The Wasp recently bit the dust, with a little help from Thor, which means nothing to you if you’re not a comics geek, and may possibly drive you to incoherent rage, if you are. Whatever! I’m not going to go into that, but since I’ve recently been re-reading the early issues of Avengers as a part of my plan for the massive feat of going through the whole goddamn run, this seems like a good time to take a little trip in a time machine to the early days of Janet van Dyne. Her depiction back in the day was, uh, slightly different from what you see today.
The early Lee and Kirby issues are a lot of fun, but boy, you can tell that they’re old. In terms of equality of the sexes, progress had certainly been made from the days of the previous centuries, absolutely — but still, 1963 wasn’t exactly the most enlightened of eras. While the team had a female member from the get-go, the depiction of Janet van Dyne, the Wasp, was pretty much par for the course.
Particularly in the earliest issues, she makes Paris Hilton look deep by comparison: she’s completely unable to have a serious conversation about anything and has no interest in anything except looking pretty and getting attention… and Thor, as the team’s first encounter with each other in Avengers #1 demonstrates.
Ah, Wasp! Such a valuable addition to the team in those early days. In issue #2, she again reminds us of what she brings to the table.
“Thank you, Janet. I will now assess the threat this intruder’s handsomeness poses to us.”
Anyway, the thing with Thor proves to be a running theme in the early issues of Avengers. Issue #2 even has Janet drooling after Thor’s alter ego, the crippled Dr. Donald Blake.
Not that he holds a candle to the real deal, because she’s all about the God of Thunder. Why’s she fetching Thor, anyway? Because the Space Phantom just kicked the shit out of Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Hulk and it’s gonna take an uru hammer to put things right, but far be it from the winsome Wasp to keep her mind on the job.
Still, it’s not all roses. Thor’s crazy Asgardian digs don’t go down very well with Janet. (Let’s call that foreshadowing; after all, she becomes a fashion designer later on! Such classy outfits, too!) In issue #3, things come to a head.
“Verily, fair Janet, thou makest the Odinson most uncomfortable. Look yonder; thy boyfriend is right there. Also, the mighty Thor’s hair is metal, and at least I don’t look like a crash test dummy, thou loopy bitch.”
This one proves to be enough to finally piss off Henry Pym, also known as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, very recently as Wasp, and, of course, most famously, Wife-Puncher-Man. True, he’s been studiously ignoring all advances from Janet, but as we all know, his patience has its limits. He reacts to the sight of his girlfriend flirting with another man in the most reasonable manner imaginable: by lifting her up into the air by her ass.
I don’t know, I guess these two deserve each other.
But as the issues went on, Wasp started to, you know, do things. Mostly, her role was to get real small and fly around the enemy, distracting them with knitting tips or her mysterious female intuition. On occasion, this even produced results. Not that it made much difference to her, as issue #5 demonstrates:
“Jan, you saved us all! You’re a hero!”
“Please discuss my boobs instead!”
By Avengers #8, the Wasp was apparently over Thor, presumably as a result of a rigorous program of ass-lifting by Dr. Pym. She finally grew up and moved on, got herself a brand new set of priorities:
And that’s progress.
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