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Momentarily hurled off-balance by the unexpected force of the Wasp’s gyration, her bewildered foe lands painfully amidst the sharp facets of the precious gems !


The Wasp (Janet van Dyne) is a relatively early Marvel Comics heroine. She debuted in early 1963.

She is chiefly defined as a core Avengers member – and occasional leader. But, her early role having been The Girl™, she received less editorial attention than other founders. Frex, she never had a solo book.

(Edit – the first Wasp solo book was announced a few days before this article went live, in June of 2023).

Creating the Wasp as a partner for Ant-Man may have been inspired by early 1940s predecessors. Such as Bulletgirl (Susan Kent) or Hawkgirl (Shiera Sanders).


This article :

A new look

The main retcon/flashback was the 2011 Ant-Man and the Wasp one-shot.

It revisits her origin sequence and earliest characterisation. So Janet is the co-protagonist, rather than sitting in the back seat as she did in the vintage stories.

Also, it has Stéphanie Hans art  .

In this here chronconned profile, the 2011 retelling overwrites the Tales to Astonish Vol. 1 #44 telling.


This profile will eventually be part of a chronological series. But right now the goal is to have a start. Since not having a Wasp profile on writeups.org always felt weird.

This profile discusses too many things to be presented in one go. Therefore, it’s presented as two articles. .



  • Real Name: Janet van Dyne.
  • Known Relatives: Vernon van Dyne (father, deceased), Blaine van Dyne (uncle, status unrevealed), Amelia van Dyne (aunt-in-law, status unrevealed), Ruth (aunt), Bertram (uncle), Jennifer (cousin).
  • Group Affiliation: Avengers. Also a partner of Ant-Man – and of Boopsie, I guess.
  • Base of Operations: Apparently an apartment in Manhattan. She often operates from Henry Pym’s house in the New Jersey Palisades (close to the Hudson River) or his Sutton Place (Manhattan, NYC) lab.
  • Height: 5’1″ (1.55m). Weight: 95 lbs. (43 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Auburn.


It’s either some 1963-ish music, or something thematically appropriate. Let’s start with the first.

Janet once mentions being a Count Basie  fan. So we can have music that both evokes the era of the stories, and matches the character. Which is good.

Powers & Abilities

Janet is a talented student in fashion design.

She’s also in good shape, with above-average intelligence and courage.

Janet seems well-educated, with exposure to multiple scientific domains. By 1964, she could :

  • Work as Dr. Pym’s lab assistant.
  • Do basic first aid.
  • Understand the wiring of a jet disc designed by Tony Stark.

By late 1964, she had learned the basics of helicopter piloting. From there, Jan learned to drive various land vehicles – including tracked equipment.

She’s also seen operating the small PBX  at the Avenger’s Mansion. Electronic phone switching wasn’t a thing yet.

Other assets

She’s also knowledgeable about anything that’s aspirationally fashionable. Such as music, movies, dances… favoured by the glitteratiOlder term for fashionable and glamorous elites..

She’s a good storyteller, even when entertaining a large public. Since she usually tells sci-fi stories, she’s presumably well-read in this genre.

On the other hand, the Wasp is at this point but an inexperienced sidekick. She is also too small and waifish for many kinds of physical actions, such as opposing a strong man with brawling experience.

Janet has significant connections among the New York City high society. She’s part of the blue blood scene there.

Wasp (Marvel Comics) (Janet van Dyne) earliest - storytelling giant-man

I shall become… a wasp

Ms. van Dyne received grafts of special tissues developed by Dr. Pym. These endowed her with additional organs.

  • Wasp-like wings emerging from her shoulder blades. She can actually fly – that’s her signature ability.
  • Wasp-like antennae emerging from her brow. These allow for an organic version of the “insect telepathy” tech in Ant-Man’s cybernetic helmet.

However :

  • Her wings and antennae cannot work when she’s human-sized.
  • At this point, Jan’s antennae must be supplemented by circuitry in her helmet, plus headphones and a mike.

