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Janet van Dyne as the Wasp.
Art by J. G. Jones.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceTales to Astonish #44 (June 1963)
Created byStan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter egoJanet van Dyne
SpeciesHuman (empowered)
Team affiliationsAvengers
Lady Liberators
West Coast Avengers
Mighty Avengers
PartnershipsHenry Pym
  • Size manipulation
  • Flight
  • Bio-electric energy blasts
  • Telepathic insect control

Wasp (Janet van Dyne) is a fictional character, a superheroine in the Marvel Comics universe and founding member of the Avengers. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Tales to Astonish #44 (June 1963).

After the character's 2008 death, Henry Pym became Marvel Comics' new Wasp briefly.

Both versions are depicted as having the ability to shrink to a height of perhaps several centimeters, grow to giant size, fly by means of insectoid wings (which appear only at small size), and fire energy blasts.

In May 2011, the Wasp placed 99th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time. The character was ranked 94th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[1]

Publication history

Janet van Dyne debuted as Henry "Hank" Pym's partner in Tales to Astonish #44 (written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby), originally only serving as his partner to avenge the death of her father, scientist Vernon van Dyne. Later in the same issue, she decided to stay with Hank only because she was in love with him, wanting him to realize that he loved her back. They both realized their feelings for each other in Tales to Astonish #56, although it wasn't until later in the series that they acted on them.

During her run in Astonish, van Dyne also joined Avengers in its first issue, along with her partner, Hank Pym. It is on this team that Janet became most well known, at first the weak link of the team, but later on one of the smartest and craftiest members. She was the first one to propose to leave the team, after announcing how tired she was and how she wanted to return to a normal life.[2] However, she missed being a superhero, and she (along with Hank) returned to the team in issue #28. After marrying Hank in issue #60, Janet and Hank both later decided to leave the team in issue #75.

Hank became the main character of the series Marvel Feature, starting with issue #4, and Janet appeared as a second main character starting with issue #6. Both characters left the book after issue #10, making sporadic guest appearances in various other books at the time, presumably living a happily married life.

Janet missed being a superhero once again, and rejoined the Avengers in issue #137, getting injured right away. After being rescued by her husband and hospitalized, Janet recovered and joined the team along with Hank in issue #151. Here she began her longest run as a member of the Avengers. After being brutally slapped in the face by her husband, she divorced him, and in turn became the new Chairman of the Avengers, starting with issue #217.

Janet later resigned as Chairman, and joined the West Coast Avengers in issue #32, at first only to help stabilize the team after Tony Stark left, later becoming a full-time member starting with issue #42. Later in the run, she rekindled her old romance with Hank, and fully rejoined the Avengers.


In his 1970s run on The Avengers, artist George Pérez revamped the character's costume a number of times, having a significant impact on the character's development—

It became a joke. In the case of the Wasp, I noticed that she has so many costumes that eventually I said "Why not?" I think I was on the book long enough what was once a just a little bit of idiosyncrasy about the character became fully part of the character's persona.[3]

Fictional character biography

The Wasp's first appearance in Tales to Astonish #44.
Art by Jack Kirby.


Janet Van Dyne was born in Cresskill, New Jersey. She was initially a shallow, self-centered, flighty heiress and debutante, daughter of wealthy scientist Vernon Van Dyne. During an experiment, however, an alien monster was unleashed from an alternate dimension and Dr. Van Dyne was killed. Her father's associate, Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym, had created a substance called "Pym particles", which allowed the user to grow or shrink in size, and had become the superhero Ant-Man. When Janet's father died, she convinced Pym to help her.[4] He gave her a supply of "Pym particles" and subjected her to a biochemical procedure which granted her the ability, upon shrinking, to grow wings and fire blasts of energy, which she called her "wasp's stings". As Ant-Man and The Wasp, they defeated the monster, sent it to its own dimension, and had several more adventures together.[4] Janet became Pym's partner and fell in love with him before their first adventure, but Pym rejected her at first, afraid of what would happen if he were to lose her as he had lost his first wife, who was killed.[4] Janet would openly muse about her apparently unrequited feelings, often in front of him.[5] Pym rejected his feelings for her; however he later accepted them[6] and tried acting on them.[7] They both soon realized their feelings for each other, and began dating.[8]


