Writer Jeremy Whitley talks the qualities that make Nadia special!

Trying to come back from her first true failure since her escape to the outside world, Nadia can just pack it in, just crumple under the pressure. Or she can reject the notion that a setback makes one a failure. Nadia has never been quite what anyone expected and with Janet Van Dyne in her corner, she will show the world exactly what she is made of in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #8, available August 2!

We found Jeremy Whitley aiding in the clean-up of broken dreams and he gladly walked us through the qualities that make Nadia a different kind of hero.

OPTIMISM: “Like a number of Marvel heroes, Nadia has a dark beginning,” the writer recalls. “She is born and raised in the Red Room where she is forced to train as an assassin and then a mad scientist. She has every right to be a character who is angry and dark. What sets Nadia apart is that she has consciously decided not to be either of those things. Nadia is a bright spot in and often dim and dangerous world.”

“Honestly, I think this is made all that much more notable by her position as a scientist,” he continues. “Scientists in comics and movies are so often projected as the doom and gloom type, projecting the end of the world or causing it. Nadia sees science in the way early comics like Fantastic Four and Tales to Astonish did, as a means to do amazing things.”

SHE LIVED THROUGH TRAGEDY WITHOUT BEING DEFINED BY IT: “There are characters whose entire arc as both heroes and people are defined by something that happened to them,” points out Whitley. “Nadia is not that person. She rescued herself from her captors and made the choice to get away from that life. She has chosen to embrace her genius and her gifts as a scientist and use those not for the nefarious causes for which she was trained, but to save and change the world.”

“You won’t catch Nadia lurking in the shadows or posing on top of any churches in the rain,” the writer elaborates. “That’s not her thing.”

HER LINEAGE: “One of the funnest things about Nadia is that her family ties her so closely in the Marvel Universe and the Avengers specifically, but Nadia is new to the whole thing,” Whitley asserts. “Both her father and her step-mother are founding Avengers whose origins were penned by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. You can’t get much more Marvel than that. So to see her explore this inheritance of excitement and adventure is fantastic, while she is still able to give an outsider’s view to some of the stranger things in the Marvel U.”

SHE ADMIRES SUPER HEROES FOR THEIR MINDS: “Nadia is not really familiar with superheroes as superheroes, outside of her own family,” explains the writer. “What she knows about superheroes are the things she has learned from studying scientific papers. So while Nadia doesn’t even know who Daredevil is when he shows up in issue #6 and is unfamiliar with the superhero known as Mockingbird, she is instantly overcome with excitement upon meeting Doctor Doom and has an overwhelming sense of hero worship for Bobbi Morse, not as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. but as a scientist. Picture Kamala Khan, but instead of reading comics her whole life, she’s been reading scientific papers.”

SHE NATURALLY SEEKS FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP: “Nadia has been alone her whole life,” states Whitley. “She’s tried to make friends, like Ying, but the Red Room is run to make that intentionally difficult. As much as she wants to be a hero, she also wants to make friends. I guess she’s an anti-Wolverine in a way. He’s the habitual loner that somehow gets dragged onto a team, she’s the social butterfly who’s been forced to work alone for far too long.”

“Part of this issue for Nadia as well is the desire to form a lab,” he adds. “She knows that a good lab should have a diversity of experiences and specialties. She has no urge to be at the head of a group, so much as to raise up the girls around her. She wants them to all get the means they need to do what they want to do and the recognition they deserve for being geniuses.”

SHE THINKS OF SUPER HEROISM AS THE SIDE JOB: “Well, for Nadia, being a hero isn’t just about what you do when you have the costume on,” reveals the writer. “Sure, that’s part of it, but bigger than that is the influence you have on the world. She knows that as The Unstoppable Wasp she may be able to save the day in the moment and prevent calamity, but Nadia and G.I.R.L. can make the kind of changes that save the world in a more permanent and meaningful way. Basically, Nadia feels like she inherited heroism, but G.I.R.L. is her personal mission.”

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Preside over the reunion of Nadia Pym and Janet Van Dyne with Jeremy Whitley!

Bees won’t sting unless you provoke them, but wasps don’t need an excuse to be aggressive; they can take care of themselves. No wonder Janet Van Dyne—aka the original Wasp and the wife of original Ant-Man, Hank Pym—has remained a steadfast staple of Marvel Comics since her debut in 1963. Smart, cunning and independent, she kept the Avengers—which she helped found and name—together through the toughest of times.

And now, even with a new Wasp on the scene in Nadia Pym, Janet isn’t content to take the back seat; she remains ready to help save the day whenever duty calls.

Before she crops up in a new arc that begins in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 on July 5, the book’s writer, Jeremy Whitley, makes the case for why Ms. Dyne exemplifies one of Marvel’s greatest heroes ever.

Marvel.com: UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 guest stars Janet Van Dyne for the second time in this series. How would you make the case for her as one of Marvel’s greatest heroes?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, the simple answer is that Janet is one of the original Avengers, so how could you not? The more complicated answer to make that case is that Janet was once a rich heiress and daughter of a world renowned scientist. When her father was murdered, she tracked down his partner Hank Pym and talked him into the performing the procedures that gave her, her wings and size changing capabilities. And once her father had been avenged, she decided to become a super hero. Even for Marvel, there were not many female super heroes in those days and many of those who did exist had their powers thrust upon them by accident. Janet seized the opportunity and became a super hero of her own volition. Beyond that, I would argue that Janet was what made the original Avengers the team that they were. While Cap, Tony, Thor, and Hank butted heads, Janet was the one who was able to find common ground and make them a real team. I’ve said, and say as much in the comic, that Janet’s real super power is people skills. She represents the Avengers in a way that people trust and want to work with.

Marvel.com: Are there any Van Dyne moments from years gone by that you admire?

Jeremy Whitley: I loved Janet as chairman/team leader of the Avengers. I think having a character who is defined by their personal strengths rather than their physical strengths leading a team makes for a much more interesting team. I think Janet really brought the heart as a leader and made the Avengers more than a collection of heavy hitters.

Marvel.com: While Nadia was born from Hank and Maria Pym, Janet is kind of like a surrogate mother/mentor towards their daughter. What kind of lessons and advice does she impart to this new Wasp, one who is feeling a little lost?

Jeremy Whitley: Nadia is naturally gifted and self-reliant. Having grown up where and how she did, it’s just part of who she is. Nadia never really needed someone to teach her about science or about fighting; she got plenty of that in the Red Room. The thing about Nadia is that she sees the world through rose-colored glasses and when things fall apart, she has trouble dealing. She really only knows one way to react to crisis and that’s to punch it. Now that she’s no longer part of an evil organization, she feels terrible when she hurts people and when it’s a problem that can’t be punched, she doesn’t know what to do. Janet is a person who has been through some rough times herself and is an expert at rebuilding, be it her life, her team, or just Avengers Mansion. There is nothing Janet hasn’t dealt with. Janet loves Nadia because she sees a girl who has been through the ringer and come out the other side stronger, much like herself. She sees this extraordinary ability to love and create and she wants to protect that. I think more than anything, Janet’s most important message to Nadia is that she doesn’t have to do it all alone.

Unstoppable Wasp #7 cover by Elsa Charretier

 

Marvel.com: Where is she when she’s not showing up to help save the day in UNSTOPPABLE WASP?

