Review: The Unstoppable Wasp #1
Title: The Unstoppable Wasp #1
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist: Elsa Charretier
Every now and then, a comic can sneak up on you. Maybe you just came off of a busy holiday season, maybe it features a character you’re not very familiar with, or maybe a little bit of both. But as luck would have it, The Unstoppable Wasp #1 caught my eye on the shelf this week, and I decided to give it a try. And I am very glad that I did, because not only was this one of the best premier issues I’ve read in a long time, it is also one of the more important comics I’ve read in recent memory.
Our story follows the latest heroine to take up the Wasp mantle, Nadia Pym. After being introduced recently in the pages of Mark Waid’s Avengers, our protagonist starts this issue hanging out with Ms Marvel on their way to settle the issue of Nadia’s citizenship. For you see, Nadia recently escaped from the Red Room’s science division, which has raised her in isolation since birth. But rather than being mopey or spiteful, Nadia is determined to make use of her newly earned freedom to enjoy life, improve the world around her, and maybe team up with Mockingbird to take down a giant robot every now and then.
In spite of a mild case of First Issue Syndrome (aka taking a lot of time to make introductions), this issue manages to move at a good pace mixing together the action with a lot of character moments. The thing that really sells this issue is the infectious positivity and all-around sunny disposition that writer Jeremy Whitley gives Nadia, which rubs off on both the characters on the book and on me as a reader as well. Guest stars Ms Marvel and Mockingbird are also given spot-on characterizations as well. On the artistic side of things, Elsa Charretier knocks the visuals out of the park in her Marvel debut; her action scenes are dynamic, her expressions breath life into the characters, and the issue’s most exposition-heavy page is still engaging thanks to her inventive layout.
If you’re looking for a strong premier and all around good read, this comic provides that with its abundant charm and lighthearted fun. But I think that this book goes beyond just being a good comic; it’s more important than that. That’s because this comic has a message that we need today more than ever. For you see, Nadia may be a super hero, but first and foremost, she is a scientist. She wants to make the world a better place not just by thwarting super villains, but by working in the lab. That might sound like a simple thing, but this book really got to me by demonstrating how badly we need more women scientists in our stories. Towards the end of the book, we are reminded of the hierarchy of the big brains in the Marvel Universe, which has traditionally been all male. This comic makes a conscious point of challenging our acceptance of this status quo.
Why is this such a big deal, you may ask? To answer that, we can look to one of our aforementioned guest stars, Mockingbird. When the character is first spotted by Wasp and Ms Marvel, Kamala explains who she is by saying that she used to be married to Hawkeye, and that she “hits things with sticks.” And if I’m being perfectly honest, those are the first things to come to mind when I think of Mockingbird too. Not to Nadia, though; to her, Barbara Morse is the ingenious biologist who made strides in duplicating the Super Solider Serum. To her, Mockingbird the scientist is an inspiration.
Now, I think it’s great that so many female heroines in comics, Mockingbird included, have a well earned reputation for being kick-ass fighters. But as this comic demonstrates, we’re ready for more. We should expect to see prominent women characters as great thinkers, as big brains, as brilliant problem-solvers, not just on the sidelines like Valeria Richards, but in leading roles. We need more female protagonists who are peers to Reed Richards and Tony Stark, super scientists whose success in the lab drives their adventures. We need these types of characters in our stories because we need to more women like that in the real world. We need more letters pages like the one from this book, which showcases real life women in STEM fields. And we sure as hell don’t need to define women by who they used to date.
The Unstoppable Wasp is a damn good book. You should definitely read it, and when you’re done, give it to your kids, cause they need these types of stories even more.
VERDICT: 5 out of 5. Don’t miss it.