Soon afterward, the superhero team, which Janet herself dubbed the Avengers, formed. Hank and Janet were among its founding members.[9] Still shallow, Janet frequently commented on the attractiveness of her male colleagues, especially Thor, in order to provoke jealousy from Pym. Never lacking confidence or bravery and by nature an outgoing personality, Janet was always in the thick of battles with villains, who included Norse gods and aliens. Early on in her Avengers career, she was wounded in battle against Count Nefaria.[10] Although she and Hank took occasional leaves of absence,[2][11] the two have almost always remained members, staying on reserve when not on active duty. After their first leave of absence, she and Pym, as the first Goliath, rejoined the Avengers and battled the Collector.[12] During the course of their many adventures as Avengers, Janet grew as a person, becoming a resourceful and seasoned hero. Several years later, she would be elected leader of the team.[volume & issue needed]

Marrying Hank Pym

The Winsome Wasp captured by John Buscema as a 1960s glamor girl.

The relationship between Janet and Pym had always been one of loving squabbling, but her wealth and his research had always stopped him from proposing.[13] One day, a cocky new costumed crime-fighter called Yellowjacket broke into Avengers HQ. He claimed to have disposed of Pym and even kidnapped Janet.[14] To the outrage of her colleagues, Janet then married Yellowjacket.[15] A tension-filled wedding was made even more edgy by an attack by the Circus of Crime. During the fight it was discovered that Yellowjacket was Pym. He had an accident with some chemicals causing a severe case of dissociative identity disorder. Janet had realized this from very early on and had taken advantage of it to tie the knot with Hank.[15]

With Yellowjacket, Janet later left the Avengers.[16] With Pym, again as Ant-Man, she became temporarily trapped at insect size, and battled Whirlwind, Para-Man, and Dr. Nemesis.[17] With Yellowjacket, she eventually rejoined the Avengers.[18] With Spider-Man and Yellowjacket, she battled Equinox; her powers were augmented by Yellowjacket.[19]

Rocky times

Janet's relationship with Pym became rocky, as he suffered a further series of mental problems, exacerbated by the stress on his body of his frequent size changes and exposure to chemicals. This even led to him being easily brainwashed by Ultron, in which he kidnapped Janet[20] and used her brain patterns to create a wife for Ultron, Jocasta.[21] Janet later rejoined the Avengers without Pym.[22] Many years later, Pym had a complete breakdown, and became completely paranoid.[23] During the course of this breakdown, he became overbearing and verbally abusive.[23] At the nadir of his degeneration, he struck Janet, and then proceeded to concoct a plan to make himself look good in front of his teammates by staging an attack upon them which only he could stop.[24] This plan backfired and Pym was exposed, disgraced, and expelled from the Avengers, and the couple separated.[25] Janet divorced Pym soon after, and then became Avengers chairman; with the Avengers, she arrested Yellowjacket.[26] She eventually surrendered her Avengers chairmanship to the Vision.[27] She remained with the team despite these hardships, and even began dating other men, including Tony Stark[volume & issue needed] and Paladin.[volume & issue needed] With Paladin, she battled Baron Brimstone,[28] and shortly thereafter she resumed her Avengers chairmanship.[29] Janet eventually stepped down as chairman again, and left the Avengers.[30] Pym later on joined the West Coast Avengers, with Janet soon following.[31] Jan battled the threat of Red Ronin alone.[32] Pym's mental state returned to normal, and the two became friends again and later resumed their romantic relationship.[33] Jan was elected as a regular member of the Avengers West, but chose to become a reserve member.[34]

Several years later, both Jan and Hank returned to the Avengers, first at reserve status, and later as full members of the team. During the Destiny War, Jan became the leader of a team of Avengers assembled from different time periods, cited as being chosen due to her "inner strength and flexibility to give the team direction without exerting too much control."[35] After the Destiny War, Jan returned to work with the Avengers once more, taking up leadership of the team and commanding the team through a number of conflicts, including Kang's invasion of Earth.[36]

