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Comic Book / The Unstoppable Wasp

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The Unstoppable Wasp is a 2017 comic book published by Marvel Comics, written by Jeremy Whitley with art by Elsa Charretier and Gurihiru. It stars Nadia Pym, later Van Dyne, as the all-new Wasp, who first appeared in Free Comic Book Day 2016: Avengers, created by Mark Waid and Alan Davis (dated May 2016) with a costume designed by Alex Ross.

The daughter of the legendary scientist (and founding Avenger) Hank Pym and his late wife Maria, Nadia never actually knew either of her parents. She was raised as an orphan in the Red Room, which famously produced — among many others — Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. When it became apparent that she inherited her father's knack for inventing, Nadia was placed in the Red Room's science division, where she reverse-engineered his famous Pym Particles.

Upon escaping from the Red Room, she turned up at Pym's door in the hopes of a father-daughter reunion but was disheartened to learn he'd very recently sacrificed his life to stop Ultron. Deciding to assume her father's legacy, Nadia then created her own Wasp suit and sought out the Avengers, hoping to earn their approval.

After a brief misunderstanding with a mind-controlled Vision, their long-serving butler Jarvis introduced Nadia to her step-mother Janet Van Dyne —the original Wasp herself— with whom she quickly bonded, readily endorsing her identity as the new Wasp.

Shortly after introducing herself to the superhero community, Nadia joined the new Avengers roster as a full member and, with the advice of fellow crimefighting scientist Bobbi Morse, decided to become a champion for the smartest (and oft-ignored female) minds of the Marvel Universe — making her the Unstoppable Wasp.

The series was cancelled after eight issues, due to poor serial sales, but strong trade paperback sales led to it being relaunched the following year. The second series ran for ten issues, then was followed by a prose novel by Sam Maggs featuring all the G.I.R.L. characters in 2020.

