From the pages of All-New All-Different Avengers comes the “All-New” Unstoppable Wasp. The Wasp is a classic Avengers character. Originally the Wasp was Janet Van Dyne, the wife of Ant-Man (Hank Pym). She has the same shrinking powers as Ant-Man plus flight and the ability to zap enemies, which seems to make her more capable than Ant-Man. The Wasp mantle in the MCU has been taken up by Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of Hank and Janet. Hope in the comics was something of a villain in an alternate universe (ah, comics) but hasn’t yet showed up in main 616 continuity, so the door is wide open. Who should step through it but the completely adorable and totally brilliant Nadia Pym!
All-New and All-Different
Nadia was introduced in the ANAD Avengers book, and now that the younger heroes have split from the Avengers team (thanks to Civil War II, ugh, don’t get us started), she is setting off on her own. Nadia is the daughter of Hank Pym and his heretofore unknown first wife Maria Trovaya, the daughter of a Hungarian geneticist. Maria is presumed dead, taken by some unknown agents and evidently murdered, but not before bearing a daughter.
Effectively orphaned, Nadia was raised in the Red Room, the Russian superspy boarding school for girls which produced Black Widow. There, her aptitude for science was nurtured (read: exploited) and she became a hacker and inventor extraordinaire. She used Pym Particles to escape and found her way to the United States to join the Avengers, only to leave them shortly thereafter because we can’t have nice things.
We open with Nadia and Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn, on their way to the Immigration office to get Nadia’s citizenship straightened out. Having been a shut-in most of her life, Nadia is sweet and naive, but also hungry for knowledge and experience. She wants to try all the things. Everyone who meets her falls instantly in love with her (including us).
After making friends with everyone at the Immigration office waiting room, she gives the clerk the Cliffnotes version of her life story (lucky for those of us who don’t know it). As the daughter of Pym, she is eligible for full citizenship, but she will need proof of her parentage.
Time to Punch Stuff
Before we find out how Nadia can provide proof, there are commotions outside. Mockingbird is locked in combat with a giant robot. Ms. Marvel and Wasp lend a hand and exchange banter with Mockingbird and together, the heroes save the day. They have a celebratory lunch and Ms. Marvel heads home to Jersey while Nadia hitches a ride home with Mockingbird.
Nadia is living in Pym’s old house, and keeping busy by building all kinds of science stuff. She shares a girl-power moment with Mockingbird and we finish the issue with Nadia promising to make a name for herself, but she will need to put a team together.
And The Verdict
OMG, Nadia is so freakin’ adorable. In a world of angsty and gritty superheroes, it is always nice to have a bright-eyed optimist, and Marvel has a few. Nadia sets herself apart from others like Squirrel Girl and Patsy Walker by being incredibly brilliant and tech-savvy. She has spent her life in the Red Room hacking and stealing data from every other brilliant scientist around the world (including her own father) and has a working knowledge of all of it.
Nadia’s scientific brilliance is balanced by her ignorance of the outside world. She is thirsty for adventure and new experiences. This is illustrated in a beautifully cute scene in a Middle-Eastern bakery where Kamala Kahn is helping Nadia to find the best Pakistani pastries. Nadia’s rapport with Kamala is wonderful, and was a good choice for a team-up in this first issue. Plus, Kamala’s rapid-fire pop culture references sail over Nadia’s head which is hilarious.
Adding Bobbi Morse to the issue was another stroke of brilliance, as Kamala and Nadia’s youth and exuberance clashes with Mockingbird’s jaded veteran attitude. Bobbi is so done with all of this.
A few times in the issue, Nadia’s internal monologue boxes read like scientific explanations of the parts of the robot they are fighting. It reveals how much Nadia understands about the mechanics of the robot and how to defeat it, as well as her enthusiasm for all things tech even when they are trying to smush her like a bug. We hope this is a trend that will continue in future issues, because it’s a fun little detail.
Our one complaint is that Nadia’s quest for citizenship was never followed up. How will she prove her parentage? This was a well-played device to get Nadia to spill her personal backstory, but once the action started it was simply dropped. Maybe it was addressed off-screen or will be addressed later. Either way, this is a minor point, because let’s face it; there is nothing exciting about bureaucracy.
The later moments in this issue between Bobbi and Nadia specifically are fantastic. Nadia, through her hacking, knows all about Bobbi’s work as a scientist and an adventurer. As a girl, she idolized Bobbi from afar, and has a fangirl moment when she figures out Mockingbird is the same Barbara Morse she read about.
Later, Bobbi shares her outrage at the lack of recognition women get in the scientific community, and Nadia takes it as a challenge to find more brilliant women and get them recognized. Nadia is out to change the world, but she can’t do it alone.
It’s great to see this comic doing what it can to break the stereotype of women in science. For too long, society as a whole has believed (or in some cases continues to believe) that women don’t go into science because they aren’t capable, or simply aren’t interested. This is totally false, as the comic points out. It’s just been a big ol’ boy’s club. Women have always been there, they just need to make themselves heard. This is punctuated in the back matter portion of the book, which contains a short interview with two real-life women in scientific fields, and it’s worth reading.
The art by Elsa Charretier (Starfire, Harley Quinn) has a Kirby-esque throwback quality to it, while also feeling fresh and fun. The characters’ proportions are a little bit exaggerated and cartoonish, but that fits with the lighthearted tone of the book, and only adds to the joy we feel when reading such a fun uplifting story. The colors (Megan Wilson) could be a bit brighter to match, as they feel muted or pastel-ish, but this is a minor complaint, and not one that takes away from the comic in any measurable way.
This was a wonderful introductory issue to a new character and is a must-read for any young girls (or anyone really) who have an interest in science. It’s cute, fun, and inspiring, and we will definitely be checking out issue 2 next month, and you should too!
The Unstoppable Wasp #1
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Art: Elsa Charretier
Colors: Megan Wilson
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramanga
Cover: Elsa Charretier and Nicolas Bannister
All images courtesy of Marvel Comics