantuan wrong, if that makes any sense. Again, that doesn’t let Peter off the hook and the ramifications of the scene should have been severe.

Right, nothing about Peter’s reaction implies that it was an accident. He struck out at his wife in the heat of rage and is instantly horrified by it, whereas Hank doesn’t even apologize. They lashed out in the same way, and in both cases that’s indefensible, but Hank’s reaction to what he’d done was also indefensible, whereas Peter at least had the decency to immediately repent.

I’m in my car. I decide to run someone down. They’re injured.

I’m in my car. I’m angry and distracted and as a result of not paying attention I run someone down. They’re injured.

Same result. Arguments over intent do add a moral complexity but let’s be clear, a woman got injured as a result of a man hitting her, that’s what really matters.

T:”I’m sorry, thought it was obvious I was joking. I forget sometimes humor doesn’t come across well online.”

Entirely my fault, T. Frankly, given the high calibre of your postings, I should have caught on immediately.

I find it interesting that Jim Shooter, in his recent description of the Avengers scene, posted on his blog, says this:

“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”

And here we have Sienkiewicz as the inker on this Peter Parker scene. That’s an odd coincidence.

buttler:”Right, nothing about Peter’s reaction implies that it was an accident.” Really? His reaction can easily be read as the response of a horrified man who injured someone accidentally. This is Peter Parker that we are talking about; guilt comes with the territory.

buttler:”He struck out at his wife in the heat of rage and is instantly horrified by it, whereas Hank doesn’t even apologize. They lashed out in the same way,”: Well, no, they did not lash out in the “same way” (Unless you mean that a blow is a blow). Peter accidentally heat his wife while Hank intentionally hit his wife.

buttler:”but Hank’s reaction to what he’d done was also indefensible, whereas Peter at least had the decency to immediately repent.” : Well, yes, the post-blow reactions of the two men are entirely different.

It could have been worse, at least MJ didn’t sneak up on him during a conflict with Wolverine, causing him to hit her at full force. Spider-Man vs Wolverine clearly showed the results of that. His catch-phrase notwithinstanding, Peter doesn’t always act all that responsibly.

I’m not sure that the whole “shrug/shove/fling” bit ” (as Brian wrote, the art seems to lack any such subtlety) especially in light of the last panel…the shadows obscure MJ’s face, but it certainly looks as though her mouth/nose is bloodied, which would suggest a strike as opposed to a fling. Either way, gotta love those hyper-masculine male/female divisions, “what kind of MAN am I [for striking his sobbing, helpless wife]” yeesh!

But A LOT of spousal abuse is done in the heat of emotion. That doesn’t excuse anything.

It is interesting, though, that both scenes were supposedly written in a way that WOULD make them an accident of sorts, though not a mistaken identity one:

Now, as written by DeFalco, the intent is for Peter to basically “shrug” Mary Jane off of him, but because he was so caught up in rage, he did not realize that his “shrugging” her off would send her flying.

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.

But in both cases it winds up with the wives being knocked over by the blow–and then after THAT, the scenes play out very differently.

Note that there’s nothing in that description about not knowing who it was, which would involve Peter being in such a state that he couldn’t tell if a voice was coming from far away or right in his ear, which I find pretty far-fetched.

buttler:”But A LOT of spousal abuse is done in the heat of emotion. That doesn’t excuse anything.”

Well, yes, of course. But please find me a case of spousal abuse in the real world that involves a superhumanly strong man striking his wife while fighting his clone. The Hank-Janet, case, in contrast, is meant to directly parallel (to use a familiar phrase) real world abuse.

Good grief these comics were hideous. I was around 15 when they came out and even then I was like, “This is some of the ugliest art I have ever seen.”

But please find me a case of spousal abuse in the real world that involves a superhumanly strong man striking his wife while fighting his clone. The Hank-Janet, case, in contrast, is meant to directly parallel (to use a familiar phrase) real world abuse.

This is a unserious argument unless you’re really saying that the presence of superpowers and clones in a story precludes dealing with any real-world issues at all. Unless you’re really that literal-minded, this is just disingenuous.

buttler:

“It is interesting, though, that both scenes were supposedly written in a way that WOULD make them an accident of sorts, though not a mistaken identity one:

Now, as written by DeFalco, the intent is for Peter to basically “shrug” Mary Jane off of him, but because he was so caught up in rage, he did not realize that his “shrugging” her off would send her flying.