The Unstoppable Wasp Vol. 1 & 2 provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Nadia continually either misremembers or mispronounces Matt Murdock's surname as M.O.D.O.K..
  • Admiring the Abomination: The fight alongside Ms Marvel and Mockingbird against a Humongous Mecha in issue 1 of the 2017 series includes boxes showing "Nadia's neat science facts" praising the way the mech is engineered.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Nadia's father is well-remembered for the catastrophe of creating Ultron, and when Nadia's personal assistant V.E.R.A. in Built on Hope starts to sound suspicious, her friends have concerns that a similar situation may be developing. Ultimately it turns out V.E.R.A. is not going rogue. It's behaving exactly as it was programmed to... but some of its programming was funded by the villainous A.I.M.
  • Anger Born of Worry: In issue #7 of the 2017 series Nadia ends up so distraught over Ying having to be taken to hospital following the events of the previous issue that she first reacts to Janet grabbing her (which Janet admits in narration was a bad move when dealing with a highly emotional and highly trained assassin) by punching Janet in the face hard enough to break her nose. Then when Janet arrives at the hospital she finds Nadia threatening to break a doctor's arm because they won't allow her to accompany Ying into surgery. In the same issue it's shown that trying to hurt Nadia when Ying is around is also a bad idea when she jumps Whirlwind and declares her intent to stab him to death for it.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: invokedZig-Zagged; Nadia has no male love interest, expresses disgust when Jarvis recommends “kissing boys”, and spends her first volume only ever thinking about Ying, who she shares a deep, long-standing friendship with. There is a lot of subtext between her and Ying, but ultimately the two don't get together... because Ying instead gets together with Shay - another girl in Nadia's GIRL project - who happens to be a butch lesbian. Word of Gay would later clarify that Nadia is Asexual.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Zig-Zagged in issue #7 of the 2017 series. Janet gets her nose broken and shows a small trickle of blood, but looks completely fine immediately afterward. Later, she has some bruising on her face after a fight in which she gets hit in the head with a chair, but her face is again unmarked in the last panel of the issue, which takes place the same night.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Issue #7 has Nadia meet a hefty gathering of her family, including her great-nephew Vision, great-nieces Viv Vision and Jocasta and her adopted mother's boyfriend Tony Stark. And then there's Speed and Wiccan, who literally causes Viv to hit a Logic Bomb because of their convoluted lineage. Viv also tells Nadia that Hercules’ lineage is even more complicated than theirs.
  • Broken Pedestal: Nadia finally finds out about Hank Pym's infamous Once Done, Never Forgotten moment, becoming quite upset over it, and is confused over how Janet could forgive him for it. Janet tells her she never really did, she just moved on. At the end of the second volume, she learns about Ultron-Pym, showing her events from Uncanny Avengers and Infinity Countdown. Janet explains that that isn't Hank, but Ultron wearing Hank's face and she didn't tell her about this because she refused to let Ultron take her.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The second volume reveals that Nadia has inherited her father's bipolar disorder, making it seem as if some of her comic oddness and unquenchable optimism in the first volume was undiagnosed hypomania.
  • Continuity Snarl: Issue #7 of the 2018 relaunch doesn't gel incredibly well with the events of Champions (2016) as, by the start of that title's War of the Realms tie-in, Miles Morales had quit the team and Sam Alexander had went off-world to reclaim his powers though both are at Nadia's birthday party as if nothing wrong happened. Nadia is even out of action in Champions because of her earlier breakdown.
    • Considering that Nadia is still not back in Champions as that book wrapped up War of the Realms tie-in and started an arc about Sam reclaiming his helmet it is likely Nadia's Birthday just happens after these stories.
  • Covers Always Lie: Both the cover and the solicitations from issue #7 seems to suggest that Nadia and the Winter Soldier was going to fight on her birthday. Winter Soldier shows up and there's a birthday party, but it's Ying and Bucky who fights and it's a shortlived one.
  • Declaration of Protection: Within minutes of meeting William Grant Nelson who is sort of her half brother through Tigra and the Skrull that impersonated Hank Pym she states she’d be willing to die for him.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: In issue #4 of the 2017 series, Nadia makes multiple attempts to peacefully resolve a hostage situation involving wrestling supervillains Poundcakes and Letha, finally changing into her Wasp costume as her final warning. After Poundcakes refuses by punching Nadia, Nadia proceeds to beat the everloving crap out of both villains. See O.O.C. Is Serious Business, below.
    • Revisited in Issues 4 and 5 of Volume 2. This time, Nadia warns her friends not to interfere when she's spiraling into mania in response to an attack by AIM. They don't listen and try to help her get a grip. Nadia then beats the tar out of her best friends.
  • Driven to Suicide: Nadia tries to jump from her shrunken lab's roof after her mania shifts to depression in Issue 5. Priya follows her inside and intervenes just in time, having seen something similar happen to her brother and failing to act.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Volume 2 ends with Nadia in a much better place, getting treatment for her bipolar disorder and realizing she doesn't need to fix the entire world on her own.
  • Easily Forgiven: Taina in issue 6 of the 2018 series. She's downright furious when she spots a note on Nadia's blackboard suggesting fixing her cerebral palsy, not realizing the severity of her manic episode. Once she understands, she cools off considerably and accepts Nadia's apology.
  • invokedFake Brit: In issue 8 of the 2018 series it’s noted that Jarvis acts like he’s British but he’s not. (This is actually a Retcon - when originally introduced Jarvis was indeed British, and canonically flew for the RAF in World War Two. Of course, what with the Sliding Timeline, he might by now be a Vietnam veteran...)
