Able to get all big or go so small but no matter what size she is, she’s one of the greatest leaders the Avengers have ever had. She’s been a team member since day one and even has the honor of naming the team. So how did Janet Van Dyne become The Wasp and one of the best Avengers around? Let’s find out!
Janet van Dyne was the socialite daughter of famous scientist Vernon van Dyne and enjoyed a life of luxury. That is, until one of her father’s projects brought an alien creature to Earth, killing her father in the process. Seeking vengeance and wishing to stop the creature, Janet would employ the help of her father’s associate Hank Pym who she knew was the size-changing superhero, Ant-Man.
She’d undergo physical transformations allowing her to grow wings when she shrank with the assistance of Pym particles. She would go on to avenger her father and work with Pym while taking on the code name The Wasp. When Loki would trick several heroes into forming a team, she was one of the biggest proponents for them to stick together to protect the world and even named them The Avengers.
Being an Avenger was dangerous work and Janet nearly died from a gunshot wound that had her leave the team for a short time. When she returned she’d learned she no longer needed Pym particles to change size but could do so on her own now. She and Pym would marry but Hank had become mentally unstable and taking on another identity.
She would take a break from the Avengers and join the Lady Liberators for a time. She’d also get stuck in insect size for a time but was able to not only revert back to normal but harness her own body’s bio-electric energy to create blasts of “Wasp Stings.”
When she is worried about Pym’s instability, she alerts the Avengers of her concerns but then is kidnapped by her husband and his creation, Ultron, uses her mind as the basis for his own robotic creation, Jocasta. Jocasta, being like Janet, immediately alerts the Avengers when she can so they may save Janet and stop Hank and Ultron.
Janet learns that Hank’s new plan involves creating a deadly scenario he can easily stop so that he looks good in front of the other Avengers, she tries to stop him. Hank strikes Janet and she soon divorces him. When she returns to the Avengers she suggests they need new leadership. Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor agree and Janet is voted the new Chairperson. Under Janet’s leadership the team improves greatly and she makes it a big effort to increase the number of women on the team.
While leading the team, Janet also decides to become a fashion designer and proves to be quite skilled at it. She goes through several costume changes and creates new costumes for other team members. She begins a relationship with Iron Man but puts an end to it when she learns Iron Man is really Tony Stark. (There was a great period of time where Iron Man was believed to be a bodyguard Tony Stark had hired and fitted with the armor.) When the first Secret Wars happen Janet is captured by Magneto but able to trick him into telling her his plan and she’s able to escape and alert the Avengers.
Deciding for a change of scenery, Janet steps down as Chairperson of the Avengers, nominating Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) in her place. She heads out to join the West Coast Avengers for a time before becoming a reserve member. After some time away from both teams, Janet rejoins the Avengers and leads them again, this time recruiting enough women to outnumber the amount of men on the team for the first time.
She would date team member Hawkeye and while drinking, accidentally trigger Scarlet Witch’s erased memories of her own lost children causing Scarlet Witch to go on a rampage. Knocked into a coma from the ensuing battle, Janet would retire from heroics for a time and try to reconcile with Hank Pym. This would not last and she’d end up abducted into space to fight for her life, Janet would say nuts to that and lead her team to escape.
Back on Earth with the Civil War ramping up, Janet would side with the pro-registration side and even host a reality show looking for America’s Newest Superhero. She would join the Mighty Avengers team, the New York superhero team as part of the 50-States Initiative to have superhero teams for every state in the United States.
The Skrull Invasion would have Janet facing off against the Skull armies but learns that a serum to improve her ability to grow in size, given to her by what turned out to be a Skrull impersonating Pym, was a trap. Now Janet was changing size at the whim of the Skrull and the rapid, constant change in size was effectively making Janet a bomb. Trying to flee to save everyone from the blast, Thor attempts to help her by opening a gateway with Mjolnir but it appears that Janet dies in the process.
Though she was believed dead it turned out that Janet had shrunken down so small to enter the Microverse, a dimension residing within ours at a subatomic level. Janet would learn that the Microverse was under the tyranny of a warlord and was able to figure out how to make her Avengers communicator alert the Avengers to help her free the Microverse and return home with her friends.
Back home, Janet would join the Avengers Unity Squad, a team of mutants and other heroes working as a team. While with the team she’d return to the Microverse to rescue a family who had accidentally been shrunken down to there by an Inhuman awakening. She would even take on Banshee and Sentry and defeat them both. Janet’s skill with size changing, wasp stings, and insect control proved to be quite formidable.
Beginning a relationship with team member Havoc, she’d become the example of why humanity deserved to live when events cause heroes to become villainous and vice versa. This caused mutants who were in possession of a gene bomb to use it to destroy all non-mutant life on Earth. Though Janet was a fantastic example of an amazing human it wasn’t enough to convince the mind-altered mutants. Witness Carnage sacrifice themselves to stop the bomb, Janet would cease her relationship with Havoc when he attempted to take credit for stopping the bomb. When Hank Pym is missing and presumed dead, Janet is the executor of his will.
There you have it folks! Janet van Dyne is probably my favorite of the Marvel size-changing heroes. She’s such a fun character who seems to find the fun in being a hero and loves it. She’s probably one of the best leaders the Avengers have ever had, even Captain America thinks she’s better than him at the gig. A born leader, fashionista, master of her powers, Janet will hopefully have more fun adventures for years to come.
Tales to Astonish #44