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CSBG Archive

The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – So Did Wasp Die or What?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the time when it seemed as though the Wasp had been killed…

Let us go back years and years ago to a magical year called 2008. In that year, the Avengers and the rest of Earth’s heroes were in a pitched battle against an invasion by Skrulls.

One of the Skrulls had been impersonating Hank Pym. This Hank Pym gave Wasp a serum that allowed her to become a giant as well as shrink.

Anyhow, during the final battle against the Skrull forces in Central Park in New York, the Skrulls were in bad shape, so they decided to use their ace in the hole…the serum that the Wasp had used was actually something that could allow the Skrulls to, in effect, turn her into a bomb…

Sad (you can click on the double-page spreads to enlarge them)

A little while later, Hercules was on a mission in the afterlife and he discovers Janet…

However, just recently, in his final Avengers arc, Brian Michael Bendis has the Avengers respond to a distress call coming from Central Park. They discover that the call is coming from the Microverse.

Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Giant Man investigate and they happily find…

Before she can explain, the bad guys attack.

They’re eventually all captured, and that’s when Jan fill in what happened…

One of our cutest abandoned an’ forsaked yet!

NOTE: Just in case it is not clear, what is being abandoned an’ forsaked is the Hercules story showing her as “officially” dead. Bendis’ original story implies death but does not confirm it or anything like that, so simply revealing her as not dead later on would not necessarily be a case of abandoned an’ forsaked.

56 Comments

Bendis never fails to disappoint.

I don’t think Bendis changed his story so much as the other writers didn’t know what he had planned, but yes it creates a discontinuity.

yeah but in his infinite wisdom… Bendis totally glossed over Janet’s status trapped in an infinite nexus as established in Avengers Academy. Hell it was Hank Pym who discovered her there and tried to bring her back. I don’t have the issue number off hand but i believe it was right before Jocasta left to ‘become’ the bride of ultron…

Daryll, do you mean Hank wasn’t able to bring her back?
Has Hank given up the Wasp ID now that she’s alive? My comics reading is much more erratic than i tused to be (one reason I’m glad for columns like this).

yeah but in his infinite wisdom… Bendis totally glossed over Janet’s status trapped in an infinite nexus as established in Avengers Academy. Hell it was Hank Pym who discovered her there and tried to bring her back. I don’t have the issue number off hand but i believe it was right before Jocasta left to ‘become’ the bride of ultron…

I am pretty sure that Hank eventually learned that that was not, in fact, Janet.

I blame the Watcher.

No, Hank thought it was Janet but then it turned out to be Carina Korvac, which led to Korvac appearing and almost killing everyone in Avengers Academy. So it didn’t end up violating anything.

@ Fraser,

Hank gave up the Wasp identity and returned to calling himself Giant Man in an early issue of Avengers Academy.

The slot machine thing always seemed like more of a gag than anything… However I’m pretty sure Janet also appeared in Fred Van Lente’s Chaos War as a “dead” hero. Bendis has admitted he brought her back because he basically wanted to put all the toys back in the box for future writers, just like he brought back Hawkeye and reformed Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man.

No, Hank thought it was Janet but then it turned out to be Carina Korvac, which led to Korvac appearing and almost killing everyone in Avengers Academy. So it didn’t end up violating anything.

Thanks, that’s what I thought!

The slot machine thing always seemed like more of a gag than anything… However I’m pretty sure Janet also appeared in Fred Van Lente’s Chaos War as a “dead” hero. Bendis has admitted he brought her back because he basically wanted to put all the toys back in the box for future writers, just like he brought back Hawkeye and reformed Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man.

The slot machine aspect of it was certainly a gag. That the characters in question were dead, though, was not a gag (something that was made clear, as you noted, during Chaos War).

Eh, Norman Osborn and Bucky were both in Gamesmaster’s Legion of the Unliving in that one Avengers annual, so there’s precedent for this sort of thing. It’s called “writers can’t see the future.”

http://www.formspring.me/TomBrevoort/q/396920821068619085

Brevoort commenting on someone’s question about this.

I thought the Bucky death-thing was best handled in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Bucky *did* die, but Cap’s brief contact with the cosmic cube was enough to bring him back.

That said I want to see Chris Yost write Janet. She was my second favourite from A:EMH. (Cap remains #1)

Michael P, the Green Goblin in that Avengers annual was never said to be Norman Osborn; it just as easily could have been Bart Hamilton, who is still dead and gone.

Bucky was the troublesome one, though…

re: Bucky/Winter Soldier.

There’s always an outside possibility that in Bru’s Cap run Steve used the cosmic cube to change reality and that the Winter Soldier wasn’t REALLY Bucky until Steve wished that into being.

