Jan 29, 2013

Double Helix: The Unbearable Lightness of Pym: Giant Man and the Girl with the Heavy Hand

Double Helix is a new column written by Rachel Helie for The Comics Cube! Click here for the archive.

The Unbearable Lightness of Pym: Giant Man and the girl with the Heavy Hand
Rachel Helie

Janet Van Dyne is one of the sexiest of comic fandoms female characters. She is independent and strong-willed, seeks out adventures and fears nothing. It was going to take a lot to interest her. She, the dilettante child of a privileged world, hit the "princess jackpot" when she met Hank Pym.

It was writing on the wall, to pun it a bit. Janet would have pursued Hank regardless of her father’s calamity, in my opinion. I mean, as a woman, I would have. But she would have bored of the pursuit much sooner if not for their shared tragedy.


Hank was bereaved, mourning a much loved wife.

After the accident that brought Janet and Hank together, the incentive to avenger her father was all-consuming and Hank was the only man who had the means and the intellect to make that happen. Not to mention he felt a sense of duty and responsibility. It was that sense of responsibility and not romantic love (in spite of her many charms and impossible to miss signals) that inspired Hank’s feelings for Janet at a very early stage in their relationship and that modus operandi never quite changed. Janet seems to have pursued Hank as a means to an end at first, then as a sort of father substitute. Call it the Electra complex, but something wasn’t quite right with that whole business from the get go.

Hank saw Janet in terms of a victim, someone who could understand loss. Janet wasn’t that sort of girl. Everyone wants to talk about Hank and his mental fallouts over the years but Janet was a classically neurotic sociopath. She had learned it from her breeding and pedigree. Janet reminds me of one of the trivial young things from Bret Easton Ellison’s American Psycho. A man could be telling her that last night he dismembered her neighbor and was keeping her head in the freezer at home; totally consumed by her own vanity and ego, her only concern would be the placement of her lipstick and whether she had ordered a kir or a good champagne. Janet doesn’t hear what she doesn’t want to hear. She was going to get what she wanted and that was that. And she ultimately did.

Thriving on attention, using every tool in her kit to ensure that Hank could not ignore her, she relentlessly set about gaining his affection. He only came around to the idea begrudgingly. It is the old saying all over again “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Well, Janet was going to hold Hank’s head underwater until he came up for air with the words “I love you, marry me” on his tongue. Poor Hank had no idea what he was in for when he met Janet. The girl was tough as nails, bold as brass, had more than her fair share of sass and she was never going to let Hank go. At least not in the beginning.

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