Jeremy Whitley: Well mostly she’s been buzzing around in UNCANNY AVENGERS, but Janet also has her own fashion line and a boutique in Manhattan to run. Beyond that, she is still often a public representative for the super hero community at large and the Avengers; she’s the majority owner and CEO of Pym Labs, and she gets invited to every big event in New York City. You know, she stays busy.  We’ll actually get to see a little bit of this in the [next] few issues of UNSTOPPABLE WASP.

Marvel.com: What kind of traits from the original Wasp do you think Nadia embodies?

Jeremy Whitley: I would say that Nadia has the same sense of kindness and tact that Janet doe. She would rather talk things out than fight. While their areas of intelligence lie in different fields, I would argue that they’re both very smart. Also, while Nadia and Janet relate to people differently, I would say they both do what they do to make life better for the people around them.

Marvel.com: How will she put her own spin on tackling the Red Room to help save Nadia and Ying?

Jeremy Whitley: Janet is the sort of person you want to have in your corner when your back’s against the wall. People will have to read the book to see exactly what she does, but she does it the way that only Janet can.

Marvel.com: Issue #7 is the beginning of a brand-new story arc. Can we expect to see more of a Waspish presence?

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely. And maybe the return of a few other guest stars from the series.

UNSTOPPABLE WASP #7 by Jeremy Whitley and Veronica Fish puts Janet Van Dyne back in the mix on July 5! 

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Find out how Jeremy Whitley and Tamara Robertson spent Free Comic Book Day!

Most comic book fans see Free Comic Book Day as a time to score some free loot, and also a great opportunity to jump into a series they may not have read previously. But Jeremy Whitley, writer of UNSTOPPABLE WASP, and chemical and bio-molecular engineer Tamara Robertson took it up a notch. At Jeremy’s signing at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tamara presented science demonstrations that recreated the powers of various Marvel characters. You can read more about the event here.

We followed up with Jeremy and Tamara to hear a little about how the event played out—and let’s just say, we wish we could have gone!

Marvel.com: Can you tell us about the general reaction from the audience? Did they seem engaged?

Tamara Robertson: The audience was full of energy and very excited about [Free Comic Book Day]. The tent was literally buzzing all day.

As far as my “Marvel at Science” [Super Hero] Science display, I was at a great place so the science display was in direct eye line for the audience, which drew everyone in and towards the table. There wasn’t anyone that came to the event that didn’t stop by to check out the experiments; I even had our security staff stopping by during their breaks to determine what I was up to—a few jokingly asking if I was doing “Breaking Bad” science for the kids!

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely! We had lots of people excited about UNSTOPPABLE WASP, but I think the real star of the Free Comic Book Day show was Tamara and her experiments based around heroes of the Marvel Universe. Kids loved getting to play with the experiments and getting a chance to learn some science while they were at it.

Marvel.com: The goal of the event was to engage families—tell us a little about interacting with the kids.

Tamara Robertson: There was a large number of children at the [store], which was one of the best parts! So many parents were getting the chance to introduce their children to their favorite comics and characters from when they were young, as well as discover new characters! The kids brought great energy and a few were even in awesome costumes! They were definitely having fun.

As far as my display—the time flew as I would go through all four displays with each child and they seemed to love all of them, lots of laughter and large smiles! My favorite part was that while I was able to draw them in with my Venom Magnetic Slime engulfing my rare Earth magnet, they were excited the whole time and always ended strong—literally—with my She-Hulk demonstration. Getting to see little girls and boys out Hulk their fathers and bigger friends utilizing science was not only exciting for me but was by far the biggest crowd pleaser of all! It also enabled me to end with the slogan “Science always wins.”

Jeremy Whitley: This is one respect where I consider myself really fortunate as a comic creator. Between my work with Marvel and my creator-owned work with my all-ages series Princeless, I get to interact with a lot of young readers. Kids are always the most excited about meeting the people who make the comics, and they always have the most interesting questions. I’ve had a couple of kids approach my table with notebooks and pens to ask important questions and take notes. They’re the sharpest fans we’ve got. They inspire me to get back to work making comics!

Marvel.com: What did you enjoy most about the event?

Tamara Robertson: My favorite part was that, when I would hear little girls asking where the girl comic books were, I was able to point them straight to Jeremy and all of his incredible comics. So many of the little girls would get excited when they would see all the different types of series he was offering and the older girls especially loved the UNSTOPPABLE WASP comics with not only strong girl leads but also all the great science! We had a bit of a boomerang system going on where I would send them to him for fun girl comics and he’d shoot them back for fun science.

My favorite part of my display was sharing with the kids that their favorite Marvel comic book heroes were scientists too! Most of them didn’t realize that they had STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] role models already in the form of their favorite comic book heroes. It was truly awesome to get to not only share a science homage to four awesome super heroes but to also elevate the role of STEM in their lives in a way that helped kids see that science is cool.

Jeremy Whitley: I loved getting to see young minds at work. We had boys and girls picking up books and reading them right there, but on top of that, they’re never happy to just sit back and have the science side of things explained to them. You can see them thinking about it, hypothesizing about how and why things work. Some of these kids could be Agents of G.I.R.L. any day!

Marvel.com: You mentioned previously that you think stories like UNSTOPPABLE WASP can help to get girls—and kids in general—interested in pursuing science. Did that seem true for the kids in attendance?

Tamara Robertson: Comics actually have always done a great job of utilizing STEM in their stories but the issue is that most of the time it’s not elevated to a point that children realize the connection. For instance, most super heroes start out as everyday scientists, technicians, engineers or mathematicians and then something alters them genetically and enhances their overall abilities. This statement in itself is riddled with science, which is why comics have always been so awesome and why most STEM professionals are also big comic fans. In the cases where normal men become super heroes, [like] Tony Stark, their gadgets are engineered to enable similar enhanced abilities. Often times the stories themselves don’t concentrate directly on this amazing tech or these genetically altering origin stories but they’re definitely there to talk about. That’s one of the incredible things about stories like UNSTOPPABLE WASP: the science is in the forefront of the story.

I think that it’s important for children—and even adults—to be aware of the awesome STEM connections to their favorite comic book heroes, which is what I hoped to accomplish with my Marvel at Science – Super Hero Science display and what Jeremy accomplishes through UNSTOPPABLE WASP each issue.  If we continue to help associate STEM with heroes and help people to see it as “cool,” we’re likely to inspire more children to pursue it and experiment with the world around them.

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely! A lot of young WASP fans were excited to pick up the book, but just as much to dive into science. For every question about writing, girls had five times as many for Tamara about what she does and about the experiments she brought with her.

Marvel.com: Would you like to do similar events again in the future?

Tamara Robertson: This was my first opportunity to do STEM outreach at a comic book show and my first debut of Super Hero Science and I loved it!  The crowd was so excited and engaged that the day flew by, and when I reflect back on the day through photos and stories, I get to relive the excitement as the children started connecting super hero powers with real life science! I think that this type of connection will help overcome the historical stereotype of scientists and inspire more children to STEM-related fields.

Jeremy Whitley: I would love to! I never get tired of getting to interact with comics’ youngest fans. If we had Free Comic Book Day several times a year, I’d be at every one.

Marvel.com: Did you pick up any free comics yourself? If so, which ones?

Tamara Robertson: The comic book store was awesome and had a set for me to take home, which I was excited to share with the kids in my family. Sadly I wasn’t able to get to share them with them myself but I know their parents are excited to do so and I can’t wait to hear which characters they liked the most. I stayed impartial since it will be their first exposure to comics.

Jeremy Whitley: Well, I picked up the new GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, of course. My daughter snagged every comic she could find with a girl on the cover, as well as using her own money to buy a few books from fellow guest and comics writer extraordinaire Tini Howard.