So did they ever address the fact that Jan could already grow to giant-size in Chuck Austen’s Avengers run?

I’m a little surprised you did not include the Dan Slott run in Mighty Avengers, where Hank stated that Janet’s essence was preserved in the microverse until he could figure out a way to get her a new body. The image of her kind of looked like Infinity in that storyline. I wish I could remember the issues.

Roquefort Raider

December 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

I like the idea of Jan shrinking herself into the Microverse. It follows comic-booky logic and I didn’t see it coming. I’d like to know why she didn’t blow up, though… even small, shouldn’t still have been doing her living bomb stuff?

Regarding her appearance in the afterworld, well… these things are tricky. Even Captain America’s ghost appeared to Thor when he was “dead” ven though he later turned out to have been temporally displaced. I’d just say that the afterworld is a place where you can’t really always believe what you see and leave it at that.

Matt D: You’ve blown my mind.

Ah ok guys thanks for the correction…. sry Mr Bendis..lol

Mockingbird also made appearances in afterlife stories before SI brought her back.

There are stranger things in Marvel’s Heaven and Hell.

@Matt D. That kind of was the A:EMH thing, Bucky was dead until Cap touched the cube. They could say the same thing. The Cubes are McGuffins. :-)

@Anonymous That was explained in AA by Hank being wrong about who it was.

@Roqufort Raider I actually think he took care of that by having everyone’s powers go ‘wonky’ for a bit. (Shamelessly stole from a JLA story BTW) so Jan’s all explody, she shrinks and the all explody goes wonky. It also explains (if discredits Jan) why she couldn’t just grow again. She’s not the expert in Pym particles Hank is, or since she didn’t know she was in a Microverse (remember from above, she thinks she’s on another world) she was already ‘full size’ as far as she knew.

Couldn’t they say that Jan hit the slot machine payoff and it spit her into the Microverse with no memory of being in the afterlife?

I didn’t notice it when I read it, but the baby is freakin’ POINTING at the Skrull, basically saying “you see this?”

That’s both hilarious and ridiculous.

She suggested that Bucky had been there too, and he definitely had never died at that point. Wasn’t as cut-and-dried a depiction of “death” as it looked.

given how janet had the power to shrink always though that maybe bendis actuly decided to have it look like she was dead with plans when he felt it was time for her to return again. though did find the casino bit in Hercules interesting espically jan saying they let bucky out

i was thrilled that the wasp was really trapped in the microverse and not dead. my very first avengers issue the wasp was in command and she was something to be reckoned with. and her “boys” (the other original avengers) went and got her. i was having a crappy week when i read the issue with the wasps return, and after reading that, all the troubles i was feeling went away. its a shame that bendis’ run is over, he gave us a great 8 years.

No mention here of the *current* Secret Avengers storyline (begun before that Avengers arc), which sees Janet’s dead body resurrected as one of the Deathloks…

and interacting with Hank and other Avengers, too.

@Stefan
The Deathloks and shit are future tech. Different timelines.

I miss the days when marvel had quality control and the writers actually cared.

This is far from the only example of a character appearing in the afterlife and then turning out not to have been dead in the first place. Kyle Richmond also appeared in the Avengers Annual that was already mentioned, and he was only in a coma. There’s Bobbi, as mentioned above. And the 50’s Captain America appeared in a Thunderbolts Annual, only to turn up alive in Brubaker’s Captain America.

I just find it funny that Janet plants a big kiss on almost everybody when she returns.

I feel that someone should mention that Janet died decades ago (and apparently for reals) waay back in the Secret Wars! I think one of those wrecking Crew bozos shot her with some ray (and the Lizard freaked out) but the alien healer Zsaji (sp?) brought her back an issue or two later.

Somebody set her up the bomb.

Whoops, I mean Somebody set up her the bomb. Darn this memey grammar.

r how about the time the Wasp put herself into the cocoon and came back with wings. That didn’t last long.

The scene with Janet at the slot machine during Hercules still fits with what happened in Avengers. Winning the slot machine wouldn’t have just brought her back to life, it’d have changed events so she had never actually died but people didn’t know what had happened to her.

Why? Because Bucky never died. Captain America’s interaction with the cosmic cube did not bring him back to life, transform the Winter Soldier’s mind into becoming Bucky’s, or anything along those lines. Brubaker himself has repeatedly stated that all Captain America wished was for The Winter Soldier to remember, resorting any suppressed or erased memories, whatever they were, if they existed at all. He did not plant or create anything that wasn’t there already.

It’s probably better if you think of it as a Limbo thing that breaks the fourth wall. They’re “dead” until they’re not, thanks to retcons and all that fun stuff which you could call winning the slot machine.

