When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, in Tales of Astonish #44 as a partner for Ant-Man, the world of female superheroes was still a relatively sparse one at Marvel Comics. In the early years of the Wasp, she was a ditzy sidekick who spent more time mooning over her partner than she did actually fighting crime. It took months before she even had her first offensive capability (originally, all she could do was shrink and fly). When she joined the Avengers, they treated her like a tagalong (despite being the person who came up with the name “Avengers”). Most of her early Avengers appearances were just about her trying to make Hank Pym jealous by fawning over Thor.
However, as time went by, Wasp was developed by writers and she slowly matured. Eventually, in the 1980s, she took on the leadership of the Avengers and ended up becoming one of the most successful leaders that the Avengers ever had . In fact, she’s probably led the Avengers in the most issues period next to Captain America. Over the years, she has also become more of a capable fighter. She had racked up a number of impressive wins over the years. Here, we will list some of her most notable victories, some of which may shock you!
One of the most interesting characters in the original Secret Wars miniseries was Magneto. At the time, he had slowly but surely begun to redeem himself from his more villainous ways in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. However, that was known only to the X-Men and not to the world at large. Therefore, when the Beyonder grabbed a bunch of superheroes and supervillains, most of the heroes present were shocked when Magneto was included on their side!
Magneto went off on his own to avoid any conflict and he ended up meeting up with the Wasp. The two slept together, but it turned out that the Wasp was just playing it cool until she learned what his plans were. She then shrunk down and blasted him, knocking him out of the fight with just a single blast of her bio-sting!
As impressive as it was to see the Wasp take out Magneto with a single blast, what happened next is so shocking that it still holds up as one of the most ridiculous superhero fights in Marvel history! You see, while the X-Men originally sided with the rest of the superheroes, they began to wonder if they shouldn’t instead associate themselves with their fellow mutant, Magneto, over their fellow superheroes.
In Secret Wars #4, they arrived at Magneto’s base. Wasp felt betrayed by the X-Men ditching the other heroes. She went to tell the others of this new mutant alliance but the X-Men tried to stop her. She then blasted them all out of the fight. Not only that, but to add insult to injury, she told them that they’re lucky that she used less than half of her power, otherwise, she could have killed them easily! Yikes!
13. ABSORBING MAN
In the epic Avengers storyline, “Under Siege,” Baron Zemo put together a large group of supervillains into a new Masters of Evil. He then studied the Avengers and looked for weaknesses. Ultimately, he found enough of them that he was able to take over Avengers Mansion and capture or incapacitate all of the Avengers except for the Wasp. She was at the hospital with Hercules, who had been badly injured when Zemo sent the Absorbing Man and Titania to the hospital to kill Hercules and the Wasp.
She teamed up with the second Ant-Man (Scott Lang) to stop them and despite the Absorbing Man taking on an entire team of Avengers in the past, Wasp was able to take him out nearly singlehandedly (while Ant-Man handled Titania).
12. HORSEMAN OF DEATH BANSHEE
After being resurrected by the massive release of mutant energy following House of M, the mutant known as Vulcan traveled to get revenge on Professor X and the X-Men. He went to pick off the All-New, All-Different X-Men one by one. He attacked Banshee while the Irish mutant hero was on a plane filled with passengers. Banshee tried to save the plane with his sonic scream powers but he was unable to do so and was killed with everyone else on board.
Years later, the Apocalypse Twins (the heirs of Apocalypse from the pages of Uncanny X-Force) created a Four Horsemen of Death made up of dead heroes and villains. Banshee was one of the heroes resurrected. They fought against the Uncanny Avengers and Wasp took Banshee out by exploding through his vocal cords.
11. HORSEMAN OF DEATH SENTRY
Perhaps the single most impressive victory that the Wasp has had in her superhero career was against the Horsemen of Death version of Sentry. Like Banshee, Sentry — who died at the end of the crossover event, Siege, after he begged Thor to end his life before the Void side of his split personality took over again — was resurrected by the Apocalypse Twins and set against the Uncanny Avengers.
The Wasp used all of her bio-sting energy to blast the Sentry’s face off, but the resurrection effect used by the Apocalypse Twins just regenerated his face. Luckily, they were fighting on an alien surface and so Wasp was able to use her ability to communicate with bugs to make a giant space worm eat Sentry whole.
10. RED RONIN
For a few years in the 1970s, Marvel licensed the rights to make comic books based on Toho’s famous movie monster, Godzilla. Unlike other licensed series like Star Wars, Transformers and G.I. Joe, the Godzilla comic integrated the giant monster right into the Marvel Universe, with S.H.I.E.L.D. forming a special unit designed just to deal with Godzilla.
Along the way, Godzilla also fought against the giant mech known as Red Ronin. Once the Godzilla license went away, Red Ronin was still a Marvel character so they had him fight the Avengers. They defeated him by tricking him into, in effect, attacking himself. Later on, in a Solo Avengers story, the Wasp was able to defeat an out of control Red Ronin by flying into its system and destroying its inner circuitry.
As noted, in the early days of the Avengers, Wasp was treated almost as if she were window dressing. She did help Ant-Man defeat Loki in the first issue of Avengers, but that was almost entirely Ant-Man’s plan that she just helped him carry out by, in effect, serving as bait. Things were so ridiculous in the early issues that at one point the team even referred to the Wasp as being on par with Rick Jones in terms of membership on the team.
However, in Avengers #8, when the “main” Avengers were captured, it fell to Wasp and Rick Jones to save the day (with the help of Rick’s friends in the Teen Brigade). Rick managed to find his way into Kang’s headquarters to free the other Avengers and Wasp then delivered the one weapon that could defeat Kang.
