Marvel Proved an Avengers Twist Makes a Perfect Psychological Horror Story

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Darkhold: Wasp #1, now on sale

No member of the Avengers has had a perfectly stable experience in the Marvel Universe -- that's just a reality of being a character in a drama-heavy realm. But Janet Van Dyne has claim to a particularly tragic time with the team, especially in regards to her relationship with Hank Pym. Their romance ended up hitting plenty of bumps along the way -- with Hank's increasing instability severely affecting not just his tenure with the superhero team but his marriage to Janet.

Darkhold has been revealing alternate horrifying paths the heroes could have taken -- including one where Janet gave in to a darker version of her failed romance. Darkhold: Wasp by Jordie Bellaire, Claire Roe, & VC's Clayton Cowles introduces a version of the Wasp who's far more similar to the killer in a psychological drama over the traditional superhero she's usually portrayed as -- and it's a perfect dark turn for the demonically influenced variant of the character.

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The issue largely doesn't follow Janet in-costume as the Wasp. While she does engage with Kang the Conqueror alongside the rest of the Avengers, the villain's most devastating move against her has nothing to do with his advanced technology. Instead, it's his words that ring in her head following the battle -- with Kang noting he can see a great wealth of sorrow in Wasp's eyes, and openly asking if anyone is actually trying to take care of her and make her feel better. This lingers in Janet's mind as Hank continues to be distant and short-tempered with her, unresponsive to her affections and confrontational when she tries to "distract him" from his work.

Speaking in the same Cthon-influenced dialogue that is present for the other corrupted heroes, Wasp asks herself why she should be with a man who doesn't deserve her attention -- leaving her in a darker place when she finds Hank Pym designing a robot to attack the Avengers and help make him look good. In the core-Marvel Universe of Earth-616, Pym assaulted Janet in Avengers #213 by Jim Shooter and Bob Hall and she is left silent by the act. But in the reality presented by Darkhold, Janet instead takes a shard of glass broken in the scuffle and stabs her husband repeatedly in a brutal attack. By the time she's done, Pym is dead -- blood pools around Janet as she accepts the idea that she doesn't need anyone, and that she's finally free.

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It's a horrifying turn for the Wasp to take, painting her less as a twisted monster than the body-horror Iron Man and villainous Blade, who've been displayed elsewhere in the storyline. Instead, the demented take on the Wasp is a far more psychological villain, closer in motivation and method to a murderer from a dark thriller than an overt monster story. It's also perfect, showcasing a reality where Wasp responded to Yellowjacket's casual abuse with a vicious nature in kind -- resulting in the premature death of Pym at Wasp's hands. It gives this version of Wasp some dark agency in one of her most infamous moments and transforms her into a perfectly horrifying take on the character.

It's a fitting place for at least one dark version of Wasp to end up, embracing a freedom from Pym's intended and unintended cruelty alike -- and doing so in brutal final fashion. It allows a character often tied to a moment of domestic abuse the chance to strike back in the most gruesome way possible -- and set up this new dark version of Wasp for the rest of the event.

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Brandon Zachary (4209 Articles Published)

Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through [email protected].

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