So often in comics, storylines are meant to inspire new takes on characters. You often see this in events like Darkhold. The Iron Man one-shot, for instance, was an inspired horror take on Iron Man. This week, Jordie Bellaire and Claire Roe aim to show how Wasp went from doting wife to villain and it’s one of the most disheartening and human superhero stories you’ll read all year.
This story is about the Wasp aka Janet Van Dyne and her unhealthy relationship with Hank Pym. It’s evident from the start Bellaire and Roe were inspired by 1981’s Avengers #213, which had Pym infamously attack his wife in a rage. There’s clearly trouble between the two, which you can see in the preview, as Kang uses Pym’s unhealthy relationship against her to escape. Even the clothing the characters wear is from a different era, further cementing the archaic idea of roles within a marriage to the forefront of the story.
This issue lives by the little moments between Wasp and Hank where he’s being cruel or mean to her and she reacts in a way that suggests she’s hurt but holds a strong face anyway. It’s highly relatable if you’ve ever known anyone in an unhealthy relationship, especially those who feel trapped and have no way out. It’s in this that the story feels like it goes beyond superheroes and into a realm that’s deeply real and lasting.
The story doesn’t necessarily have a lot of superhero action, but it does show readers Wasp’s life at key moments that are familiar but tinted with the Darkhold lense. It all builds towards a finish that is violent, but also understandable on some scale. With the right push, so to speak, anyone can turn a bad situation into a worse one and that’s what is accomplished by the end of the story.
Roe’s art is really spectacular, with a thick line that gives the work a hard edge. The realities of the story feel even more brutal thanks to Roe’s expressions and approach to each angle on our characters. In one key scene, for instance, we see Wasp walking into Hank’s workspace with a chain in the foreground just passing by one corner. It creates a sense that the reader is spying on them and seeing their true selves.
Bellaire colors the book to perfection, with a keen sense of atmosphere in a subtle sepia tone to convey a moment in the past, or a yellow that acts as a prism over a tense scene. Roe doesn’t always draw details in backgrounds, especially in one scene with Wasp at a party, but this allows Bellaire to come in and create bright contrast for the characters to lift off the page.
My only complaint with this issue is it shorts the reader a bit. The issue ends the way it does for a specific purpose, but another page or two to see Wasp develop a bit more in this new lease on life would have helped the reader understand her better. Instead, it ends on a scene that’s hugely important for her development in this dark world, but we don’t quite see her full transformation. In that respect, it feels like we’re reading part one of a killer two-part story.
Darkhold: Wasp is another great horror one-shot that ties deeply into the human experience. It’s a reminder even the most outlandish, supernatural stories can be used to show human experience.
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