“If this is the last time I see you all, don’t stop inventing. Don’t stop being amazing. Keep G.I.R.L. alive.” – Nadia Van Dyne
The Unstoppable Wasp 7-8: Unstoppable
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: Veronica Fish (7) & Ro Stein (8) & Ted Brandt (8)
Colorist: Megan M. Wilson
Letterer: Joe Carmagna
Consultant: Preeti Chhibber
C.Artists: Elsa Charretier & Nicolas Bannister (7) & Ian Herring (8)
Editors: Alanna Smith & Tom Brevoort
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
You Try Keeping Up With One Of Kang’s Monologues On 3 Hours Of Sleep: My heart breaks a little, to be at the end of this series. Nadia Pym is a character that managed to inspire me when I felt done with superheroes. That a character with so few appearances could sky rocket to the top of my favorite heroes speaks to the quality of her adventures. My love for Nadia is well documented at this point and these issues may serve as the coda to her adventures, but this is Janet Van Dyne’s story. And damn, what an amazing couple of issues these are. Janet has been a character who barely registered on my radar until now, but in just a couple of issue, Jeremy Whitley has made me fall in love with her. As Marvel shifts towards younger generational heroes, the joy of having someone so established and in her element makes Janet feel like the cornerstone of the Marvel Universe that she is; hell, she is the one who named the Avengers. Janet’s super power here is not wasp stings and flying, but the ability to pull through anything and get things done. She saves Nadia’s life from unraveling and gives direction to those who need it; from unstoppable teens to lost souls seeking escape from criminal enterprises. We get to see her have one last teamup with Natasha Romanov (before the fatal events of Secret Empire) and she buzzes around in the air absentmindedly while trying to pull things together for Nadia; it all feels very lighthearted. This is joy to be found in even the mundane moments of Janet’s life, something not done this well since Dennis Hopeless’ Spider-Woman came to a conclusion. And yet, there is something unsatisfied lurking under the surface of Janet’s life and that comes to the surface when yet another Pym hits her. How she comes out of this experience redefines the spirit of Janet Van Dyne and leaves her in an interesting place; the final sentences of this series basically set the stage for something new in Janet’s future.
The Thing I Like Most About Fashion Is The Reveal: Speaking of Spider-Woman, Veronica Fish is the best damn kiss of death Marvel has in their arsenal (she also worked on Silk before it’s cancellation). Fish is a master of detail, as even maps in her backgrounds are fully realized. But it is her work done on the superhero costumes of Nadia and Janet that blow me away. All the various pieces of their costumes are fully realized and the outfits react realistically in battle. Scorch marks form on things that get blasted by the Wasps or Beetle and things that break stay broken in the backgrounds even as the story moves away from them. There is a truly brilliant page where Janet and Beetle fight their way down a winding stair case, that feels at place with the splash pages Elsa Charretier has delivered in this series. The best part though is how much emotion her characters convey. These final two issue are primarily defined by how emotional they are and Fish is clearly the right woman for the job. One day I seriously hope she gets a superhero comic with a long run of issues.
Whitley brings in two artists from his creator owned work (Princeless and Raven the Pirate Princess) in the final issue, Rosy Stein and Ted Brandt. Stein is by and large, the penciler, while Brandt does the inks, but the two collaborate on character design, choreography, and layouts. They do an excellent job of maintaining the visual continuity Fish lays out in the previous issue, even if they do not maintain quite the same level of detail in their work. Stein excels at dramatic emotions and body language; you can see the joy on Nadia’s face just by seeing her body language in the background of a splash. Nadia is very exposed in this issue, something Stein works into her wardrobe. In the previous issues, Nadia has been armored up or wearing a jacket, but in this issue she wears clothing that expose large parts of her frame. You can see the tension that weighs her down in her shoulders and how that alleviates when she is dancing with her friends. Stein’s world may not be as detailed as Fish’s, but it feels lived in; everything has a natural crumpled look to it. Brandt does an excellent job of paneling Stein’s work; characters walk out of panels and into new ones and often the panels will be devoid of color to focus on the character and their emotional reactions. Light in their issue is given a weird physical presence, especially in the dance scenes. I do not know if it works, but I appreciate the effort there. Brandt’s lines work best when they are thinner, because when they are thicker it feels less like the characters are interacting with the world and more like they are lain over top of it. They deliver really strong work for creators largely new to the comic book industry and they really nail the most important of this story: the emotion.
Megan Wilson and Joe Carmagna have defined the look of this series more than anyone else. Wilson’s colors are especially strong over Fish’s work, where fabrics have a different sheen to make them distinguished from one another. She also does a great job of allowing the color of the backdrop to indicate how much time has passed between panels. She color coordinates the battle sequences so that when a character attacks with a stinger or a gust of wind, you know who is behind it. After the battles come to a close, she uses colors to coordinate characters and distinguish our heroes from the average; in a parking lot full of cars, you have no doubt that Janet came from the colorful one. She fills this book with joy that leaps off the page. Likewise, Carmagna delivers some of the best lettering I have seen in a comic book. His effects and captions only ever add to the scene, like when Janet’s captions fill the page when she struggles to fall asleep. His colors draw the eye and are often used for transitions from scene to scene; a loud colorful sound effect from something off panel will draw our characters towards it.
I Could Only Think Of One Last Name That Means Anything To Me And It’s Van Dyne: Before we head into the conclusion, I have to mention the GIRL… girls. I am going to miss Tai probably the most out of all of them, but Whitley gives Shay and Ying the biggest focus in the finale (and a romance to boot.) These characters, no matter how minute their screen time, continue to stand out from one another. We also see Barbara Morse return and she looks like she walked out the pages of Tana Ford’s Silk. The dialogue between Janet and Bobbi remain one of my favorite moments of the comic, probably because it is a celebration of Nadia. And speaking of Nadia, this comic still manages to have huge emotional pay off for her. There is so much joy in this comic, but also heartbreak when Nadia has to face the reality of who her father was. I teared up twice; when she first got to see her mother (on video) and when she choose to change her name to Van Dyne. I am going to miss Whitley’s Nadia Van Dyne more than words can convey.
Verdict: This finale is all about emotion, both good and bad. It is also about cementing the nature of the two people who share the moniker of Wasp and how they influence each other. Everyone on the creative team delivers on what matters in this comic and it is perfect because of it. It is all about the reveal and the revelation here is that both Janet and Nadia are unstoppable.
There is no other comic out there like The Unstoppable Wasp and hopefully this is not the end, just a break. Let’s get Jeremy Whitley and crew on a Janet Van Dyne book. Or a scientific book starring Nadia, Bobbi, Janet, and GIRL. Or an Unstoppable Wasps book (seriously, why does Marvel not pair up superheroes more often?). This book is inspirational, especially to young women who want to create artistically and scientifically. Despite not being a young woman, this comic inspires me too and I think anyone who is willing to give Nadia a chance will find themselves moved as well. So please, give her adventures a try and hopefully we can bring her back to prominence some day.