Unstoppable Wasp #4 Review
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Cover Artist: Stacey Lee
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Graphic Designer: Carlos Lao
Previously in Unstoppable Wasp…
After a fun night on the town, both Wasps (Nadia & Janet Van Dyne), Mockingbird (Bobbi Morse), Ying, Poundcakes and Letha returned to PYM Laboratories only to find the labs under attack by A.I.M! The group rushes in to save Nadia & Ying’s fellow scientists, encountering Finesse, Seeker, Brilliance and Priya trying to steal the tech & research being developed there. The group of A.I.M researchers escape on a blimp, while Nadia and Ying oddly find Priya unconscious within her lab…
Summary with limited spoilers
This issue opens with Janet watching over the girls of G.I.R.L at Eaglewood hospital, heartbroken over their being attacked, and her perceived failure to protect them. Noticing that Nadia’s not among them, Janet files this away for later, as she continues to look after the others, eventually passing out in the hospital after being treated herself for her broken arm. Waking up around noon the next day, she checks in on the others, only to once again notice that Nadia’s missing…
The comic then cuts back to the night before, as Nadia has returned to Pym Labs, in order to piece together everything that happened that evening. Checking in at the security office, Nadia, Letha and Poundcakes go over the security footage to try and figure out what’s going on with Priya. When Letha and Poundcakes ask if Janet knows Nadia’s there, Nadia lies and says she does. Acting more and more strangely, Nadia runs off to follow up on a lead, before getting distracted by her list of things to solve on the blackboard.
Nadia continues to dart around from idea to idea, trying to investigate a recovered walkie-talkie she finds on the roof, then the room where Ying found Priya, working on a treatment for Taina, then trying to build a new Avengers team for Bobbi, trying to find Ying’s birth-parents, as the list of things to fix on her blackboard grows larger and more detailed.
Eventually, as she’s back to investigating what happened during the attack, Poundcakes comments that it’s 11 AM, shocked that Nadia’s had no sleep. But Nadia refuses to accept this and remembers the miniaturized lab within her necklace, where she can shrink small enough that time’s effects cease to exist, so she can keep working.
The comic cuts back to the hospital, as Janet is freaked out by Nadia’s disappearance, before receiving a phone call from Poundcakes telling her about Nadia. As Janet still is unable to get Nadia on the phone, she alongside the rest of G.I.R.L return to the lab to find out what’s going on. When they arrive there and make their way to Nadia’s lab, Janet notices the state of the place. She realizes this looks and sounds a lot like one of Hank Pym’s manic episodes, an effect of his own bipolar disorder…
The cover invokes a very stressed out atmosphere, a panicked Nadia trying to “fix everything”. Stacey Lee captures a side of Nadia never seen before, one of terror. The choice to mute the colors was very effective!
Opinions on story and art
This issue is INTENSE. Jeremy Whitley, Gurihiru and Joe Carmagna share with readers a side of Nadia that until now has only been hinted at. This entry focuses on taking a deep dive into Nadia’s own mind, revealing that she, like her father, suffers from bipolar disorder. And this is done VERY effectively. Setting the majority of the story within Pym Labs, but keeping Nadia mostly isolated at such a low point after the events of the previous issue allows for any and all distractions to be removed. And thus all can see Nadia break down, as her usual fun & heartwarming antics are instead replaced by constant cutaways to numerous problems that she’s trying to solve all at once with such single-minded obsession. The way that Whitely weaves the narrative keeps the reader focused on what’s happening to Nadia. It’s heartbreaking to see this, as everything she’s doing is being done (in her mind anyway) for the benefit of her new family. And the dialogue is very well chosen. A stand-out example is a cut-back to Nadia once again working on the walkie-talkie, as she asks herself aloud “wait was I putting this together or taking it apart?”. The line showing just how lost Nadia has become in this manic-driven haze.
Likewise, the art is equally effective in showing Nadia’s descent. From Nadia’s face being more and more dishevelled (even a great comparison when she talks to Poundcakes again showing how exhausted the latter is with Nadia looking even worse), to her body-language during the last few panels of the issue, being stiff, and restrained. The best visual cue for Nadia’s worsening state though has to be her blackboard. Starting off with a simple list, but growing more and more complicated as the issue unfolds, we get a deep gaze into how Nadia sees her loved ones, and how desperate she is to “fix” them. Much like on the cover of this issue itself, within the comic the panels with the blackboard show how dire things are becoming. And the use of color is spot-on, as the normally brightly-lit Pym Labs are drenched in shadows, the atmosphere cold. There is little light, so the reveal of the time to Nadia by Poundcakes shocks the reader.
Joe Carmagna’s lettering remains incredibly clear and precise, the words never being difficult to read. And another great little touch in this issue is Nadia defaulting to Russian at the comic’s end, showing once again how far away the fun-loving girl from the previous stories appears to be.