Marvel.com: Which super powers did you find the most fun, interesting, or challenging to recreate? Which ones seemed to get the most involvement from the audience?

Tamara Robertson: When I created the Marvel at Science Super Hero Science display, I wanted to make an homage to some of my favorite super heroes. While I knew I couldn’t replicate directly their superpowers I wanted to showcase a scientific theory that would have a similar imagery so that kids would be able to connect the idea behind the science with a super power they knew.

For instance, Venom is obviously not a magnetic being—he’s an alien symbiotic creature—but watching an Iron Oxide embedded slime overtake a rare Earth magnet—albeit slowly—brings to mind Venom taking over Spider-Man. Kids quickly associated the takeover with Venom and were quite excited to learn more about how the slime was able to do what it did. So while the power itself wasn’t directly the same, it opened the door to talking to the audience about cohesion, adhesion, polymer development, and magnets overall. They especially loved the slime components.

I actually found myself explaining to every set of parents the ease of making the slime because most of them were trying to sneak off with it! Going into the day, I wasn’t sure if the kids would be interested in waiting as the slime overtook the magnet, but all of them were excited to watch and were amazed! I even had a set of boys that had theories on ways to make it move faster, and so during a slow moment we started testing out their hypotheses, which was super cool! They even utilized my “polymer chain” of paperclips to start testing the magnets power. Overall, they had a lot of fun learning!

From there I got to talk to them about Spider-Man and his awesome web.  The way this came about was that prior to the show I visited Kyle Hill at Nerdist—he was our fearless leader on “MythBusters the Search”—and I told him about my Venom slime idea, to which he conjectured perhaps a slime embedded with Kevlar would be more Spidey web-like. This got my cogs going, and since I had the raw materials available, I figured I would try to see what would happen. At a first pass, it made the slime stronger but was limited by the shear tearing that occurs with the slime where the fibers weren’t prevalent. While at first I thought to hold off showing this idea, I realized that science is all about trying and sometimes not quite getting it right. The coolest part about this was, by sharing this story of ideation and development and inability for full practical application, I got to start this brainstorming session with children. They were all so excited about this idea of the same material the guards were wearing in their vests being in this slime and it maybe becoming strong enough to hold Spider-Man that they wanted to see this idea succeed. They offered up tons of alternatives and additions and were all engaged in what will hopefully become a second revision of the Spidey slime that I’m sure Kyle will be able to explain beautifully on “Because Science.” Overall, this was my favorite display because it enabled me to really drive home that there’s no failing in science but instead sometimes a bit more discovery than originally planned.

My sublimation demonstration was one that brought in a lot of viewers and left a lot of grown-ups giggling in nostalgia as they revisited their youthful days playing with dry ice and water bottles. While my demonstration wasn’t explosive, it was one which let the fog banks roll and even enabled the kids to take part in creation of clouds! The initial idea was to make full form dry ice bubbles, but due to the wind on the day of the exhibit, the surface tension on the bubbles resulted in immediate popping of the large ones. But the kids didn’t seem to mind as they enjoyed the smaller bubbles and the rolling clouds.

Perhaps the most surprising to me was that the most simplistic and honestly cheapest—at a whopping $0 in equipment gear—science demonstration was the one the kids loved the most! I knew that they would be excited to get to overpower their parents by utilizing horizontal force over vertical force, but it was the amazement in their parents’ eyes that really drove the “cool” factor up for the kids. Each group would get excited about the idea of who was the strongest and testing it and then would be in awe as they were suddenly outdone by the science of She-Hulk power. Even the parents and kids that were only sort of listening would start paying attention at this point which to me was quite fun.

Marvel.com: How did you decide what powers to try and recreate? How did you come up with the demos?

Tamara Robertson: Honestly, the demos were from fun science GIFs I had seen online over the last couple years that had made me think, “Hmm that reminds me of—insert super hero.” I’ve actually compiled a folder of them over the years, so when I got invited to do a STEM demo I thought, “this is perfect,” and I went through to find ones that I could do in a tent setting. Obviously, all the flame and explosion ideas were out, but there were still some pretty cool ones that would lend themselves to shock and awe. Since I enjoy working with kids in my outreach, I thought these homages would be good demos to connect their favorite super heroes with STEM while being simple enough that they could do them at home if they wanted. In fact, I had a large number of teachers come up to my displays to talk to me about how they work with the slimes in their class but would love to bring in some of the other displays and hadn’t thought to connect it with super heroes. To me, that was really cool; not just inspiring kids but helping those that work with them every day to get ideas for inspiration as well.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention anything else?

Tamara Robertson: STEM inspiration is everywhere; it may not be in the forefront of every part of life but if you take the time to explore the world around you, it’s definitely there. Helping kids to make those connections is one of the easiest ways to start inspiring them to STEM; it doesn’t take a camp or an expensive toy—in fact sometimes it just takes going into your own backyard. Explore with your kids; learning doesn’t end with the school year and it doesn’t start with the bell. Every day is a chance to inspire them. Learning is living and the world is getting smaller and smaller—why not go discover it!

Jeremy Whitley: If anybody is interested in learning more about Tamara and what she does, we interviewed her in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #5, which came out the first week in May. And for people that got caught up on UNSTOPPABLE WASP at Free Comic Book Day and want more Nadia right now, I co-wrote issue #7 of AVENGERS with Mark Waid, which prominently features Nadia and Victor Von Doom and is available right now!

Pick up the next new installment of UNSTOPPABLE WASP with issue #6 coming June 7 from Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier!

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Infiltrate the resistance against Hydra with writer Jeremy Whitley!

When you’re heading into the underground, you gotta go deep.

That’s our opinion at least, and it looks like its writer Jeremy Whitley’s mind-set, too, as he digs down into the heroes who’ll populate his SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND #1, out June 7. We dug him up to find out just how far into the resistance against Steve Roger’s Secret Empire he’ll go.

Marvel.com: Jeremy, what a collection of characters you’re working with in this one-shot! Do they have a common thread running through them, other than being Avengers?

Jeremy Whitley: This team certainly is a motley crew as far as Avengers go! Yes, they’ve pretty well all been Avengers at some point, but I don’t think any of them would be in most people’s top list of “When I think of Avengers, I think of ‘X.’” The fact is, in the midst of Secret Empire there is a job that needs to be done and with the world in the state it is, you have to take the people that show up. And that’s the one thing they all have in common: when things are bad these are the men and women that show up.

Marvel.com: Looks like Mockingbird’s out front?

Jeremy Whitley: Mockingbird is the team leader for this mission because…well…of course she is. She’s the one with the training and the experience ordering around a squad. While she’s the least powered of the group, she’s probably the most competent. Maybe that’s as a result.

Marvel.com: Who’s Bobbi going to look to out in the field when she needs a good soldier?

Jeremy Whitley: The dynamic that’s maybe my favorite in this book is the relationship between Mockingbird and Hercules. Mockingbird is all about leading the team and Hercules is all about fighting some dinosaurs. The result is that Mockingbird can point at dinosaurs and say “Herc, go hit that!” and Herc will say “Have at thee!” and charge into battle. Sam [Wilson] and Ant-Man are on board to follow Bobbi’s lead, but Bobbi and Hercules have that special bond that can only come from one person really liking to hit dinosaurs and the other person having dinosaurs that need to be hit.

