Grim_Noir Stops By The Unstoppable Wasp

 

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Title: The Unstoppable Wasp #1

Writer: Jeremy Whitley

Artist: Elsa Charretier

Color Artist: Megan Wilson

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Editors: Alanna Smith & Tom Brevoort

Published by Marvel Entertainment LLC

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Astute followers of my Twitter feed can be sure of three things about me: 1) I do not like wasps. (Neither the One-Percenter-types, nor the insects that keep stinging you until they die.) 2) I am married to the biggest Girl Power advocate on the East Coast. 3) I have an ongoing bro-crush on the writing of Jeremy Whitley. So, those people might think they already know where my review of The Unstoppable Wasp #1 is going. And they’d be right. Well…, mostly…

The Hank Pym/Ultron composite may be gone, but another of his “creations” lives on. (No, not Hope Pym. She only exists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the MC2 comics line.) In the Newest, Now-est Marvel Comic Book Universe, the original Ant Man/Giant Man had a daughter, Nadia, with his first wife, Maria. Maria was kidnapped and died before she could tell Hank he was a father. Due to her astronomic intelligence, Nadia was enslaved by “The Science Class,” a secret lab that developed weapons for the Russian assassination group known as “The Red Room.” Exposed to stolen top secret documents from all over the world, Nadia managed to replicate the famous Pym particle and, as the old A-Team intro used to say, “…promptly escaped from a maximum security facility…” Now, living in her Dad’s old house in the U.S., she seeks out other girl geniuses and tries to use her mind plus her new-found powers to make the world a better place.

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All this talk of dead parents, kidnapping and child labor sets the stage for a dark and gritty book, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Somehow, through all of her trials, Nadia remains a poster child for positivity. She is methodical, tenacious and apt to say affirmations like, “Well, if I spend the rest of my life being bitter, then I never really escaped, yes?” Wasp books have always been fun, but it is Nadia’s unsinkability that defines her as different from her predecessors.

Keeping with the lighter, optimistic tone of the comic, the art team of Elsa Charretier and Megan Wilson aim for the style of Babs Tarr’s “Batgirl of Burnside.” Charretier’s layout work is impeccable. Clearly she has studied the panels of greats such as Will Eisner, John Byrne and Howard Chaykin. The actual artwork, however, is still embryonic. She ignores any backgrounds whenever possible and drops in huge swaths of pure color instead. The inking could use some improvement, as well. There is a weird tendency to use thick lines for female lips. When you add the color of various lipsticks, it tends to detract from any expressiveness the facial close-ups might have. I cannot tell if this is just a symptom of the pell-mell rush of getting a modern comic to press or an genuine artistic flaw. At any rate, these are not deal breakers for this book, just minor distractions. Hopefully, ones that will be improved in the future.

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Whitley’s tale is a terrific introduction to Nadia Pym and her “Change the World” attitude. Battling a giant robot with a few fellow female heroes lets Nadia¬†show what is unique about herself by contrasting her against Ms. Marvel and Mockingbird. It is a self-contained tale that quickly summarizes her past and leaves you wanting to follow her forward.

I have praised Whitley’s characterizations before, and he has locked in on Nadia’s personality. We clearly see her as a fifteen year-old girl coming from a sheltered, academic past: She has never been taught how to cross the street safely, but she can quote Barbara Morse’s biology research, chapter and verse. She can drop an internet meme when the situation call for it, yet frustrate Ms. Marvel with a complete lack of pop culture movie knowledge. She can flirt with a counterperson at a bakery while being utterly befuddled by a neighbor’s fear and distrust of her dad.

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But it is Nadia Pym’s unflagging optimism that wins her friends and fans in and out of the book. She is Little Orphan Annie fused with MacGuyver and fueled by the Energizer Bunny’s power cell. In lesser hands, this could be the most cloying experience of the week. Whitley has made Nadia a living breathing character and her optimism drives her while not defining her. Her “never heard the word impossible” mantra becomes fun and infectious, without making readers feel like they have joined a cult.

Having said all that, as a budding writer myself, I would really like to see Whitley and crew push Nadia’s core beliefs. In upcoming issues, I would love to see her placed into situations so bleak and utterly hopeless that positivity will become a challenge. Or facing a villain is so brilliant and improvisational that Nadia will need to entirely rethink the ways she addresses problems. Maybe even develop a network of mentors to aid her in these situations. Or maybe even a story where she is too proud to ask for help in such a scenario (she is a teenager, after all).

I cannot say if I would be giving another writer the kind of latitude I’m giving Jeremy Whitley, if The Unstoppable Wasp #1 was written by someone else. I can only tell you that Whitley gets this Wasp off the ground in style and, based on my previous reading experiences with him, I’m looking forward to where Nadia’s story will go.

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* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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2 Comments to “Grim_Noir Stops By The Unstoppable Wasp

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  1. JD (Host) says:

    Hey Grim, you might be interested to know that today’s episode of Spoiler Alert has an interview with Jeremy Whitley!

  2. Grim_Noir says:

    Sorry I missed it! Wish I coulda been in on that phone call, but then again, I probably would have been squeezing too loudly for the interview to have been heard…

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