19 min read

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest


(Janet van Dyne) (1963/65 part 2/2)


This is the second half of this profile. No, I wasn’t expecting it to cover so much stuff, either.

(The reading time at the top of the entry includes the stats and technical notes, which are about half the entry).

So read first, OK ? As I always say, ontology precedes entomology.



The 2011-revised Janet evokes Michelle Gurevich’s “Party Girl” song.

It’s from her 2007 debut album, and I guess it’s, hmmm, err, charismatic low-fi sombre indie-pop that’s almost spoken word ? Something like that.

History (part 2)

After the creature from Kosmos crisis, the Wasp seconded Ant-Man in his adventures.

Early on, their feature was a bit retro. It felt more like late Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. stories than the bombastically proclaimed Marvel Age Of Comics.

Encounters included :

  • The evil genius Egghead (Elihas Starr). He saw the Wasp as a weak point he could use to take Ant-Man down. But that didn’t pan out.
  • During a Greek vacation, the pair met sailors terrorised by a cyclops. As it turned out, the “cyclops” was a giant robot built by alien raiders from A-Chiltar-III. The Wasp and Ant-Man routed these would-be conquerors.
  • The mystically-trained jazz trumpetist Liso Trago, who acquired hypnotic powers in Mysterious India™.
  • Twice clashing with the Porcupine (Alexander Gentry).
  • Defeating another hostile alien, the Living Eraser from Dimension Z. This happened shortly after Dr. Pym created new powers for himself, becoming Giant-Man.
  • Twice clashing with the Whirlwind (David Cannon), whom Giant-Man had a hard time arresting.
  • Fighting the Black Knight (Nathan Garrett).
  • Going to not-Cuba to oppose Communist strongman El Toro (Antonio Rojo).

Then came a day unlike any other

At about the same time as the Trago encounter, Ant-Man and the Wasp helped found the Avengers.

For more about these early avenging days, see the first Avengers team profile. Among other early exploits, Janet :

  • Found a way to counter Baron Heinrich Zemo’s Adhesive X, by enlisting Paste-Pot Pete’s help.
  • Saved the Avengers held captive by Kang the Conqueror with the help of Rick Jones and his Teen Brigade.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - Stephanie Hans

2011 retelling.

Hexapodal adventures intensify

When not working with the Avengers, Ant-Man and the Wasp continued their adventures :

  • The return of Egghead, who tricked them into fighting Spider-Man (Peter Parker).
  • Forcing the Colossus (Agent 7M from Vega) to flee from Earth, and strike it off the invadable worlds lists of his fellow Vegans.
  • An inconclusive encounter with the Hulk. Henry Pym wanted to convince him to rejoin the Avengers, but the Whirlwind sabotaged this attempt out of spite.
  • Two clashes with the Magician (Lee Guardineer).
  • The return of Egghead, who sent his Android to kill Giant-Man.
  • The Wasp then fought Second-Story Sammy, a cat burglar who had stolen Pym’s costume and powers.
  • The couple also defeated the Wrecker (Frank Smith), a masked racketeer.

Q1 1965

However, Janet had to admit that Henry wasn’t treating her well. Forever focused on his research, he kept bossing her around, ignoring her and occasionally belittling her.

So she left, and took a vacation. Howbeit, the passenger jet she was on was captured by Attuma and his Atlantean forces. She managed to warn Giant-Man via ants. The rescue operation was a success, and they got back together.

Unsurprisingly, Pym didn’t really change his behaviour. He felt validated by van Dyne’s efforts to convince herself that it was OK after all.

Not long after this incident, the Wasp was shot during the Avenger’s battle with the Nefaria family of the Maggia. Both her lungs were collapsing.

Only one surgeon could save her – Dr. Hjarmal Svenson. But he was held captive by the hidden, large Kallusian forces on Earth.

The Avengers pried Svenson away from the Kallusians. And the aliens left, which meant that the Earth wouldn’t be destroyed in their impending battle against their space enemies.

Dr. Svenson did save Ms. van Dyne’s life.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - fur coat

1964 story, so fur coats are still very much a luxury/status thing.

Avengers… take ten

Janet still seemed to be recovering when she and Giant-Man clashed with Madame Macabre. She nevertheless saved Giant-Man’s life from Macabre’s traps.

