While being introduced in last years “Free Comic Book Day Vol 2016 Avengers” and then brought in to “All New All Different Avengers,” this past week’s release of “The Unstoppable Wasp” finally gives readers their first in depth look at Nadia Pym, Marvel’s new Wasp. Taken from her father Hank before she was born, her mother murdered, and raised in the harsh environment of the Red Room ; Nadia somehow still manages to poses an unstoppable positive attitude. Having a natural talent for science Nadia studied the work of her father and other scientists in the Marvel Universe to escape the Red Room and become the new Wasp.
Writer of the Eisner nominated “Princeless” series, Jeremy Whitley brings the character of Nadia Pym, unparalleled optimism and science to the forefront of Marvels newest series “The Unstoppable Wasp.” We were lucky enough to get some time to talk to Jeremy about the new series, Nadia, smart women and more. Be sure to check out our interview with Jeremy below and look for “The Unstoppable Wasp” in shops and online now.
Thanks for taking the time Jeremy. What makes Nadia Pym unstoppable?
Jeremy Whitley: Science and optimism. Nadia is a character who has been through as much as any adult character in the Marvel Universe. Her mother was kidnapped and died after giving birth to her. She was raised in a bunker in Siberia where she was trained to be an assassin and then forced to replicate her father’s research for her captors. And to top it all off, when she did escape and traveled to America to find her father, it turned out he had died only a short time before she got there.
She has every reason to be discouraged, to be beaten down, and to hate the world she’s found herself in…but she doesn’t. Nadia still sees this as the opportunity to make up for all the time and life that’s been taken from her by the Red Room. She wants to change the world and she’s not going to let some little thing like all the cards being stacked against her slow her down. So, frankly, it’s Nadia who makes herself unstoppable.
How did you approach a first issue for Nadia knowing some readers might know who she is and others not?
JW: We really made a point of introducing her in the first issue, not so much by telling all of her history, but by allowing her to show the audience who she is and sharing with them the relentless enthusiasm that makes her magnetic. We do a quick recap of her story, but that’s brought up and done within a page part way through the comic book. The backstory is important from a plot perspective, but I think it’s much more important to impress on readers why they’ll want to read this book and that’s down to who Nadia is and having the chance to see the world through her eyes.
Reading the first issue you see everyone Nadia meets seemingly develop a love and appreciation for her almost instantly. It seemed pretty unbelievable that she could have the effect on people until I finished the issue and realize she did the same thing to me. She is amazing! What do you focus on as a writer to bring that sort of energy out of her as a character and present it to the reader?
JW: I think the key is to play that note, the one that makes people fall in love with her, and even though it happens over and over again, not to force the reader to sit through it. As early as the second page of the book we take advantage of these little time jumps (usually five minutes) to show the effect that Nadia has on her surroundings and the people in them. Once you’ve been won over as a reader and are on board, I don’t feel like we need to show you the process for every character. You know she’s magnetic and like any sweet thing, if you get too much of it, it’s going to make you sick.Continued below
I think there are a couple of key things that make Nadia that person. The first is, she remembers everybody’s names. She asks their names, she remembers them, and she listens to what they have to say. Some of this is about Nadia being genuinely new to the world – but anybody who’s ever met somebody they like and admire and then realized that that person really listened to you and is interested in you – it’s a really nice feeling.
Inevitably Nadia faces the comparisons and the pressures of taking on the mantle of one the most famous Avengers. You are also helping launch the first solo book for this new character under I imagine some of the same pressures. How does Nadia deal with being the Wasp and how do you deal with what comes with her being the new Wasp?
JW: I think the first part, for both of us, is accepting and appreciating that legacy. Janet is an incredible character and she’s not going anywhere. In fact, just as she has been in “All-New All-Different Avengers,” Janet is going to be part of this book and Nadia’s life. The fun thing with having her as a mentor to Nadia is that they are so different. Nadia is miles ahead of Janet when it comes to scientific knowledge, so she doesn’t really need help there. But what Nadia doesn’t have experience with is being a person living in the world. She has had very few friends in the Red Room and for all of her peppiness, knows very little about life and pop culture. Janet on the other hand is a fashion designer and social butterfly. She can guide Nadia through the world in a way that is rarely required in her role as an Avenger.
A huge premise of the first issue is Nadia’s spirit and positive attitude. Is this something we will see tested is the series as it continues?
JW: Absolutely. I mean, obviously it already has, but it’s a big and complicated world not not everything can be solved with science.
The first issue touches on the place or lack there of smart female characters in the MU among that of the overwhelming majority of male characters. Will series be a showcase for these historically overlooked heroes?
JW: Absolutely. I hope that Wasp will be able to highlight both the new characters we’re creating and a lot of the historically overlooked characters of the Marvel Universe. I think the way that Nadia treats and reacts to Mockingbird is as good a mission statement for that aspect of the book as we can get. We already have a few more classic characters we’re excited to bring into this. We can’t wait for everyone to see the coming issues.
You have mentioned in some other interviews that this is not the type of series that will change the Marvel universe or be the center of events or anything like that. What sort of space do you see the book occupying and if she could/or the book could change the MU in any way what do you hope to see?
JW: You know, maybe that’s a little misleading. I have no ambition of the next war (Civil, Secret, or otherwise) to spin out of this book, but I would very much like it to change the face of the Marvel U a bit. Beyond Nadia, we are introducing some new characters and reintroducing some classic characters that I’d like to see become Marvel mainstays. Nadia and Bobbi talk a little bit in this issue about the way and reasons that both comic characters and STEM fields tend to skew male, and hopefully those are the kinds of things we can change. And if that means that Nadia’s team has some grand adventures with Lunella Lafayette, Kamala Khan, and Riri Williams saving the world on the way, then so be it!
What is the official title of this new series?
JW: The Unstoppable Wasp
Speaking of unstoppable (interview segue) now that you mentioned it, how about that team of Elsa and Megan on art? What do these two bring to the series and Nadia?Continued below
JW: Everything. I love working collaboratively with artists and I think when you do it well, it shows in the book. A lot of the best little ideas in this book – the things that give it it’s particular flavor – are either Elsa’s ideas or ideas that the two of us came up with in conversation. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that her art is amazing. I’ve been a fan of hers since her run on Starfire over at DC. It reminded me in the best ways of Darwyn Cooke and Paul Dini. Her work has such a sense of motion and all of the characters are so distinct, it really is amazing. And Megan’s colors fit her inks so well, the whole things starts to seem easy. But I assure you, it takes a lot of work to make something seem as easy as they do.
What do you hope readers get out of this first issue? What is your goal for the series going forward?
JW: I hope readers will fall in love with Nadia the same way I have. We’re planning so fun science adventures and we’re bringing some awesome characters along on the ride. I want people to really enjoy this comic, for it to be something that makes it to the top of their pile every time. Beyond that, I hope any young women reading this book can see between the characters in the story and the female scientists that we profile at the back, that science (super or otherwise) is something that girls can and should be part of . Maybe they’ll even find the thing that leads them to their passion. The book is all about hope, after all.