Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett looks at The Wasp, with quick updates on Marvel holiday comics and on JLA/The 99.
Ant-Man & The Wasp #1 ships this week, first part of a miniseries teaming Hank Pym when he was briefly calling himself The Wasp in honor of his late ex-wife Janet Van Dyne and current Ant-Man Eric O'Grady (from The Irredeemable Ant-Man series). Unfortunately no matter how good it is the premise is a non-starter, what with Pym's return to Giant-Man status in Avengers Academy #7 in December. Plus in case you missed it there's another Wasp operating out there at the moment...
There's a truism that goes "every character is somebody's favorite", but I'd be surprised if that applied to The Wasp. She was a dilettantish debutante that liked playing at being a superhero, flighty and immature with dialogue that would been more appropriate in an issue of Modeling With Millie who's principal power was flitting and mildly inconveniencing her opponents. It's hard saying which was more annoying, her constant costume changes, desperate bids for male attention or obsessive mooning over Hank Pym, a man still mourning his dead wife (sadly the phrase "he's just not that into you" hadn't been coined in the 60's). She seemed like a throwback to an earlier age even when I first met her in 1965 and when Marvel finally got around to introducing more powerful and independent female superheroes she seemed positively antiquated. I certainly never cared for her and when she died at the end of Secret Invasion the news of her death was met with a wave on indifference on the Internet.
There have been periodic attempts to rehabilitate the character over the years, from the 'mature' take in The Ultimates to comics in the all-ages Marvel Adventures line, but it was writer Grace Randolph in her much underappreciated Marvel HER-oes miniseries who discovered that at her core the character actually had an intrinsic appeal, especially for girls. She took a flibbertigibbet (look it up) and turned her into a (I only wish I could take credit for this line) "kick-ass Tinker Belle," someone little girls would like to dress up as for Halloween.
Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes series running on Disney XD has used her approach to the character and run with it. If you haven't seen the show it's quite good, managing to get all members of the large cast right, but surprising for a program geared primarily towards a young male audience it's The Wasp who has the best chance of becoming it's breakout star. She's shown as someone who wants to have fun as well as do good and in spite of her reputation in the comics for being a featherweight she's surprisingly effective in combat situations. I never would have thought it possible in a million years but she's someone who could move a lot of merchandise for the Walt Disney Company.
All of this should be considered still further proof that no matter how fun killing off supposedly useless characters is (I don't see the appeal myself but to each their own) it's bad business. Of course it's kind of inconvenient, her being dead in the Marvel Universe at the moment, still, it's a fairly easy fix. You could go clone or a double from another universe, but it would probably be easiest just to say the Janet Pym who exploded was a Skrull so deep undercover it thought it was the genuine article.
Oh, and the Happy Hogan who died in the hospital? Him too--total Skrull sleeper agent.
And proving once again how wrong I can be, remember I said Marvel didn't have any Holiday comics coming out this year? Well, I completely missed the Marvel Holiday 2010 Magazine, something I didn't know existed until I saw a copy sitting on the shelves at Super-Fly Comics. Unfortunately except for some darn good reprints it's just another anemic anthology of mediocre holiday-themed stories done by people I've never heard of, and may never hear of again, sadly something Marvel has become known for. I did approve of the switch to magazine format, until I caught the price. $9.99? Are they kidding?
Oh, and I finally managed to track down an issue of JLA/The 99 #1. I know anything I have to say on the subject might be considered suspect but as far as I can tell there is absolutely no mention of Islam, let alone some kind of sinister Islamic subtext in it, and it's surprisingly good. If any expectations were nearly non-existent it's because these sort of inter-company, inter-team mash-ups tend to be ultimately unnecessary, contractually obligatory messes (think; JLA/Cyberforce). So I'm both pleased and surprised to report that only is the first issue well-meaning, it's handsome and does a deft job of establishing all of its many characters.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on November 10, 2010 @ 6:14 pm CT
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