Not growing up an Avengers fan I don’t have a childhood connection to the characters under that franchise like I do with Spider-Man and the X-Men. Even now I haven’t really read the Avengers team books as they’ve been released. However, thanks to Marvel Unlimited I have read a lot of classic Avengers runs and still catching up on reading. That said I have gravitated to the solo series for individual Avengers members. There have been a lot of great Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye runs. But while those characters have had good solo series one Avenger I lack any sort of familiarity with is Wasp. Marvel hasn’t really given Janet Van Dyne a chance to build up her own solo hero legacy. Now that is finally changing as Janet Van Dyne’s Wasp is getting her own solo series with Al Ewing and Kasia Nie as the creative team. Let’s see how it all starts with Wasp #1.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kasia Nie
Colorist: KJ Diaz
Letterer: Cory Petit
With Jarvis’ help, Janet Van Dyne finishes preparing a new bar she has created for superheroes to gather and hang out together, though she still hasn’t come up with a name for it.
Janet then goes to G.I.R.L. (Genius In Action Research Labs) to get Nadia Van Dyne for their lunch date. Having been busy with work Nadia completely lost track of time. When Janet asks what she is working on Nadia reveals that she has been investigating her mother (Maria Trovaya) and those responsible for the deaths of her mother and grandfather (Dr. Janos Trovaya).
Reminded of her own origin story with her dad being killed by the Kosmosian Pilai (Tales To Astonish #44, the same issue Maria Trovaya debuted when Hank Pym was remembering his first wife). Knowing how Nadia is feeling Janet promises to help her step-daughter in her search for those responsible for killing Nadia’s mom and grandfather.
Before they can go to lunch or continue the research Whirlwind breaks in and starts attacking the two Wasps. Janet and Nadia are able to work together to quickly defeat Whirlwind.
When Janet asks Whirlwind about who hired him, Whirlwind only says that he can’t say anything other than they already have his soul and will own Janet’s soon.
Over in Queens, it is shown that Pilai is controlling Janos Trovaya to complete a plan to kill Wasp. End of issue.
With Janet Van Dyne not having much of a chance at her own spotlight like her fellow Avengers, Wasp #1 was exactly what it needed to be. Al Ewing and Kasia Nie dedicate time to give readers all the information they need to know about Janet while making sure the focus is still on her present. Bringing in Nadia Van Dyne works to make this series explore not just these two characters but the greater legacy of the Wasps.
Unlike her other contemporaries, Janet Van Dyne’s origin story isn’t one that has been driven into the ground by Marvel. While that is certainly a positive that also means Janet’s origin isn’t something well known. Ewing and Nie did a great job in understanding the positive and negative about this by retelling Janet’s origin in a concise way that is still part of the narrative for Wasp #1. Nie along with colorist KJ Diaz employed an art style that was inspired by what you would see from a Marvel comic book when Janet first debuted in Tales To Astonish was a nice touch. It gave the flashback double-page spread a cool look that gets the reader in the mindset of a story from the past while adding some modern touches to keep the flow going.
Going back to Janet’s origin from Tales To Astonish #44 also worked to have this new Wasp series begin by tapping into a villain that is connected to Janet. Since she hasn’t had many chances at being a solo hero Janet does not have a rogues gallery like Captain America or Iron Man. So starting off by bringing back the Kosmosian’s Pilai that led her to become Wasp in the first place is a good choice. There is an immediate elevated threat level because of how personal Pilai already made things in being responsible for Janet’s father, Dr. Vernon Van Dyne, death.
The plot also is kept simple with Pilai seeking revenge on Wasp. Things don’t need to be more complicated than that. Pilai even employs another villain in Whirlwind to try to kill Wasp further tapping into villains with Janet. Ewing gives us enough detail to get why Whirlwind would be chosen in this grunt role. It also cemented how Pilai is a villain that’s easy to hate as they will use anything to make both Wasps suffer.
Ewing’s writing for both Janet and Nadia is also on point. They have a natural chemistry with one another with Janet understanding the important role she has as Nadia’s mentor and stepmother. Janet makes sure she chooses her words carefully to both support Nadia in the search for those responsible for her mother’s death and doesn’t make it so Nadia just buries herself in this obsession. Janet knows what obsession can do to a person so she does her best to be the support Nadia needs. And we see that Nadia shows her appreciation for how Janet treats her with love and care.
Tying it all together by implying that Pilai also had a role in the deaths of Nadia’s family on her mother’s side further ties things into Janet’s own origin. There is a lot of room there to make Janet and Nadia’s origin stories connected in a way that is not forced. This is one part where Ewing will have to be careful as it could easily go south. But given Ewing’s history of delivering great comic books we should trust he knows how to make this updated origin for both Janet and Nadia make both characters even better.
Outside of all that Ewing does a good job in also spotlighting Janet as a businesswoman. Opening a bar for superheroes to hang out, chill, and catch up with one another is exactly something Janet would do. It drives home her connection and care for the superhero community. It also sets up for what could be a good way to wrap up this mini-series in a way that adds a new place that can appear in other Marvel titles.
Kasia Nie adds to Ewing’s writing with great artwork throughout Wasp #1. The previously mentioned flashback scene to Janet’s origin was all well handled to give a classic look while not making it a jarring switch between present and past. Nie gives everything going on in the present such great energy that gets over both Janet and Nadia’s powers as Wasp. Even the little things of how Janet and Nadia each use their individual abilities as Wasp helps separate them as they have different fighting styles.
Al Ewing and Kasia Nie hit the ground running with a great first issue for the Wasp mini-series. This entire issue just further makes you wonder why Marvel continued to miss the boat on giving Janet Van Dyne a solo series for such a long time. Not only do Ewing and Nie showcase Janet as a great character but immediately get over the chemistry that Janet and Nadia share as fellow Wasps. The main villain plot being centered around both Janet and Nadia’s respective origins has a lot of potential to make this one a standout mini-series.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10