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AVEN071 Wasp
Janet van Dyne as the Wasp.
Art by J. G. Jones.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Tales to Astonish #44 (June 1963)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Janet Van Dyne, later Janet Pym
Species Human (empowered)
Team affiliations Avengers
Lady Liberators
West Coast Avengers
Mighty Avengers
Partnerships Henry Pym
  • Size manipulation
  • Flight
  • Bio-electric energy blasts
  • Telepathic insect control

The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) is a fictional character, a superheroine in the Marvel Comics universe and founding member of The Avengers. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Tales to Astonish #44 (June 1963).

After the character’s 2008 death, Henry Pym became Marvel Comics’ new Wasp.

Both versions are depicted as having the ability to shrink to a height of perhaps several centimeters, fly by means of insectoid wings (which appear only at small size), and fire energy blasts.


  • 1 Publication history
    • 1.1 Design
  • 2 Fictional character biography
    • 2.1 Origin
    • 2.2 Avenger
    • 2.3 Marrying Hank Pym
    • 2.4 Rocky Times
    • 2.5 Avengers Disassembled
    • 2.6 Beyond!
    • 2.7 Civil War
    • 2.8 Mighty Avengers
    • 2.9 Secret Invasion
  • 3 Powers and abilities
  • 4 Other versions
    • 4.1 MC2
    • 4.2 Marvel Adventures
    • 4.3 Marvel Zombies
    • 4.4 Ultimate Wasp
  • 5 Other media
    • 5.1 Television
    • 5.2 Film
    • 5.3 Video games
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

[edit] Publication history

Janet van Dyne debuted as Henry “Hank” Pym’s partner in “Tales to Astonish” 44 (Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby), originally only serving as his partner to avenge the death of her father, scientist Vernon van Dyne. Later in the same issue, she decides to stay with him, only because she is in love with him, wanting him to realize that he loves her back. They both realize their feelings for each other in “Tales to Astonish” #56, although it isn’t until later in the series that they act on them.

During her run in “Astonish,” van Dyne also joins “Avengers” in its first issue, along with her partner, Hank Pym. It is on this team that Janet becomes most well known, at first the weak-link of the team, but later on one of the smartest and craftiest members. She is the first one to propose to leave the team, after announcing how tired she is, and how she wants to return to a normal life.[1] However, she misses being a superhero, and she (Along with Hank,) returns to the team in issue #28. After marrying her husband in issue #60, Janet and Hank both later decide to leave the team in issue #75.

Hank becomes the main character of the series “Marvel Feature”, starting with issue #4, and Janet appears as a second main character starting with issue #6. Both characters leave the book after issue #10, making sporadic guest appearances in various different other books at the time, presumably living a happily married life.

Janet misses being a superhero once again, and re-joins the Avengers in issue #137, right away getting injured. After being rescued by her husband and hospitalized, Janet recovers and joins the team along with Hank in issue #151. It is here where she begins her longest run as an Avengers member. After being brutally slapped in the face by her husband, she divorces him, and in turn becomes the new Chairman of the Avengers, starting with issue #217.

Janet later resigns as Chairman, and joins the “West Coast Avengers” in issue #32, at first only to help stabilize the team after Tony Stark leaves, and then to become a full time member starting with issue #42. Later in the run, she rekindles her old romance with Hank, and fully re-joins The Avengers.

[edit] Design

In his 1970s run on the Avengers, Artist George Perez revamped the character’s costume a number of times having a significant impact on the character’s development –

“ It became a joke. In the case of the Wasp, I noticed that she has so many costumes that eventually I said “why not?” I think I was on the book long enough what was once a just a little bit of idiosyncrasy about the character became fully part of the character’s persona. [2] ”

[edit] Fictional character biography

200px Talestoastonish Wasp

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The Wasp’s first appearance in Tales to Astonish #44.
Art by Jack Kirby.

