Although Civil War II is not Marvel’s most beloved event, the story still foreshadowed one of the greatest challenges the Wasps have ever faced.
2016’s Civil War II has a relatively poor reputation, and this is not without reason. The Marvel event suffered from a plot with confusing motivations and a general lack of consequences. There are, however, some stories tied into the event that set up things that would later be explored in standalone Marvel stories, such as its third tie-in with All-New All-Different Avengers. In this story, both of the Wasps (Janet Van Dyne and Nadia) react to the war, with Nadia exhibiting the first symptoms of her bipolar disorder.
All-New, All-Different Avengers #14 (by Mark Waid, Jeremy Whitley, Adam Kubert, and Sonia Oback) opens by continuing the plot of Nadia’s immigration to America. Fresh off the heels of having saved the President of the United States, the two Wasps have returned to Janet’s home only to find men in law enforcement uniforms demanding that Nadia be returned to her native Russia.
Nadia is an escapee from the Red Room, the assassin-training camp responsible for creating the Black Widow. Thankfully, Janet is able to identify that the agents are fake based on their costuming – one of them still had the cardboard stay under their collar, despite claiming to have worn the uniform for a year. Nadia and Janet ultimately overpower the fake agents, with Janet calling SHIELD to help them with the clean-up.
After this victory, Nadia and Janet enter the home and turn on the TV, which discusses the brimming tension in Superhero vs Superhero conflict, brought about by debates on whether it is ethical to use clairvoyance to fight and persecute crime that has not yet been committed. In response to this, Nadia rejects the concept of superheroes fighting one another and declares her intentions to stop the war herself.
To this end, Nadia goes to her microlab, a miniature laboratory she keeps in a gemstone on a necklace where time slows down and she is able to work at her own pace. Janet recognizes this is unhealthy and shrinks down to join the young hero, talking her out of her lofty ambitions. Jarvis, the Avengers’ butler, asks Janet if she has any plans to tell Nadia about the worst actions of her father, Hank Pym / Ant-Man. Janet rejects the idea, believing that Nadia having Hank as an idol will help her be a better superhero.
This scenario is later paralled in The Unstoppable Wasp #5 (by Jeremy Whitley and G Gurihiru). By this time, Nadia had experienced growth since Civil War II, having joined the Champions under the leadership of her close friend Kamala Khan and formed her own group, G.I.R.L., which consisted of female scientists. However, when Nadia is faced with a loss at the hands of the science collective A.I.M., she once again becomes hyperfocused on not only saving the day, but “fixing everything.”
Nadia retreats to her microlab where she goes without sleep for several days as she attempts to fix every problem, challenge, and struggle that she believes affects the lives of her friends. When the others realize what she is doing, they become concerned for her mental health and well-being. This time, Janet recognizes Nadia’s symptoms for what they are, noting that her father Hank suffered from bipolar disorder and his daughter appeared to be having a manic episode of her own.
Seeing that Nadia has been tracking a blimp, Janet pursues the object, only for Nadia to then emerge from her microlab. The members of G.I.R.L. who were left behind attempt to talk Nadia into taking a break, but she refuses, overpowering her friends to get back into her microlab.
With no other options, Priya Aggarwal, one of Nadia’s fellow scientists, dons one of Janet’s old Wasp suits and goes to the microlab, where she finds her friend in a depressive spiral. Priya ultimately is able to give her the support she needs, and the story ends with Nadia finally asking Janet for help, which she receives in the form of medication and therapy in subsequent issues.
Nadia Van Dyne’s mental condition has always been handled with care by Marvel, even as it is attributed to the same issue suffered by her father, Hank Pym. She has since joined the list of notable heroes with disabilities, at one time even being counted among the ranks of Marvel’s premier team of superheroes, the Avengers.