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.

But in both cases it winds up with the wives being knocked over by the blow–and then after THAT, the scenes play out very differently.

Not that there’s nothing in that description about not knowing who it was, which would involve Peter being in such a state that he couldn’t tell if a voice was coming from far away or right in his ear, which I find pretty far-fetched.”

Now that does present some fascinating possibilities for exegesis. The DeFalco script involves an intentional act (“shrugging off”) that is complicated by Peter’s rage and super strength. The art, in contrast, presents a more physically violent act (note Peter’s clenched fist ) but is far more ambiguous as to his intent (As I have repeatedly noted, Peter does not fully turn around until the blow occurs). Which should have precedence, the alleged intent or the execution?

Not telling a voice: Well, as I stated earlier, my sister was screaming only a few inches away from my face as I was being mauled, yet I have no memory of it.

wow, there’s no bad comic like a bad 90s comic…

buttler : “This is a unserious argument unless you’re really saying that the presence of superpowers and clones in a story precludes dealing with any real-world issues at all. Unless you’re really that literal-minded, this is just disingenuous.”

Actually, I’m deadly serious. Some comic book moments are meant to parallel (there’s that word again) real world realities: Tony Stark’s alcoholism, Hank’s striking Jan, anti-mutant prejudice (symbolic of racism, homophobia, etc). Others, however, only exist in comic book world. E.g., note how everyone remembers Hank hitting Jan, but Hank’s creation of a robot to battle the Avengers in the same issue (Salvation 1) receives no special notice, despite the fact that it nearly killed the entire team. In a real world scenario, which would bring the greater legal penalty, slapping a woman or nearly killing a half dozen people?

the reason for this disparity? Hank hitting Jan is treated as a real world moment, while Hank’s creation of Salvation 1 is treated as comic book boiler plate.

wow, there’s no bad comic like a bad 90s comic…

Yeah, I do love that we’re picking apart such a lousy comic so closely, but that’s what makes us comic book fans.

T’s comment made me LOL for about two full minutes.

It’s pretty obvious that Peter has a closed fist, knows it’s MJ behind him, and feels immediate, burning regret and anger at himself, that he smashed his pregnant wife pretty good.

If this weren’t intended to in some way mirror reality, the whole last half of the second page wouldn’t be there. She’s sent flying–but she’s fine, folks! And that happens in comics all the time. Civilians may be knocked unconcious in the shuffle, but there are no consequences. That’s not the case here. However badly executed, it’s meant to be taken seriously as domestic drama.

The clone part, sure, less so. That’s much more like the killer robot. A man in a rubber mask throwing exploding pumpkins? Ridiculous. Someone the hero loves gets killed because he miscalculates while fighting that guy? Serious business, and it doesn’t suddenly become not serious because there’s a guy in a rubber mask involved, or because the tortured hero got his powers from a radioactive spider bite.

Man… DeFalco did a lot over the years to turn MJ into a rubbish character. From the life of the party to sucking the life out of the party. And we ended up with this sort of thing. Oh well. She’s not totally fixed now but at least she isn’t a constant presence any more.

Ive never read this anywhere or have seen it officially in print. But I assumed that since it was revealed that Hank Pym was being impersonated by a Skrull for a time, they would retcon away the wife beating as “not really him”.

I hate myself for throwing gasoline in the fire but wasn’t Hank Pym legally insane at least three times in his history before he hit Jan? Not retconned incidents and not in fights with Dr. Insanity-Inducer M.D., but established incidents going back decades.

Peter Parker had a brutal past but he was never commited to a pysch ward like Pym (except when Mysterio locked him in under a different name and such). It wouldn’t take Matt Murdock to reduce charges against Hank due to his mental history.

