All good things must come to an end. Sometimes twice.
So it goes with Jeremy Whitley’s Unstoppable Wasp, the second and final volume of which, G.I.R.L. vs. A.I.M., is out now. This isn’t the first time Whitley’s written a final volume detailing the chronicles of Nadia van Dyne, the effervescent, long-lost daughter of the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, as the series was brought back by popular demand after it concluded its first eight-issue run. Sadly, after another 10 issues, it looks like it truly will be gone for a while this time.
G.I.R.L. immediately follows up on the events of Unstoppable Wasp: Unlimited Vol. 1: Fix Everything, in which it was discovered that Nadia is afflicted with the same disease as her father, bipolar disorder. She’s trying to apologize to Taina Miranda, one of her “agents,” for her behavior, and it’s not going well. Ultimately, Taina understands it wasn’t about her, and Nadia is struggling, in a nice parable of what friends actually go through when one struggles with mental illness.
The scene is the best example yet of Whitley differentiating the members of his giant cast, as Taina is clearly the tough-as-nails mechanical engineer who won’t let anyone pity her, disability or not. The trend continues for new couple Shay Smith and Ying, another refugee from Russia’s Red Room, like Nadia. Priya gets some new characterization, too, as her plant powers continue to develop.
We intermittently see Nadia, along with her surrogate mother Janet, speaking with her therapist, which helps to continue busting some myths, but that isn’t the focus of this volume. In fact, it’s not long before we’re rushed into a party for Nadia, who’s never taken a break before, so it’s about time. It’s nice to see her get some deserved happiness, and everything is going swimmingly into the first ever G.I.R.L. expo, where Nadia and her teammates get to show some projects off.
And then, as in previous volumes, when everything is going well, it suddenly goes terribly, terribly wrong. As the book’s title suggests A.I.M., the evil scientists, invade the expo in hopes of doing some forcible recruitment. It’s here that Nadia meets a new villain named El Cucuy, the moniker of a traditional Hispanic culture bogeyman, then later strangely called Fantasma instead (even though that’s the name of a previously existing Marvel character). Cucuy wears some kind of image-producing body suit, and uses it to change faces. Not real faces, usually, except when adopting a terrifying, motionless visage of Nadia, but LED pictures that resemble twisted emojis. The emotional detachment communicated is legitimately frightening.
Wasp is ostensibly aimed at pre-teens, yet these dramatic moments are as tense and scary as in a more “adult” book. I’m not sure if this is by design or if Whitley is just unnaturally, unknowingly good at horror. If the former, even though drama is necessary for storytelling, he might want to ask if it’s a little much for his audience. If the latter, then, um, get him on something supernatural stat. Spoiler, but we do end up getting a mostly happy ending, so at least there isn’t too much of an extended cliffhanger.
The first two issues of Unstoppable Wasp: G.I.R.L. vs. A.I.M. are drawn by Alti Firmansyah and colored by Espen Grundetjern, and the rest of the volume is handled completely by Gurihiru, as in the previous book. There’s very little discontinuity, though, and you might not even notice the difference. Both teams continue the manga-inspired feel to the visuals that serves the book well.
Unstoppable Wasp: G.I.R.L. vs. A.I.M. is another fine installment in the story of Nadia van Dyne. Whitley may not have created her, but he’s developed and stewarded the character about as well as anyone could, so here’s hoping if and when someone else picks her up again, that lineage is respected and built upon.
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