The newest hero to take on the Wasp legacy seeks to find her place in the world in Unstoppable Wasp #1. Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird join her in her adventures as she makes robots dance, immigration agents cry and gives donuts to the not-so-needy.
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Elsa Charretier
Colorist: Megan Wilson
Story Pages: 20
Release Date: January 4th, 2017
|Girl. Genius. Hero. Unstoppable.
Nadia spent the entire first half of her life a captive of The Red Room, but now this teenage super-scientist is on her own for the first time, and she’s ready to spread her wings! Hank Pym’s daughter has a lot of time to make up for and she’s determined to change the world. You know, if she can get her U.S. citizenship first. Guest-starring Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird!
Marvel is a company with many different agendas these days. On one hand we have their childish war against the X-Men, which thankfully seems to be coming to an end. On another we have them replacing their mainstay heroes like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor with counterparts of different genders and/or racial backgrounds (I will not be diving into that can of worms, but I will say there have been some good stories coming out of it). On a third hand they have stories designed specifically to draw media attention, such as turning Steve Rogers into a Hydra mole or killing War Machine for no good reason. And on our fourth hand they have a small range of stories aimed at readers who want something just a little bit sillier and less serious. That fourth hand has given us some wonderful little books like Patsy Walker aka Hellcat and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Enter The Unstoppable Wasp #1, which takes a little of column two and a lot of column four to give us this awkward little comic. The premise of the character just seems like it came out of a board meeting where the topic was “How to Create Diversity in Three Easy Steps”. It shouldn’t work, but by virtue of having good creators assigned to the project manages to be surprisingly entertaining in spite of what appear to be questionable origins.
The newest hero to take on the Wasp name is simply known as Nadia, the daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife, Maria Pym. This first issue of her new series, which she earned less than a year after her first appearance, quickly goes about establishing our young hero’s back story. This is accomplished by her talking with an immigration agent who will help her claim her American status, but it is an awkward scene that had me worried about the rest of the book. I have doubts over whether or not an immigration agent would be moved to tears by just about any story they hear as I expect they have heard all manner of terrible things over the years, and it makes the entire scene read false.
Fortunately, the book flows much better once we get past the opening. As we learn more about Nadia it becomes hard to not enjoy the adventure she has set herself upon. Everything she encounters is a new wonder to her, and that excitement she feels transfers well to the reader as a result. It contrasts with the oppressive nature of her origin, which just makes it feel more genuine as a result. Her gushing over Mockingbird’s scientific skills rather than her acrobatic prowess is a nice touch, and then fangirling later about the accomplishments of the issue’s antagonist is genuinely amusing. It is hard not to root for her.
As has become common with these lighter books Unstoppable Wasp #1 is peppered with little asides, amusing observations and quirky humor. It is not for everyone, and if books like Unstoppable Squirrel Girl don’t appeal to you then chances are this won’t either. In fact, if I were to level a complaint against this book it would be that it doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from its contemporaries. If you swap out engineering for computer science you essentially get Squirrel Girl, and the art style is similar to Patsy Walker aka Hellcat. Marvel has certainly found a formula for these books, and they’re sticking to them. So long as the formula is good then the complaints are minimal, but it does cause everything to blend together.
The humor and upbeat attitude of the comic does help it pave over some of its larger inconsistencies. Chief among them being that it totally glosses over what sort of collateral damage would have resulted from the issue’s superhero battle. We’re meant to just bypass that portion of the fight and enjoy the silliness of it, but the thought nagged at me throughout.
The art comes from Elsa Charretier, which is a new name to me. A quick check of her history shows that she has worked on a few titles that I have seen highly recommended, though, and based on her work here I can see why. I suspect we will be seeing her attached to more projects in the future, although hopefully not too soon since I hope she sticks with Unstoppable Wasp for a while.
While cartoony in nature the style remains detailed and clean throughout. The characters emote well, the action is easy to follow and even the slower scenes have an energy to them. The book does suffer from missing-background-syndrome at least once per page, but other than that there is little to complain about. If you are already reading some of the other books in this line then it will feel familiar to you. If you are more used to the bulkier, traditional art of the regular superhero books then it will probably take some adjustment to get used to it.
Like most of the other books in this line, Unstoppable Wasp #1 is primarily about the characters and their interactions with the world. The superhero trappings are mostly there to let the heroes impart life lessons or show off cool skills, and that’s okay. The message is the point, and to many people these heroes are empowering examples.
I imagine there is a sad group of comics fandom that will write this book off because of its feminist message, and that is their own loss. This is a heartfelt, entertaining book about a hero who is just happy to be experiencing life for the first time. Given that Nadia appears to have been originally designed more for marketing than for any particularly good narrative reason, I am glad to see that writer Jeremy Whitely and artist Elsa Charretier are able to get some good stories out of her. I hope she maintains her optimistic worldview moving forward and doesn’t become the victim of more pessimistic writers.