The Wasp also seemed a bit diminished when the Avengers had another big clash against the Masters of Evil.

By that point, all Avengers were running ragged. They had a hard time running both their solo adventures and the team’s cases. Even their meetings were getting hard to schedule.

Wounded and stressed, the Wasp also wished to take a break.

The team agreed, and all the founders took a leave of absence.

This led to the Avengers deploying their second roster, often nicknamed “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”.

Q2 1965

  • Henry gave Jan a peculiar gift – a pet bee. It had been trained as a steed, so the Wasp wouldn’t have to fly everywhere under her own power.
  • Alas, the bee soon had to be slain due to the attack of the Hidden Man (Supramor). An alien ray made it sting Jan, but Henry got the barb out before she was seriously poisoned.
  • Janet started working with a small stable of bees. Then changed her mind and tamed a wasp as her new steed. She called it Boopsie.
  • Whirlwind (oddly  called the Human Top in this story) attacked anew. He incapacitated Giant-Man, and captured the Wasp while she was helping him up. However, Janet sent Boopsie to fetch Giant-Man.
    The Human Top nearly killed them, but they narrowly prevailed.

However, they were exhausted. And Henry felt guilty about the dangers and wounds Janet had been forced to face in recent months.

Giant-Man and the Wasp therefore decided to also take a leave of absence from their non-Avengers costumed heroics.


The vitals given in this entry assume that she’s not a fully-grown adult yet.

I picked a realistic weight for that size and body type, since she’s markedly smaller than the “Handbook scale”. Especially at that point.

Oddly enough, in the 2011 retelling Janet has black hair and green eyes. Which evokes the Ultimate version of the Wasp, rather than the Earth-616The main Marvel Comics version of Earth. one.

Inevitably, Janet has a wasp’s waist.

In mid-1964, the Wasp makes the first of many alterations to her costume. The mike is gone, the headphones are smaller, the strange spike atop the head is gone, and some hair can poke from under the cowl.

A few months later she designs and assembles another variant, and then it went on and on for decades. Sometimes she changes her outfit with every appearance. She cannot be stopped.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - flying to the attack


Janet van Dyne is often perceived as a superficial, rich girl ditz. None too bright, and mostly concerned with cool clothes, dating handsome men and having fun.

A “bored society playgirl”, as Pym put it.

In actuality, she’s markedly smarter, better educated and more determined than those looking down their nose on her. But :

  • She likes the fun bimbo image. And it goes well with keeping abreast of the latest fashions and trends for her work.
  • There’s a sense — in her closeness with her father, in her reaction to learning about Maria Trovaya’s death, etc. — that she’s still grieving her mother when she begins dating Henry. So she erects a superficial persona to disguise that, then doubles down on that tactic when she loses her father.
  • At this point she’s still looking for herself. She’s wealthy enough not to have to make do with whatever lemons life hands to her, and isn’t certain of what kind of adult she’d like to be.

It seems that young Ms. van Dyne was looking for The One™ to bring definition to her life. And therefore decided that Mr. Pym would be a/ hers and b/ the relationship she could define her life with.

And to avenge the dead

Jan was shocked by the death of her father. But this time there was someone who was responsible for her loss, and she was going to kill it dead.

This anger-fueled determination receded once she could grieve. But it didn’t entirely go away.

This is likely the reason why she suggested “the Avengers” as a name, out of the blue.

Curiously, she was the first Avenger to recognise Captain America – even though she was the youngest person present. Perhaps her mum was a Cap fan.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - with Henry Pym no romance

1963 characterisation

This profile uses the revised, modern version of Janet’s characterisation. The 1963 take was :

  • She actually was a shallow socialite craving attention. But her determination to avenge her father suddenly changed her.
  • This determination to protect others is what earns her the role of the Wasp. But at the same time, she’s chiefly portrayed as a late 1950s adorable little pest.
  • She was determined to seduce Pym, even though she was manifestly underage. Her core motivation is to prove to Henry that she’s a grown woman he should love. But she usually behaved like a child.
  • She’s flighty, easily bored, boys-crazy (the 1960s Wasp will comment about every handsome man around, all the time), fascinated by luxury items such as gemstones, always wants to go out and have fun, etc..