In real life Hank Pym couldn’t get a job as a school security guard for this but in the Marvel Universe it’s never stopped him from being an Avenger.

buttler: “If this weren’t intended to in some way mirror reality, the whole last half of the second page wouldn’t be there. She’s sent flying–but she’s fine, folks! And that happens in comics all the time. Civilians may be knocked unconcious in the shuffle, but there are no consequences. That’s not the case here. However badly executed, it’s meant to be taken seriously as domestic drama.”: It’s meant to be taken seriously, all right, but as comic book style melodrama, not as social realism.Again, Hank Pym building Salvation 1 was serious comic book business; it just was not serious real world business. That is why people remember him hitting his wife and forget about the Avengers killing robot,

Comic Book sensory perceptions: We also need to remember that , in the comic book world, people like Batman and Daredevil can wear half-masks and not be recognized by their closest friends. Does anyone think that that would work in the real world?

It’s meant to be taken seriously, all right, but as comic book style melodrama, not as social realism.

Yeah, but that’s just as much the case with the Pym-slap. The fact that Peter’s slap didn’t have the same consequences has more to do with MJ forgiving Peter because she knows he’s not a killer-robot-building psycho than because that Avengers issue was supposed to be some kind of domestic violence PSA, because it wasn’t.

When I actually read this title there wasn’t a big comic internet world, or if there was I wasn’t aware of it. So I didn’t get to hear other fan comments on it. But I remember when reading the story, the punch to MJ didn’t bother me so much because it was clearly out of character and an accident and he showed remorse.

No, what bothered me more was that he was clearly intending to choke Ben Reilly to death! I mean even after a revelation like that, seeing Spider-Man strangle someone with that murderous facial expression was very jarring to me. When I got older and got to see the reaction from many other fans to the story, I was surprised to see that most people were angry about the punch to Mary Jane but his attempted murder got no acknowledgment.

I heard they canceled “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” right before they started chronicling Pete slapping M.J. like a whack-a-mole daily.

Man, why doesn’t anyone think spousal abuse humor is funny?!?! ;-)

“I heard they canceled “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” right before they started chronicling Pete slapping M.J. like a whack-a-mole daily.”

Incorrect. In fact, Untold Tales hadn’t even started running at this point.

Frankly, I Mopeed the whole damn comic as soon as I read it. As far as I’m concerned, it never happened. Begrudgingly, I accept that Peter “learned” he was the clone somehow (I can never completely hate Howard Mackie, because he retconned that little turd), but it didn’t go down like this.

Now if only someone would do something about One More Day…

I’d like some more ongoing analysis on lousy super-husbands. Next up, Reed Richards.

Look, the “Sue Slap” outranked Hank’s “Jan Slap” on Cracked’s list. http://www.cracked.com/article_16512_the-6-worst-comic-book-super-husbands_p2.html

So is Our Hero a clone or what?

Man, you’d think Buscema and Sienkiewicz would be a godlike combo, but this is fucking HORRIBLE. I literally in awe at how bad it looks.

At LAST, someone feels the same way I do about the art!! I kept hearing about how awesome Buscema and Sienkiewicz were but I thought it was just me that didn’t “get it”.

“Ive never read this anywhere or have seen it officially in print. But I assumed that since it was revealed that Hank Pym was being impersonated by a Skrull for a time, they would retcon away the wife beating as “not really him”.”

No, it’s definitely been established that Hank was replaced much more recently; I can’t recall the exact point of takeover, but I’m pretty sure it was after New Avengers started being published, or just before at the very earliest.

Sienkiewicz is a good penciler. But the hyper-expressionist style he has adopted ever since New Mutants is terrible, terrible.

Sal Buscema, however, rocks.

The flashbacks during Secret Invasion established that Hank was replaced circa New Avengers 1- Bendis’s dialogue was confusing, since at one point it seemed like Hank was replaced just before the Raft breakout and another point it seemed like Hank was replaced just after the Raft breakout.

Wait….Peter Parker was married? Are you sure about that?

Maybe if Hank had backfisted Janet across the room with super-strength, with both a solid strike and a solid landing, maybe he’d have felt guilty and ran off screaming “What have I done? What kind of man am I?” as well.

As for defending Peter’s action by saying he was blinded by murderous rage at the time, think about that for a moment. Blinded by murderous rage isn’t much of a defense. He’s fully intent on killing another human being. “I’m sorry. I never meant to hit her. I’m not a violent person. I was just really angry, trying to beat this other guy to death, and she got in the way.” Yes, he feels his life has collapsed, but that isn’t an excuse for how he acts. As a commenter responded in the previous article, the whole scene reads like it was being written to vilify Parker to make way for Reilly being the new Spider-Man. If Marvel hadn’t backed out of that swap, we might be remembering Parker as the murderous wild man who tried to kill the “real” Spider-Man and nearly killed MJ.