And with Hercules I think the key is to have reasonable expectations. He’ll always be up to fight a dinosaur, which makes him the perfect teammate for this mission. Now, if you’re counting on him to help plan your wedding, you might be in trouble—unless you want to have your wedding at a gladiatorial contest. Then you might be okay.

Marvel.com: We can only assume that Pietro is going to be, well…Pietro.

Jeremy Whitley: Quicksilver is, as usual, one of the worst people to have as a teammate. He’s here for his own reasons and he wants the mission to succeed as much as anyone else if not more, but he hates taking orders from anyone and Mockingbird especially so. From his point of view Mockingbird is the least powerful of the group and he’d really rather see anybody else leading. Of course, if someone else were leading, odds are he’d probably have a problem with them too.

Secret Empire: Underground #1 cover by RB Silva

Marvel.com: And people tend to react to Pietro as badly as he does to them, too…

Jeremy Whitley: Well, Quicksilver’s attitude particularly rubs Sam Wilson the wrong way. Sam has had as bad a last few months as anyone in the Marvel Universe and is still dealing with being betrayed by his best friend and giving up his title as Captain America. Pietro’s need to bicker and question rubs him raw. And as soon as Quicksilver figures out that calling Sam “Captain America” gets his goat, you can depend on him to double down. Sam is a guy that it’s usually easy to be friends with and right now that’s not necessarily true. He’s really going through it.

Marvel.com: What about Scott Lang? Surely he’s a team player?

Jeremy Whitley: Ant-Man…well, Scott gets along with everybody short term, right? Doing a single mission with Scott is always bound to be fun. He’s got jokes and knows a few good tricks. It’s always just been having a long term relationship with Scott that’s hard, right?

Marvel.com: Who else figures into your line-up for UNDERGROUND?

Jeremy Whitley: Our team does have one more member: A.I. Iron Man. Sadly, as Tony notes, the Savage Land wreaks havoc on electronics and for the moment he is electronics. So while Tony is along for the ride, he won’t be joining the away team for this mission.

Marvel.com: Any chance that once the dust clears from Secret Empire that these folks could assemble once more?

Jeremy Whitley: Could these characters ever work together again? Sure! Well, there’s a good chance they might leave Quicksilver behind if they have more amicable choices. But I think Mockingbird and Hercules should absolutely have their own title. I’ve got a great pitch: every month Mockingbird finds something she wants to get hit and Hercules hits it. Boom!

Settle in the Savage Land with Jeremy Whitley and artist Eric Koda’s SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND, sneaking your way June 7!

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Meet writer Jeremy Whitley and scientist Tamara Robertson!

As you’re probably well aware, Free Comic Book Day happens this Saturday! And our talented creators never fail to join in the festivities. Jeremy Whitley, writer of UNSTOPPABLE WASP will appear at Ultimate Comics in Raleigh, North Carolina—and scientist-in-real-life Tamara Robertson, a chemical and bio-molecular engineer, will join him to present some exciting science demonstrations.

We caught up with both and chatted about the role that comics like WASP play in promoting the importance of S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math).

Marvel.com: Jeremy, what do you see as the significance of working on a story that promotes both women and girls in S.T.E.M., and the empowerment of young women generally?

Jeremy Whitley: It’s incredibly important to me. Part of why I started writing my creator-owned series Princeless was because I wanted to share my love of comics with my daughter. As she has gotten a little older—she’s five now—she has developed some interests of her own. One of those is science. It’s important to me, despite what she may be told by some of the boys in school, that she knows she can be a scientist. Thanks to UNSTOPPABLE WASP, that’s a message I get to share not just with my own daughter, but with a lot of other daughters out there. I know that is certainly a goal that Tamara and I share.

Marvel.com: What impact do you think having real-world scientists like Tamara involved in the comics world has?

Jeremy Whitley: I think it bridges a gap between telling girls what they can do and showing them what they’re capable of. Tamara is a really amazing scientist—and person for that matter—and being able to share her story helps us show that female scientists and geniuses are not just the things of fiction. Maybe UNSTOPPABLE WASP will help the next girl who will follow in Tamara’s footsteps to find her way.

Marvel.com: How did you and Tamara connect, and how did this event come together?

Jeremy Whitley: Our “Agents of G.I.R.L.” column in the back of UNSTOPPABLE WASP was shared with Tamara by mutual friends online. I saw that she was excited about it and asked if she would like to be profiled for the column. She was super excited, so we went for it. As it turns out, Tamara went to college just down the street from the Ultimate Comics in Raleigh we’ll be appearing at. It just so happened that the stars aligned and Tamara was going to be in town for a talk at the school just before Free Comic Book Day. And seeing as her interview was going to be in the issue of UNSTOPPABLE WASP coming out that week, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Both she and the folks at Ultimate Comics were super psyched about accompanying our Free Comic Book Day festivities with a some awesome science demonstrations from Tamara.  It all came together perfectly.

Marvel.com: What do you hope attendees get out of the event?

Jeremy Whitley: I hope first and foremost they have fun and get a chance to check out what comics have to offer. But beyond that I hope it gives everybody a chance to learn a little something about science. Obviously, having Tamara means that any girls who come out and are interested in science will get to meet a pretty amazing and inspirational woman in S.T.E.M. and that’s super important. Hopefully everyone leaves with something to read and something to think about.

Tamara Robertson by Elsa Charretier

Marvel.com: Tamara, what do you feel is the role of comics like UNSTOPPABLE WASP in encouraging young women to pursue careers in S.T.E.M.? You also competed on “Mythbusters: The Search,” which probably also had a similar role in impacting young people.

Tamara Robertson: I think that the presence of women who are in S.T.E.M. as well as the portrayal of Women in S.T.E.M. in mainstream media, such as comics like UNSTOPPABLE WASP, shows like “Mythbusters: The Search,” and movies like “Hidden Figures” is vital because it gives young girls role models while also showcasing to young boys that it’s normal to see different genders and races in these roles. For so long scientists have always been old white men and while it was never the intention of these portrayals, for young people, this creates an unconscious bias and perception that those roles aren’t for them. I grew up with these media portrayals and never thought I as a woman could be an engineer; my only role model in this role was Scotty from “Star Trek,” so when my college professor approached me about it I literally remember saying, “I don’t think girls do those jobs.” We have to recognize that media shapes young people’s perceptions of the world, themselves, and who they could one day be, and be better at including all genders and races so that everyone feels they can be in S.T.E.M.

Marvel.com: What sparked your interest about the event on Saturday? Why did you want to get involved?

Tamara Robertson: Jeremy’s creation of the Agents of G.I.R.L. is brilliant because it combines the world of super heroes with scientists so clearly! In most comics, the super heroes are in S.T.E.M. or have someone in the field creating their tech but people often just concentrate on their super powers. Everyone loves the Hulk’s strength but often the fact Bruce Banner is a scientist isn’t seen. In UNSTOPPABLE WASP, Nadia is a scientist and she’s a super hero and both are represented in the comics, and then to take it a step further, real scientists are included in each comic that debuts! So kids get to celebrate a comic-based scientist super hero and an everyday scientist super hero all in one. Additionally, I recently read Jeremy’s article on the guiding principles of G.I.R.L. and these are principles that all people can benefit greatly from learning and embodying in life!

As for Free Comic Book Day, when Jeremy asked me if I’d be interested, I jumped at the chance! I love comics and I love science outreach so the combination of the two was right up my alley, and I truly enjoyed trying to make a science exhibit around Marvel! I am really excited to present my “Marvel at Science” show at Free Comic Book Day because I’m going to be doing an homage to some diverse and incredible Marvel comic book characters that I’m hoping fans will enjoy!

