The Unstoppable Wasp #4 Review

by Charles Martin on January 30, 2019

The Unstoppable Wasp #4 Review
Writer: Jeremy Whitley
Artists: GuriHiru
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Unstoppable Wasp #4 picks up with the Wasps and the GIRL crew facing the aftermath of a pretty severe defeat. This issue drills down into the character implications of their responses; the many "big picture" plot questions about their antagonists remain unanswered.

Janet takes the point-of-view responsibilities for the first act, and she does at least get those antagonist mysteries down on the page. But she's more focused on the guilt she feels after being the Designated Adult when her kids get hurt.

Her story and the supporting cast's start getting better after everybody's gotten medical attention and a little rest.

Which is when they realize Nadia skipped out on both those things.

The scary-looking Nadia on the cover? With the chalkboard full of crazy and the haunted eyes and the unhealthy pallor? We're going there.

The core of the issue is hitched to Nadia's runaway train of thought. We race through "hyper-competent" to "hyper" to "unhinged," and her reconnection with her supporting cast at the end does not take the form of a happily-ever-after.

With Janet in the mix, you better believe the uncomfortable parallels to Hank Pym get drawn explicitly. Bipolar disorder is brought into the character discussion in an ambiguous (good ambiguous) way without serving as a simplistic "case closed" revelation.

Visually, this issue takes the brave step of going all-in on the scary, erratic tone set by the script. It's a very quiet presentation in terms of action. The mostly-setup no-resolution character work doesn't need a lot of emoting, either. But there is a lot of effort expended on incrementally adjusting Nadia's look as her mental state deteriorates. It's easy to miss, but it's subtly powerful.

The colour palette is also very muted, again matching the tone. Brightness really plays a bigger role than hue. While the supporting cast members weather their last night-time scenes and move into a bright, clear day, Nadia curls into herself in unending twilight. It's particularly powerful when the rest of the characters return to the lab and bring the brightness with them; that emphasizes how closely the lighting is tied to Nadia in the middle section of the comic.

As this issue is all about character development, the attention devoted to Nadia deserves careful consideration. The script aims for some very ambitious goals. It does an excellent job following Nadia off the rails. It's not easy to show simultaneously that things are making perfect sense to Nadia while looking increasingly crazy from an outside viewpoint, but this issue does a pretty good job with it.

Turning Nadia's work into a crib sheet for assessing her supporting cast is a little less successful. ("Fixing" all her friends' problems is one of the jobs she tackles as she ascends into mania.) While her chalkboard full of character analysis is both a useful reference and an impressive demonstration of how complex the cast is, it veers dangerously close to telling instead of showing. It's a useful contrivance, but its artificiality cannot be concealed.

Unstoppable Wasp #4 bulldozes away the critique that Nadia (and her friends) are too perfect, and it pushes its protagonist into a very scary place. It reveals the dark shadows cast by Nadia's optimistic energy and dives into them deeply. The ambitious character work is not without its flaws, and it's unrelieved by action or plot development, but this is a grim must-read for Nadia fans. 

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
At the risk of being flippant, I say one of this issue's important lessons is, "After you've had a terrible awful no-good kick-you-in-the-pants bad day, make sure you actually end it by getting some sleep."