Janet Van Dyne’s legacy as the Wasp is interwoven through decades of Marvel Comics—but now, a new character is going to take the moniker. Who is she? What’s her agenda? What’s her connection to the Wasp’s legacy? We sat down with writer Mark Waid to exclusively unveil the first details about the new Wasp.
One detail Marvel is currently keeping mum on: her name. We may not know who’s in the new outfit, but we know Marvel is not looking for a replacement for the first Wasp.
“[Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort and I] both love the Wasp, and we both love Janet Van Dyne—she’s instrumental to the Avengers, the one who named them. Everyone forgets, but she’s the one who recognizes that that guy they dragged out of the ice [as] being Captain America! She’s pretty sharp, and she’s always been a good, solid member of the team.” But Waid, who’s currently the head writer on the main Avengers comic book All-New, All-Different Avengers, leapt at the chance to add a new chapter to the story Janet Van Dyne’s hero had began.
So rest assured that despite the existence of a new Wasp, there are still big plans for Janet elsewhere in the Marvel universe—and she hasn’t given up being the Wasp, either. “[Janet] just showed up in this week’s All-New Wolverine, and she’ll be making some appearances in Uncanny Avengers in upcoming months as well,” Waid confirmed, and added that the creation of a new Wasp presented a unique opportunity to explore her relationship with the Avengers. “Tom and I talked about it, and thought that we do want a Wasp present in the Avengers book, but does that necessarily mean she has to be an Avenger? It doesn’t necessarily have to mean that she has to be friend or foe. What can we do to develop that character in a way we haven’t seen before?”
Waid was at first wary at delving into the legacy of a character he loved. “[It was] a little terrifying,” he said, when asked about being approached to write the character. “I’ve always been a fan of the Wasp, the thing we had to be most careful about was making readers understand that this isn’t a dismissal of Janet Van Dyne or her legacy, and I think we’ve accomplished that in the way we’ve set up our story.
“We’re not in any way trying to replace Janet,” promised Waid.
Janet will be aware of this new character taking on the Wasp identity (“I don’t think ... she’ll be particularly pleased,” Waid said) especially since the new character will actually have a much larger connection to another hero in the Marvel universe: the currently off-Earth Hank Pym, Janet’s former husband.
“[The new Wasp] has a strong connection to Hank Pym. We will see that in the Free Comic Book Day story [that introduces her], and we will understand a large part of what that connection is, and how she has come to grips with this new Wasp identity. She’s a girl about 16, 17 years old, and we will see how she comes to grips [with her situation] at the same time that Hank himself left the Earth, as of the Rage of Ultron graphic novel last year, where he merged with Ultron and went off into space,” Waid teased when asked about the connection. “So this girl shows up at Hank Pym’s front door, looking to figure out what her connection to Hank is, and Hank is not there. Hank’s absence is a large part of what births this new Wasp as part of her origin.”
So what sets the new Wasp apart from Janet? In terms of her power set, not much. “She very much has the same powers as Janet, but there’s some new wrinkles to them,” the writer said—but interestingly, those wrinkles will have a scientific background to them.
“As silly as this sounds, there’s things about wasps that Stan [Lee] and Larry Lieber (Janet’s creators alongside artist Jack Kirby) didn’t know 50 years ago,”explained Waid. “I’m a big fan of when you model a character as someone with a biological origin, doing deep dives and a lot of research. [I did a lot] on wasps to see if there was anything interesting there to translate into a Marvel superhero. But I’ve also always been a big fan of the size-changing characters and what can be done with them there with what we’ve learned about quantum mechanics and that sort of thing in the last few years.”
In terms of her character, the new Wasp will be a little more reckless and overconfident compared to Janet, but she’s also as brilliant as Marvel’s other scientific geniuses. “She’s very, very smart,” said Waid. “We have a lot of supergeniuses in the Marvel universe, but very few of them are women. I really wanted to give the main Marvel universe a young woman who is tomorrow’s Tony Stark or Reed Richards—she has more of a biochemical bent. Tony’s an engineer, Reed is very technological, but [the Wasp] is a biochemist wizard.”
The new Wasp will first appear in Marvel’s prelude to its Civil War II event, released for Free Comic Book Day 2016 on May 7th. But it won’t exactly be a clear indicator of the role the new Wasp will play in the event, according to Waid. “We’re still trying to figure that out, and define her role in [Civil War II],” he said. “Her appearance in the FCBD issue is less related to Civil War II than it is to All-New All-Different Avengers.”
Shorlty afterwards, the Wasp will make a second appearance in All-New All-Different Avengers #9, and like Janet, they won’t be too happy to see this new hero.... if she even is a hero. “Remember, you used the word hero, not me!” Waid exclaimed.
“I will say that the Avengers, especially The Vision, will have a great deal of apprehension about [this new Wasp],” he added, noting the Vision in particular due to his presence on Avengers #9's cover (above). “Her presence will not necessarily be a cause of celebration. In fact, one member of the team specifically takes enormous umbrage at the fact that this young woman has usurped the Wasp name and identity. That specific person’s identity will surprise you, but also inform what we think of this new Wasp.”
After her appearance in Avengers #9, the new Wasp’s future will still be tied with the team. “She does not join the Avengers on their next mission in issues 10 through 12,” Waid told us, “but she will be part of a running subplot within the book.” It seems that it might be a while before we even begin to learn the character’s nature. “Ideally, we’d like to do more with her starting in issue 13, because we don’t want to answer the question yet about whether or not she’s friend or foe,” Waid concluded.
But with Janet van Dyne still active as the Wasp, Scott Lang doing his own thing as Ant-Man, Hank Pym on his way back to Earth, and now this new mysterious person taking the moniker, it seems Marvel’s going all-in on its “biggest” shrinking family.
Could a new team-up series be on the way? Apparently Waid is a fan of the idea. “That would be awesome!” he exclaimed. “Giant-Sized Ant-Man Team Up would be awesome. I would totally write that, in a heartbeat.”
The new Wasp makes her début in Free Comic Book Day: Civil War II #1 on May 7th.