Marvel.com: You’ve also worked as an actress and costume designer. How have those different interests impacted your career path? As a designer, I’d imagine you’d enjoy super hero costumes!

 

Tamara Robertson: Super hero costumes would be awesome! Currently I’m dabbling in these firsthand for the first time as I dive into cosplay, but I’ve always been obsessed with the costumes and tech that science fiction brings to shows and movies!

As an engineer, design in all aspects is part of daily life; examining others’ designs, re-engineering existing designs and making your own designs. As a North Carolina State engineer, I went to school with some incredible textile engineers but my focus was always on the process side for plants and product design. It wasn’t until I came to L.A. that I was blessed to find and work under an incredible wardrobe designer, Catherine Baumgardner. She opened my engineering mind to the textile design side of the world.

As for the acting, I think ultimately I needed an outlet that I could be creative and emotional in because as an engineer you don’t often get to do this. The human emotional range is so beautiful when harnessed creatively, and just like any other machine, the body can do amazing things when fine-tuned and allowed to operate. So getting to push those limits within myself has been a fun adventure.

Marvel.com: What message do you hope people take away from the event on Saturday?

Tamara Robertson: I hope attendees leave the event wondering how they could be like the science fiction characters in their favorite comics through applying S.T.E.M. principles, and that they go home and start asking questions about the incredible worlds they read about in comics. While they may be science fiction today, the things we read about in comics and see in science fiction shows and movies are what inspires S.T.E.M. operatives to start innovating and creating new things.

Read the latest issue of UNSTOPPABLE WASP and celebrate Free Comic Book Day this Saturday!

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Writer Jeremy Whitley helps Nadia Pym kick off her new organization!

Nadia Pym saw some dark times in the Red Room. But she hasn’t let that make her cynical. She still believes the best about people. And that optimism has led her to form Genius In Action Research Labs (G.I.R.L.), a budding organization dedicated to fostering the scientific talent of girls and young women.

But what about this group will make it a success? We chatted with UNSTOPPABLE WASP writer Jeremy Whitley about the main goals and tenets of G.I.R.L., as Nadia brings her friends and colleagues to the forefront with June 7’s issue #6!

Demonstrating that girls and young women deserve to be counted among Earth’s smartest people

This is the original organizing principal of G.I.R.L. In Marvel lore, the question of the smartest people in the world has always been [one] that pops up and that people try to put some numbers on. With the recent induction of Lunella Lafayette as the official top of that list, it brought into stark contrast how much of the rest of that list, especially the top, is male.

It’s been shown in studies that when taking blind applications to advanced science and engineering programs, that men and women tend to fare more or less the same. However, when the applications have a name and a face attached to them, men tend to do much better. After a lot of research and discussion, the reason for this seemed to be that professors or scientists looking to fill these programs were looking for people that they saw themselves in. They tended to favor people in which they could recognize the same things that they thought made themselves good scientists. So, without realizing it, they favored male candidates. It’s what’s called an inherent bias.

The purpose of G.I.R.L. is to even out the playing field by finding those overlooked girls that don’t get seen by the S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists making up this list. People who think differently, look different, or express their ideas differently are often left behind when you’re calculating something like who is the smartest. Nadia wants to pick those girls up and show what they’re capable of.

Bringing together the brightest minds with the goal of scientific innovation

Innovation is a huge thing for Nadia in the same way it was for [her father] Hank [Pym]. You can literally know everything in the world and not have any original ideas. If the world is going to change and get better, then we need not just brains, but innovation. Hank was the sort of scientist who created square bubbles. He didn’t do it because the world needed square bubbles to survive, but because it was a puzzle he wanted to solve. Nadia shares that scientific curiosity.

The girls of G.I.R.L. are not just big brains, but girls with original ideas who have been working on things they are passionate about in their own time. They’re not really looking to win awards, they’re looking to create. G.I.R.L. really sets its sights on exploring the art of science.

Creating a space for young women to support one another

It’s important to create spaces in which girls [can] support one another and don’t need to feel like they need affirmation from either boys or adults. The G.I.R.L. lab is a space where no matter how crazy your idea is, there’s not shame in bringing it in. That’s how really important breakthroughs get made, by trying things that nobody has thought of yet. And when we create a space where girls can be that resource for other girls, that’s where real “girl power” comes from, right? When girls are able to bring ideas to the table without doubting themselves or worrying about looking stupid, then we’ll be able to focus on the important things.

Unstoppable Wasp #6 cover by Elsa Charretier

Diversity of experience creates diversity of ideas

Often when people talk about “diversity” they use it as a buzz word, like it’s a pointless practice of checking off boxes. The reality in any creative setting is that by diversifying your team, you bring in different perspectives. When you have different perspectives you get different ideas. This is important both for the backgrounds of the characters that make G.I.R.L. up and also from variety of scientific fields the girls come from. When you tackle a big problem, an engineer is going to come at it differently than a chemist and a chemist will come at it differently than a physicist. The same is true when you’re comparing someone who has been scraping by in life and somebody who has had all of the resources they needed. It’s also true of somebody who grew up with protective immigrant parents from another country and somebody who grew up with a disability that pushed them to find new ways to take care of things themselves.

Using science for the greater good

It’s not just about saving the world when it needs to fight off an alien invasion. It’s not about personal gain. It’s about making life better. In the same way the Champions are helping with issues that don’t register for the Avengers, G.I.R.L. is there for science issues that don’t register to Iron Man or Hank McCoy.

For Nadia personally, we see an element of wanting to carry on Hank’s legacy

Nadia was made into what she is by the Red Room in an effort to corrupt Hank’s legacy. They wanted to make Nadia destroy in the same way Hank had innovated and built. G.I.R.L. is important because it’s Nadia taking that legacy back and embracing it. Her father isn’t around right now, but if he were, she would want him to be proud. She wants to make Janet and Mockingbird proud as well. The Pyms have a mixed legacy, but it’s one worth fighting for.

Jeremy Whitley and artist Elsa Charretier help G.I.R.L. grow in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #6 on June 7!

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The Invaders and the new Giant Man join the fight against Hydra!

The revelation of Steve Rogers as a Hydra agent shocked the world over. How could Captain America, that pure symbol of freedom and democracy, be working for the bad guys all along, we asked ourselves? Well, if you feel as if you had the rug pulled out from under you, can you just imagine what Steve’s closest friends must feel like?

The answer lies in the Secret Empire companion series, BRAVE NEW WORLD, out beginning May 17, which will explore the members of Cap’s former Nazi-fighting team from World War II, the Invaders, coping with the terrible truth coming to light. Namor, Toro, and Jim Hammond feel betrayed and devastated, but will they give up?

In the words of Winston Churchill—who christened them with the “Invaders” title after they saved his life—“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Meanwhile, the new Giant Man, Raz Maholtra, remains on the fence as the events of Secret Empire come crashing down around him. He’s a newbie do-gooder with limited training, a destructive history, and a fractured life, courtesy of his mentor, Scott Lang. Not to mention that Raz’s super power makes him a bit of an ill fit for the clandestine resistance against Hydra.

We rendezvoused with the writers of these parallel stories within BRAVE NEW WORLD, Paul Allor and Jeremy Whitley, to decode the Invaders’ next move and how Raz will find his overly large footing in the fight against Hydra as the tentacles of evil tighten their grip on the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: Part of BRAVE NEW WORLD will be focusing on some of Steve’s oldest allies, the Invaders, coming to grips with the realization that their once good friend actually stands against them and their ideals. How did you want to capture such a crushing betrayal in the writing?

