As I was developing the storyline, I discussed the potential pathology of their relationship with a psychologist who happened to be sitting next to me on a five-hour flight. The story made sense, he thought. I went ahead with it. During the time the story was running, I got a great deal of hate mail. It worried me enough to ask Stan what he thought. He said he got the same kind of mail in the ‘60’s regarding Peter Parker’s various romantic travails. He asked me how Avengers sales were doing. They were in fact, increasing by 10,000 copies per issue. Stan said that people obviously cared passionately about what was happening to Hank and Janet, as if they were real people. That’s the key. And he said, “Don’t worry about the mail.”
In that story (issue 213, I think), there is a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration—making a sort of “get away from me” gesture while not looking at her. Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross! There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the “wife-beater” story.
When that issue came out, Bill Sienkiewicz came to me upset that I hadn’t asked him to draw it! He saw the intent right through Hall’s mistake, and was moved enough by the story to wish he’d had the chance to do it properly.
By the way, I was too busy to finish the story, so Roger Stern took over two-thirds of the way through. I thought he did a great job. He’s an excellent writer who doesn’t get enough credit.