Janet Van Dyne was born in Cresskill, New Jersey, the socialite daughter of wealthy scientist Vernon van Dyne. When her father is killed by an alien entity unleashed during one of his experiments, Janet turns to his associate Dr. Hank Pym for aid and convinces him to help her. In order to avenge her father’s death, she undergoes a biochemical procedure that grants her the ability to grow wings upon shrinking under four feet tall and uses a supply of “Pym particles” by which to change her size.
Together, she and Ant-Man defeat the alien and avenge her father. Janet decides to remain as the Wasp and be Hank’s partner as she has fallen in love with him, though he initially rejects her feelings due to the similarities between her and his first wife, who had been murdered.
During her time as Hank’s partner, she took part in numerous conflicts with villains who included the Porcupine, Egghead, and Whirlwind (then known as the Human Top). Though initially without any offensive powers, Janet proves to be resourceful, using her ability to communicate with insects to fight, as well as using a pin to poke people as means of a weapon. Later, she uses a miniature air gun, the original wasp’s sting.
After the initial confrontation with Loki that brought together the founding Avengers, it is Janet and Hank who propose forming a team of superheroes. Janet suggests the name for the team and becomes a founding member. Early on in her Avengers career, she is seriously wounded by a stray bullet in battle against Count Nefaria, and nearly dies from a collapsed lung. She leaves the team several issues later. When she returns in Avengers vol. 1 #26, her shrinking powers have progressed to the point where she no longer needs Pym particle capsules to change her size.
Though Janet hopes on several occasions that her long-term boyfriend, Hank, will propose, their relationship does not move forward to that point until something more dramatic happens. A new vigilante named Yellowjacket breaks into the Avengers mansion, demands to be admitted as a member of the team, claims to have killed Henry Pym, and then kidnaps Janet.
Not believing that he has killed Hank, she attempts to find where Yellowjacket is holding him but instead determines that Yellowjacket is Henry Pym. Before revealing this, and during the period in which Yellowjacket still believes himself to have killed Hank, Janet marries him, though the wedding is disrupted by an attack from the Circus of Crime. During the fight it is revealed that Yellowjacket is Pym.
Janet discovers that her husband, who had become paranoid, overbearing, and verbally abusive, had concocted a plan to make himself look good in front of his teammates by staging an attack upon them which only he could stop. When she attempts to dissuade him, he strikes her. She divorces him soon after and takes a very brief break from the team.
When Janet returns to the Avengers, she proposes that the team is in need of new leadership and nominates herself for the role of Chairperson. She is elected to the position by Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America. Janet takes to the role naturally, proving to be an efficient and smart leader who is praised by Captain America for her leadership skills. She makes it a point to increase the number of women on the team and recruits She-Hulk and Captain Marvel to the team.
Avengers Disassembled and Civil War and the Skrull Invasion
While discussing her fling with Hawkeye with the Scarlet Witch, a slightly tipsy Wasp confesses to a pregnancy scare and inadvertently mentions Wanda’s own children, whose unnatural existence Agatha Harkness has erased from the Witch’s memory. The Wasp’s slip of the tongue, combined with the Scarlet Witch’s increasingly unstable and growing powers, cause Wanda to suffer a mental breakdown which leads to the events of Avengers Disassembled.During the superhero Civil War, Janet (who had always been open about her identity) and Hank both supported the Superhuman Registration Act and thus joined Iron Man’s Pro-Registration Superhero Unit, with Hank helping spearhead the movement. She hosted a pro-registration reality TV show, America’s Newest Superhero. Despite being on the Pro-Registration side, Jan was distraught when her friend Bill Foster, a leader of the opposing Secret Avengers, was killed in battle by a clone of Thor.
During the Skrull invasion on Earth, Jan, along with her Mighty Avengers teammates and the New Avengers confronted a Skrull spaceship in the Savage Land and opposed many Skrulls who appeared as various superheroes dressed in older versions of their costumes. Both Avengers groups were taken back to New York by Mister Fantastic and Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. to confront the Skrulls in a final battle. What Janet was unaware of was that a growth serum that ‘Hank Pym’ (actually the Skrull Criti Noll in disguise) had given her a month earlier was tampered with and was designed to transform her into a monolithic, explosive bio-weapon. Criti Noll survived the battle long to activate the new growth serum in a desperate attempt to destroy the Earth following the supposed death of his queen Veranke in the final battle.
Growing hundreds of feet tall with highly visible, and unstable, energy searing out of her body, Janet’s former teammate and fellow founding Avenger Thor used his hammer to minimize the damage of the explosion by turning the energy emanated by her body back to herself so she exploded. Thor swore to avenge her death.
Following the Avengers vs. X-Men story line, it is revealed that Janet has not died after all, but has been shunted into a Microverse by Thor’s spatial warp in the same spot that she appears to have died in Secret Invasion.
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 an evil despot, Lord Gouzar, who has conquered the Microverse. After defeating Lord Gouzar and liberating the Microverse from his tyranny, Janet and her fellow Avengers return to their normal universe.
Powers and Abilities
- Size Reduction: Due to long-term exposure to Pym Particles, The Wasp could reduce herself in size, down to the dimensions of the insect from which she takes her name, roughly 1/2 inch in height. She usually chooses not to retain her standard density while at this reduced mass, but can choose to do so at will. The “lost” mass is shunted to a pocket dimension for later retrieval. Additionally, her strength was boosted while she is at reduced size, to the extent that she can bend a one-inch diameter steel bar almost double. Her size allows her to be easily unnoticed in most cases, allowing her to become stealthy in some cases.
- Flight: Due to small implanted insect wings, the Wasp could fly at incredibly fast speeds. These are functional when she reduced herself in height, and can remain so until reaching a height that is a nearly foot shorter than her normal height. Her flight speed can also allow her to gain a form of superhuman reflexes and agility, being able to easily evade targets and attacks.
- Wasp’s Sting: The Wasp could generate powerful bio-electric blasts from her hand that have been shown to be capable of cutting through high-density structures and is able to cause extreme pain to super humanly strong and highly durable beings.
- Insect Communication and Control: Through the use of her retractable antennae, the Wasp could communicate with and control certain higher insects, in a manner similar to Ant-Man’s Helmet. She rarely chose to utilize this ability, however.
- Size Addition: In addition to being able to shrink, Wasp could grow significantly in size as well. The growth process requires the rapid acquisition of bodily mass, presumably from an extra-dimensional source. This extra-dimensional mass fortifies all of her cellular tissues, including her bones and muscles, enabling her to support her increased weight, and giving her superhuman strength. Perhaps due to the bodily strains that her ex-husband Hank experienced as a side-effect of such powers, Janet uses this power only in emergencies, preferring to shrink to her wasp-sized form.
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