Paul Allor: The story [artist] Brian Level and I are doing picks up a while after Steve’s new alliance comes to light. So we don’t see the initial reaction, but instead see our three main characters—Namor, Toro, and Jim Hammond—dealing with the very real, very personal ramifications of Captain America’s new regime. As you said, it is an absolutely crushing betrayal, and nearly everything our characters say and do in this story is directly influenced by it. That’s a big part of the fun of an event like this; every comment becomes loaded, every decision takes on another meaning. Even when Cap’s not on the page, Cap is always on the page, you know?

Marvel.com: What does the emergence of Cap’s actual allegiance do for the Invaders’ memories and reminiscences of opposing Nazism with him during WWII?

Paul Allor: I think there’s a certain level of disbelief involved, and a feeling that this can’t possibly be the real Captain America. These guys share the type of bond that most of us will never understand, and recent events bring all of their past experiences into question. But at the same time, their primary focus is the present, and on dealing with the world as it is.

Marvel.com: Jeremy, what can you tell us about where Raz was last time we saw him in ASTONISHING ANT-MAN and how it will lead him to get involved in Secret Empire?

Jeremy Whitley: Last time we saw Raz he was double featuring in ASTONISHING ANT-MAN; he had been working with Ant-Man as part of Ant-Man Security Solutions. His situation was pretty interesting, as he’d moved from his home in San Francisco to Florida to train with Scott to better learn to use his powers. He got pulled away to do some work with the Ultimates in outer space and by the time he got back, Scott had closed down Ant-Man Security Solutions and moved on. When we pick up his story here, his life is in shambles, largely thanks to Scott, but also due to some of his own issues. As things start to change in the world leading into Secret Empire, Raz has to decide what part he’s going to take and how he’s going to get there.

Marvel.com: In many senses, he’s still very much a rookie. How will that factor into the role he plays in this series?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, I think his rookie status is very much realized in the fact that Raz not only isn’t in the heart of the storm when things go down, but he’s only peripherally aware of what’s going on. His story in the series is about finding his place in the conflict and getting to where he needs to be.

Marvel.com: How keen is Raz to avoid causing damage like the kind he inflicted on the Golden Gate Bridge?

Jeremy Whitley: Incredibly. Not only is it embarrassing, it’s bound to get him caught by Hydra.

Secret Empire: Brave New World #1 cover by Paulo Siqueira

Marvel.com: Paul, you’ll be exploring Namor and his leadership of Atlantis during these troubling times. Can you tell us how the lost city will find itself affected by the new Hydra regime, despite its location at the bottom of the sea? And on that frightening note, what does Hydra have planned for the metropolis beneath the ocean?

Paul Allor: Captain America has a plan for everything and everyone, and Atlantis is certainly no exception. But as you can imagine, Namor will fight that agenda however he can—even in some fairly unexpected ways. This tale really focuses in on Namor’s role not just as a soldier and a fighter, but as a monarch. His number one priorities are the safety and prosperity of his people, and his reaction to this new regime is a direct reflection of those priorities. Our story begins as Toro and Hammond show up in Atlantis, seeking help from their old friend. But they find that the situation in Atlantis is incredibly complicated, and that Namor himself faces some wrenchingly difficult choices. I would also note that the City of Atlantis itself serves as a character in our story—and Brian Level is doing such an extraordinary job bringing it to life, and making it feel like a real and complex and layered place, through art that is, itself, incredibly complex and layered.

Marvel.com: So, Jeremy, we’ve got Giant Man, like the rest of the Marvel Universe, in the middle of a giant problem, mainly a world overrun by Hydra with Captain America at the forefront. What’s Raz’s plan of attack here not only as a super hero, but as an intelligent programmer?

Jeremy Whitley: Raz is in the awkward position of not having a plan. First, he’s on the opposite side of the country of a lot of the resistance, but also his super power revolves around being able to grow to gigantic size. So, he can’t really be a super hero and still hide. So Raz needs to get somewhere where he can support the resistance and be part of the team.

Marvel.com: Will he be utilizing any particular lessons or advice he learned from Scott and joining up with any heroes in particular?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, sadly, Scott’s advice is worth about as much to Raz as the “heroes” he’s left him with for friends. We’ll get a quick peek into the current lives of his former coworkers Grizzly and Machinesmith.

Marvel.com: What was it like creating a smaller and more personalized story while not getting lost in the wider events of a Marvel Universe overrun by Hydra?

Paul Allor: That is, again, a big part of the fun of these events: narrowing in on personal tales, set against an epic backdrop. It’s very exciting, to tell a story that’s both its own unique and exciting thread, but also, when you take a step back, part of this vast tapestry. And the way to do it is just by focusing very intently on your characters, and how they are influenced by the larger machinations that are playing out in other titles and other stories.

Jeremy Whitley: It kinda works out great for me, as our story is kind of about Raz getting lost in the world of Secret Empire. He’s not connected like a lot of other super heroes so when things go down, he doesn’t get the call. He’s got to find his way back [into] the fight.

Marvel.com: This series will also harken back to the beginnings of the Marvel Universe. How far back does that imply and what answers from the past can be applied to the present situation?

Paul Allor: I don’t want to speak too much to this, but these characters have a history that stretches back nearly 80 years, and it’s only natural that that history will resonate throughout our story. But in those 80 years, things have changed a lot for them—new powers, new jobs, new titles. And as with any old friends, there’s sometimes a tendency to assume things haven’t changed as much as they have—an assumption that could have serious consequences to our heroes.

Marvel.com: Despite the dark events going on in Secret Empire, was there any room for humor or levity in BRAVE NEW WORLD?

Paul Allor: Oh, yeah. Humor and levity are a natural part of the human condition. Plus, most people don’t know this, but Namor makes a lot of fish puns. Like…a lot of fish puns.

Jeremy Whitley: Absolutely. I think when it comes to Giant Man—or really anyone in the Ant-Man family—that there is always room for laughs. Beyond that, people who know my work know that I always find room for a little levity.

Explore SECRET EMPIRE: BRAVE NEW WORLD beginning on May 17!

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Jeremy Whitley digs into the perilous past of Nadia Pym!

Anyone following the adventures of the new Wasp knows that Nadia Pym doesn’t exactly represent the typical Red Room veteran. She has a cheerful approach to life that we don’t see with many of the RR’s alumni. But as we’ll see in the upcoming UNSTOPPABLE WASP #5 on May 3, her former captors want her back, and they’ll come with full force to try and get their girl.

We caught up with writer Jeremy Whitley about how Nadia’s time in the Red Room impacted her, and what that will mean for her story moving forward.

Marvel.com: Nadia has retained her optimism, despite everything that happened in the Red Room; this is so different from Black Widow, for example. What has allowed her to avoid becoming jaded?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, I think part of it has to do with the fact that Nadia never actually functioned as an assassin. While she went through training, they pulled her to join the Science Class before she actually had to kill anyone. Beyond that, I think some of it is just a natural optimism. Nadia sees things differently. It’s part of what makes her innovative in science. Rather than seeing the time that she has lost and feeling angry about it, Nadia sees the potential to do big things now.

Marvel.com: Nadia had at least one person—Ying—whom she got close to in the Red Room. How did this affect her experience?