  • Feminist Fantasy: In the first issue of the 2017 series, the only named males to appear are Hank Pym in a flashback when Nadia is talking about her past, and Naveen, the guy working in the bakery, along with name dropping Bruce Banner and Clint Burton; every other major character is a woman, the immigration officer working her case is a woman, and Nadia teams up with Ms Marvel and Mockingbird to take on a Humongous Mecha stolen by a female Mad Scientist (who better to stop her than a happy scientist); and after talking to Bobbi Morse about the fact people forget she's not just an Action Girl that hits things with sticks but closer to a Genius Bruiser specialising in biology and a bona fide adventurer who went to the Savage Lands, along with the fact that until they discovered Moon Girl was the smartest person on the planet, the first woman on S.H.I.E.L.D's list of geniuses was only number 27, Nadia decides to look for more women whose talents are going unrecognized by setting up Genius In action Research Labs.
  • Fish out of Water: In a similar way to Steve Rogers and Cindy Moon, having lived her life in the Red Room, she's terribly out of date with her pop culture - she surprises Kamala Khan when she doesn't react to references to the Megazord, Harry Potter and The Empire Strikes Back. To be fair nobody's tried communist-era Russian / East-European pop culture yet so we don't know if the Red Room has a rule against fun in general or only parts they oppose ideologically.
  • Five-Token Band: G.I.R.L. fits this to a T. Not only are they all girls, each of them have their own strange quirks and are of different races.
  • Foreshadowing: When Nadia goes berserk after Ying collapses, Janet muses internally that she reminds her of Henry Pym in similarly unstable moods, forshadowing volume two's revelation that Nadia has full-blown bipolar disorder, inherited from her father.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: At the beginning of one issue, Jarvis is shocked when Nadia opens the door to him dressed only in an oversized Pym Labs T-shirt, even though it hangs down well below her hips to minidress length and shows nothing.
  • Generation Xerox: According to Mockingbird, Nadia and Janet despite not being related by blood. Nadia forgets to put on pants in the morning but does remember to grab her phone, and stores it in her bra since she doesn't have pockets. Going by Mockingbird's reaction, this is something Janet does too.
    • The same issue presents this with Ying and Bobbi herself, again despite being unrelated. Both are scientists who happen to also be deadly fighters, who can spar while also discussing potential treatments for brain tumours. As a result, by the time of the second volume, Bobbi has taken Ying under her wing and the younger girl explicitly says she would be happy if Bobbi was her mother.
  • Genki Girl: Nadia is full of enthusiasm.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ultron or rather Ultron-Pym, to be more specific. He never makes an appearance but towards the end of volume one Janet admits in her internal monologue she is keeping his existence secret from Nadia. This comes to light in volume two, after the reveal the threat of his return is what motivated Seeker, Finesse and Brilliance to work for A.I.M. and steal advanced technology in preparation for it.
  • Happily Adopted: At the end of Unstoppable Wasp's first volume, Nadia asks Janet if she can use the Van Dyne surname, and also moves in with her. By the time Mark Waid's Ant-Man and the Wasp miniseries starts, she's referred to as "Janet's adopted step".
  • Hologram: Nadia's recruitment presentation to G.I.R.L. comes in hologram form.
    Nadia: Science fact: Holograms are awesome!
  • In the Blood: Nadia's knack for science runs in her family (both her father and maternal grandfather were scientists), despite her never meeting any of her relatives. She also inherited Hank's bipolar disorder, which is first triggered by the stress of A.I.M. attacking her friends.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After Nadia beats up Ying, throws Shay against the wall, kicks Alexis in the face, and insists that Miranda is "broken" while in the midst of her first manic phase, she retreats into her miniature lab (where seconds pass like hours) while the rest of them give up on her in disgust. Priya is the only person who doesn't feel right leaving her, steals Janet van Dyne's oldest Wasp suit, and shrinks her way into the lab - literally as Nadia is about to jump off the roof. If Priya had waited literally one more second, Nadia would be dead.
  • Irrational Hatred: Nadia is unfailingly polite and kind to everyone, even villains she's currently fighting, except for Peter Parker in his Spider-Man identity; having no problems with Miles. She gets over it before Avengers: No Surrender, though she swaps it out for not liking Peter Parker due to the fact that his decision to destroy Parker Industries got the Avengers kicked out of their base. This is parodied in issue #7 when Taina meets Miles and is confused as to why she hates Spider-Man before Nadia lets her know it's the other one she hates.
  • Kid Hero: Lampshaded. Upon getting help from Wasp and Ms. Marvel while fighting a giant robot, Mockingbird snarks how new superheroes keep getting younger every year, and soon they'll have babies fighting Thanos.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Ying, Nadia's friend from the Red Room. With her all of their black-ops backstory comes back haunting with vengeance.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Nadia is actually a humongous fan of superheroes, particularly genius heroes. For some reason, though, she really hates Spider-Man. She ends up bringing Mockingbird to tears when she remembers the fact that she's actually a Genius Bruiser.
    • Nadia literally says "Squee" later in that issue, when Bobbi tells her she's destined for great things.
    • The members of G.I.R.L. are ecstatic meeting the Champions in issue #7 of the 2018 run either due to shared heritage (Priya and Kamala and Taina and Miles) or shared intellect (Shay and Riri)
