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Saturday, May 21, 2016 

The defamation of Hank Pym continues

IO9's Gizmodo section perpetuated a terrible description of the original Ant-Man that did not have to be, any more than the notion he ever had to be depicted that way:
Sift through your memory banks through the founding members of the Avengers. Pick out the one who wound up living the most screwed-up life. A no-prize to everyone who chose Hank Pym. The first Ant-Man returns to Earth this week, more powerful and creepy than he used to be.
Just how was he creepy, exactly? He was far from being the literal madman they apparently want him to be in his early Silver Age appearances. If anything, he was a guy who was sad over the loss of his first wife Maria Trovaya, a Hungarian dissident, who'd been murdered while they were on a visit back there (this was at the time Hungary was under communist rulership in the 1960s). He may have been depicted with flaws, but Stan Lee did not render him as a total nutjob back then.
Hank Pym is one of Marvel’s most complicated superhero characters. Early on, the scientist created Ultron, the super-intelligent, nearly indestructible robot that became a villain who wants to destroy humanity.
But he didn't intend to make Ultron a killer, now did he? So it's regrettable they're coming close to making it sound like Stan Lee wrote Hank as though he did.
Later on, wild behavioral changes throughout his career had him adopting a whole other identity called Yellowjacket and abusing wife/teammate Janet Van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp . He’s one of the few superheroes to explicitly struggle with mental illness. Sam Humphries, who wrote Pym in the Avengers A.I. series, described his take on Pym to me this way in an interview three years ago:

In the past — not always, but definitely sometimes — Hank Pym’s mental illness has been treated like a cold, or a super villian. He’s crazy! Now he’s sane again. Look out, the crazy is back! How’s he going to escape this time?

I would argue that Hank’s “dysfunctional” is actually more “functional” than “normal” people. Hank has a chronic condition. There is no cure, there is no endpoint, there is no end of the labyrinth where you can say, “I’ve escaped!” You focus on managing your condition, you work hard to live a life as normally as possible, and understand that it’s not going to be as easy as it is for the people around you. This is a fact of life for hundreds of millions of people with chronic conditions... This gets really interesting when you put it in the day-to-day context of being an Avenger.
Here's another wacko who doesn't have the courage to say whether he thinks any of the assigned writers went too far with the whole insanity theme. The article's writer makes even more of the mistake: he puts it all in superficial terms without saying whether the original storylines were good or bad. Some today might argue the latter. Prior to Humphries' answer, he asked, "In terms of his fictional biography, it feels like he’s been unbalanced longer than he was ever sane." What does he mean "biography"? Doesn't "past characterization", "past stories" and "presented" sum it up better? Also from the 2013 interview:
Kotaku: Both Hank Pym and Bruce Banner are mad scientists both leading super-teams in the Marvel Universe now. Is there a rivalry between the characters or creative teams on Avengers A.I. and Indestructible Hulk? How do you make sure you’re staying out of each other’s way?

I make deliberate, factually incorrect statements about the Legion of Superheroes every day on Twitter — just to get in under Waid’s skin. Shake him out of his zone, y’know? Ya gotta get in their heads, man. You think this is a game?!
To them, it is. And clearly, to the reporter as well, seeing how he makes Bruce out to be a mad doctor, even though that side was usually more rational than the Hulk, and by no means wanted to commit crimes. Let's go back the newer article, which brings up a recent story turn that's no longer shocking:
The one-time Scientist Supreme’s ups-and-downs have been a hallmark of the character, and figured prominently during his last big adventure. Driven by guilt and responsibility in Avengers: Rage of Ultron, Pym became fused with the malevolent AI he created and the story ended with the psychologically confused man-machine fusion made flying off into space.

The fate of the two character was unclear but, after a few instances of subplot teasing, this week’s Uncanny Avengers #9 brings the two characters back to Earth. They’re not really separate entities anymore, though.

Hank Pym pretty much is Ultron now
. More specifically, he’s a cyborg that wears Ultron and wields the robot’s abilities. [...]
Yup, just what the MCU needs. Now it's not enough for Hank to be a scientist who made mistakes but was capable of redeeming himself. Now he has to be a potentially lethal man himself, not just his own mechanical creation. And, in fact, he has to be a machine himself, not just a flesh-and-blood human. In a way, this sums up what the MCU's become under such awful management - robotic cyphers with no convincing humanity, no organic drama and only a whole pile of contrived crossovers to exist within (same with the DCU, of course). And all these phony specialist news reporters only serve as enablers, because they won't raise a word of objection to what Marvel's management is doing, not even to the Fantastic Four.

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The last good story involving Ultron was Annihilation: Conquest, and was a redemption of sorts after that travesty of a tale by Bendis in Mighty Avengers. As for Hank Pym being labeled a "mad scientist", can a scientist be mad and still work for good purposes, or is the concept always meant to be totally evil?

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