But as a side benefit, the headphones can be tightened to protect the Wasp from outside sounds.

Teepin’ an’ flyin’

The telepathic comms between (Gi)Ant-Man and the Wasp were soon forgotten in the stories. Perhaps the graft of her antennae didn’t take correctly, and this ability weakened over time.

The Wasp has on occasion used her antennae to enlist wasps to attack her enemies. Most wasps apparently see the Wasp as a friend, and no normal wasp would attack the Wasp. Wasp. Wasp.

Janet’s flight speed is difficult to assess. I’m assuming it’s in the 30-to-35mph range at this point (about 50km/h).

Mostly because she seems to cross urban-scale distances (say, from Manhattan to the Palisades) at a pretty good clip. Yet complained that it was difficult to keep pace with Giant-Man when he was too tall.

Wasp (Marvel Comics) (Janet van Dyne) earliest - stephanie hans painted

Young Janet as portrayed by Stéphanie Hans in the 2011 retelling.

Small is beautiful

The Wasp uses the same gases as Ant-Man to shrink to insect-like size. They both usually operate at microsize.

When the Wasp debuts, Janet and Hank still have to breathe in a dose of gas from their utility belt to either shrink or grow. A full dose makes the Wasp about, well, wasp-sized. Half an inch (1.27cm) or so.

A few months later, Henry devises a new shrinking formulation. It’s no longer a gas, but an ingestible capsule with — somehow — instant effects.

In late 1964, Giant-Man adds circuitry to his helmet that can remotely make Jan shrink or unshrink. She tells him it’s creepy but he ignores her.

The Wasp’s small form is difficult to spot. And it seems that her wings do not make as much noise as an actual wasp’s. Much like the Invisible Girl (Susan Storm), her power is to be pretty then disappear.

The non-proportional strength of a human !

Like Ant-Man, the Wasp still possesses most of her human-scale strength even at a half-inch size. But this isn’t as useful in her case as with Henry Pym, since she’s not exactly Hafþór Björnsson  .

Still, this spares her most of the difficulties her small size would normally bring. Such as with displacing or operating objects.

The strength conservation effect was weaker during the early days of Ant-Man and the Wasp. For instance in the Wasp’s debut issue (Tales to Astonish Vol. 1 #44) they are stronger than they should be at that size, but not strong enough to jointly carry a 12-gauge semi-auto shotgun (about 8 lbs (3.5 Kg.)).


For a short time the Wasp wielded her “stinger” – a metallic spear.

The first stinger was a tack she and Ant-Man used as an improvised weapon.

Then she started wielding an actual weapon, which she could produce out of nowhere. Presumably, her stinger can shrink so that she can carry it on her belt even at wasp size, then expand it to a spear-like size in relation to her current size.

The stinger isn’t there to inflict “damage” – she’s too small anyway. Rather, it inflicts a sharp jolt of pain.

This is efficient in making people drop their weapon (by stinging their hand), hop in pain on one foot (by stinging the other foot), stumble because she unexpectedly stung their ankle, etc..

The stinger disappears after a few issues. At about the same time Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man.

Wasp’s sting

This weapon appears in July, 1964 (cover date).

It is tightly strapped onto her forearm, running most of its length. The trigger is a ring around her finger, linked to the gun by a string.

This weapon holds enough compressed air for six blasts.

  • These are strong enough to bowl over grown men.
  • The blast is just as strong at human size than at wasp size.
  • Somehow, there’s no recoil whatsoever… except when there suddenly is.

The sting is used for a half-dozen months, then vanishes.

Boopsie and the cyber-helmet

During the Spring of 1965, the Wasp tames a wasp as her steed. She calls it Boopsie.

Now, most wasps don’t fly particularly fast. But both van Dyne and Pym asserted that she could fly a bit faster when riding Boopsie. Though the main benefit was for Janet not to tire herself by flying everywhere under her own power.

