Published May 31, 2017

Unstoppable Wasp: Marvelous Mentor

Preside over the reunion of Nadia Pym and Janet Van Dyne with Jeremy Whitley!

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Bees won’t sting unless you provoke them, but wasps don’t need an excuse to be aggressive; they can take care of themselves. No wonder Janet Van Dyne—aka the original Wasp and the wife of original Ant-Man, Hank Pym—has remained a steadfast staple of Marvel Comics since her debut in 1963. Smart, cunning and independent, she kept the Avengers—which she helped found and name—together through the toughest of times.

And now, even with a new Wasp on the scene in Nadia Pym, Janet isn’t content to take the back seat; she remains ready to help save the day whenever duty calls.

Before she crops up in a new arc that begins in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 on July 5, the book’s writer, Jeremy Whitley, makes the case for why Ms. Dyne exemplifies one of Marvel’s greatest heroes ever. UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 guest stars Janet Van Dyne for the second time in this series. How would you make the case for her as one of Marvel’s greatest heroes?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, the simple answer is that Janet is one of the original Avengers, so how could you not? The more complicated answer to make that case is that Janet was once a rich heiress and daughter of a world renowned scientist. When her father was murdered, she tracked down his partner Hank Pym and talked him into the performing the procedures that gave her, her wings and size changing capabilities. And once her father had been avenged, she decided to become a super hero. Even for Marvel, there were not many female super heroes in those days and many of those who did exist had their powers thrust upon them by accident. Janet seized the opportunity and became a super hero of her own volition. Beyond that, I would argue that Janet was what made the original Avengers the team that they were. While Cap, Tony, Thor, and Hank butted heads, Janet was the one who was able to find common ground and make them a real team. I’ve said, and say as much in the comic, that Janet’s real super power is people skills. She represents the Avengers in a way that people trust and want to work with. Are there any Van Dyne moments from years gone by that you admire?

Jeremy Whitley: I loved Janet as chairman/team leader of the Avengers. I think having a character who is defined by their personal strengths rather than their physical strengths leading a team makes for a much more interesting team. I think Janet really brought the heart as a leader and made the Avengers more than a collection of heavy hitters. While Nadia was born from Hank and Maria Pym, Janet is kind of like a surrogate mother/mentor towards their daughter. What kind of lessons and advice does she impart to this new Wasp, one who is feeling a little lost?

Jeremy Whitley: Nadia is naturally gifted and self-reliant. Having grown up where and how she did, it’s just part of who she is. Nadia never really needed someone to teach her about science or about fighting; she got plenty of that in the Red Room. The thing about Nadia is that she sees the world through rose-colored glasses and when things fall apart, she has trouble dealing. She really only knows one way to react to crisis and that’s to punch it. Now that she’s no longer part of an evil organization, she feels terrible when she hurts people and when it’s a problem that can’t be punched, she doesn’t know what to do. Janet is a person who has been through some rough times herself and is an expert at rebuilding, be it her life, her team, or just Avengers Mansion. There is nothing Janet hasn’t dealt with. Janet loves Nadia because she sees a girl who has been through the ringer and come out the other side stronger, much like herself. She sees this extraordinary ability to love and create and she wants to protect that. I think more than anything, Janet’s most important message to Nadia is that she doesn’t have to do it all alone.

Unstoppable Wasp #7 cover by Elsa Charretier Where is she when she’s not showing up to help save the day in UNSTOPPABLE WASP?

Jeremy Whitley: Well mostly she’s been buzzing around in UNCANNY AVENGERS, but Janet also has her own fashion line and a boutique in Manhattan to run. Beyond that, she is still often a public representative for the super hero community at large and the Avengers; she’s the majority owner and CEO of Pym Labs, and she gets invited to every big event in New York City. You know, she stays busy.  We’ll actually get to see a little bit of this in the [next] few issues of UNSTOPPABLE WASP. What kind of traits from the original Wasp do you think Nadia embodies?

Jeremy Whitley: I would say that Nadia has the same sense of kindness and tact that Janet doe. She would rather talk things out than fight. While their areas of intelligence lie in different fields, I would argue that they’re both very smart. Also, while Nadia and Janet relate to people differently, I would say they both do what they do to make life better for the people around them. How will she put her own spin on tackling the Red Room to help save Nadia and Ying?

Jeremy Whitley: Janet is the sort of person you want to have in your corner when your back’s against the wall. People will have to read the book to see exactly what she does, but she does it the way that only Janet can. Issue #7 is the beginning of a brand-new story arc. Can we expect to see more of a Waspish presence?

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely. And maybe the return of a few other guest stars from the series.

UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 by Jeremy Whitley and Veronica Fish puts Janet Van Dyne back in the mix on July 5!