You gotta give Stan Lee credit for his progressive feminist writing. /sarcasm
Okay, so the Wasp did not have the most auspicious of beginnings. She was the socialite girlfriend of scientist Hank Pym, and the two of them were imported into the Avengers as a unit. Without Hank, you don’t really have an entry point for Jan.
However, like any good scientist boyfriend, Hank decided that what every rich girl wants is her own flying suit, shrinking ability, and wasp stingers. A lot of guys would just buy jewelry, but Jan became the Wasp. Let’s take a look at that early incarnation, shall we?
I don’t care what you might think. Antennae are cool.
Two things to know about Janet Van Dyne: she’s loaded with money, and she loves Hank Pym. Like many of the early Marvel women, she emerges from a comic book stereotype and token to a rounded character. I always thought that early versions of her seem like a team mascot, her focus being to have fun and hang out with Hank. Regrettably, Avengers Assemble seems to turn the clock back to this portrayal, albeit she stays on the team while Hank grapples with his issues regarding super hero violence. Here she is, looking perky in that cartoon.
Jan’s money allowed her to constantly change her costume, which I really appreciate as an ex-costumer, and someone who is into fashion. Sometimes her choices have not been the best, but her choices have always been dynamic.
Some of these choices are obviously better than others.
Then Hank hit Jan.
Janet Van Dyne became the first battered wife in comics in a major role. Hank’s Yellow Jacket persona drove him mad, but there was no coming back from this. Jan and Hank divorced. Jan subsequently became a more sober version of herself than her previous incarnation, even serving for some time as the Avenger’s leader.
Since the time I read comics, Jan has been killed in an epic Skrull space story. She has shown up as a ghost, and she now firmly a piece of the Avenger’s past. Her story arc has been constant development toward a psychologically stable woman capable of leadership.
Our next subject, the Scarlet Witch, has been portrayed all over the place.
Until next time,