[edit] Origin

Janet Van Dyne was born in Cresskill, New Jersey. She was initially a shallow, self-centered, flighty heiress, daughter of wealthy scientist Vernon Van Dyne. During an experiment, however, an alien monster was unleashed from an alternate dimension and Dr. Van Dyne was killed. Her father’s associate, Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym, had created a substance called “Pym particles,” which allowed the user to grow or shrink in size, and had become the superhero Ant-Man. When Janet’s father died, she convinced Pym to help her.[3] He gave her a supply of “Pym particles” and subjected her to a biochemical procedure which granted her the ability to, upon shrinking, grow wings and fire blasts of energy, which she called her “wasp’s stings.” As Ant-Man and The Wasp, they defeated the monster, sent it to its own dimension, and had several more adventures together.[3] Janet fell in love with Pym before their first adventure, but Pym rejected her at first, afraid of what would happen if he were to lose her, along with his first wife, whom was killed.[3] Janet would openly muse about her apparently unrequited feelings, often in front of him.[4] Pym rejected his feelings for her, however he later accepted them,[5] and tried acting on them.[6] They both soon enough realized their feelings for each other, and began dating.[7]

[edit] Avenger

Soon afterwards, the superhero team, which Janet herself dubbed the Avengers, formed, and the pair were among its founding members.[8] Still shallow, Janet frequently commented on the attractiveness of her male colleagues, especially Thor, in order to provoke jealousy from Pym. Never lacking for confidence or bravery and by nature an outgoing personality, Janet was always in the thick of their battles with villains, who included Norse gods and aliens. Although she and Hank took occasional leaves of absence,[1][9] the two have almost always remained members, being on reserve when not on active duty. During the course of their many adventures as Avengers, Janet grew as a person, becoming a resourceful and seasoned hero. Several years later, she would be elected leader of the team.

[edit] Marrying Hank Pym

180px Waspjanet Wasp

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The Winsome Wasp captured by John Buscema as a sixties glamor girl.

The relationship between Janet and Pym had always been one of loving squabbling, but her wealth and his research had always stopped him from proposing.[10] One day, a cocky new costumed crimefighter called Yellowjacket broke into Avengers HQ. He claimed to have disposed of Pym and even kidnapped Janet.[11] To the outrage of her colleagues, Janet then married Yellowjacket.[12] A tension-filled wedding was made even more edgy by an attack by the Circus of Crime. During the fight it was discovered that Yellowjacket was Pym. He had had an accident with some chemicals causing a severe case of schizophrenia. Janet had realised this from very early on and had taken advantage to finally tie the knot.[12]

[edit] Rocky Times

However, her relationship with Pym became rocky, as he suffered a further series of mental problems, exacerbated by the stress on his body of his frequent size changes and exposure to chemicals. This even led to him being easily brainwashed by Ultron, in which he kidnapped Jan[13] and used her brain patterns to create a wife for Ultron, Jocasta.[14] Many years later, Pym had a complete breakdown, and became completely paranoid.[15] During the course of this breakdown, he became overbearing and verbally abusive.[15] At the nadir of his degeneration, he struck Janet, and then proceeded to concoct a plan to make himself look good in front of his teammates by staging an attack upon them which only he could stop.[16] This plan backfired and Pym was exposed, disgraced, and expelled from the Avengers, and the couple divorced.[17] She remained with the team despite these hardships, later taking on the role of chairman, and even began dating other men, like Tony Stark and Paladin. Pym later on joined The West Coast Avengers, with Janet soon following.[18] Pym’s mental state returned to normal, and the two became friends again, and later on resumed their romantic relationship.[19] Some few years later, the two returned to the regular Avengers. On a trip to Las Vegas, however, she turned down his proposal, saying she wouldn’t marry him again.[20] She had a brief fling with fellow team member Hawkeye but returned to Hank.

[edit] Avengers Disassembled

While discussing her fling with Hawkeye with the Scarlet Witch, a slightly tipsy Wasp confessed to a pregnancy scare and inadvertently mentioned Wanda’s own children,[citation needed] whose unnatural existence Agatha Harkness had kindly erased from the Witch’s memory. The Wasp’s slip of the tongue, combined with Scarlet Witch’s increasingly unstable and growing powers, caused Wanda to suffer a mental breakdown which led to the events of ‘Avengers Disassembled’. Janet was knocked into a coma by a rampaging She-Hulk during an attack on Avengers Mansion by the Scarlet Witch. Hank watched over her as she lay in the hospital, and when she recovered, they reconciled. The two retired from the Avengers in order to pursue a new life together in Oxford.

[edit] Beyond!

The Wasp reappeared with Pym in the miniseries Beyond!. He is at this point still her ex-husband and over the course of the events chronicled in this series, it is revealed that they had called off their most recent attempt at a romantic relationship, although they remain on good terms.

[edit] Civil War

With the onset of the superhuman Civil War, Hank has helped spearhead the pro-registration movement. Janet is also pro-registration, although she was very upset about the murder of her friend Bill Foster, and has become the host of a pro-registration reality show called America’s Newest Superhero.

