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Unstoppable Wasp #1

Written by Jeremy Whitley
Art by Elsa Charretier
Published by Marvel Comics

Last week, we talked about the new Hulk book as the perfect example of how to handle the trauma of 2016, how to hurt and acknowledge that and come together. Well, as luck would have it, Marvel has given us the perfect spirit of 2017 in its first week, and that’s Nadia, the Unstoppable Wasp.

Nadia has been floating around Mark Waid’s Avengers books for a while, the secret daughter of founding Avenger Hank Pym and the wife who was kidnapped by Russians. She was raised in Black Widow’s Red Room, but where they taught the Widow ballet and murder, Nadia learned lots and lots of science. So with this first solo issue, she teams up with Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel to take down a bad guy with science.

That would be good enough, a standard superhero plot with an all-ages appeal we’d expect from the writer of Princeless. But what makes the book stand out is Whitley’s understanding of Nadia’s tone. The way she sees it, she escaped from torturous captivity, and if she spends all her time being bitter, she hasn’t really escaped. It’s not the strategy for everyone, but it’s how she’s choosing to deal. Artist Elsa Charretier shows joyful movement in every pose, with facial acting good enough for network television comedies.

So we get a new super teen with boundless charm and enthusiasm. She doesn’t get Ms. Marvel’s pop culture references, but she is excited to learn more about them. She doesn’t understand the culture of the Pakistani bakery, but she cheerfully asks questions until people can’t help but give her free pastries. She hasn’t heard of Mockingbird, but her honest wish to know more cracks the veteran hero. She hasn’t been ranked on the male-created list of Marvel’s geniuses, so she decides to find as many female geniuses as she can, without a hint of irritation.

Let’s learn from this. Let’s take this giddy refusal of bitterness and try it on for size, starting 2017 with hope and a pursuit of the best. It might not last. It might not fit you. And there are some truths we cannot ignore. But if we look at looking danger and think, “What would Nadia do?” we may get that spark we need to find solutions instead of just posting snarky memes about it.

Writer Jeremy Whitley will be at Ultimate Comics this Saturday to sign this book (or Princeless or My Little Pony or any of his other books, really). Brave the snow and come to the Durham location 10:30 to 11:30, the Cary location 12:00 to 2:00, or the Raleigh location 3:00 to 5:00!

-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics