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The Unstoppable Wasp: Unstoppable! (Marvel Comics, 2017; #1-4)

Unstoppable Wasp 1.jpg

Hello, and welcome to what might be my favorite comic of 2017.

Nadia, the all-new Wasp, is the confluence of three longstanding Marvel characters’ legacies.  She is Hank Pym’s daughter.  She comes from the science division of the Red Room—the assassin-training program that made Natasha Romanov into the the Black Widow.  And she bears Janet van Dyne’s name.  While each of those legacies informs who Nadia is, Jeremy Whitley’s take on the character is far more than the sum of her parts.

After escaping the Red Room and coming to the U.S. to find her father (who is basically dead*), Nadia sees that women are under-represented among the Marvel Universe’s roster of geniuses.  So she does something about it: she starts up a laboratory and begins recruiting the brightest young, scientific women in New York.  She doesn’t wring her hands or worry about implications; she sees a way to make the world a better place, and she does it.  By the same token, if she runs into conflict along the way (and it’s a comic, so of course she does), she tries to de-escalate.  If that doesn’t work, she seeks nonviolent means to shut down criminals.  

Sometimes she struggles with a hot-headed streak reminiscent of Hank Pym; and sometimes, her moxie might feel naive.  But these moments help to round her out—it rings true to have a character fear the specter of her parents’ (or since we know little about her mother beyond a name, father’s) flaws repeating in herself.  In the current comics landscape, the characters I appreciate the most are the ones who focus more on making the world better instead of just punching people, and Nadia sits at the top of that list for me.

Elsa Charretier and Megan Wilson’s art fills Nadia’s world with style and charm.  Detailed labs, eclectic characters, and over-the-top action work because of fun, detailed design.  And Nadia’s almost frenetic energy comes through in Charretier’s layouts (such as room-sized panels with multiple Nadias as she passes through) and Wilson’s colors (which make Nadia’s path clear, in that same example).  Plus, Wilson is an engineer in addition to being a colorist, which is a cool choice for a book about women in STEM**.

If I had my way, everyone would read The Unstoppable Wasp.  It’s a funny, upbeat book with an optimistic lead trying to make the world a better place.  If you’re tired of heroes punching each other; if you’re in the market for strong, smart women in comics; or if you just want a fun, upbeat book (that would be totally kid-friendly) you need to check out The Unstoppable Wasp.

* Hank fused with Ultron, which is basically just the latest in a lifetime of bad decisions.

** Also cool? The backmatter includes profiles on real-world women in STEM, and the trade actually includes them.

Collected in

  • The Unstoppable Wasp, Vol. 1: Unstoppable! (#1-4, All-New, All-Different Avengers #14)

Credits

Writer: Jeremy Whitley | Artist: Elsa Charretier | Colorist: Megan Wilson | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Covers: Elsa Charretier & Nicolas Bannister | Editors: Alanna Smith & Tom Brevoort

Y: The Last Man: Girl on Girl (Image Comics, 2002; #32-36)

Sweet Tooth: In Captivity (Vertigo, 2009; #6-11)