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When Did Hank Pym's Mental Issues Begin?

In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

Today, we look at the surprisingly early debut of Hank Pym's mental problems in the comics.

In a recent From a Different Point of View (where Eileen Gonzalez and I discuss the Avengers issue-by-issue from the beginning), we discussed Hank Pym's then-new problem of being stuck at ten feet tall, which makes him feel like a freak...

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I mentioned that it seemed like this was the start of Hank's mental problems. However, reader James T. wrote in to suggest that Avengers #14 was really the start.

He explained, "I argue that Hank Pym's mental issues were first brought forth in a major way in Avengers # 14. The opening page has him carrying Jan/Wasp as Thor requests to carry and fly her to the hospital. Thor or Iron Man could have flown Jan/Wasp to the hospital much faster than Hank carrying her. Not rational, but emotional. Later in the story, he breaks down, falling on the floor and pounding his fist on it. He even says to himself in the story he must get a hold of himself. In anger he grabs the doctor/space alien. Throughout the story, he is emotional and not rational. I argue that this issue was the start of Hank's mental issues."

Here are the pages in question...

However, reader Rob H. wrote in to show the REAL start of Hank Pym's mental issues and they go all the way back to Tales to Astonish #44 (by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee), which came out before the Avengers even FORMED!

In it, Hank Pym reflects on the murder of his first wife, killed when she and Hank went back to visit the Communist country she had escaped from years earlier...

The comic book explicitly notes that Hank was on the verge of a mental breakdown due to Maria's death...

Her death is what drove him to become a superhero in the first place...

And when he meets Janet Van Dyne, it is her similarity to Maria Pym that leads him to later add her as his partner after Janet's father is killed...

So there ya go, Hank Pym's mental problems go back a really, really long way.

Thanks to Rob for the suggestion!

If anyone else has a suggestion for a notable comic book first that they'd like to learn, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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