As for defending Peter by saying it was meant to be a shrug or warding off move, but his super-strength turned it into a heavier blow, there are things to counter. The art is a backhand, not a shove or anything lighter. It is a full-out strike. And does it really matter whether or not he knew it was MJ? Is it somehow not as bad if he’d blindly hit a twelve year old or an innocent non-muscular guy? (Yes, I know there are people who believe it automatically is worse if it is a woman regardless of circumstance. I disagree with that sentiment.) As for super-strength, the blow that is shown would have been rough even with regular human strength regardless.

Yeah, that sequence was definitely meant to villify Peter. After that sequence, he teams up with the Jackal, who claims to have reformed and is working toward a new and better world. Peter manages to miss some tiny little clues that the Jackal hasn’t reformed, like Ben saying to Jackal “A new and better world is that what you call it? All I saw was death” and the Jackal asking Spidercide to kill Kaine, who views the Jackal as a father. Sheesh, what was Peter waiting for, the Jackal to wear a sign saying “I’m a villain!”?

How can Peter NOT know who was behind him?

Also, how does an artist draw a “shrug”

I would actually disagree with the point made at the beginning of this thread, that people care more about the Pym incident because, unlike this one, it didn’t happen in a bad comic; yes, it totally did (or at the very, very least, in a wildly overrated one). It’s early in a long, long mediocre stretch for the book.

And, yeah, Buscema-with-Sienkiewicz looks super fucking weird, like some sort of Bizarro Chaykin.
(Luis Dantas’ comment is just ignorant, however; Stray Toasters proves him wrong.)

I think it is funny that Sienkiewicz had a hand in this “wife backhand” considering the Legends Revealed that was just posted about the Pym wife beating…Sienkiewicz apparently had gone to the writer and said he should have been the one to draw it because he’d have made it appear as more of an accident. This sure looks like a pretty blatant backhand. I am sure that this didn’t get as much heat since it was supposed to be the clone that did the freaking out…even though it really ended up being Peter in the end. MEH.

In discussions like this, which are interesting and valuable, I’m always left wondering what we’re meant to do with scenes like this and characters affected by them. A lot of the value and interest int he discussion is about the way it lets us talk about real domestic violence by proxy; that’s one of the benefits of any sort of fiction, not just the superhero genre. There is an undercurrent in some responses that What Hank Did or What Spidey Did is unforgivable in real-world terms, and that by extension domestic abusers are irredeemable, unforgivable monsters and inevitable, irrepressible recidivists. There is a depressingly high rate of recidivism among domestic abusers, and it may well be alifelong behavior pattern. But life terms or death sentences for spousal abusers is probably not a practicable social policy, so I’m left to wonder where that idea leads us in terms of real-world responses to the problem. Leaving that behind for now, since this is a comics forum, I also think that when we look at the comic-book consequences we (and the writers, and the publishers) get stuck.

Do we write out Hank Pym forever, since what he did should probably be the end of a superhero career by most standards? That doesn’t much work, since hank has repeatedly been written out of books only to come back; even Ultimate Hank, who’s very clearly a terrifying, recidivist abuser and a nutcase and a traitor, keeps coming back int hat supposeldy “darker” and “realer” universe. Continuing characters, even third-tier ones, never really go away. And Spider-Man, well, he’s going nowhere even in the short term.

Do we then decide as fans and readers to drop the characters? That’s probably not going to work in the longer term either. Fans are addictive personalities, for one thing, and even a less-committed reader enjoys other stories and other elements of the characters that can certainly motivate them to come back. In any case, it seems rather pointless to make a fictional instance of abuse into the site of a stand like this, even if one tries to explain it as a blow against a culture that is ostensibly permissive of domestic abuse. The number of people who are even aware of Hank Pym’s character history or of a moment in a widely-reviled storyline in Spider-Man’s titles is not really large enough to treat these as leading cultural indicators of such permissiveness, let alone as some sort of powerful contribution to the attitude of permissiveness and excuse-making. It’s a really inefficient, really quixotic place to take that stand; it’s tactically smarter to find and address genuinely popular examples of such permissiveness, I think. Superhero comics will follow the changes in wider realms of pop culture; they don’t really lead it in issues like this.