I think Justice gets the No prize.

Guys, let’s stop speculating and just accept this as discontinuity. We’re giving bad writers way too many ideas here… ;)

Ken, I’ve been rereading those issues of Avengers and Wasp does come off very well.
I assumed after Secret Invasion that the Mockingbird in Hell in Thunderbolts was actually her Skrull replacement. But that’s a guess.

“Bendis has admitted he brought her back because he basically wanted to put all the toys back in the box for future writers”
This seems to happen fairly frequently these days. I hate it.
It’s not like I’m naive enough to expect changes to take, but if writers are out to undo their own changes … this seems really pointless. Why not just leave her dead and see what the next author does? Whoever it is can certainly resurrect Jan (or Hawkeye or Dr. Voodoo) if he/she wishes to.

Dammit, buttler, as usual, made the joke I wish I’d made.

And the whole “who’s dead” thing also came up in the X-Statix Dead Girl mini, but it’s been so long since I’ve read it I don’t remember the details.

Since Jan didn’t go ‘splode, that’s kinda (at least part of) the forsaked bit here, as well, isn’t it? She was gonna go boom, but then it all went away.

I like Matt D’s idea that Cap with the Cube wished the Winter Soldier into being Bucky even if he hadn’t been Bucky at first. If Bru said that wasn’t his intention, that’s certainly cool, but one could see a villain using psy-ops against Bucky now to make him think he’d been wished into being.

Or something.

I just LOVE how Jan got brought back in a brokeback pose.

Seriously, though, I didn’t know she was back. This is great news and makes me happier at Marvel than I’ve been for a while.

. . .Wait, they did WHAT to Spider-Man?!?!

So a character who apparently died turns out to have not really died…seems too much an every day occurrence (in comic-land) to deserve an entry here..even with the Hercules sequence establishing her being as dead as Bucky used to be (and he wasn’t really dead either).. I’ll assume it’s presence is an after-effect of Fred Van Lente day

…and maybe we can move onto more unusual ones like the Defenders one (which is so obvious I don’t believe I have to say any more) ..

@The_livewire – a McGuffin is something everybody wants but doesn’t do anything. In the context you use, the cube is closer to a Deus Ex Machina

Easy explanation for Wasp appearing in the afterlife: It was a Skrull impostor that died long before Secret Invasion started.

The Skrull sleeper agents were so deep in cover, they weren’t even aware they were Skrulls, and truly believed themselves to be the persons they were copying. So this was a Janet copy that somehow died before infiltrating the Avengers, and still thinks it is Janet.

Fury, that’s my theory on Mockingbird showing up in Hell in Thunderbolts.

@Fraser: I think that was actually the official explanation in the comics too. The Mockingbird that died in Avengers West Coast #100 was a Skrull impostor, since the real Bobbi Morse-Barton was still a prisoner of the Skrulls. And since a 2nd Mockingbird impostor showed up in Secret Invasion, my theory of the dead Janet being a Skrull sleeper agent sounds plausible, at least.

As for the Cap and Bucky thing, please do remember that the Comic Cube also responds to subconscious desires. While Cap may have consciously used the Cube to restore Bucky’s memories, it’s quite possible he subconsciously wished the Winter Soldier was the “real” Bucky, even if he really wasn’t the real deal. Brubaker may say that this isn’t the case, but the next writer to come along can easily change that fact by using the explanation I posted above. (And probably will)

All ridiculous comic-book-death BS aside, that panel with everyone pissed about Jan’s “death” where even shotgun-toting Norman Osborn has joined the rest in righteous vengeance is pretty badass.

Of course it could be pointed out that it is pretty common at this point for people in the realms of the dead to see things and people that aren’t exactly what they seem or who they say they are. The distractions to heroes in these places are there specifically to bring their attention and keep them from their quest. A key to this is “Janet’s” statement that they “let Bucky out” when in actual continuity, Bucky was never dead. She is clearly just a shadow that Hercules wants to see, and with knowledge that Hercules might have rather than the true spirit of Janet Van Dyne.

Man, if I do say so myself, that’s some pretty solid noprizing.

I was just rereading Vision and Scarlet Witch #5 (second series) when I saw the same kind of scene: Dark Phoenix, Nefaria and Baron Strucker all show up in the afterlife.

And then the Avengers Annual from 1987, which has Bucky and Norman Osborne very definitely dead.

This doesn’t actually count against the Herc story. As mentioned within the Herc story “They let Bucky out. Bucky!” Meaning until he turned out to have been alive all those years, he had been dead to the laws of the afterlife; just as she was equally dead at the time.

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