The Unstoppable Wasp #8
Stupid, stupid Marvel. The Unstoppable Wasp #8 is the last issue of this charming series about a new-generation hero finding herself while fighting criminals with humor and intellect. That should be right in their wheelhouse, right? It’s not only a description of Nadia, the previously undiscovered daughter of Hank Pym who has his scientific genius, but Spider-Man, the character that made the company. Nadia, though, as written by Jeremy Whitley, brought a fresh new approach that lightened her ability to find unique solutions to threats with an adorable naiveté about our culture. (Artists for this issue are Ro Stein and Ted Brandt.)
Sadly, the old-school corporate comic industry currently has little room for women and girls, particularly those of color. Nadia had assembled her own team of “genius girls”, scientists and inventors that made up a diverse supporting cast that provided a range of personalities, abilities, backgrounds, and preferences. (My favorite was Alexis, more athlete than intellectual, who got roped in to accompany her sister, who uses a wheelchair. I liked her unfussy support of her sibling.)
The Unstoppable Wasp did all this while being firmly a part of the existing Marvel Universe. (Her immigration lawyer is Matt Murdock! Her science mentor is Bobbi Morse, Mockingbird!) This issue, in particular, tackles Nadia finding out that the father she never knew had a history of domestic violence, and how to reconcile that with him being a hero in other ways.
Janet Van Dyne narrates this issue, which is something of a wish fulfillment to end on. We see the energy and enthusiasm of these youngsters while Nadia apologizes to the villains she incarcerated because she wants to find ways other than violence to solve her problems. (The Red Room taught her to be an amazing fighter, but she’d rather transcend that background.) When they get out, the lady wrestlers who went bad will have a new job waiting for them as a change to a better way to survive.
Janet also sets up a lab for Nadia and her friends and ends with new gowns for everyone for a celebration party. As she says,
“The Avengers are all about saving lives, but they rarely stick around to make lives better…. saving people is important, but changing lives … Well, lives tend to change in quiet moments and unexpected ways.”
That made this a modern approach to powers and superheroes. Maybe that’s why Marvel couldn’t support it as needed. With a little patience and nurturing, this would have been an outreach success, a superhero version of Lumberjanes and a perfect book for (for example) the school library market. But Marvel seems more interested in continuing to serve the ever-aging white men that populate the comic shop market with books that are only about fighting instead of showing us admirable characters approaching the world in new ways.
The collection of the first half of this series, The Unstoppable Wasp: Unstoppable!, will be out at the end of the month, with a second volume next February. I hope people will check them out and discover how wonderful this series could be, even with its short run.