Jan and Hank's relationship remained strong for some time. On a trip to Las Vegas, however, she turned down Pym's proposal, saying she wouldn't marry him again.[37] She had a brief fling with fellow team member Hawkeye,[38] but returned to Hank.[volume & issue needed]

Avengers Disassembled

While discussing her fling with Hawkeye to the Scarlet Witch, a slightly tipsy Wasp confessed to a pregnancy scare and inadvertently mentioned Wanda's own children,[39] whose unnatural existence Agatha Harkness had kindly erased from the Witch's memory. The Wasp's slip of the tongue, combined with the Scarlet Witch's increasingly unstable and growing powers, caused Wanda to suffer a mental breakdown which led to the events of Avengers Disassembled. Janet was knocked into a coma by a rampaging She-Hulk during an attack on Avengers Mansion by the Scarlet Witch. Hank watched over her as she lay in the hospital, and when she recovered, they reconciled. The two retired from the Avengers in order to pursue a new life together in Oxford.[40]


The Wasp reappeared with Pym in the miniseries Beyond!. He was at that point still her ex-husband, and over the course of the events chronicled in this series it was revealed that they had called off their most recent attempt at a romantic relationship, although they remained on good terms.[volume & issue needed]

Civil War

Main article: Civil War (comics)

With the onset of the superhuman Civil War, Hank helped spearhead the pro-registration movement. Janet was also pro-registration, although she was very upset about the murder of her friend Bill Foster, and became the host of a pro-registration reality show called America's Newest Superhero.[volume & issue needed]

Mighty Avengers

When selecting the roster for the latest incarnation of the Avengers team, this time as part of the Fifty State Initiative, Tony Stark selected Janet as a founding member of the Mighty Avengers.[41] When alien symbiotes attacked New York, Janet used a refined growth formula given to her by Hank Pym which allowed her to shift to giant-size without side effects. During the beginning of the fight, she was briefly turned into a symbiote monster before a cure was created by Stark.[42]

At this point, Hank had been replaced by a Skrull, and the growth formula was part of a grander plan.

Secret Invasion

Main article: Secret Invasion

Janet was among the Mighty Avengers who were fighting heroes from the Skrull ship. She was later seen with the rest of the Avengers heading to New York to confront the Skrulls. While fighting the Skrulls, the true purpose of the serum that the Skrull Hank Pym gave her was revealed. After Queen Veranke was thought to be dead, Skrull Pym pressed a button that made Jan increase in size rapidly. She realized the "new" particles Pym gave her were turning her into a bio-bomb. Jan was seen growing to huge size, emitting black-purple energy, and about to explode. Janet tried to flee the battlefield trying to take as many Skrulls with her as possible. To save the humans, Thor killed her to put her out of her misery, vowing to avenge her.[43] After her death, Hank Pym resolved to take up his fallen ex-wife's mantle and became the Wasp.[44]


Following the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, it is revealed that Janet had not died, but she was in the Microverse in the same spot that she appeared to have died in Secret Invasion, where she claims to have been trapped for 10 years. Using her Avengers communication card she is able to send a signal with help from a local being called Cru-Sani. Giant Man, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man go into the Microverse to rescue her and find her alive and fighting against someone called "Lord Gouzar."[45]

Powers and abilities

Making use of the cellular implantation of sub-atomic Pym particles, the Wasp possessed the power to alter her physical size, causing her body's mass to be shunted to or gained from an alternate dimension known as Kosmos. She was able to shrink to a minimum of several centimeters or grow to a maximum of several hundred feet. Smaller or larger sizes were possible but the exertion began to put a strain on her body. Initially, these abilities stemmed from use of a Pym particle gas released from special capsules, and later biochemical augmentation by Henry Pym. Over time, however, her body absorbed enough particles to cause cellular mutation due to repeated exposure to Pym particles to allow her to alter her size at will.