We could imagine that Boopsie was actually a hornet from a Marvel-Universe-specific species that can do 35mph (56 km/h). Perhaps it’s only found in Siancong, or something.

Real species of giant hornets don’t get much faster than 25 mph (40 km/h) – which is pretty impressive, mind. Especially if they’re chasing you.

At this point, Pym also builds cybernetic circuitry within her helmet, so she can teepTo communicate using telepathy. with wasps.

At first that seems pointless. Since she had already demonstrated she could do that using her antennae. But the range is markedly greater. And the writers seemed to have forgotten about her antennae-based powers.

Wasp (Marvel Comics) (Janet van Dyne) earliest - boopsie steed

Alas, poor Boopsie. A fellow of infinite nest.

History (part 1)

Janet is the daughter of Vernon van Dyne. Dr. van Dyne apparently was a genius polymathPossessing exceptionally wide-ranging skills and knowledge. and comic-book inventor.

As a young man he developed super-fabrics for his brother, a textile industrialist.

(There is a *vague* implication that Vernon van Dyne’s super-fabrics, commercialised by his brother from the late 1930s onward, made super-hero costumes more feasible).

By the early 1960s, he worked on a physics research project involving gammaIn the Marvel Universe, the sort of fantasy radiation that empowers the Hulk and others. radiation to communicate across cosmic distances.

Mrs. van Dyne

Janet’s beloved mother was rendered comatose by a car accident when Janet was a little girl. Mrs. van Dyne spent years in a vegetative state then died. Though Jan never talks about it, it clearly left her hurt.

(My sense is that Janet’s mother died but months before her daughter’s origin sequence began. But it’s flimsy and indirect reasoning).

Amelia, the wife of Janet’s paternal uncle Blaine, was a noted fashion designer. And Janet’s mother — whose given name and profession were never stated — was described as vibrant and creative.

This likely influenced Janet’s choice to study fashion design.

Wasp (Marvel Comics) (Janet van Dyne) earliest - compressed air gun

Too young to wasp

When Janet debuts there’s repeated emphasis on how she’s “almost a child” or “a child”.

My sense is that she hadn’t even finished high school at that point. It also seems that Janet was too young to inherit from her father. Which, in most states, would mean that she was under 18.

So if you’re not using sliding time, Janet was born circa 1946.

In the 2011 retelling, Janet behaves in a far less childish way. So it doesn’t feel as creepy as the vintage stories did.

However, the underlying chronology doesn’t appear to have changed much. In this version, she seems to be a fresherA first-year university student..

Applied entomology

Janet van Dyne met Henry Pym while waiting for her father. Both men had been attempting to secure grants for their peculiar research projects.

Ms. van Dyne fell almost instantly for Dr. Pym. Within minutes of meeting she was proposing a date.

She had trouble making headways with that. But she persisted, despite gradually realising that Pym was a workaholic with so-so social skills.

Henry eventually explained that he had difficulties welcoming Janet’s advances since he was grieving his murdered wife, Maria Trovaya Pym.

Janet also deduced that Henry secretly was the Ant-Man, an early (1962) and popular super-hero.


The creature from Kosmos

In 1963, as she visited daddy’s lab, Janet found him murdered. She asked Henry for help, stating :

  • That she knew that he was Ant-Man.
  • That she wanted in, and to personally avenge her father, no matter what.

Henry used his latest inventions to empower Janet as the Wasp.

As Jan suspected, her father had been attacked by a space alien. The monster had since grown to immense size. This sort of giant alien blob attacked New York City.

The Wasp and Ant-Man confronted the creature from the planet Kosmos on the George Washington Bridge  . Janet recklessly charged in, and Henry had to provide her with a plan on the fly.

She bombed the Kosmosian creature using Pym’s chemicals and growth serum, killing it.

(The accounts about the creature from Kosmos have varied. In the 2011 retelling, it seems to be a mindless blob).

See you later pollinator !

This profile continues in .

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.