8. THE WRECKING CREW
The Wrecking Crew hold a unique place in the Marvel Universe. They are powerful enough to be huge threats. After all, the Wrecker has an enchanted crowbar given to him by Loki, which he then used to give his fellow crooks in the Wrecking Crew similar magical powers with construction-themed weapons. Still, they are the most common criminals used to show off how competent a new superhero is. They get beat up a lot by a lot of different characters.
During Chuck Austen’s run on Avengers, he introduced the idea that Wasp could use Hank Pym’s growth serum on herself as well, and become, in effect, a Giant-Woman. She used her new powers to take down the Wrecking Crew. They served their typical purpose well.
When the Avengers crossover event, “The Crossing,” came out, it was promoted with the tag line that two Avengers would die. That was true, but as it turned out, it was effectively the two most obscure members of the team. One was the female Yellowjacket, an Avenger for a single mission, who was killed by a brainwashed Iron Man. The second was Gilgamesh, who was an Avenger for less than a year after Walter Simonson had him join the team in Avengers #300 (at which point Simonson then left the series and incoming writers weren’t interested in Gilgamesh).
Gilgamesh was killed by a Kang soldier known as Neut. Neut was taking on the entire Avengers team when suddenly Wasp (who has been put into a restorative chamber after she was also shot by Iron Man) emerged, having been mutated to save her life, and knocked Neut out with a bio-sting blast.
In general, we know that it sounds weird to include Ant-Man on a list of some of the most powerful characters that the Wasp has defeated over the years, but it’s interesting to note that the issue in which she defeated Ant-Man, he was at the top of his game. After retiring the identity for some time, Hank Pym was brainwashed by Ultron to attack the Avengers and Hank used all of his powers to great effect to take out Captain America, Beast and Black Panther right away.
He was setting his sights on the others (by using microscopic attacks that they could not stop) when Wasp swooped in and took out her husband. They then found out about Ultron messing with Hank’s head, which explained the attack (but also was one of the earliest signs that Hank’s mental health was in a fragile state).
Considering how the marriage between Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne ended up, it is not surprising that they had plenty of odd moments in their past before they finally divorced. One of the stranger ones took place in a two-part storyline in Marvel Team-Up where the Wasp and Hank (then in his Yellowjacket identity) helped Spider-Man defeat a new villain known as Equinox, who had both the powers of Human Torch and Iceman.
First Hank faked his death in a fight with the villain so that Wasp would be triggered by his death to have new powers kick in that came about due to him giving her a serum without her knowledge. It increased the power of her bio-sting. She used it to defeat Equinox and everyone was happy at the end of the day, but that was still a very disturbing thing to do.
4. HANK PYM’S KILLER ROBOT
Eventually, Hank Pym’s mental instability led to the end of his marriage. He began to feel as though the Wasp was overshadowing him since he was mostly retired as a superhero. So he decided to return to the Avengers. However, he was so out of sorts that he foolishly attacked a villain from behind while Captain America was convincing her to surrender. The Avengers decided to court martial him for his actions.
He then built a giant killer robot to attack the Avengers. He would then swoop in and save the day, proving himself to the team. However, he screwed up and wasn’t able to stop the robot. It was slowly killing them all when the Wasp (who he had struck in the face the night before when she told him his plan was ridiculous) had to save the day. Wasp then divorced him.
If the Wasp has a “rogue,” it would be Whirlwind. Whirlwind was a mutant who was Janet Van Dyne’s chauffeur. He fell in love with her and became obsessive about her. He became the villainous Human Top and fought against Giant-Man and the Wasp. Later, he upgraded his costume and became Whirlwind. He was a longtime foe of the Avengers, as he was one of those guys who would always fill in a slot on a villain team like the Masters of Evil or Lethal Legion.
Years later, when Hank and Jan were trying to make a relationship work again, Whirlwind attacked them in Las Vegas. After he was distracted by a giant naked Hank Pym (he and the Wasp were doing… racy things when they were interrupted), Wasp finished him off. She didn’t even use powers, just her right hook (she was trained to fight by Captain America, though).
2. BLACK PANTHER
One of the strangest issues in Avengers history was Avengers #83, which introduced the Valkyrie as a superhero. However, this Valkyrie was really the Enchantress in disguise (the character was so well-received that Marvel quickly introduced an actual Valkyrie hero) and she tricked the female members of the Avengers (plus reserve Avengers) to form a female superhero team known as the Lady Liberators.
The Lady Liberators defeated the Masters of Evil, but then surprised their male teammates by attacking them, as well! The Wasp and Black Widow teamed up to defeat the Black Panther, which is an especially impressive victory in retrospect, as the Panther is a lot more popular now than he was back then. Eventually, the female heroes figured out that they were being brainwashed by the “Valkyrie” and disbanded their team.
1. THE MAGICIAN
In comparison to the other characters on this list, the Magician pales in comparison, but he is historic for one simple reason — he’s the first villain that the Wasp ever defeated on her own. As we noted earlier, the early appearances of the Wasp are embarrassing in retrospect. During her battles alongside Hank Pym (as Ant-Man and Giant-Man), she was essentially a walking hostage. Hank had to save her constantly. When she wasn’t a hostage, she was typically then used as bait to trick the bad guy into a trap.
However, in Tales to Astonish #56, she got her first solo story. She took on the Magician, who used gadgets to appear to have magical powers and had previously given Giant-Man a run for his money. Magician wanted to get revenge on Giant-Man but in defeating him by herself (by tangling his clothes in an escalator), Wasp foiled his plans.
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