At miniature size, her strength level increased as her body's mass was compacted. At giant size, her strength and endurance increased geometrically with her height, reaching superhuman levels. Despite the advantages of giant size, Janet usually preferred to remain the diminutive Wasp, calling on her growth power only in times of extreme emergency.

At miniature size, the Wasp grew a pair of translucent insect wings from her back, a result of genetic modifications provided by Hank Pym. These granted her the power of flight, at speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).

The Wasp was able to harness and augment her body's natural bio-electric energy, releasing it from her hands in powerful electrical force bursts, which she called her "stinger blasts", "stingers", or "wasp's stings". Originally, she required special wrist devices to produce these but again, Pym particle absorption allowed her to create the ability unaided.

The Wasp's genetic modifications also granted her the ability to sprout small prehensile antennae from her temples which allowed her to telepathically communicate with and control insects. However, this was an ability she rarely used.

Van Dyne displayed several non-superhuman abilities that garnered her special fame and attention, foremost of which was her fashion sense; in nearly all of her early appearances, she sported a new costume, presumably designed and manufactured on her own as she was a gifted fashion designer. She was also a skilled amateur screenwriter. The Wasp was trained in unarmed combat by Captain America and in combat utilizing her special powers by Henry Pym. In addition, the Wasp was one of the most intuitive, if not deductive, members of the Avengers, and was an experienced leader and strategist. She effectively deduced that a chemical accident created a schizophrenic break in Henry Pym,[46] the relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision was the result of the infused personality of Wonder Man,[volume & issue needed] and guessed the identity of Iron Man at a time when Tony Stark faked his own death.[volume & issue needed]

Reception and legacy

IGN ranked Wasp as the 99th greatest comic book hero of all time, stating that she remained one of the core Avengers members for much of the franchise's history, and her extensive wardrobe rivals even the likes of Wolverine's.[47]

Other versions


In the alternate future of the "MC2" universe, Hank and Janet would end up giving birth to two children: Hope Pym/Red Queen and Henry Pym, Jr./Big Man. Giant-Man would later perish on the last mission of the original Avengers, with the Wasp dying of a broken heart. Their parents' deaths motivated Red Queen to form the Revengers. Big Man, a one-time member, however, joined a government reform team.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Adventures

The Marvel Adventures: The Avengers series (set in its own continuity) features Janet Van Dyne as Giant-Girl, showcasing her ability to grow rather than shrink, which she uses in combat. She is younger than her main universe counterpart and she cracks jokes along with her teammate Spider-Man. Issue 13 of the series reveals her origin as a wealthy socialite given access to size-changing Pym particles by scientist Henry Pym (here an employee of Janet's father, rather than a superhero). Her maximum size is unknown, but she has grown tall enough to catch a school. Instead of having her powers naturally, Janet requires a suit powered by Pym particles to change her size. Like her Earth-616 counterpart, Janet seems to change her costume regularly. The first costume was purple and black with a mask adorned with antennae that looks remarkably similar to the Giant-Man costume worn by Hank Pym in the mainstream universe. This costume allowed her to grow while having the added effect of letting her control insects (though she never uses this power). This costume is later destroyed, and Janet wears a second costume that allows her to grow that does not include a mask, as her secret identity had been revealed. Finally, Janet gained a third suit that allows her to both grow and shrink, with the suit changing in appearance depending on her size. While using this suit to shrink, she calls herself Wasp and has powers similar to her mainstream counterpart, such as flight, proportionally superhuman strength, and the ability to project bio-electrical stings. A recent preview of Marvel Adventures the Avengers 19 has shown her wearing a costume which is primarily blue but has gold-yellow accents. Whether this costume increases her maximum size is yet to be seen. She has also mentioned that she has at least two brothers, although they have never been seen or given any names (see Marvel Adventures the Avengers #3).