But almost no one, myself included, wants to say that superhero comics can’t address domestic violence or that heroes can’t fall from grace for the sake of storylines or new, innovative directions. There will now appear the faction of the comics fandom that insists that either superheroes shouldn’t do this, or that infinite serials shouldn’t and can’t and should thus be abolished. Neither of those movements is going to change the publishing realities of superhero comics anytime soon, and in any case they are tangents to the specific topic of debate here.

But how can they address the topic? Minimizing the consequences or treating it as a short-term storyline or redemption arc seems to bother a lot of people, and not without good cause. Retconning away the abuse moment is an even more disturbing solution, in some ways, since it creepily erases the problem, as if ignoring it or pretending it never happened is the way to deal with what is a very real, very serious matter. Ditto for mind-control excuses, which are disturbingly like rationalizing away domestic abuse for many readers’ tastes. (Again, the point is not an irrational or false one if we allow that domestic abuse is not really possible to include without some reference to reality.)

So the question is, perhaps, how can or should writers and publishers *end* a superhero-strikes-spouse storyline, assuming that “kill ‘em” or “retire ‘em” is not going to happen. If those options are practically off the table — and the history of publishing says they are, sorry — then what is there to do? Anyone?

Wasn’t Pym pretty much out of his mind at that point? Not that it’s an excuse but it seems more forgivable than the scene above.

My feeling, Omar, is that there’s a big difference between forgivable and excusable. I don’t think either incident is excusable–that is, there’s no way that it’s OK that they were done in the first place, because to say that would be to imply that it would be OK to do it again–but whether they were forgivable or not really depends on what the person did to make amends and their overall pattern of behavior. That to me is the key difference between what happens after the blows in the Pym and Spidey panels; Hank’s behavior seems pretty unforgivable unless he does some serious work to try to make up for it, which of course he’s tried to do over the years.

glad to finaly know that De falco ment to have peter push Mary Jane away only to have it wind up drawn that he in his anger over learning he is suppose to be the clone and not ben and wanting ben gone he winds up by what is surely not ment to be on purpose hits her. then runs away leaving her hurt.

@Omar

I think that if the comics were written in a way that reflects the seriousness of either Hank or Peter’s situation, it should be handled with realism. By that, I mean that if the writer wants to go there with the characters, then that’s fine, but then that incident should be reflected on the character and the character’s personality for a long time to come.

With Peter’s case, and I don’t have the arc, I would think the matter is between Peter and Mary Jane. As handled, it would depend on whether or not it would be in Mary Jane’s character to forgive and forget, just as I would ask if it was a one time instance of uncontrolled rage with Peter or something else hidden. Given what I have known about the character, I would guess the former. That does not absolve the character; rather, given a mostly conscientous character like Peter, it should haunt him. He should feel guilt and remorse, even after a longer period of time, and seeing similar scenes or hearing of similar scenes of domestic violence ought to impact him in some way. How common such incidents are would be up to the writer, obviously.

Now, if the character is more like Hank, who in any universe doesn’t seem to care at all, then maybe the impact is on others. Maybe Hank has abilities that make him useful to whatever group he belongs to, but at the same time, his teammates could keep him at a distance. No socializing, no extra help. He becomes just a guy on the team, a guy who has done something the others can’t forgive but that they have to deal with because the character that did it feels no remorse. How that kind of isolation affects the character then becomes the story.

This would make, IMHO, for an interesting use of the spousal abuse device; however, I doubt that too many writers want that challenge of having it present constantly, and I doubt that many readers want to read it because at the end of it all, comics is an escape.

“doesn’t seem to care at all”…. “the character that did it feels no remorse.”

Where do you get that?
Not to defend what the character did, but that can only be based on reading nothing that the character appeared in between the comic the incident took place in and current Bendis-era Avengers stuff (and even then, we see evidence of some degree of remorse in the modern stuff, or at least of being messed up over it).
Plenty of writers have written him as working through the emotional repercussions of this (like the almost-suicide-attempt in West Coast Avengers, among other), only to have it ignored later on for the sake of a cheap joke (often one that itself does no favours to any real-world improvement of awareness of abuse issues).

