comicsthegathering dot com logo

The Unstoppable Wasp #1 Review

by Charles Martin on October 17, 2018

The Unstoppable Wasp #1 Review
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artist & Colourist: Gurihiru
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Nadia van Dyne has been without a solo series for 14 months. While that's the blink of an eye in comic book time, it's a zillion years to a hyperactive girl genius. Nadia has so much cool new stuff to show us!

Yes, yes, she's been an Avenger and become a Champion and had that Microverse adventure with Scott Lang. But only in a solo Wasp title can we get the very best parts of the Nadia van Dyne experience: G.I.R.L.! Nadia's Neat Science Facts! A girl superhero who somehow perfectly blends ruthless effectiveness with adorable distractibility! It's all here and, if anything, it's all gotten better during its publishing hiatus.

G.I.R.L. as a working organization proves even more exciting than its origin story was in the last volume. The Wasp's nerdette squad gets a solid mission, awesome gear, and a healthy helping of great lines. 

The lion's share of G.I.R.L. attention goes to Taina and Shay this month. The former does a terrific job of reining in her teammates when they lose focus, and the latter emerges as a reliable fount of cheesy one-liners. Also, per her intro caption, Shay is a "tiny gay disaster" thanks to her ever-cute crush on Ying.

Sorry! I've just given the first slab of the review to the supporting cast instead of Nadia. Does that mean there's anything wrong with the protagonist? Don't you bet on it.

Nadia starts this issue with a driving lesson from Jarvis. Because her life is wonderfully ridiculous, that actually means terrifying the butler using a flying car and her Red Room training.

How can I tell that Nadia is an objectively awesome character? Because she delivers an enlightening scientific explanation of powerslide drifting, demonstrates the same, cautions readers (twice!) not to try it at home, and yet leaves me really wanting to go wreck my tires trying it out.

Nadia (and the G.I.R.L. team) also have some smashing new combat moves. I won't spoil the fun, but I will give this issue top marks for inventive use of Pym Particles and telerobotics.

I found the characterization delightful. How about the story? The main plot storms out of the gate with tremendous promise. Monica Rappaccini is back with a freshly evil-ized AIM - a perfect foil for G.I.R.L. 

It seems likely that these antagonists will grow into a full-blown parallel nemesis for G.I.R.L. in future issues. And it looks like this title finally has the space to tackle the killer robot elephant (Ultronaphant!) in Nadia's personal story: her dad.

On the visual front, this comic is hugely satisfying. Shifting from Elsa Charretier to Gurihiru means taking the art literally around the world, from an expressive Eurocomix style to a more polished anime-esque groove. The transition is remarkably successful, and I mean no slander on the previous volume when I say this one looks even better.

The Gurihiru team delivers exceptionally tight integration between linework and colours; they have a mind-meld relationship that picks the perfect palette for every panel. The colours manage to set a terrific general tone - bubbly and vibrant - while also increasing the contrast between key elements on a scene-by-scene basis. There's never any confusion about where the comic's focus is and where it's going next; this issue is a powerful lesson on the storytelling power of clever colour work.

The only potential downside is that this is a remarkably dense comic. The very first page pulls the "divergent narration" trick by layering an expository phonecall from Janet van Dyne over art depicting the AIM heist she's talking about. Then - still on page 1 - the narrative metastasizes as Jan's call has to share space with another conversation between Monica Rappacini and her mysterious deputy, Seeker.

Multiple narrative tracks intertwine this way throughout the book. While it makes for tricky reading, I don't think it actually hurts the story. It's only a potential downside. The multithreaded plot suits Nadia's temperament perfectly, and agile storytelling is also perfect for this book's intended audience. Don't be fooled by the bright shiny art and the young cast; this comic isn't aimed at the elementary school set. The bright teens (and grown-ups!) who will most enjoy this book are fully capable of rising to the narrative challenge.

Unstoppable Wasp #1 (Mark II) capably picks up right where the last volume left off. G.I.R.L. is brilliant, the villainous challenges are fascinating, and the art is gorgeous. The last volume was a powerful tool for making readers fall in love with this charming, hyperkinetic Wasp. The new series starts off fully equipped to get that job done all over again.

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside

Comments

Charles Martin's picture
The only thing that could make this pie better is finding a little Mockingbird in our next slice. And the odds seem to be in our favour on that score!