Published December 6, 2016

Take Flight with The Unstoppable Wasp

Artist Elsa Charretier mixes super powers, vintage 90’s fashion, scientific brilliance, and more!

Image for Take Flight with The Unstoppable Wasp

Can you imagine being a teenage genius let loose for the first time on the world in New York City? That’s the place Nadia Pym finds herself in as her new comic UNSTOPPABLE WASP launches on January 4.

Written by Jeremy Whitley and drawn Elsa Charretier, the series focuses on the daughter of Hank Pym as she gets used to life outside of the Black Widow-creating Red Room, adjusting to her new roles as a super hero and a teenager. We talked with Charretier about nailing Nadia’s retro-infused style, separating the new heroine from her more well-known counterpart, and developing a gallery of rogues for her to face. How does it feel to be making your Marvel debut on a book like UNSTOPPABLE WASP?

Elsa Charretier: This book came at a perfect time for me. After doing my own creator-owned series and a few issues for other publishers, I thought about going back to indie comics. I liked my experience with mainstream comics very much, but I felt the need to create a character from scratch: designing them, their environment and, overall, having a bit more “control” over the book. UNSTOPPABLE WASP being a new series allowed me to do that, in a sense.

Although Nadia has had previous appearances, Jeremy and I were really able to put our mark on the book, and it’s been creatively extremely fulfilling. And it’s an ongoing book! We get to work on a whole story arc, which is challenging in a way, but really exciting. How would you say that Nadia carries herself differently than her predecessor, Janet Van Dyne, both in and out of the costume?

Elsa Charretier: Nadia is completely new to all this. To super heroes, to S.H.I.E.L.D.—and, since she was raised in a Russian assassin school, even the real world is new to her. And she approaches things a bit naively. She doesn’t understand why everyone can’t be friends, why all the heroes can’t just sit down and talk their problems out. Janet, who knows her way around, is well aware of the issues and why they can’t be solved that easily. Nadia may be extremely smart, but she is still a teenager, and Janet is a grown woman with more experience, of life and the field. Science has been all Nadia has [known] since she was born, and naturally thinks that it can answer everything. And of course, it can’t. With a character like this who’s both relatively new, but also part of a legacy, do you have some freedom when it comes to designing her look in the series?

Elsa Charretier: Luckily, I did. Alex Ross handled the design of her Wasp outfit. His suit not only looks fantastic, but practically draws itself. Designing a super hero costume requires nailing the right balance of originality and simplicity, and I’m glad such a talented artist did Nadia’s.

As for the out-of-costume part, I had complete freedom. Her face had to carry both fun and charisma. She is still young, but not really a kid anymore. You want to convey her optimism, but also hint that she is able to put her fists on the table if necessary. Another important aspect of her is her style. She was forced to wear uniforms growing up and I’m guessing she didn’t have access to fashion. And now she is [a teenager], and she lives in [New York City], one of the richest and craziest cities when it comes to fashion. Nadia is hyper active, and curious of everything, every culture. So, from the beginning, I pictured she would shop in second hand cool stores. The 90’s style being back, it’s pretty easy to find cheap and awesome pieces and vintage jewelry. I really wanted her outfits to reflect her curiosity. What makes Nadia unstoppable?

Elsa Charretier: To me, that would be her creativity. She is smart, but what defines her the most is that she is an inventor. Her thing is to come up with stuff, with ideas, and thus [she] is able to adjust to all kinds of situations. It’s actually pretty close to my own vision of life. No matter the cards you’ve been dealt, it’s always about what you do with it. If you add that to Nadia’s natural optimism and energy, you realize that you won’t quit that easily. Wasp isn’t known for having a deep rogues gallery. Do you and Jeremy have plans to change that?

Elsa Charretier: We’re really trying to develop Nadia’s world in the series. Her lab, her friends, everything that makes her who she is, and that, of course, includes rogues. What’s great with her, and what made me laugh all through the first issue, is how Nadia interacts with people that are considered evil. She’s genuinely concerned as to why they decided to turn to the dark side. Almost telling them, “Hey, there’s still time, you can still be one of the good guys.” That leads to pretty absurd scenes and dialog. So definitely, there’ll be more of them, and I can already tell we’re having tons of fun with their designs. Overall, how has it been collaborating with Jeremy so far?

Elsa Charretier: I’ve been really lucky to be paired up with him. We have a similar vision on the portrayal of female characters in comics. We both love strong female leads. Nadia is only [a teenager], but she’s on top of things! And the cast of characters he [has] created—rogues and friends—are all deep and I love drawing all of them.

I’d say that’s what makes good teamwork: we’re going in the same creative direction. I trust him on the scripts, and I feel that he trusts me on the pages and layouts. He welcomes my ideas, encourages me to do layouts that are different than his original panel breakdown if I think of something else. The same goes for the entire team, actually. Our editors, Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith, have kept a very open mind since we’ve started the book, and Megan Wilson, our fantastic colorist, has been very involved in the process as well. All this creates a very welcoming and safe working environment, and I’m very grateful for it.

THE UNSTOPPABLE WASP #1 by Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier soars into stores on January 4.