[edit] Mighty Avengers

When selecting the roster for the latest incarnation of the Avengers team, this time as part of the Fifty States Initiative, Tony Stark selected Janet as a founding member of the Mighty Avengers. When alien symbiotes attacked New York, Janet used a refined growth formula given to her by Hank Pym which allowed her to shift to giant-size without side effects. During the beginning of the fight, she was briefly turned into a symbiote monster before a cure was created by Stark.

At this point, Hank had been replaced by a Skrull, and the growth formula was a part of a grander plan.

[edit] Secret Invasion

Janet was among the Mighty Avengers who were fighting heroes from the Skrull ship. She is later seen with the rest of the Avengers heading to New York to confront the Skrulls. While fighting the Skrulls, the true purpose of the serum that the Skrull Hank Pym gave her is revealed. After Queen Veranke is thought dead, Skrull Pym hits a button that makes Jan increase in size rapidly. She realizes the “new” particles Pym gave her are turning her into a bio-bomb. Jan is seen growing to huge size, emitting black-purple energy, and about to explode. Janet tries to flee the battlefield and take as many Skrulls with her. To save the humans, Thor kills her to put her out of her misery, vowing to avenge her.[21] After her death, Hank Pym resolves to take up his fallen wife’s mantle and becomes the Wasp.

When Hercules ventures into the underworld, he encounters Janet’s spirit in Erebus, the place in between life and death where those who feel they still have business in the mortal world linger and gamble for their resurrection. Janet was seen stubbornly working a slot machine in search of a win.[22]

[edit] Powers and abilities

Making use of sub-atomic Pym particles, the Wasp possesses the power to alter her physical size, causing her body’s mass to be shunted to or gained from an alternate dimension known as Kosmos. She is able to shrink to a minimum of half an inch or grow to a maximum of several hundred feet. Smaller or larger sizes are possible but the exertion begins to put a strain on her body. Initially, these abilities stemmed from use of a Pym particle gas released from special capsules. Over time, however, her body has absorbed enough particles to allow her to alter her size at will.

At miniature size, her strength level increases as her body’s mass is compacted. At giant size, her strength and endurance increase geometrically with her height, reaching superhuman levels. Despite the advantages of giant size, Janet usually prefers to remain the diminutive Wasp, calling on her growth power only in times of extreme emergency.

At miniature size, the Wasp grows a pair of translucent insect wings from her back, a result of genetic modifications provided by Hank Pym. These grant her the power of flight, at speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

The Wasp is able to harness and augment her body’s natural bio-electric energy, releasing it from her hands in powerful electrical bursts, which she calls her “stinger blasts” or “wasp’s stings.” Originally, she required special wrist devices to produce these but again, Pym particle absorption has allowed her to create the ability unaided.

The Wasp’s genetic modifications also grant her the ability to sprout small prehensile antennae from her forehead which allow her to telepathically communicate with and control insects. However, this is an ability which she rarely uses.

Van Dyne has also displayed several non-superhuman abilities that have garnered her special fame and attention, foremost of which is her fashion sense, as in nearly all of her early appearances, she sported a new costume, presumably designed and manufactured on her own. In addition, The Wasp is one of the most intuitive, if not deductive, members of the Avengers. She effectively deduced that a chemical accident created a schizophrenic break in Henry Pym,[23] the relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision was the result of the infused personality of Wonder Man, and guessed the identity of Iron Man at a time when Tony Stark faked his own death.

[edit] Other versions

[edit] MC2

In the alternate future of the “MC2” universe, Hank and Janet would end up giving birth to two children: Hope Pym/Red Queen and Henry Pym Jr./Big Man. Giant-Man would later perish on the last mission of the original Avengers, with The Wasp dying of a broken heart. Their parents’ deaths motivate Red Queen to form The Revengers. Big Man, a one time member, however, joins a government reform team.

