5 Comics You Should Read Before Seeing ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’
So, you’re getting psyched for this weekend’s Ant-Man and the Wasp and you’ve found yourself a fan of the idea of a miniature woman with wings kick ass and take names. The next step is obvious: It’s time to go read some Wasp comics, preferably with Ant-Man involved if at all possible. (Not that it’s a dealbreaker, mind you.) But where to find them? That’s where we come in, dear readers. Whether it’s wanting to see the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, or her successor fly around and save the day, here are five comic book runs to buzz off in search of.
Avengers Vol. 1 #273-277 (1986)
Despite being the hero who named the Avengers—she also named the Vision, in a roundabout way—comics weren’t particularly good to the Wasp for the first couple of decades of her existence; she was treated as a flighty, flirty character there to lighten the mood or be rescued and/or worried about, instead of a hero in her own right. That started to change in the 1980s, when she became the leader of the Avengers following her divorce from Hank Pym (Michael Douglas in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). This five-issue storyline from that era shows the Wasp (in this case, Wasp is Janet Van Dyne, played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the MCU) being redefined right in front of readers’ eyes. This also happens to be one of the best Avengers stories ever, so you should pick it up regardless.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Avengers Epic Collection: Under Siege print collection.
West Coast Avengers Vol. 2 #33-36 (1988)
The Ant-Man movies offer glimpses of what Hank Pym’s life pre-Ant-Man was like, and this four-parter from the late ’80s pulls the curtain back even more in a surreal and wonderful way: Cold War drama! First wife drama! Doctor Doom drama! And even more drama! It also redefines Hank’s relationship with Janet Van Dyne in a dramatic way that pretty much everyone ignored afterwards, but that’s comics for you.
How to read it: Available digitally and in back-issue bins if you’re looking for print editions.
Avengers Vol. 4 #31-34 (2012)
Years before Janet Van Dyne was rescued from the Quantum Realm, she was rescued from Inner Space, aka the Microverse, aka Sub-Atomica, aka what comics called the shrunken place before the movies called it the Quantum Realm. After years of being assumed dead, Janet is discovered alive, but very very small—sound familiar? Only the hook from the story ended up adapted into the movie, however, and it’s worth checking out how comics handled the idea the first time out. (Spoilers: It’s far more High Adventure than you might be expecting, and very very fun.)
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5 print collection.
The Unstoppable Wasp #1-8 (2017)
By the time the Wasp got her own comic book series, it was Hank Pym’s daughter taking on the role … but not Hope, the character played by Evangeline Lilly in the Ant-Man movies. (In the comic book world Hope is a villain.) No, instead, it’s the adorable Nadia, who is as optimistic as she is nerdy, and as ready to inspire girls to take up STEM subjects as she is to fight crime and injustice in this enjoyable YA comic book series.
How to read it: Available digitally and in the Unstoppable Wasp Vol. 1: Unstoppable! and Unstoppable Wasp Vol. 2: Agents of G.I.R.L. print collections.
Ant-Man and the Wasp #1-5 (2018)
Nadia is also the Wasp in the latest comic book outing for the character, launched last month to tie in with the movie’s release. A fun caper that strands both Nadia and Scott Lang—who don’t particularly like each other—in the Quantum Realm Microverse, where they try to do their best while getting home, only for disaster to ensue. It’s a fast-moving, fun introduction to where the comic book versions of the characters are these days, and also something that just might get you hooked on the current raft of Marvel comics out there in the process.
How to read it: Available in print and digital editions.