Jeremy Whitley: They got to work together to design the tech we see in issues #2 and #3, since it required a chemist along with Nadia’s knowledge of Pym Particles. It gave them a chance to work together and they became friends immediately. Unfortunately for them, as soon as the Red Room figured out that they had started developing a friendship, they had them separated. I think during her time in the Red Room, it gave Nadia hope to know she had a friend there. On the other hand, as we’ve seen in the first few issues, the Red Room is not above using that connection to get Nadia back. Having personal connections may become Nadia’s undoing—a problem Black Widow didn’t have to worry about.

Marvel.com: Of course the Red Room was terrible, but it also fostered Nadia’s scientific genius in some ways. How did this impact her?

Jeremy Whitley: We talk a bit in the book about the lack of women in many STEM fields in the real world. Studies have shown that a lot of that has to do with the way we discourage girls from pursuing these field either actively or passively. On the other hand, people have told—even forced—Nadia to pursue these fields. She knows she can do amazing things. She has had to do it to survive. As a result, Nadia has a superb sense of confidence and self-esteem. She knows her value and intelligence. The means were pretty awful, but at this point she doesn’t need anyone to validate her.

Marvel.com: What aspects of her time in the Red Room do you think still stay with her?

Jeremy Whitley: I think her knowledge of her worth is certainly one thing. I think her desire to meet and connect with people the way she does has a lot to do with not having had the opportunity to forge those relationships in the Red Room. And, as readers will find out in issue #4 this week, some aspects of her assassination training are harder to kick than others, especially when she gets pushed too far.

Marvel.com: Did her time in the Red Room have anything to do with her decision to be a super hero, or to start G.I.R.L.?

Jeremy Whitley: To some extent. She obviously wants to make the most of her time now that she finds herself free in the world, and she considers acting as a super hero part of her answer to that. The fact that all the people she looks up to are super heroes—her father [Hank Pym], Janet [Van Dyne, the original Wasp], Bobbi Morse) has a lot to do with that decision as well.

As for G.I.R.L., I think her time in the Red Room showed her what’s possible and that there are tons of super-intelligent girls out there. Her push to do it comes from both her need for human connection and her need to make up for the time she has lost thanks to the Red Room. She knows that by doing this, she can make an impact both on the world and on the lives of the other girls in G.I.R.L.

Marvel.com: Would you like to mention anything else?

Jeremy Whitley: Well, the first trade collection, available for pre-order now, will contain our awesome interviews with real women in STEM. So if you didn’t have the chance to keep up with the single issues or you’d like to order the book for your classroom or library, now is the time to order.

Learn more about Nadia’s time in the Red Room from Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charpentier in UNSTOPPABLE WASP #5 on May 3!

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Sam Wilson, Mockingbird, and more unite against the machinations of Steve Rogers!

When Secret Empire kicks off this May, ripples will be felt across the Marvel Universe, and heroes must unite to face a threat they never expected. SECRET EMPIRE: UNDERGROUND, a major tie-in from writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Eric Koda, will tell the story of one such group of good guys looking to liberate the Marvel Universe from Steve Rogers’ machinations.

We spoke with the UNDERGROUND creative about what to expect from their scintillating story.

Marvel.com: In Secret Empire, we’ll see the culmination of Steve Rogers’ story, which has been unfolding since this past summer. Can you tell us about jumping into the story at this stage?

Jeremy Whitley: It’s pretty wild, like boarding a moving train at full-speed. With UNDERGROUND, I don’t write Steve directly, but with characters like Sam Wilson on my team who have a ton invested in this story, we’ve got a lot of pressure to get things right. It’s a real honor to be asked to help tell a story so tied in to the narrative of Secret Empire.

Eric Koda: I feel so honored and excited to contribute to this, especially as a newcomer at Marvel. At this point I don’t know much but I am really intrigued about where this will go.

Marvel.com: Jeremy, in the book, Mockingbird leads the team. We recently saw her appear in UNSTOPPABLE WASP, which you write as well. How did it feel to write this character in such a different context?

Jeremy Whitley: Not so different, actually. We’ll have a lot fewer smoothies involved in UNDERGROUND than in UNSTOPPABLE WASP, but I love writing Mockingbird. I see her as very well-rounded, in a way few heroes are. She has a background in science, she has years of experience in operations and espionage, she has served as an Avenger and a double agent. When I got the list of the characters that were going to be on this team, I knew Bobbi would step up as the leader. She knows how to run an operation and she has a history of getting the job done when the chips are down.

Marvel.com: The team is described as “ragtag”—have you enjoyed working on a book that brings together characters we may not usually see teaming up?

Jeremy Whitley: At first it felt pretty intimidating. When you step into a team like the Champions or X-Men, you have a pretty good idea of how the characters will act toward each other based on their shared history. But with a team like this, some of whom we’ve never seen share panel time before, you start out feeling unsure how to orchestrate things.

But as it turns out, all of that worry was for nothing because this book has a lot of characters with big personalities. Hercules, Mockingbird, Iron Man, Sam Wilson—I mean, love him or hate him, Quicksilver is in this book and that guy always has personality to spare. You put him in an enclosed space with other people and this much tension, well, it just starts writing itself.

Eric Koda: That’s the fun part. We all know how Wolverine and Colossus interact or how the Thing and Spidey interact, but we never see Quicksilver and Ant-Man hanging around.

Marvel.com: In this book, we see the team trying to put things back to the way they used to be. What kind of emotional impact do you hope it has on readers who have been following Steve’s crazy ride for months now?

Jeremy Whitley: I consider the emotional stakes really high here. All of our characters have things to lose. All of them have skin in the game. And in the case of characters like Sam Wilson, Steve has been a part of his life for years. I hope readers picking up this story can feel themselves on this crazy adventure with our team. It’s tense, but also, we see the team in the Savage Land and if you’re not the kind of person who wants to see Mockingbird and Hercules face off against T-Rexes, I don’t know what I can do for you.

Eric Koda: I’d like for them to get some hope out of it. It’s kind of like in Star Wars: Rogue One and into A New Hope, where we have a lot at stake and our heroes face difficult odds.

Marvel.com: Can you tease any of the challenges they’ll face?

Jeremy Whitley: Well we got a really fun chance to bring in one of my favorite characters of the Savage Land. I think anyone who has read much X-Men over the years, will know the one. However, as with so much of Secret Empire, our heroes think they know what they’re in for and what role this character will play, but they have no idea how it will really go down.

Marvel.com: Would you like to tell us anything else?

Jeremy Whitley: For anyone reading Secret Empire, this is an integral part of that story. You’ll see this team leave in the pages of SECRET EMPIRE and you’ll see them arrive right back into the pages of SECRET EMPIRE. If you follow that story, this is a must.  However, I see it as a big adventure all on its own and I encourage fans of any of the characters to jump in and check it out.

Eric Koda: I feel psyched to be on board for this event and super stoked to work with Jeremy! Also, any opportunity to get to draw goofy Hercules faces is incredibly fortuitous!

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Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier recruit real world scientists to back up their new hero!

Each month in the letters page of UNSTOPPABLE WASP, space will be devoted to spotlighting real world female scientists and their work.

“I have to credit our amazing artist Elsa with the original idea,” says Whitley of the profiles. “I had been kicking around that I wanted to do some outreach to STEM and women in science and she came up with an idea. She would draw headshots and we’d do a little profile on female scientists. Her original plan was to post these on Twitter or Tumblr, but ever since I started working on UNSTOPPABLE WASP I’d wanted to do a letters page. I love letters pages and as engaging as Nadia is as a character, I thought it would be perfect.  Elsa’s idea of profiling female scientists from our audience was exactly what I was looking for.”