[edit] Marvel Adventures

The Marvel Adventures: The Avengers series (set in its own continuity) features Janet Van Dyne as Giant-Girl, showcasing her ability to grow rather than shrink, which she uses in combat. She is younger than her main universe counterpart and she cracks jokes along with her teammate Spider-Man. Issue 13 of the series reveals her origin as a wealthy socialite given access to size-changing Pym particles by scientist Henry Pym (here an employee of Janet’s father, rather than a superhero). Janet does not appear to have ever used her Wasp identity in this version. It has been revealed that Janet can shrink to wasp size but she sees no point in being tiny. Her maximum size is unknown but she has grown tall enough to catch a school. Instead of having her powers naturally, Janet requires a suit powered by Pym particles to change her size. Like her Earth-616 counterpart, Janet seems to change her costume regularly. Originally she wore a skin-tight full body suit that accurately accentuates all her curves along with her muscles and primarily purple with some blue costume with a mask that was similar to that of Giant-Man. It included the antennae (although she never used them). They left her vulnerable to insect mind control as seen in issue 13. Her second costume was primarily blue with some purple set in a v-pattern from her waist running all the way to her posterior regions and lacks a mask or antennae. A recent preview of Marvel Adventures the Avengers 19 has shown her wearing a costume which is primarily blue but has gold/yellow. Whether this costume increases her maximum size is yet to be seen. She has also mentioned that she has at least two brothers although they have never been seen or given any names (see Marvel Adventures the Avengers #3).

[edit] Marvel Zombies

The Marvel Zombies series features an alternate Wasp as one of the main characters. She is now a zombie, another victim of the virus that has infected nearly all of her world’s superhumans. After Earth’s human population is almost entirely devoured, Wasp is one of the zombies who finally kills (and consumes) Magneto.

The Wasp then discovers that Hank Pym has kept a secret food supply—a sedated and maimed Black Panther, held prisoner in Hank’s lab. She confronts Hank but he decapitates her by increasing in size and biting her head off in the struggle that followed. When the Black Panther later escapes the lab, he also takes the Wasp’s head—still ‘alive’, but helpless. He eventually reaches safety, encountering Magneto’s surviving Acolytes. The Acolytes announce that they will study the Wasp, seeking a cure for the virus.

An epilogue, five years later, shows the Wasp exploring the deserted Earth alongside the Acolytes. Her severed head is now sealed within a liquid-filled helmet, controlling a robotic body.

Forty years later in “Marvel Zombies 2”, her head is now fixed on a more advanced machine with her head exposed to the air. She also develops romantic feelings towards one of the Acolyte survivors, a scientist named Reynolds. As she indicates, forty years with the Acolytes is far longer then the time she has spent with Hank. At one point, the two share a kiss.

A long period without feeding seems to have completely cured her of the hunger. Now Black Panther’s adviser and friend, she is forced to infect him when an Acolyte assassin attempts to kill him. This incident is orchrestrated by Malcolm Cortez, the son of Fabian Cortez, who wants to take leadership from Black Panther. When the hunger resurfaces, she nearly eats Panther’s wife before being stopped by him. Instead, they eat the assassin and they state they will go into isolation in order to control their hunger. This is a success. Multiple powered zombies soon threaten the colony. Wasp fights alongside Panther, Hawkeye (who, too, had been decapitated and was inhabiting Janet’s own former cybernetic body), Forge and a reformed Luke Cage and Spider-Man to save the people of New Wakanda from Firelord, Giant Man, Wolverine, Gladiator, Hulk, Jean Grey and Iron Man, who are seeking to finish off humanity, and retain the inter-dimensional portal so they can enter a new universe. Eventually, the zombies discover, as Janet did, that the Hunger fades with time, and they stop their rampage, only to have their numbers halved by the Hulk. Janet, along with the other remaining zombies; the new Colonel America, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Giant Man, Wolverine and Black Panther, end up teleported to another universe by Malcom Cortez.

[edit] Ultimate Wasp

In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Janet Pym is a 26-year-old [24] mutant.[25] and a member of the Ultimates. She holds two PhDs (one we know to be in molecular biology) and is portrayed as being of some Asian descent[26][27].

She is moderately fluent in German. Her mutant status remains hidden from the public but is known by Hank Pym and S.H.I.E.L.D. She can generate a glittering wasp-like sting which she discharges through her hands.[25][28][29] Her bio-electric blast famously took out the Hulk during his New York massacre.[28] Side-effects of her insectoid genetics include the occasional consumption of bugs, forming her own larval nests, and laying egg-like constructs.[25]

During her college years, she shared a room with Betty Ross and started seeing Henry Pym. He was abusive to her early in their relationship and during college is known to have hit her at least twice, putting her head through a door on one occasion and splitting the roof of her mouth on another. Betty Ross can also recall instances where Janet was missing chunks of hair. Jan also suffered from severe bulimia prior to joining the Ultimates. [30]

Hank’s attempts at change through medication and enlistment in the Ultimates did not improve his behavior. As a result of his humiliating loss against the Hulk and simmering jealousy against Jan’s friendship with Captain America, Henry and Jan fought viciously until Janet resorted to stinging him and Hank commanding an army of ants against her. Janet was found in a state of anaphylactic shock, caused by receiving multiple ant stings she received while at wasp-size. Captain America, upon learning of Hank’s violence, tracked him down and beat him unconscious. Captain America’s visits to Jan after the fight left her exasperated and angry, stemming more from embarrassment of her personal life becoming public.

