WHO WOULD WANT TO STOP AN UNSTOPPABLE WASP? UM… MARVEL???

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson


A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

It seems kind of odd to me that Marvel is taking a series that only ran eight issues before cancellation and reprinting it in two separate collections (each only 120 pages). That the series in question is The Unstoppable Wasp also baffles somewhat, because, obviously, this particular Wasp was apparently stoppable. After you read it, you realize that it’s one long storyline anyway. Wouldn’t it have been cool, particularly for the young reader school and library market, to have had one big chunky collection? Sometimes I just don’t understand Marvel…

Unstoppable Wasp #1

Unstoppable Wasp #1


Particularly since they unjustly cancelled this series, many might feel. It’s hard to tell why The Unstoppable Wasp ended with issue #8, other than that eternal bogeyman, sales. I enjoyed the series, as did Johanna who also reviewed the first collection at Comics Worth Reading. It’s a great take on the character, introducing a modern young woman to carry on the name of one of the Marvel Universe’s most important female heroes and the scientific legacy of her father.

The Unstoppable Wasp is Nadia, the previously unknown daughter of Hank (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, etc.) Pym and his first wife Maria Trovaya Pym. They were married long before he ever met Janet Van Dyne. Maria was subsequently captured and kidnapped, and Hank Pym never found her or her kidnappers. (This part of the story is 50-some-years old, real-world time, appearing as part of Pym’s early background.) Just before she died, she gave birth to Pym’s daughter, who she named Nadia “just days before her death”. (This is the new part.)

Before we get too far along, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the talented creators of this fun series: Writer Jeremy Whitley (also writer/artist of Princeless from Action Lab), artist Elsa Charretier (much work published in France, as well as The Infinite Loop for IDW), and color artist Megan Wilson (Patsy Walker: Hellcat).

In the origin recap in Unstoppable Wasp #1, Nadia explains to an immigration agent that she was taken and raised in a Russian secret facility called “The Red Room” (the same facility that pops up in many origin variations for Natasha Romanova, the Black Widow). Before she even meets Janet Pym, Nadia is already involved in super-hero-ing in the Marvel Universe, with friends Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird. She’s also currently a member of the Avengers!

Nadia’s first appearance was in a very odd place: In a back-up feature in Free Comic Book Day Vol. 2016 Avengers, in a 10-page story by Mark Waid and Alan Davis — which directly leads into All-New All-Different Avengers #9. The key point is that Nadia was attempting to meet her father on the very day that he is killed in a battle with Ultron.

Nadia finds out about this while reading the news on her phone while on Hank’s doorstep, which makes it all the more tragic. (Although she still shrinks down to enter Pym’s house and helps herself to his technology for her final touches to become the Wasp.) These stories are irrelevant, now, and a tie-in to a big event that’s not necessary to know about to enjoy Nadia’s adventures.

ANYWAY… BACK TO THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP!

Unstoppable Wasp #6

Unstoppable Wasp #6


Without going into too much detail, the key thing you have to remember about The Unstoppable Wasp is that Nadia’s theme song goes something like this: “Science Ladies Having Science Adventures!” Nadia is using Hank’s legacy to build Genius In (Action) Research Labs (G.I.R.L.), which allows her to recruit female geniuses to use their abilities to change the world for the better. To this end, each issue also features a text page (also reprinted in the collection) with interviews by Nadia with potential Agents of G.I.R.L., who are prominent real-world science adventure ladies!

Nadia also has lots of friends in the Marvel Universe, including both Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse) a super-powered SHIELD agent and genius scientist in her own right, but with an unfortunate personal history (that doesn’t really pertain here, but you should really go look it up, as it reveals some really horrible Marvel storytelling from decades past).

Unstoppable Wasp #3

Unstoppable Wasp #3


As the series continues, Nadia is moving closer to her goal, and the semi-retired Avengers “butler” Jarvis reappears and becomes a supporting character. He’s trying to responsibly take care of Nadia, but her enthusiasm for life and discovery risks overwhelming him. Moon Girl (and later Devil Dinosaur) also appears, and Nadia starts assembling her “team”. Now that The Red Room knows where she is, they’re sending agents — specifically Nadia’s former lab partner, Ying — to retrieve her.

Poundcakes, a “criminal professional wrestler” from comics published about 25 years ago, also shows up to cause trouble, and there’s a guest appearance by Matt Murdock. That brings us to the end of the first collection.

It’s fun to read about Nadia because she has cool friends (that honor Marvel history); a great, upbeat attitude in spite of adversity; stories with a good sense of humor and quirky characters; and an inspirational love of learning and scientific skills. In the second half of the series, instead of a big fight issue, we get a lot of coffee-fueled chalkboard “discussion”, which I actually found way more interesting than issue after issue of people punching each other in the face. They also make very bad jokes about being blown up while they are working. Like, y’know you do. Matt Murdock returns with a plan — but he needs coffee first! I sense a theme!

Unstoppable Wasp #7

Unstoppable Wasp #7


New penciller Veronica Fish takes over for the last two issues, where Janet Van Dyne (aka the original Wasp, and Hank’s sort-of widow) steps up and takes control of the situation. Team G.I.R.L. is at risk! Their families have found out what they’re doing, just how potentially life-threatening it is, and want to pull them out of the lab! But Janet is on the case to rebuild the team in a final issue that still manages to be encouraging, full of great behavior to model (aside from the life-risky stuff and the coffee addictions), and hopeful.

COLLECTIONS ALREADY SCHEDULED

Don’t worry, it’s all going to be collected! Volume 1 (available now!) contains The Unstoppable Wasp #1-4 and the Wasp story from All-New All Different Avengers #14 by Mark Waid and Adam Kubert. Volume 2 (out in March 2018) wraps up the series with issues #5-8, plus a reprint from Tales to Astonish #44. That’s the very first Ant-Man and Wasp story (from 1963), “The Creature from Kosmos!”, with script by Stan Lee and Ernie Hart [H. E. Huntley] and art by Jack Kirby and Don Heck.

I’m actually very sorry to see this unique title go away. Especially since so many of Marvel’s currently bland and seemingly exhausted series continue to drag on and on forever. I wonder how long Marvel Legacy Numbering is actually going to last, before the lure of those (over-inflated) #1 sales makes Marvel start-over again. I guess we’ll see the first big clue in comic shops today, as Marvel Legacy #1 is now on the racks as you’re reading this!

More on that next week. In the meantime, try the Wasp if you’re looking for something with a cool combination of logical adventuring, great personalities, warm humor, and especially if you love stories that seem to be heading off the rails — but never actually do. I miss this book already.

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KC CARLSON: Wondering how many more times I get to see comic book universes restarted before I die. Have already seen so many. Also participated in changing one (Zero Hour). Or, at least I think I did… I may have accidentally changed things so that I don’t remember for sure. Now wondering if I did that on purpose…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you. Probably doesn’t matter. I think all my comics physically falling and crushing me might be the bigger danger over alternate, and possibly imaginary universes…

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