  • Lame Pun Reaction: When removing the bomb from Ying's head Shay makes a joke about 'not losing [her] head'. Everyone present, including Jarvis, boos her. Well, except for Ying herself, who thinks its Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Madness Montage: After G.I.R.L. gets their collective butts kicked by their evil counterparts and sent to the hospital in issue 4 of the 2018 series, Nadia returns to the lab and spirals into a science-centered Manic Phase. Her idea chalkboard tracks her journey deeper and deeper into mania, until she becomes coldly logical from exhaustion and beats the tar out of her friend Ying when she tries to intervene.
  • Malaproper: Being a toddler, William Grant Nelson articulates Nadia's relation to him as being "half of my sister."
  • Mama Bear: Janet Van Dyne evolves into this, having previously been hinted at when Nadia first showed up in Waid's Avengers run. Nadia might not be hers by blood, but by the end of the first series she's all-but adopted the girl, and by that point has protected her from Russian spies, contracted supervillains, deportation, legal trouble, and at the very least tries to protect her from knowing the truth about who her father was.
  • Meaningful Rename: Even though Nadia is a Pym, since she never knew Hank at all, when she goes to finalize her paperwork, she asks Janet if she could take up her last name, which she happily agrees to.
  • Mood-Swinger: Nadia is shown to inherit her father Hank's disposition to bipolar disorder in Issues 4 and 5 of the 2018 series. She goes from iron-willed determination to fix the damage caused by the attack, to seeking "cures" for everything wrong with her friends, to retreating to her shrunken lab when her friends try to intervene. Priya encounters her when she's swung the other way and is attempting suicide. Unlike Hank, Nadia acknowledges that it's not something to be ignored or ashamed of and seeks treatment.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nadia very nearly kills herself after her mania swings into depression and she is confronted with the fact that she just beat up all of her best friends when they were only trying to help her.
  • Naïve Newcomer: She is just so wide-eyed and innocent and happy about all the heroes and her newly found freedom, home, friends, and family... given how the Marvel Universe works, and more specifically, who Hank Pym is, she is set up for very hard Broken Pedestal situations, the first of which you can find under that trope on this page.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • After multiple attempts to peacefully resolve a hostage situation fail when one of the villains punches Nadia in the face, the tone of the scene noticeably shifts. Nadia's narration boxes lose all their cheeriness and begin clinically describing the brutal effectiveness of Krav Maga, which Nadia learned in the Red Room and which she uses to badly beat up both villains present. Nadia is later pretty disturbed at what she did, since she left both of them with serious injuries.
    • Taina is tipped off that something is wrong with Nadia's behavior in Built on Hope, even if Nadia insists she's fine, going to therapy, taking her meds, and feeling happy. Nadia obsessing about completing a dozen projects is normal. What's not normal is Nadia obsessing about one singular project, particularly one that involves linking all the data of every person who's purchased the new V.E.R.A. personal assistant and thus creating a massive AI network. It's thanks to Nadia's VERA influencing her into directing all her energy into making itself more powerful.
  • Raised in a Lab: Nadia Pym was raised in a Mad Science splinter group of the Red Room, the Russian Tyke Bomb-factory black ops organisation better known for creating the Black Widows.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Invoked with her bipolar disorder, which amplifies her ego to make her think she can personally solve every problem in the world. Under the influence of her first major manic episode, she jots down various notes, one of them being an idea to "fix" Taina's cerebral palsy, which pisses Taina right off. Once Nadia recovers, she immediately goes to apologize to Taina for such an action.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: She fights one in Issue #2 of the 2017 series thanks to an invention she and her old friend made back then that resurfaces.
  • Ship Tease: Every time America Chavez and Kate Bishop cameo in the comic, it's always around each other, which according to Whitley is intentional.note 
  • Shout-Out: Shay's dress sense is heavily influenced by pansexual Afrofuturist musician Janelle Monáe. Depending on whether Monáe exists in the Marvel universe, this might be an in-canon Shout Out as well, although Shay's mother seems to suggest that she based it off of Prince. That could be a sign of her homophobia and her dismissiveness towards her daughter.
  • Survivor Guilt: The reason Priya is the only person to follow Nadia into her shrunken lab. It turns out her brother, a surgeon, was cracking under the pressure of school and went into a similar spiral to Nadia's. She took all his hollow reassurances at face value and only learned how much he was suffering when she found his Suicide Note. As she explains to Nadia while trying to talk her away from killing herself, she lives with the guilt of "What if I'd just tried to reach out to him?" every day.
  • Sweet Tooth: The first scene of her solo comic has her in in a bakery looking at pastries with her face touching the glass. She later walks out with a large bag full of sweets, after being given a large discount. Ms Marvel doesn't get a discount and she saved the shop from aliens once.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Issues #7 and #8 of the first series are told from Janet's perspective.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Most of Nadia's friends give up on her after she beats most of them up in Issue 5. Priya, who had seen something like this before in her brother but failed to reach out to him, follows Nadia into her miniaturized lab and confronts her as Nadia is about to jump to her death.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: Nadia is based on Hope Pym from MC2 and the MCU—though in those, Hope is Janet's biological daughter. Nadia is adopted by Janet, but isn't a blood relative.
  • Very Special Episode: Issues #4-5 of the second volume, where Nadia has her first serious manic episode. On the other hand, as the essay at the end of #5 points out, superhero comics have traditionally not been noted for their accuracy or sensitivity when depicting mental illness and its treatment.

Alternative Title(s): Nadia Van Dyne, Unstoppable Wasp