After stopping the Chitauri invasion, Captain America and the Wasp reconciled as friends and slowly started dating, despite Hank Pym’s attempts at making amends. On one of their secret meetings, Jan later confessed to Hank, now classified as a security risk by SHIELD, that the generation gap between Captain America and herself, along with the elderly status of his friends, put a large strain on their relationship. She recently walked out on Steve and met up with Hank in a bar.

The invasion of America by the Liberators failed to take Janet into account. They discounted the possibility that someone whose only ability is to make herself “smaller and weaker” could be a threat. By the time they found her, Janet had made her way to the cells in the Triskelion where Captain America was being held under suspicion of murdering Hawkeye’s entire family. Soldiers working for the Liberators entered his cell and found two metahuman signatures. At first, Janet was easily subdued, but they failed to realize that she had already liberated her boyfriend. Captain America easily beat the Schizoid Man, but stopped fighting when several super soldiers threatened to tear Jan apart. However, Jan surprised them all by using her stinging powers at her normal size for the first time, killing or incapacitating all of the super soldiers at once.

At some point, Hank gave the Wasp a dose of the Giant-Man Serum giving her the power to grow to gigantic proportions. Larger in size, Janet helped turn the tide in favor of American forces and crushed Swarm with one stomp of her foot. It is yet to be seen whether Janet can grow at will or whether this was a one off.

She is the new leader of the team in the “Ultimates 3” miniseries and now sports a crimson and gold outfit and a mask. After the flood in Ultimatum, she is missing. Both Hank Pym and Hawkeye search for her. Hawkeye finds her being eaten by the Blob. The comic came out 1 month after Ultimate Wasp’s Earth-616 counterpart’s death.

In the third issue of Ultimatum, before his death, Pym tells the other heroes to take Janet’s body to his lab and activate “the Jocasta project”.

[edit] Other media

[edit] Television

  • The Wasp appeared on The Avengers: United They Stand voiced by Linda Ballantyne. Her look was radically redesigned to include insect-like armor.

[edit] Film

  • In the animated movies Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2, The Wasp is portrayed by Grey DeLisle. This version is adapted primarily from the Ultimate Universe continuity.
  • Her and Hank’s son Henry Pym, Jr. is in the film Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.

[edit] Video games

  • The Wasp appears as a NPC in the video game Captain America and the Avengers, briefly helping the player attack enemies.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b The Avengers #16
  2. ^ Nolen-Weathington, Eric; George Perez. Modern Masters Volume 2: George Perez. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 128. ISBN 978-1893905252.
  3. ^ a b c Tales to Astonish #44
  4. ^ Tales to Astonish #49
  5. ^ Tales to Astonish #55
  6. ^ Tales to Astonish #56
  7. ^ Tales to Astonish #65
  8. ^ The Avengers #1
  9. ^ The Avengers #75
  10. ^ The Avengers #57, 59-60
  11. ^ The Avengers #59
  12. ^ a b The Avengers #60
  13. ^ The Avengers #161
  14. ^ The Avengers #162
  15. ^ a b The Avengers #212
  16. ^ The Avengers #213
  17. ^ The Avengers #214
  18. ^ West Coast Avengers #32
  19. ^ West Coast Avengers #42
  20. ^ The Avengers vol. 3 #71
  21. ^ Secret Invasion #8
  22. ^ Incredible Hercules #129
  23. ^ The Avengers #59-60
  24. ^ Ultimates (10) (July 2003), Marvel Comics
  25. ^ a b c Ultimates (6) (July 2003), Marvel Comics
  26. ^ Ultimates (4) (June 2002), Marvel Comics
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ a b Ultimates (5) (July 2002), Marvel Comics
  29. ^ Ultimates (11) (July 2006), Marvel Comics
  30. ^ Ultimates 3 (2) (January 2008), Marvel Comics

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