The Unstoppable Wasp
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Elsa Charretier
Colors: Megan Wilson
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Review by PeteR
In Tales to Astonish #27, back in 1962, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers first introduced scientist Henry Pym who had developed Pym Particles, a shrinking formula. Eight months later, in Tales to Astonish #35 Pym adopted the super hero identity, Ant-Man. Approximately nine months later, in Tales to Astonish #44, we learn that Dr. Henry Pym was previously married to a Hungarian woman named, Maria Trovaya. Maria and her father had been political prisoners of the Pre-1956 Hungarian, Communist Party. Even though Maria and her father escaped communist Hungary, Henry and Maria return there while on their honeymoon. Maria is (of course) kidnapped by Communist thugs and subsequently murdered.
Henry, in due course, meets Janet Van Dyne who he is immediately smitten with because she looks so much like his dear departed Maria. In spite of initially thinking of Janet as being no more than a “mere child”, he is so enchanted by how much she reminds him of Maria, he reveals his secret identity to her. He then subjects Janet to his untested (non-FDA approved) scientific shirking process, which now includes, wings and bequeaths her the name, Wasp.
Some 54 years later (ignore the lack of time continuity) we are introduced to Nadia. It turns out that Maria Trovaya was pregnant when she was kidnapped and apparently (since she was originally reported dead an hour later) held captive much longer than anyone knew. She had a daughter who the Soviets sent to the infamous “Red Room” where they train female spies, like the Black Widow. Young Nadia demonstrated an abnormal amount of scientific ability so she was assigned to the science are of the Red Room.
Jeremy Whitley, through his writing, infuses Nadia, The Unstoppable Wasp with more enthusiasm and optimism than is possibly imaginable. It is fitting that the first issue of her comic features a team up with Ms. Marvel. Nadia’s choice to embrace hopefulness is infectious. In issue one, Nadia says, “If I spend the rest of my life being bitter, then I never really escaped.” Nadia is 180 degrees as far away from bitter as one can get.
The first idea Nadia comes up with is G.I.R.L.(Genius in action research labs). The origin of this concept comes when, after meeting Nadia, Mockingbird explains that the ranking of geniuses in the Marvel Universe, has always been dominated by men. She suggests that since women can be just as brilliant, Nadia should seek fellow female science prodigies and help them reach their full potential. Jeremy Whitley has introduced an amazing assortment of inventive females to fill out the cast of The Unstoppable Wasp.
“Ying, Nadia’s first friend and fellow product of the Red Room. Priya Aggarwal, biologist. Lashayla ‘Shay’ Smith, physicist. Taina Miranda, engineer.” Along with Nadia, these four young women are all described as geniuses in their fields. Rounding out the crew is Taina’s older sister, Alexis Miranda, nationally ranked collegiate lacrosse player”, who’s skill behind the wheel of an automotive would shame any stock-car racer. If Doc Savage’s cousin Pat, was around today and wanted to emulate Doc’s band, it would probably look a lot like this.
In the first six issues of The Unstoppable Wasp, Nadia (unwillingly) fights two of Marvel’s relatively obscure but ideally refitted female villains, becomes a client of Matt Murdock and confronts her Machiavellian mentor from the Red Room. Jeremy Whitley achieves, in the first sixth issues of The Unstoppable Wasp a level of female character development that took D.C. Comics more than forty years to accomplish in Wonder Woman.
Elsa Charretier of Starfire fame, has channeled the best aspects of Humberto Ramos’s sense of pacing. Her figures move seamlessly around the page, from panel to panel. With her sense of artistic rhythm, Charretier actually had me gasp as I turned to the last page of The Unstoppable Wasp #5.
Coloring for The Unstoppable Wasp is rendered by Megan M, Wilson. If you want to fully appreciate her efforts, you need go no further than the rainbow of colors on the covers. The lettering is by VC’s Joe Caramagna. I have complimented his calligraphy talents so many times in the past, I have run out of adjectives.
Why you should buy this book? The pervasive level of zeal, verve and exuberance makes The Unstoppable Wasp a pleasure to read. The potential story development of all of the characters in The Unstoppable Wasp will provide for a multitude of terrific comics. I hope Marvel has the sense to give this series room to stretch its wings.
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