Janet van Dyne is a legend. Created purely so Ant-Man had a female sidekick, she grew quickly to be a founding Avenger, and from there has only gone on to greater heights.

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Tales to Astonish #44, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

 

Okay, so I made that statement for the puns, but still, it is totally true. As you can see above in her first issue, she’s a “partner-in-peril”, and she stayed that way for a while. Even though she was a founding Avenger, she got in trouble a fair amount to begin with, but thankfully her role grew pretty rapidly. Okay, I’ll stop with the puns.

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Avengers #57, by Roy Thomas & John Buscema

 

Janet was the first Avenger to meet Vision, as shown above, and also the first to get married, to her long time partner Hank Pym, also known as Ant-Man, Goliath, Giant Man, and, when they got engaged, Yellowjacket. The story of the wedding is quite an interesting one actually, as Hank becomes Yellowjacket, and seemingly kills his old identity, and none of the Avengers other than Jan know what happened, so when they get married there is an understandable amount of doubt! You can see the gist of it below, from Avengers #59 and #60.

Even at this point, Jan is frequently seen as either a hassle to the team, or just someone that needs saving, but that changed in Avengers #83, where she, and a team of other women led by Enchantress posing as Valkyrie, beat the Avengers and the Masters of Evil, and from there she was portrayed better.

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Avengers #83, by Roy Thomas & John Buscema

 

Unfortunately, Hank Pym has one of his multiple breakdowns, leading to this…

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Avengers #213, by Jim Shooter & Bob Hall

 

…and their relationship understandably breaks off, leading to a divorce. She was leader of the team for a long time, on & off, to the extent that I believe she held the title of leader for longer than any other member, except maybe Captain America. She was leader of the team when Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil invaded and took over Avengers Mansion, she fought off Absorbing Man and Titania from killing a comatose Hercules, before leading a team and taking back the mansion.

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Avengers #275, by Roger Stern, John Buscema & Tom Palmer

 

After many leaves of absence, being sent to a different universe by Franklin Richards and a bunch of other boring stuff, Jan makes an offhand comment to Scarlet Witch about having kids. Which she doesn’t anymore, and her memory had been removed of it. And then Scarlet Witch goes nuts and creates the House of M universe. Yup, Jan messed up.

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House of M #2, by Brian Michael Bendis & Olivier Coipel

 

And then Janet plays a major part in yet another event, this time Secret Invasion, where she is used as a biological weapon by the Skrulls, and gets killed by Thor to stop her exploding. I say killed, she is transported to the Microverse and comes back later to join the Uncanny Avengers, but hey, she died for a while, aight?

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Secret Invasion #8, by Brian Michael Bendis & Leinil Yu

 

But what about now? What is she doing at the moment? Well, mentoring her namesake, the new Wasp, Nadia Pym. It’s no big spoiler to say that a new Wasp appears in the current All-New All-Different Avengers run, and Janet appears to help out with adjusting the new Wasp to heroics.

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All-New, All-Different Avengers #12, by Mark Waid & Mahmud Asrar

 

So what makes Janet Van Dyne so great? Is it her multitude of costumes? She makes a lot of them herself you know, she’s a fashion designer. Is it her size changing powers that let her grow and shrink? Is it the bio-engineered wings that are grafted onto her back? Is it the energy blasts she can fire to sting her enemies? Nah, its her personality. It’s her strength of will, her courage, her determination, but most of all, her empathy. You can come to her with anything, any troubles, any situation, and she will understand and help you with it. Hell, she did just that when her step-daughter, Nadia, was brought to her doorstep by Jarvis, as you can see above. She is one of the kindest people in the entire Marvel universe, and a literal living legend.

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