Happy Endings Aren’t Always Happy in Unstoppable Wasp 8

by Taylor Anderson

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When asked what the best Star Wars movie is, most people will tell you Empire Strikes Back is where it’s at. Objectively, there’s no denying that it is the most cinematically sound of the all the movies, but I think a lot of people respond to it because it ends on a dour note. Seeing Han, Luke, and Leia fail resonates with so many people because it more accurately reflects our own life experiences. Aside from a select few, most of us know more failure than we do success, so the realism of a sad ending is often times preferable to a happy one. Unstoppable Wasp 8 doesn’t end sadly, in fact the entire issue is quite the opposite, and for that reason the issue falls somewhat flat.

Having saved her friends from would-be assassins and securing her place as Janet Van Dyne’s protege, things are looking up for Nadia. It’s temping to think that this is enough of a happy ending for Nadia but writer Jeremy Whitley has a different idea. The entirety of this issue is comprised of various happy surprises Janet has for Nadia, now that they have admitted they like one another. First, Nadia gets some bodyguards, then she gets a paternity test to establish her American citizenship, then she’s reuinited with her friends from G.I.R.L., and finally Janet gifts Nadia a brand new lab.

Oh, and after that they all throw a huge, fancy party.

All of these good things coming to Nadia make for one hell of a happy ending. However, as much as I want to celebrate all of these thoughtful gifts provided by Janet, I simply can’t. The reason for this is that it doesn’t totally feel like Nadia has done enough in her short life to deserve such an overwhelming smorgasbord of happy delights. Don’t get me wrong here — I fully realize that until recently Nadia’s life has been a living hell. Still, after only just eight issues of adventures it just doesn’t feel like Nadia has lived or suffered enough in her own story to warrant such a joyous issue.

Perhaps this sounds cynical, but this issue seems like too much, too soon. To really feel the joy of a happy ending in any story, heroes need to go through a lot of shit first. We enjoy happy endings only when the events that preceded them have appeared to be an actual struggle. I’m not sure Nadia’s story to this point has shown her struggling enough to warrant such a grand payoff. Now, I’m not saying that things in this issue needed to be as dark as those events in Empire Strikes Back, but if you want me to be happy about Nadia’s good fortune, I need something that makes the payoff more sweet.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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One comment on “Happy Endings Aren’t Always Happy in Unstoppable Wasp 8

  1. Taylor, I think your big mistake with this issue is you ignored how last issue acted as Nadia’s darkest hour. Last issue, Nadia felt like she had lost everything. She thought she’d lost everything. Her chance to stay in her home, the respect of her idol, her dream of GIRL, her best friend, her own moral code… Nadia was in the darkest hour. She felt like she had failed everything she had valued, and could never excape being the violent assassin she was. That’s what makes this issue work so well. After everything that went wrong, Nadia has come out of the dark. This issues provides conclusions to literally every plot point every brought up in the entire series, no matter how small (because Nadia is all about the small stuff), providing satisfying and joyful lconclusions to all of Nadia’s dark journeys. While filling it out with the general Wasp stuff AND adding a brand new, final crisis to deal with.

    It is amazing. This issue has the time to relax and give time for Ying’s hilarious social awkwardness, or giving all the characters the chance to just to be themselves in scenes like the dress scene. Even as it does so much.

    Nadia gets the chance to show contrition for what she did to Poundcakes and Letha. THe scene isn’t about being gifted bodyguards, but letting herself be defined for her bottomles empathy and not her assassin training
    After all the legal problems, she gets to the DNA, and more importantly gets to see the one things she has never had the chance to see. Her mother. It was so powerful.
    She gets to see her dream rebuilt, as everyone’s passion for her idea means that no one will let GIRL die, even when Nadia has already accepted it.
    All the members of GIRL get to have their own climaxes. Shay, who was lonely for family, finds a brand new connection as she starts a relationship with Ying. Priya truly commits herself to GIRL, seeing GIRL as her friends instead of the popular kids. Taina gets the independence she has always been looking for (both by climbing the stairs, and by the fact that she finally gets her own room), while Alexis finally gets to see she belongs with GIRL even if she isn’t a genius. Oh, and it is worth noting that Nadia is moving out of Hank’s old place and now has quarters at GIRL, with her family)
    Bobbi being inspired all the way back in issue 1 pays off with her coming in as a mentor, while also acting as the perfect way to resolve Nadia’s fears of failing Bobbi.

    Literally everythign pays off in beautiful ways. Every struggle that every one of these beautiful women is payed off in ways that are truly affirming. And it does that while giving space for these characters to show perosnalities in all sorts of little ways (like their dresses. Hell, the fact that Janet has stilletto heels and Nadia’s heels are much smaller is clever in how wise it is). But then it goes into new stuff, like the elephant in the room. Nadia learns of her father’s history, and how he abused Janet. The scene is intimate, personal, full of wisdom…
    And then, we get the grand finale. After everything, after every single climax to every single fucking arc this story has had, Nadia finally gets to decide who she is. And doesn’t Nadia Van Dyne sound perfect?

    Part of me wants to write a panel by panel analysis of this issue, of how perfect it is. How every plot weaves together, of how the art so perfectly sells the emotions. Of careful analysis of every dress. Part of me just want sto cry at how beautiful this comic was.

    THis book was truly unique. A superhero book that was all about things too small for any other superhero book. In some ways, the best thing to compare it to is the Vision, int he wyas it is stridently isn’t a superhero book. It can be easy to miss what this is a story about, in some ways, because it breaks every superhero convention and doesnt do it in such a in your face way as the Vision. But ultiamtely, it is a book about people in a superhero universe. Of a woman who doesn’t want to fight, and a world that tries its hardest to make her fight. The Coming of Age of a character who can truly be called unstoppable. And she’s unstoppable not becaus ehse’s the ultiamte badass, because in a universe built to tell stories of violence and fighting, she lives to do the opposite and suceeds. This is a superheor story where the true stories, the true problems, are small and initimate. Are personal. Where the darkness of the Red ROom is nothing compared to the darkness of failing to live up to yourself, or disappointing your mentors.
    In retrospect, it is unsurprising that a book about the Wasp (either of them) was about this. But it struck like lightning, beginning as a great book and only getting better and better. The Marvel Universe will be a worse palce without this book, and all we can do is wait for Nadia to find a new place in the Marvel Universe where we can read her fantastic adventures (Waid’s Avengers don’t count).

    This issue, and this series was something beautiful. Marvel was truly brave to give a character this untested a book, and a book this different. THis unique. ANd it is a tragedy that this sort of book can’t survive longer than 8 issues in the current market.

    Sensational

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