“but that can only be based on reading nothing that the character appeared in between the comic the incident took place in and current Bendis-era Avengers stuff ”

Fair enough. I admittedly have a very limited view on Avengers as it’s not something I really care about. I own a few of the key arcs, and that’s about it. So no, I don’t know the whole history of Hank Pym after the scene in question, though I’ve been familiar with the scene in question and story as a whole for a long time.

That said, in the context of the conversation here, I’m referring to the moments at hand and then what should happen afterwards. Both of my comments about both characters reflect that hypothetical stance. Slice it anyway you want, the story where Hank hits Jan has him showing zero remorse save after everything goes FUBAR and nothing worked out like he thought. IMHO, that’s more like the guy who’s sorry that he got caught, not the guy who really feels bad about it at the time. Looking at the comments here, others seem to think he lacked remorse as well, so maybe that’s just a common belief that Marvel or the Avenger writers haven’t done enough to disspell yet.

In any case, Omar asked what should be done to make storylines like this serious but not final-nail-in-the-coffin type situations. I simply offered two ideas of where to go with it in what I perceive as two different cases spousal abuse, but again, I feel that many writers and editors like the idea of doing something shocking in comics but rarely really want to deal with it afterwards in any real world, lasting way.

Examples abound in both universes (why is any Batman part of the JLA? Why would the JLA ever want any Batman in it?, for example), but that seems to have always been the nature of the beast of comics.

She was begging for it.

Spider-man has been beaten down and destroyed as a character. He’s not even a ‘man’ at all anymore. He’s book where the biggest thing they promise the readers is a new costume every three months.

In the case of the Clone Saga I felt that they were changing him so that Ben Reilly would seem more like Pete than Pete. Even after the Clone Saga and the changing of who was the ‘real’ Spider-man back and forth they just needed to get the book and character back on his feet. Unfortunantly, that’s when the constant renumberings and reboots kept happening. First he was renumbering. They cancelled Spectacular Spider-man which I loved and then 20 issues later it was another reboot with another writer, then again with Stracynski who after a year or so it became clear that he wasn’t a Spider-man writer and sales began to fall again. So he was kept on the book until they just seem to give up and just put new, major stuff in the book every month. New Powers. He dies. Terrible. just awful. He’s unmasked but they don’t want to do that story. He goes back to teaching. Wow. Now, Spider-man is just a dumb character. He doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t remember anything. ‘Spider-island’ sounds like a joke.

That’s worse than a slap.

[...] time. You know, back when he and Mary Jane were married. (Retcons still confuse me.) Here’s the incident on CBR. Warning: it is hard to read, mostly because the art is so painfully bad. There’s one [...]

I always thought that this incident was supposed to be the “proof” for the reader that Peter was the clone.

For me, the most disturbing part of this is that when the slap was re-created in Spider-Man 3, the audience (at the theatre I saw the movie at) laughed when he struck MJ.

Theno

Sifting through these comments, it just seems like Peter gets a pass because he is a beloved A list character and Pym doesn’t because he’s a C lister. Everything else just smells like excuses.

Shrug? Shove? Backhand? You don’t do any of those with a closed fist.

With a closed fist you hit or strike. That’s the proper term for what Peter did to Mary Jane.

[...] I was there. Peter Parker got so stressed over that story he backhanded pregnant Mary Jane and even decided not to even be Peter Parker for a while, “Only The [...]

[...] of comics, and done things far worse to them than backhand. Peter Parker, for instance, once decked Mary Jane while she was pregnant, sending her flying, and if you’ll skim the comments in the link, you’ll find that [...]

“I always thought that this incident was supposed to be the “proof” for the reader that Peter was the clone.

For me, the most disturbing part of this is that when the slap was re-created in Spider-Man 3, the audience (at the theatre I saw the movie at) laughed when he struck MJ.”

Wow, really? That’s messed up. I cursed out Mother Effer when he did that. I guess they actually loved “emo, dancing Parker” and would explain why people still love Spidey even after he hit MJ practically two times. Plus now we know Sam Raimi probably thought it was a defining moment in Marvel Comics history.

People are so messed up man…

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