The 2011 upgrade in characterisation means that most early 1960s stories would have flown differently. Since the early Wasp’s role as a sidekick often bordered on comic relief.

The 2011 retold Wasp is still depicted as inexperienced and having to adapt to the rigours of superhuman crises, but it’s just a learning process. She’s not, unlike the 1963 Wasp, intrinsically a superficial airhead.

Intriguingly, Pym once states (TtA #55) that van Dyne actually is highly intelligent and only presenting as an airhead coquette. But this statement isn’t really supported by the stories… for a time.


1964 characterisation

The Wasp matures quickly in the books published in (roughly) 1963 and 1964. This likely reflects Stan Lee taking over more of the writing, wherein Ernie Hart  previously did much of the work.

The references to her childlikeness vanish, and the Wasp is now characterised as a young adult. Her courage is even more solid than before, and she’s somewhat competent (for a sidekick).

She also acts sassier… by early 1960s standards.

The Wasp and Spider-Man (Peter Parker) cannot stand each other. Since as per folk entomology, wasps and spiders are “natural enemies”.

Hell is other people

It seems that van Dyne and Pym become lovers circa Q2 of 1964. The tension has displaced from becoming lovers to marrying, with the obstacles now being :

  • So-so communication, especially on Pym’s end, making them frequently misunderstand each other’s intent.
  • Janet now being more clearly depicted as a high society blue blood, making the “merely” upper-middle-class Pym feel inadequate.

Then it’s this marriage subplot’s turn to fade out.

That this relationship is dysfunctional is in-text from the get-go. Even after the underage aspect, then the social class aspects, both fade out. It’s especially clear when Jan briefly leaves.

However, for many 1960s readers, it was obfuscated by gender comedy elements of that era. Men are intrinsically taciturn and always-working bread earners, women are intrinsically flighty scatter-brained big spenders, this sort of things.


Janet and Henry bond in no small part since they’re both grieving. Henry is unable to let go of Maria, and Janet is struggling to put the death of her dad behind her.

Unfortunately, that they are both working through their grief also provides involuntary cover for their more dysfunctional aspects.


(2011 take) “Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not a fool.”

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - desperate plan

DC Heroes RPG

The Wasp (earliest)

Dex: 03 Str: 01 Bod: 02
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04
Init: 008 HP: 010


Flight: 05, Speak with animals: 02, Telepathy: 15

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • None of her Powers can be used unless she has active APs of Shrinking.
  • Flight speed isn’t reduced by active APs of Shrinking.
  • Speak with animals is limited to insects.
  • Telepathy only with some Ant-Man equipment, including his cybernetic helmet. It *seems* that a greater distance means shorter messages, and whether she can do that in any given story is erratic.
  • Telepathy only for communication, not Mental combat.
  • Telepathy and — possibly — Speak with Animals seem to still need her headset to work at this point. But this headset gradually gets smaller.


Accuracy (Disarm Manoeuvres using her Stinger when at wasp size): 07, Artist (Fashion design, Storyteller): 04, Weaponry (Wasp weapons): 04


Familiarity (Glitteratiness, High Society Lore), Headquarters (the Wasp has access to Pym’s labs), Schtick (Disarmer (Stinger, only when at wasp size and against unprotected appendages)).


Wasps (Low – this just indicates that most wasps consider her an ally), Giant-Man Fan Club (Low), New York City high society (Low).


None demonstrated.




Student, ex-débutante.



Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - in-ear attack against giant

An intriguing mixture of Stagger and Take-Away, which I now realise I didn’t cover in the technical discussion. But said discussion is already too long.


  • HEADSET [BODY 01, Shade (Audial): 02, Limitation: Shade requires some time to tighten the headset]. It is possible that by 1964 the headset only provides 1 AP of Shade, and zero in 1965. Since the discs over her ears get slimmer and slimmer.
  • CYBERNETIC COWL [BODY 01]. This replaces the headset in Q2 1965. It allows her to use her Telepathy’s Range for her Speak With Animal Power, as long as she’s teeping a wasp.
  • Bracelet [BODY 01]. This piece of jewellery has a secret compartment holding her costume, kept wasp-sized. So she can remove the costume from the bracelet, shrink then change.

