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Post By
Nitz the Bloody

In Reply To
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
Subj: Informed Ability
Posted: Sun May 17, 2009 at 05:32:34 pm EDT (Viewed 67 times)
Reply Subj: On the Wasp...
Posted: Sat May 16, 2009 at 12:07:36 pm EDT (Viewed 95 times)

Previous Post


      Does that mean she should always be perceived as a ditz though, regardless of that's how she started out? The problem with Jan around this period is similar as to what occurred with Monica - once Stern stopped writing her, Jan quickly reverted to what everyone knew her best as - Pym's sometimes annoying arm ornament.

    Busiek tried to write her as a competent leader, with similarly unimpressive results; the regressions to a ditz were done because writing her as anything would be a 180-twist ( at least Ultimate Wasp was designed to be competent from the start, if profoundly messed-up in her personal life ).

It probably helps to remember when and why we started to get "serious Wasp" in the 1980s. The basic idea of the story seemed to be that when Hank went bonkers and smacked her, she was forced to confront real life for maybe the first time in her career. Instead of getting to be the casual superhero who fought bad guys for a lark with her wonderful fantasy lover, she had to figure out who on Earth she was on her own terms.

Jim Shooter and Roger Stern's take was that she managed it; the justification was that, having been in life-or-death situations and consequential battles and dilemmas before, she was able to draw on the accidental experience being a Marvel superhero could confer and actually grow the hell up when she was forced to.

Taken in that way, it's not hard to see why many fans both like the "tough leader" Wasp and bitterly complain about the various writers over the years who've tried to reconstruct the Hank-n-Jan romance or create a substitute for it.

That doesn't mean other takes on the character are illegitimate, but it does mean, I think, that writing the character as a ditzy super-socialite requires some thought being given to what the efforts to take her away from that characterization were trying to get at. The Wasp going back to being an airheaded thrill-seeker should be a bit more tragic, I think, in its portrayal. It's the story of a young woman who had a chance to become a grown-up, made some steps in that direction, and then blew it. It'd be nice to see someone make something of that personal failing and the lost potential involved in it rather than simply writing off and then killing off the character to do endless "redemption" arcs about Hank Pym, troubled genius.

Indeed, that latter direction is rather disturbing in that it seems to play to exactly the delusion that the Wasp was supposed to have outgrown: it's as if the writers want to see Hank as the potentially great superhero and broken bird needing to be fixed that ditz-Jan apparently saw him as.

My problem with the Shooter/Stern theory is that it believes that the accidental skill Jan picked up just by hanging around Hank all those years is enough to make her credible as an effective leader. Jan's hands-on experience was limited to that of a sidekick; even after she stopped just hiding on Hank's shoulder during battles, she still functioned in a very auxillary capacity, being small and stinging lightly when needed, but not being on the frontlines or having a practical, quantifiable skill.

Had Jan taken time off after her divorce and done something like go to a martial arts monastery in Tibet ( as cliche as it sounds ), it would have made her elevation from ditz to leader more acceptable. But that's not what happened; I suppose it's a remnant of the days when Avengers chairman was a rotating position for an innocuous clubhouse meeting, but it's still not something I'm sold on. As much as I don't like the idea of Jan's contribution to the Marvel Universe being exclusively in the context of Hank, perhaps it was too late to do otherwise a long time ago?

( Also, Omar; check your PMs on the CBR forums )

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