This week, Marvel releases The Unstoppable Wasp #1, written by Princeless creator Jeremy Whitley. Major Spoilers had a chance to interview Whitley ahead of the first issue release.
MAJOR SPOILERS: As a male creator, do you feel pressure handling such an iconic female superhero mantle? Is there a heightened responsibility to your female audience?
JEREMY WHITLEY: Absolutely there is, but frankly it’s one that I take very seriously both in this work with Marvel and in my own work with Princeless and Raven: Pirate Princess. I never take the awesome responsibility of representation lightly. If a writer claims to want to represent people and characters that are different from themselves, but is unwilling to talk to the people they wish to represent or hear criticism of their work – they’re not taking representation seriously.
With Nadia, I take seriously both the fact that the mantle of “The Wasp” is a very important one and the fact that Nadia is a unique character and that she deserves to have her own story and not just be trapped in Janet’s shadow. I hope that we’ve hit a solid place in between.
MS: What will set Nadia apart from Janet – the woman who named the Avengers?
JW: Aside from the name and some of the power set, Nadia and Janet have very different stories. Janet is a designer, a social butterfly, and probably one of the best loved heroes in the Marvel Universe. Nadia has spent her whole life cooped up inside a secret lab in a secret facility doing mandatory science.
Nadia is, in a lot of ways, the ideal synthesis of her father (Hank Pym) and her step mother (Janet Van Dyne). She loves people, she’s curious and optimistic, and she has an intellect rivaled by very few in the Marvel Universe. She wants to change the world and she has a pretty good idea how to do it.
MS: Any chance a new power set for the Wasp we’ve never seen before?
JW: Well, Mark Waid and I gave a little bit of a preview in All-New All-Different Avengers of one of her unique powers. Nadia uses Pym Particles not just to grow and shrink, but can fire them from the gauntlet in her suit to shrink other objects. In Avengers we saw her shrink down a gun. We’ll definitely see some more innovation from her and her team. They may not have much of a super power powerset between them, but they have the capability to develop quite an inventory.
MS: How many Ant-Man appearances will be featured in the series?
JW: Well, as far as Nadia knows, Hank is currently dead. She doesn’t know Scott Lang, who is also otherwise occupied. If we see Eric O’Grady in this series it will likely not be as an ally. So…at the moment, short of flashbacks, we probably won’t see any ant men in the near future. Who can say for sure though.
MS: Will you be taking any influence from the Ultimate Universe version of the Wasp? It’s a much darker take on the character.
JW: Nah. Ultimate Wasp had her place in the Ultimate Universe, but I think she is best left there. Nadia is much more of an optimistic and light take on the Wasp than Ultimate Wasp, that’s for sure.
MS: How will her powers differ from Janet Van Dyne and the previous Ant-Men?
JW: Nadia has the shrinking, growing, and flying that we’re familiar with – but in addition to that she has also found some unique applications for Pym particles. Beyond that, she is a trained assassin, so she is a much more capable hand to hand combatant than either Janet or Hank, even though she’s relatively petite and sixteen years old.
MS: Will the upcoming Ant-Man movie influence what you do with her in the comic?
JW: Probably not. While Nadia and the MCU Wasp (Hope Van Dyne) surely share some aspects of their characters (Nadia is Russian for “Hope”, they’re both Hank’s daughter, they’re both scientists in their own right), Nadia is sure to be pretty different in practical application. For one thing, Hope is romantically connected with the movie version of Scott Lang. In the comics, not only is Nadia sixteen years old, but Scott has a daughter who is roughly the same age. So, I think we’re safe from being too heavily influenced by the movie – which I’m sure will be spectacular in its own right.
MS: What about her makes the character “unstoppable?”
JW: That’s a great question. The title of the series was something the editors and I went round and round on in the early days. I had the first several issues written before the book had an official title. We settled on unstoppable for a couple of different reasons. The first was, I couldn’t recall ever having heard or seen a female character referred to as “unstoppable” and certainly not in a positive light. But the real thing that made me believe that that was the right title for the book was that it was so fitting for Nadia. Nadia is not unstoppable in the same sort of physical way that we use for someone like the Juggernaut. Nadia is unstoppable in a much deeper way. She’s had literally everything awful thrown at her that she can. She’s had every reason to stop, to give up, to allow herself to be manipulated. But she hasn’t. In fact, she’s come out of it more optimistic, more excited, and more determined than most of the people in the Marvel Universe. She is a hero for refusing to allow herself to be stopped.
MS: Will Henry Pym appear in the comic? Janet Van Dyne?
JW: Janet, definitely. Last time that astute readers saw Hank, however, he had been thrown into the sun by the Avengers Unity Squad. While we know he’s still alive and ticking out there, that sort of thing takes a while to come back from. As far as Nadia knows, Hank is dead. So until Hank shows up or someone tells Nadia to go looking for him, you’re unlikely to see Hank round these parts.
MS: Will she have a standard costume, or will she have rotating ones? (Janet had hundreds, seems like!)
JW: Well, she certainly has the one she has created, which will be appearing in the book and has some important scientific properties, but like Janet, Nadia has a fashion sense all her own and our readers will see her sporting a few other looks as we go. And don’t worry, Janet’s still looking out for her, so she’s likely to get a new costume whether she’s looking for one or not.