After the chaos of their battle with the mercenaries and Ying’s subsequent collapse in the previous issue, we get a heartwarming issue exploring Janet Van Dyne’s life in her new role as mother to the growing G.I.R.L. roster. The issue feels almost like an Astro City story where we see her as a woman first and a hero second. This is shown in little things like her talking about how she manages to fall asleep and maintains a daily exercise routine as well as her calling fellow heroes by their first names. She is not a new to the job hero like Nadia; this Wasp has experience.
Her experience level is a major focus in the writing of this issue with Janet directly addressing her critics in a manner that was particularly satisfying for this long time geek girl. Jeremy Whitley devotes a full-page to address some misconceptions about her character and calls out the “fake fan boys” by setting up several of the reasons that people dismiss her and knocks them down one by one. He then draws an analogy between Janet and hero groups like the Avengers in comparison to groups like the New Warriors to illustrate the fact that she sees her secret power as the ability to “get things done.” And, as an “Avenger-slash-designer-slash-C.E.O of a major scientific research lab,” she certainly does. In just this issue we see her do everything from practicing self-care and emotional labor to kicking some villainous butt and talking on the phone, in both English and Spanish, with commissioners, lawyers, scientists… While I both understand the purpose of this and strongly support it, this does form my biggest critic of the issue: there is a lack of action. Most of what we see is Janet talking and the plot is basically them waiting for Ying to get out of the hospital. The one actual fight adds almost nothing to the storyline and feels like it was added in just because of this lack. Still, it is gloriously depicted. Veronica Fish has a classic yet modern style that is very dynamic. Also, her creativity is admirable.
Unsurprisingly, the main message of this issue is rooted in our overall culture’s understanding of women. Each of the misconceptions that these “fake fan boys” have is linked to stereotypes about women and a key one that is highlighted is the idea that every female in a superhero team is automatically the mother figure of it. This issue does fall into that trope, but does so in a way that resists it. For example, she mentions stabbing Clint Barton with an electric arrow for implying she is the mom of the Avengers twice. A woman is not maternal just because she is a woman. That said, Janet becomes maternal after growing to care about the girls around her and makes the choice to take on that role. Instead of fulfilling the stereotype, her choice is a sign of agency and the main reason behind her decision is clear.
At the end, there is a segment titled “Agents of G.I.R.L..” This segment includes an introduction containing a joke about a two-hour thesis on Christian Siriano’s shoe line as well as setting up the interviews of two real life female scientists. This implies that there is nothing wrong with either interest and that each is valued. The inclusion of these interviews is also important because women face similar types of exclusion and stereotypical treatment in the science world as they do in the comic one. Giving little girls exposure to women who have proven it can be done is a powerful way to encourage them to participate in the STEAM programs that the series regularly showcases. In a time where science itself is under attack, the fact that this series exists gives me hope.
While this issue may not be the most exciting thing you read, it should be read. More than that, it should be given to every little girl and boy because consistently exposing our children to the types of representations seen in this issue has the potential to truly change our culture for the better. 4.5 Stars!
STORY BY Jeremy Whitley
ART BY Veronica Fish
COLORS BY Megan Wilson
LETTERS BY VC’s Joe Caramagna
COVER BY Elsa Charretier
PUBLISHER Marvel Comics