Marvel Zombies

The Marvel Zombies series features an alternate Wasp as one of the main characters. She is now a zombie, another victim of the virus that has infected nearly all her world's superhumans. After Earth's human population is almost entirely devoured, Wasp is one of the zombies who finally kills (and consumes) Magneto.[volume & issue needed]

Around this time Wasp is part of a sub-team that makes its way to the Marvel Apes universe. A collection of heroes manages to reverse the dimensional tear and send them back, but not before Wasp secretly infects the local version of Iron Man, Iron Mandrill.[48]

The Wasp then discovers that Hank Pym has kept a secret food supply—a sedated and maimed Black Panther, held prisoner in Hank's lab. She confronts Hank, but he decapitates her by increasing in size and biting her head off in the struggle that follows. When the Black Panther later escapes the lab, he also takes the Wasp's head—still 'alive', but helpless. He eventually reaches safety, encountering Magneto's surviving Acolytes. The Acolytes announce that they will study the Wasp, seeking a cure for the virus.[49]

An epilogue, five years later, shows the Wasp exploring the deserted Earth alongside the Acolytes. Her severed head is now sealed within a liquid-filled helmet, controlling a robotic body.[volume & issue needed]

Forty years later in "Marvel Zombies 2", her head is fixed on a more advanced machine with her head exposed to the air. She also develops romantic feelings toward one of the Acolyte survivors, a scientist named Reynolds. As she indicates, forty years with the Acolytes is far longer than the time she has spent with Hank. At one point, the two share a kiss.[49]

A long period without feeding seems to have cured her completely of the hunger. Now Black Panther's adviser and friend, she is forced to infect him when an Acolyte assassin attempts to kill him. This incident is orchestrated by Malcolm Cortez, the son of Fabian Cortez, who wants to take leadership from Black Panther. When the hunger resurfaces, she nearly eats Panther's wife before being stopped by him. Instead, they eat the assassin and they state they will go into isolation in order to control their hunger. This is a success. Multiple powered zombies soon threaten the colony. Wasp fights alongside Panther, Hawkeye (who had also been decapitated and inhabits Janet's own former cybernetic body), Forge, and a reformed Luke Cage and Spider-Man to save the people of New Wakanda from Firelord, Giant Man, Wolverine, Gladiator, Hulk, Jean Grey, and Iron Man, who are seeking to finish off humanity and retain the inter-dimensional portal so they can enter a new universe. Eventually the zombies discover, as Janet did, that the hunger fades with time, and they stop their rampage only to have their numbers halved by the Hulk. Janet, along with the other remaining zombies (the new Colonel America, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Giant Man, Wolverine, and Black Panther), end up teleported to another universe by Malcolm Cortez.[50]

The Wasp ends in the dimension of 'Earth Z'. She leads an alien invasion of the zombie-infected Earth in an effort to quash the flesh-eating threat. She fails at this and is destroyed.[51]


Janet is shown as a member of the Avengers and aids them during the battle with Starro. She also gives Iron Man the idea to create a dimensional alarm and rallies other Avengers to defend the artifacts. After the final battle in the Savage Land against the Justice League, Janet ends up as an Avenger in the new merged world that the villain Krona created and is unaware of the changes. In this world she and Hank are good friends with Elongated Man and his wife Sue Dibny. When the two teams decide to team up against Krona, the Wasp fights alongside the Avengers until the battle is over.[52]

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel continuity, Janet Pym is a 26-year-old [53] mutant[54] and a member of the Ultimates. She holds two Ph.D.s (one known to be in molecular biology[55]) and is portrayed as being of Asian descent.[56][57] She is moderately fluent in German.

Her mutant status remains hidden from the public but is known by Hank Pym and S.H.I.E.L.D. She can generate a glittering wasp-like sting which she discharges through her hands.[54][58][59] Her bio-electric blast, when applied from within the ear to the brain, reverted the Hulk to Banner during his New York massacre.[58] Side-effects of her insectoid genetics include the occasional consumption of bugs, forming her own larval nests, and laying egg-like constructs.[54]

During her college years, she shared a room with Betty Ross and started seeing Henry Pym. He was abusive to her early in their relationship and during college is known to have hit her at least twice, putting her head through a door on one occasion and splitting the roof of her mouth on another. Betty Ross can also recall instances where Janet was missing chunks of hair. Jan also suffered from severe bulimia prior to joining the Ultimates.[60]

