Its 1981 and the avengers were still in its early days. Hank Pym had turned away from the Antman moniker and became yellow jacket. He wasn’t the hero that saved the day or the hero that walked proudly away from a battle. No, at this fragile time in his life, hank was failing as a hero. He failed at being a scientist, kept in iron man’s shadows and his marriage was on the rocks. He was never the avenger who saved the day at the last second but rather, he would be the first one to be knocked out or captured. Instead of creating something meaningful to help mankind, hank created one of the most powerful and deadliest villains to threaten the world. During his fall from grace, he has the privilege to witness his smart, beautiful, and ultra-wealthy wife succeed in everything she set her mind to.
During an argument, hank had enough of being in janet’s shadows and raised his hands and did the unthinkable. From this day forth, Hank Pym was labeled a wife beater. But did he strike her on purpose or by accident? Writer jim shooter stated that he never intended to portray hank to be a wife beater. The controversy lies in the fact that hank either struck Janet or he threw his hands in the air showing his frustrations and accidentally hit his wife. In either case, the fans reacted. Hate mail after hate mail was sent to marvel studios. But was this a bad thing? For sure it shows that the fans connected to Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Fans cared about these two like they were their neighbors and acquaintances, Friend of a friend. This bold move by Marvel leads to increased media attention and in proxie, an increase in sales.
So its no surprise that the fans were outraged. By accident or on purpose, marvel has brought something from the real world into its universe and fans responded. Moving forward, no matter how hard hank worked on his heroics, fans still remember him for what he did. He struck his wife. Even after hank and Janet moved past that dark time in their life, the original Antman will always be remembered for this time in his life. Marvel editor tom Brevoort stated that this moment, no matter how heroic or evil he is, will forever be one of the most interesting things about this character.
Hank was not the only one who hit his wife. Reed Richards of the fantastic four at one time struck sue storm. But no one remembers this moment and Reed left unscathed. Maybe its because sue was possessed and in evil mode.
Let’s turn back time before we were introduced to high school sweetheart Gwen Stacy in the amazing spiderman movie. It is 2004 and in the comics, Gwen had already died. But marvel wanted to add more intrigue to one of their most popular super heroes by introducing to us fans, the twin son and daughter of Gwen Stacy.
Stick with me here. You guys remember the bridge scene? This is where peter met Green Goblin to save his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Goblin throws her, she falls and parker saves her but the web impact snapped her neck. That we all knew, or at least, we know now. Let’s rewind a few months and we discovered that Gwen and Green Goblin Norman Osborn had a thing. That means she was pregnant with Osborn’s twins while she was with Peter. The twins were born and aged and came after Parker but that’s a whole different story. The controversy here is that Marvel changed the sweetheart story of Gwen Stacy to something really dark. At the time, Spider-man comic sales were dwindling so I get that Marvel needed controversy to stir things up which leads to more comic sales. But this time, it costed them the sweet back story of the girl next door type.
Poor Peter Parker, he even has the one more day and Reign to add to his list of controversial stories.
Character development is a must have for every successful story, either in comics or in any other form of storytelling. But is there a line to be crossed for the sake of character development? In 1994, Green lantern issue 54 showcases the death of Alexadra Dewitt for the sake of further developing the character of Kyle Rayner, an up and coming Green Lantern from earth. The development of Rayner was a success but the price is paid with the gory death of his girlfriend as we see a villain strangle Dewitt and stuffing her into a refrigerator for Rayner to find. This gruesome death of a fictional minor character spawned outrage online.
Women in refrigerators, a website spawned in the wake of this gruesome event, was created to list female characters who have been injured, killed or de-powered as a plot device to further a story. The site caught the attention of several national newspapers and opened the floodgates of the discussion on topics of sexism in pop culture. This infamous death raises another discussion: even though it is gruesome and dark, does this event alienate female comic book readers? Or does this hot topic discussion draw in more readers? The event happened over 22 years ago and yet, the death of fictional minor character Alexandra Dewitt is still discussed till this day.
The new 52 began in 2011 and rebooted the entire universe. This means that everything we read starting from 1985’s Crisis on infinite earths to 2006’s infinite crisis are all gone: placed into legacy and, seen by a few, thrown into the garbage. The new 52 was meant to fix continuity, start fresh with a clean slate and attract new readers to popular heroes without all of their past baggage. And with the success of 2008’s iron man 1, the flood gates were opened and mainstream media started to notice comic book super heroes. Marvel Now found success converting movie goers to comic book fans so DC created a great jumping on point for fans that haven’t picked up a comic in years. The new 52 was supposed to capitalize in this movement but it was met by uneasiness in the comic book community and then the numbers came in. Dc comic books ranked number 1 with its success with the justice league but then after a few short months, Marvel reclaimed the top position and DC started cancelling a few of their ongoing issues.
But what about DC’s existing fans? Years of story arcs, personalities and character development were erased in a flash leading too many long-time fans questioning: was it even necessary? Popular story arcs such as blackest night still happened but others such as the superboy prime effect was never confirmed to have happened. And then we got Barbara Gordon who never ended up in a wheelchair and never became Oracle, back as Batgirl. SIGH! Events such as convergence were promised to bring back what worked in the past to please the senior fans but that failed. So DC tried campaigning DC YOU in 2015 and in 2016, DC found a lot of excitement with Rebirth but we gotta wait to witness the overall effect on this new status quo.
The ultimate universe represented a fresh start to some writers. This is a place where the collective minds at marvel could get creative and tell stories of their favorite super heroes without the burden of continuity. We had some great concepts such as the death of Peter Parker Spider-man and the rise of Miles Morales. But how did fans react when the relationship between quicksilver and scarlet witch became a bit too close? These siblings were always close in the main marvel universe but in the ultimate universe, they shared not just love for each other, but lust as well. This forbidden relationship, no doubt, shocked their teammates in the avengers especially to the morally and ethical captain America. But how did it affect us fans? The truth is that incest is part of the real world that we lived in so if Marvel didn’t introduce it to us in the ultimate universe, another comic book publisher will eventually get to it down the road.
The primary psychological anti-incest mechanism in all of us is the yuck factor. Can you remember when the last time you had this conversation with anybody? It’s a dark conversation and we avoid it like the black plague. But marvel paraded it in the form of quick silver and the scarlet witch and for that, im grateful. Not because of the subject at hand but for marvel’s boldness to tackle on real life issues. The comic book world is evolving. They are pushing their boundaries. Sometimes the message is very well presented but in the case of Quicksilver and scarlet witch, this dark subject that gets a lot of prejudice and bias remains highly controversial.
There have been many studies amongst other civilization who embraces this subject but there are also studies that show how animals know to avoid incest.
So what can be worst then dating a cousin or an adopted brother or sister? Well in the case of quick silver and scarlet witch, they aren’t just siblings. They are twins who grew up in the same womb and were literally inseparable since birth.
TOP 10 CONTROVERSIAL MOMENTS IN COMICS pT2