Marvel Comics is releasing new semi-digest sized collections and the new Nadia van Dyne iteration of Wasp is one of the first to get the kid-friendly treatment. This collection contains the first eight issues written by Jeremy Whitley with art by Elsa Charretier, Veronica Fish, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt. It’s one of the most fun, fresh, and honest introductions of a character I’ve ever read.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Nadia spent the entire first half of her life a captive of the Red Room, but now this teenage super scientist is spreading her wings! Hank Pym’s daughter has a lot of time to make up for, and she’s determined to change the world. With Jarvis at her side, she’s on a mission to bring together the brightest girl geniuses of the Marvel Universe – starting with Lunella Lafayette, the miraculous Moon Girl! But Nadia didn’t count on evil scientists, man-eating giant rats or Devil Dinosaur -or the lethal lady wrestlers known as the Grapplers! And even as Nadia’s recruiting drive continues, the Red Room is on her trail – and they’ll pull out all the stops to get her back! Can the geniuses of G.I.R.L. find a way to save Nadia from being dragged back to the bunker? Whatever happens, Nadia’s fate will be forever altered – but can the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, help her find a way forward? When they get together, few can resist their sting!
Can I jump in easily?
This is a great place to start in understanding who Nadia van Dyne is and how she’s part of the bigger Marvel universe. The child of Hank Pym and his first wife Maria Trovaya, this character is foreign-born but comes to America looking to gain citizenship. She’s a genius like her dad and this collection shows us how she’s a unique and quite fascinating character.
Reason 1: So many fun science facts
When the first captioned science fact drops you’re going to get a big grin on your face. Then Whitley uses another, and another, further connecting real science to the problem at hand. It’s a fantastic element of the series explaining sometimes basic science concepts that give the superhero action a bit of purpose and believability. It’s also a fun reminder of how Nadia is a genius and thinks quickly even in the face of danger. Later on, assassin facts pop up (Nadia did get trained in the Red Room, after all), which further develops the character in quick captioned asides. These captions add a layer to the read and further increase the value of the bigger story, too.
Reason 2: Nadia is filled with positivity
Nadia van Dyne might be the most positive character around, especially given her tragic past. She never knew her mother and her father never even knew she was born. She was basically made a slave to an assassin’s cult and trained to be a killer. For all intents and purposes, she should not be as happy and hopeful as she is in this collection. That makes her relatable, more realistic, and quite an interesting character. Later on in the collection, she learns her father hit Janet van Dyne and that he had a serious mental illness. Whitley does an exceptional job explaining how Janet moved on, explaining Hank’s mental issues, and how a kid like Nadia can try to understand. It’s an incredible scene that I imagine many children will read with open eyes and help them gain insight into the human condition.
Reason 3: Great use of Marvel characters
This series integrates heroes, villains, and superhero sidekicks very well. Jarvis, for instance, ends up being Nadia’s right-hand man while she attempts to gain citizenship and open up W.A.S.P. Frankly this might be my favorite depiction of Jarvis in any Marvel comic. Later on, Matt Murdock plays a pivotal role in Nadia’s journey and Janet makes an appearance too. Whitley also integrates Mockingbird, Ms. Marvel, and Moon Girl quite well, fleshing out a strong female cast. There’s a clever use of Ultron too, and you won’t believe your eyes when Poundcakes shows up. Seriously.
Reasons to be wary?
Not all the science in the book is sound, but we’re talking superheroes after all. The series can also suffer from convenient saves and other time-saving elements to keep the ball rolling.
Is there a rationale for the reasons?
This is a great series that is innovative, fresh, and fun. It’s an incredible achievement in part because it manages to integrate real Marvel history into a brand new character and make her feel relevant and purposeful.