Shrinking solutions:

  • SHRINKING GAS BELT CANISTERS [BODY 02, Shrinking: 11, Ammo: 04, B&L:
    • One Ammo must be expended to turn the Shrink Power on or off.
    • Shrink can only engage full APs.
    • Shrinking only reduces STR and land speed by 1 AP per every full block of 3 APs of Shrinking wot’s currently engaged. So at full Shrinking she has a STR of minus 2, which is still enough to displace up to 12 lbs. (5½ Kg.).
    • However, Shrinking reduces her carrying capacity when in flight at the usual 1:1 ratio. Her wings are too small to provide much lift.
    • Shrinking reduces her weight.
    • Shrinking only increases her OV against melee Physical Attacks by 1 AP per every block of 3 APs of Shrinking wot’s currently engaged (so it’s OV 06 at wasp size). But it increases her OV against *ranged* attacks normally – 1 APs per 1 AP.
  • SHRINKING CAPSULES. These replace the shrinking gas. The Wasp now has a belt full of ingestible capsules. Each kind of capsule has different APs of Shrinking (including 0 to return to normal sized), but there are many kinds. They are coded by colour and size.
    • This removes the Ammo Drawback.
    • This removes the “only engages full APs” Limitation.
    • Shrinking can now engage up to 13 APs, though she usually sticks with 11 AP.
    • However, she once inexplicably runs out, so I guess we have to add R#3.
  • The utility belt with the capsules is later modified to allow for carrying makeup supplies.


  • Stinger [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 06), Miniaturization: 12, Stagger: 04, Descriptor: Bludgeoning, Piercing, R#3, B&L :
    • Bludgeoning has Limited Penetration.
    • Stagger has No Range.
    • Stagger is opposed by Skin Armour and Density Increase.
    • Stagger requires being able to hit an unprotected and sensitive area with the stinger.
    • Active APs of Shrinking do not reduce the Stagger (+0, since there’s no technical reason why they should).
    • The Wasp can use the EV of the Stagger Power as the EV for her Disarm Manoeuvres, provided that Stagger is usable as per above. But she cannot get more than 1 RAP if she does so].
  • WASP’S STING [BODY 01, Mental blast: 05, Stagger (resisted by Force Field, Force Shield): 08, Ammo: 06, R#2]. It’s likely that the Range is reduced to 02 or so, but not clearly demonstrated.
Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - lab Pym talk

Design notes – Attributes

Lowballed Attributes. At this stage, the range of Dice Actions the Wasp — an inexperienced and waifish sidekick — can succeed at is limited.

That includes a STR of but 01, as discussed in our Human STR And BODY article. Here it is necessary since her DEX can’t be too low, yet her Attributes shouldn’t allow her to beat people up. Since she can’t do that in the material, with one 1965 exception.

The Mentals and Mysticals reflect the 2011 take. The 1963 take likely has 02s in all those, except for AUR and maybe SPI.

However, by 1964, both takes on the Wasp have MIN 04 and SPI 04. This becomes noticeable in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #26. And her Hero Points rise to 015. Furthermore…

Science !

In 1964, Janet also acquires (in chronological order) :

  • Familiarity (Lab assistant).
  • Gadgetry (Identify gadgets): 03
  • Vehicles (Air): 02
  • Acrobatics (Dodging – Aerial only): 04
  • Medicine (First aid): 02
  • However, her Telepathy then her Speak with Animals fall by the wayside.

And in 1965 :

  • Martial Artist: 02. Heh, it’s a beginning. And it allows her to use Techniques as well as increasing her Initiative by 002.
  • She now has 020 Hero Points.
  • INT/WIL/INF/AUR now at 03 even for the vintage, non-2011-retconned version.
  • She may have grown by one inch (2.5cm) by that point, since she’s drawn closer in stature to “classic” Wasp.
  • Her STR is now a 02, based on the Second-Story Sammy incident (and our reluctance to keep people at STR 01).
  • She learns Vehicles (Land): 03.
  • Her Telepathy and Speak With Animals return in the last two stories of this era, but only if she’s got her new cybernetic cowl on.

A rare example of a published character following the Character Advancement rules in the DC Heroes book, I guess.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - avengers rick jones nefaria

More design notes

DC Heroes is… generous with Shrinking-based OV. In comics, characters such as the Wasp aren’t that hard to swat. Though in many cases it is a Flailing Attack that connects, contributing to their survivability.