Celebrating science and the innovative minds working towards advancement in various fields fits perfectly with Nadia Pym’s character and the overall feel of UNSTOPPABLE WASP.

“UNSTOPPABLE WASP is all about young female super scientists setting out to change the world,” notes Whitley. “It made perfect sense to us to highlight female scientists who really are shaping our future. We already knew several women who fit this description and were comics readers, so the idea of sharing their awesome work with the rest of our audience seemed like something that had to happen. We look forward to learning about more amazing comics loving lady scientists as we open up to submissions and hopefully a few of [our] younger readers may even find something that interests them as well as the expert that they can ask about it.”

Marvel.com proudly presents the latest pair of scientific spotlights; for more, check out every installment of UNSTOPPABLE WASP, with issue #4 coming April 5 and issue #3 available now!

Hi again, Nadia here! Can you believe we’ve already been together for three months? You wouldn’t believe the recommendations we’ve gotten for Agents of G.I.R.L.! Today’s agents are pretty special though. Not only are they an optical engineer and an aerospace engineer, but they’re also COSPLAYERS! Check out Sadie Geerligs (@sadiebydesign) and Nia Jetter (@thinqueaboutit)!

Nia Jetter and Sadie Geerligs by Elsa Charpentier

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO YOU DO?

Sadie: I am an applications engineer in connectivity for a fiber-optic company, AFL. In my current role I focus on developing products for card edge connectivity and embedded optics. I was lucky to find AFL after earning my bachelor’s degree in Optical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2012.

Nia: I am an aerospace engineer specializing in spacecraft autonomy, I have been working in my field for just over 16 years. There’s a delay in communication between the Earth and space vehicles, so it is important that the vehicle be able to perform many functions autonomously, including controlling different subsystems and being able to fix or save itself if something is going wrong. I perform analyses and write algorithms that allow the space vehicle to operate without human intervention.

WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Sadie: I love that my job presents different challenges for me each day. My current position requires in-depth customer interaction to help develop products for their unique applications. When I was going through school, I was extremely nervous that a job in engineering would require me to sit at a desk all day and be super antisocial. It is extremely exciting to be able to see a product through the development stages to commercialization.

Nia: I love what I do! I feel like it is what I was made to do! I love math and I love solving problems. I love coming up with a vision of what technology we are going to need in the future and then determining a roadmap that we need to follow to get there. One of the greatest things about my job is that after we build the satellite or space-based vehicle, we are responsible for working the early portion of the mission before we hand the satellite over to the customer. I’ve had the opportunity to work thirteen missions in our mission control center. You get to see something that you worked so hard on actually performing its function up in space. It can be an incredible problem-solving experience!

WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUNG WOMEN GETTING INTO ENGINEERING?

Sadie: At graduation, we all donned pins in memory of the former president of Rose-Hulman, Matt Branam, with his quote “Make it happen. Make it fun.” He taught the students of Rose that you should make your dreams become reality, and have fun while you do it. It is really important to me to see women in fields that make them happy. I encourage anyone who has a passion for engineering, science or really anything to exploit that passion because it will lead you to greater things. Engineering has not only been a career that sustains my life, but a path to finding who I was meant to be. I wish nothing more than for other women to find the path that leads them to that same sort of belonging and happiness.

Nia: The greatest advancement is made when it is based in a foundation of diversity of thought. If a group of people with a similar backgrounds and trains of thought get together to solve a problem, they may miss an even better solution that would have been introduced by someone with a different background. Having a large portion of our society underrepresented in science and technology fields inhibits our society as a whole. It is important that, from a very young age, we make sure that no one is made to feel like science or math is too hard, or a “boy” thing. Having seen consistent resistance wear people down and make them choose to apply their brilliance to another, non-technical field, I try to be the opposite of that. I love mentoring and volunteering in schools, doing activities and explaining things simply to make sure that kids know that anyone can do anything that they put their mind to. It’s important for boys to know

–and see–that girls can do anything too, so that they have no reason to expect anything less than that from women in the future.

WHICH FEMALE ENGINEERS (REAL OR FICTIONAL) HAVE INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR WORK?

Sadie: My inspiration comes all of from the fantastic ladies that have surrounded me since I started down the path of my engineering career. The thing I find the most inspiring about all of these amazing women is that, like me, they all have passions outside of their careers that they are equally talented at. My friend Katherine runs a successful blog, Engineering in Style, that showcases that women in engineering can also be super stylish. And I remember enjoying Sailor Moon because all of her friends have different talents. As a super awkward bookworm through my younger years, I always had a great appreciation for Mercury because she was a nerd and a badass! Some other really cool fictional ladies that have surfaced as women in science fields become more and more common–like Asami Sato, Winry Rockbell and Honey Lemon.

Nia: I had a female math teacher in the sixth grade who was very encouraging and really helped me realize that I was strong in math. The fact that she pulled me aside and encouraged me really made a difference. Uhura was also a great inspiration. My mother is a huge Star Trek fan, particularly of Nichelle Nichols. I was fortunate enough to meet Nichelle Nichols while I was cosplaying as Uhura!

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE EXAMPLE OF CLEVER/UNUSUAL/NONSENSICAL USE OF SCIENCE IN COMICS?

Sadie: Since science fiction has often been a precursor to scientific discovery, there aren’t a lot of things that I find too out there. In fact, I find that most of the things in comics make people dream big enough to achieve goals that people would scoff at. If I had to pick a commonly used concept that irks me, though, it would probably be time travel. It’s a very large concept to wrap a brain around, and I just don’t really think it’s been thought through properly yet. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy Back to the Future and The Flash, but I just feel like aliens are more within our grasp than time travel. To the person that proves me wrong, I can’t wait for you to tell all of the skeptics, “I told you so!”

Nia: So…you’re telling me that there is one gene called the “X-gene” that, if activated, can result in the introduction of any kind of mutation–mental, physical or other…so I’ve got this bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you! I’m not a biologist, although I do like to write genetic algorithms, but the concept of the X-gene doesn’t sit quite right with me if I think about it too much. However, I know that incredible things can happen when it comes to science, and I am happy to suspend my disbelief because the concept of the X-gene enables some of my favorite stories–including those with my favorite comic character, Storm!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN READING COMICS AND WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST COMIC BOOK?

Sadie: Truthfully, I didn’t grow up reading comics, but I watched a whole lot of Batman and Superman: The Animated Series. About two years ago, I decided I was going to get into comics for the sake of my cosplay and bought several comics to kickstart my love. My main objective was to obtain a Supergirl comic, but I left with multiple copies of the PRINCESS LEIA comic as well, which remains one of my favorite storylines. I have also fallen in love with SPIDER-GWEN, CAPTAIN MARVEL and GWENPOOL. It will be really exciting to add UNSTOPPABLE WASP to my lineup of super-awesome ladies in my comic collection, and maybe someday in cosplay. After all, how could I not when her character is basically my tagline brought to life? Engineer by day, super hero by night.

Nia: My first comic book was a John Stewart Green Lantern book. I don’t remember how old I was. I remember there being so many comics around me that I felt like I was surrounded–my dad was going through his old comics. I remember my dad explaining the Green Lantern to me and how John Stewart was his favorite. I remember being fascinated for the first time by how the pictures were just as important as the words in telling the stories. And cosplaying gives me the opportunity to represent and pay homage to some of my favorite characters. 🙂

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