Super-scientist Hank Pym (Giant/Ant-Man) and his on-again-off-again partner Janet van Dyne (the Wasp) were the Avengers’ original tiny wonders. Thanks to "Pym particles," both Ant-Man and the Wasp were capable of changing their size, primarily growing smaller, although both could increase size to immense proportions at one time or another. As a founding and long-time members of the Avengers, Hank has unfortunately passed on (for the moment), but the Wasp still plays an active role on the Uncanny Avengers "Unity Squad."
These days, though, Janet isn’t the only Wasp in town. It turns out that Hank has an heir apparent, young Nadia Pym. Marvel's latest superheroine is about to unleashe her brand of super science in The Unstoppable Wasp #1 – written by Jeremy Whitley with art by Elsa Charretier. Nadia (which she likes to point out, means hope) is the daughter of Hank and his first wife Maria Trovaya. Maria, herself the child of a prominent geneticist, was kidnapped while she and Hank honeymooned in Hungary many years ago.
Despite a desperate search, Hank never discovered Maria before her unfortunate death, nor did he realize that she was pregnant at the time.The younger Pym was born in captivity and trained in the same Red Room which produced Black Widow, The Winter Soldier, and many other super-spies and assassins. Nadia's natural proclivities pushed her into the sciences, though, where she was isolated and forced to develop technology along the lines of her father’s supersuit. She succeeded in cracking Hank’s work, which the clever young woman promptly used to shrink down and escape her compound, defecting to the United States and later coming in contact with the Avengers.
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The Unstoppable Wasp begins the further adventures of the resolutely sunny Nadia Pym. As the young Wasp seeks U.S. citizenship, she and her guide to New York, Ms. Marvel stumble across Bobbi Morse (a.k.a. Mockingbird) battling a giant robot swiped by former Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) head Monica Rappaccini. In concert with Kamala and Bobbi, Nadia proves her worth as an innovative, clever superhero, and a worthy namesake for her older, more experienced cohort Janet. Writer Jason Whitley spoke with Newsarama about the new adventures of Nadia Pym, as well as her goals for the future:
“Nadia will have a healthy combination of new and classic bad guys. We'll see some classic Ant-Man villains, but also some new ones who are unique to Nadia and her crew. In our preview for the first issue, we've already shown off her conflict with the amazing Monica Rappaccini, a female genius who is the opposite number to Nadia in a lot of ways.”
It sounds like Nadia will experience some serious friction from the supervillain side of the supers-sciences. Fortunately, she'll have help in her quest to create a better world, as seeks to set up her own version of A.I.M. (a non-villainous one, of course) named G.I.R.L. – or Genius In action Research Labs – featuring the Marvel Universe’s best and brightest young women. Whitley explained:
“Nadia will be putting together her own lab full of girl geniuses like herself. She is setting out to make as big an impact as possible, and she can't do everything she wants to do alone. Readers will be introduced to a few brand new geniuses that Elsa and I have worked together to create - and I think they're going to fall in love with them fast... Beyond that, we'll also be bringing in some of the best and brightest from the Marvel Universe. Just in the first couple of issues we have guest appearances by Ms. Marvel, Mockingbird, and Moon Girl.”
Of course, is Marvel Universe ready for two Wasps? With two Wolverines (Laura Kinney and Old Man Logan), two Iron Men (Riri Williams and Victor Von Doom), and two Novas (Richard Rider and Sam Alexander), among others, the vast number of shared-codename heroes is already a touch confusing. Fortunately, pairing heroes can actually work very well for many of Marvel’s duplicate heroes, showcasing each character’s unique strengths, weaknesses, and style. Within the breadth of the MU, there's more than enough room for an Unstoppable Wasp, as well as hopefully more interaction with her counterpart Janet van Dyne – which would give Whitley a chance to explore Nadia's unique relationship with her step-mother of sorts:
“I think the dynamic between Nadia and Janet is infinitely interesting. There's nothing Janet can teach her about science. Nadia already knows more about that than Janet is ever likely to. However, Janet is just the sort of mentor Nadia needs. What Nadia really lacks are social skills and the common knowledge that comes from having friends and being part of the world. Having been locked away for her whole life has robbed Nadia of that.”
Most importantly, despite all the heartbreak and tragedy, Nadia keeps a stiff upper lip and a smile on her face. Wasp will appeal to those seeking a more upbeat comic in contrast to the more brooding books out there. Her optimism, while mildly cloying (which is meta-fictionally alluded to in the very first outing), is inspirational for comic fans of all ages. It also features fun science snippets and will highlight women scientists making a difference in world through the letters column (Agents of G.I.R.L.).