Nadia van Dyne (really Nadia Pym, though Janet van Dyne has taken on a surrogate mother role for her late husband’s daughter, despite no blood relation) may have been created by Mark Waid and Alan Davis, but it was writer Jeremy Whitley who established what kind of character she’d be.
And through the first half or so of his original, eight-issue run on The Unstoppable Wasp, she was an overwhelmingly positive character, optimistic despite tribulations. That would take a hard turn when serious adversity (the kind that would test anyone) crept up, but Nadia more-or-less evened out by the too-soon end of the series.
Maybe that was a sign of what Whitley REALLY wanted to do with the character?
The Unstoppable Wasp: Unlimited Vol. 1: Fix Everything starts off much like previous followers of Nadia would expect, with she and her agents of G.I.R.L. taking on heinous villains, in this case, fittingly enough, the evil scientist punching bags of Advanced Idea Mechanics. There are some new characters introduced, and some twists on older ones, but the drama feels a little light until you figure out what the real story here is.
It’s teased out slowly, over several issues, starting with Nadia being tired and complaining of having run out of ideas. Then suddenly, she can’t sleep at all, and is wracked with so many ideas she can’t concentrate on a single one, becoming convinced that if she keeps working she can, yes, fix everything.
I’ll spoil the big revelation, so stop reading now if you don’t want to know. Nadia van Dyne, like her father, is afflicted with bipolar disorder. This shouldn’t be surprising because, as noted in the book, bipolar tends to run in families. It’s unclear whether her typical enthusiasm is a result of the condition, though Whitely does go out of the way to suggest this may be her first manic episode. And hey, maybe she’d be just as happy without it.
Seeing the young Wasp deal with these thoughts is truly heartbreaking, but seeing her friends and colleagues react to her despair might be even more so. Fix Everything, kind of surprisingly, turns into a candid look into how mental illness affects its victims and their loved ones, and reminds everyone that such situations aren’t hopeless. As is the book’s style.
One of the negative trends following from the previous volume of Unstoppable Wasp is the lack of personality differentiation among the other heroic characters, but Whitley does a better job of it here than ever, with Priya and Ying especially standing out. Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, is also back, but her role is diminished, as it should be.
The entire book’s art is attributed to Gurihiru, the Japanese team of Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano. The two women solidify the manga-inspired style that could be seen intermittently in the previous volume, giving Fix Everything one, cohesive identity. It’s appropriately cartoony and bright, though they handle the action sequences well, too.
The Unstoppable Wasp: Unlimited Vol. 1: Fix Everything moves Nadia van Dyne’s character forward, and is an appropriate continuation of her story. There isn’t a lot of meat on the narrative until the big health revelation, but then the feels and the education kick into overdrive. For a book ostensibly about science and scientists, Nadia’s “neat science facts” could be a little better-researched, but that’s not really what this book is for. The concept is enough, showing (now in multiple ways) that the reader can be whoever they want, despite any obstacles they may encounter.