Hank's attempts at change through medication and enlistment in the Ultimates did not improve his behavior. As a result of his humiliating loss against the Hulk and simmering jealousy against Jan's friendship with Captain America, Henry and Jan fought viciously until Janet resorted to stinging him and Hank commanding an army of ants against her. Janet was found in a state of anaphylactic shock, caused by receiving multiple ant stings she received while at wasp-size. Captain America, upon learning of Hank's violence, tracked him down and beat him unconscious. Captain America's visits to Jan after the fight left her exasperated and angry, stemming more from embarrassment of her personal life becoming public.[61]

After stopping the Chitauri invasion, Captain America and the Wasp reconciled as friends and slowly started dating, despite Hank Pym's attempts at making amends. On one of their secret meetings, Jan later confessed to Hank, now classified as a security risk by S.H.I.E.L.D., that the generation gap between Captain America and herself, along with the elderly status of his friends, put a large strain on their relationship. She recently walked out on Steve and met up with Hank in a bar.[62]

The invasion of America by the Liberators failed to take Janet into account. They discounted the possibility that someone whose only ability is to make herself "smaller and weaker" could be a threat. By the time they found her, Janet had made her way to the cells in the Triskelion where Captain America was being held under suspicion of murdering Hawkeye's entire family. Soldiers working for the Liberators entered his cell and found two metahuman signatures. At first, Janet was easily subdued, but they failed to realize that she had already liberated her boyfriend. Captain America easily beat the Schizoid Man, but stopped fighting when several super soldiers threatened to tear Jan apart. However, Jan surprised them all by using her stinging powers at her normal size for the first time, killing or incapacitating all the super soldiers at once.[63]

At some point, Hank gave the Wasp a dose of the Giant-Man Serum, giving her the power to grow to gigantic proportions. Larger in size, Janet helped turn the tide in favor of American forces and crushed Swarm with one stomp of her foot. It is yet to be seen whether Janet can grow at will or whether this was a one-off experience.[64]

She is the new leader/co-leader with Ultimate Captain America of the team in The Ultimates 3 miniseries, and now sports a crimson-and-gold outfit and a mask, similar to her 616-Wasp counterpart, and she begins to reconcile with Hank (who begins a new identity as "YellowJacket"), and later with the Ultimates and Wolverine stop the plans of Hank's android, Ultron.[65] She and Hawkeye frequently clash thanks to his almost suicidal nature after his family is killed.[66] After the flood from the Ultimatum Wave, she is missing. Both Hank Pym and Hawkeye search for her. Hawkeye finds her being eaten by the Blob, who is later killed by Hank, but is killed by an army of mutant suicide bombers, the Multiple Men. The comic came out one month after her mainstream Marvel Universe counterpart's death.[67]

Before his death, Pym tells Hawkeye, and Iron-Man to take Janet's body to his lab and activate "the Jocasta project".[68]

In Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, shortly after the Death of Spider-Man story arc, Thor gives a eulogy at Spider-Man's funeral claiming he has seen Spider-Man dining in Valhalla with other deceased superheroes, including Wasp.[69]

In the Ultimate Comics: Avengers a new Wasp appears (called Red Wasp). She is revealed to be a former Liberator soldier previously known as the Insect Queen, now reformed with an obedience chip and serves as a member of the Avengers.[70] In Ultimate Comics: Avengers #5, a flashback reveals that she was Petra Laskov, the wife of a Georgian activist. One day the Red Skull kidnapped them, held the couple's child at gunpoint, and forced her to kill her husband to save her child. She does so, only for the Red Skull to throw her infant out a window, and then order his men to rape her.[71] Along with the rest of the Avengers, she fights the Red Skull only to be overpowered until he was fatally injured by Captain America. A short while later when the Red Skull was in the hospital, Petra, dressed like a doctor, walked into his room and shot him in the head, killing him.[72]

She appears to have the same powers as her predecessor.

In other media


Wasp, from The Avengers: United They Stand episode "What a Vision Has to Do".


Video games



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  75. ^ Rumor: Stephanie Szostak is Janet Van Dyne AKA The Wasp in Iron Man 3