Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hank Pym: Bipolar

I've been reading through the issues of Avengers A.I. to catch up to issue seven, which is an INHUMANITY tie-in. So far, the book is weird. Really weird. While there are some hilarious moments with the Doombot ("Doom rejects all apologies"), for the most part, I didn't really care about the characters or the story. As a recovering ludditte, the whole "A.I. is a lifeform" thing is too much for me. Reading the author's comments at the end of every issue where he pretends to like robots more than people doesn't help.

And then I got to Avengers A.I. #5, and Marvel went somewhere I never imagined they would. Somewhere I never imagined possible in a mainstream comicbook:

click to enlarge

Hank Pym diagnosed himself with bipolar disorder. I can't believe it, but I am oh so very happy about it. Not happy for the fictional character of Hank Pym, of course--that would be cruel and silly. I'm happy Marvel had the gonads to bring this up. Sure, they've got their Moon Knight and Legion type characters with schizophrenia, but to take a major character like this, one of the original Avengers, and give him an actual real-life everyday mental disorder? That's bold. And I love it. I can't wait to see where they take this. Already, in issue 6, they brought it up again:

Doing some quick Google searches, I learned that being mentally broken has sort of historically been Hank Pym's thing. He even appears on this list of "Top 10 Greatest Mentally Ill Superheros". (I also found this humorous little web-comic summary of the Hank Pym character, which is worth checking out). But, as someone who never closely followed the character before, learning this little bit about him was a real shocker for me. And I've got to say, the way it was delivered was brilliant. It wasn't the focus of the issue and it wasn't thrown in your face, but it was delivered tactfully and eloquently. The decision to bring Hank Pym's bipolar disorder into this comic completely changed my opinion of it, making it a comic I now want more of.

So, good on ya, Sam Humphries, and good on you, Marvel. Thanks for this extra layer of depth to an otherwise boring character who I never cared about before.