So there we went with a fractional approach for her OV. Which prolly was what the rulebook was trying to avoid, but we don’t care because we are rebels. We have patchouli-scented long hair and tambourines, see ?

Her Weaponry Skill’s set perimeter is cheesy. But as usual I was more interested in clear and concise notation than points balance.

She doesn’t seem to have the Public Identity Drawback, even though her face is exposed. Apparently her cowl works like Clark Kent’s glasses, and she can maintain a secret identity without effort.

She prolly didn’t have the Age (Young) Drawback though. She can do whatever she wants – she’s rich and from a reputed family. Speaking of which…

Witness wealthy wasps wander

Her Wealth at that point is unclear. I’d *imagine* that she has a legal guardian while the matter of her inheritance clears. Since it was a violent death in abnormal circumstances.

She certainly doesn’t seem to be impoverished, but her dialogue implies that she doesn’t have as much disposable income as Pym does.

In mid-1964 (cover date), that she’s independently wealthy becomes clearer. Her Wealth score rises to at least 006…

… unless it was that high all along, and it was her dialogue about wanting gifts that was misleading. Given social conventions around gifts and affluent women in the early 1960s US, that’s certainly possible.

Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - spat

Janet Stabby McStabface, from the McStabfaces of Stabville

About half the uses of her “stinger” spear are covered by Stagger. She jabs people in the ankle or some such. To make them stumble, to make them flee, to create an opening for the stronger Ant-Man, etc..

The other half, roughly, is disarming gunmen by stabbing them in the hand.

Now, the Disarm Combat Manoeuvre (Blood of Heroes p145) comes with a sizable +2CS OV penalty. Which is a problem, even with her Schtick reducing that by half. Since the Wasp can’t have that high a combat AV.

Yet she never fails her Disarms. Because at microsize, a human hand is pretty much the broad side of a barn.

Tinkering with relative scales (say, by reasoning as if her target had Growth) can get complicated. And since she has double-digit Shrinking APs, it’d likely make her *too* effective.

Therefore, this entry simply went with :

  1. A very specific Accuracy (supplemented by the Schtick, under the notion she’d likely have good odds with a Take-Away if she tried) for AV.
  2. Allowing Stagger to sub for the Manoeuvre’s EV, but limiting RAPs since she can only make people drop their weapon – not bat it away.

If you’ve ever navigated on the ear canal

During a battle against the Hulk, the Wasp does the thing where she enters his ear canal to buzz loudly next to his inner ear and incapacitate him.

Since she only does that once, quick and dirty approach :

  • She can use her Shrinking APs as the AV, but the situation doesn’t allow for Combat Manoeuvres.
  • The effect is the equivalent of Stagger: 07 with Sharpness (Stagger): 09.
  • The roll to force her out (like a diver forcing water out of their ears) is a bit mysterious. But a Strenuous DEX/DEX roll with 1 RAP being sufficient should work.
  • This attack might be best considered Minor Marginal. To explain that, if that technique can hold the Hulk himself for a while, why doesn’t she do it all the time ?
Wasp - Marvel Comics - Janet van Dyne - Avengers - earliest - sci-fi gun and flying ants

Watch the wasp harass

Sometimes, the Wasp flies closely around somebody’s head, yanks at their hair, etc. to distract and hinder them.

When doing that she cannot take a Dice Action, and her Automatic Actions will be used to stay close to her target if necessary. The results of this tactic are :

  1. The target can only use one of their Automatic Action during each Phase where the Wasp maintains this.
  2. The OV/RV of their Dice Actions is increased by one CS as long as the Wasp maintains this.

This Combat Manoeuvre of sorts doesn’t involve Dice Rolls. Since having a wasp-like critter fly aggressively about their face will distract even targets with very high Physical OVs/RVs. And it’s not Marginal.

However, the GM might declare that a given target is immune to this. This usually is the case for non-sapient constructs, creatures so gigantic they won’t notice her, mecha, etc..

By contrast, some targets might be more susceptible. For instance, the Wasp once blindfolded Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) with her own hair. But that one likely required dice rolls, and thus followed different mechanics.

Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Josh Marquart, Kevin Berger, Andrew Lee, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 29th of November, 2022.