- HI! I'm the Wasp! And you've just been STUNG!
- -- The Wasp
Janet van Dyne was the daughter of world-renowned scientist Vernon van Dyne. Early in her life, she was a flighty, self-centered dilettante living luxuriously on her father's fortune. She had an on-and-off romantic relationship with the world-renowned soldier-of-fortune called Paladin. When an alien brought to Earth during one of her father's experiments murdered the elder van Dyne, Janet contacted his colleague, Dr. Henry Pym. She told Pym of her resolve to bring her father's killer to justice. Pym revealed his secret identity as Ant-Man, and Janet underwent a biochemical process involving his Pym Particles that allowed her to shrink to insectoid proportions and implanted Bio-Synthetic Wings. Furthermore, Pym outfitted her with wrist devices which allowed her to discharge blasts of compressed air that she called her "wasp's stings".
As The Wasp, Jan and Hank tracked down and defeated the murderous Kosmosian, banishing it to its home dimension. Pym and van Dyne gradually fell in love; Jan reminded Pym of his deceased first wife, Maria. Pym and van Dyne became crime-fighting partners in their costumed identities, fighting menaces like the Egghead, the A-Chiltarians and their robot Cyclops, the trumpet-playing criminal Trago and the Porcupine. They were two of the founding members of the Avengers (along with Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk) after responding when Hank's helmet picked up Rick Jones' fateful call for help. It was, in fact, the Wasp who suggested the name "Avengers" for the group that had gathered. In a further milestone in Avengers history, Jan and the other founders (minus the Hulk) were the discoverers of the great World War II hero, Captain America, still frozen from the last days of the war. Being a fashion designer, the Wasp would become known for her frequent costume changes throughout her career as a superhero.
- Jan's attitude towards crime fighting was, at first, very carefree. She saw it as her way of attracting attention from Hank. Still the shallow socialite early in her career, Jan would often comment on the attractiveness of Thor to try and elicit jealousy from her partner. The studious Pym began to experiment with Pym Particles, and found that he could cause himself to grow beyond his normal height to giant sizes. Soon, both crime fighters had been exposed to the Particles long enough to be able to change size at will rather than rely on gas capsules or potions, and Jan could fire her stinger blasts without the aid of wrist devices. Changing his costumed identity to "Giant-Man", Pym eventually experienced bodily strain because of the process' physiological effects. Because of this, Pym decided to take a break from costumed adventuring. With the stress of constant threats from Pym's enemies such as Egghead, the Human Top (later Whirlwind) and the Black Knight, as well as confronting Kang the Conqueror and the Masters of Evil with the Avengers and surviving a brush with death after having been shot by a Maggia agent, Jan was ready for a break herself. Meanwhile, Thor and Iron Man also took leaves of absence from the Avengers, leaving Captain America to preside over a new incarnation of the team. Jan remained in her civilian career as a fashion designer, with Pym continuing his scientific pursuits.
Sometime later, however, Pym and van Dyne learned that the Namor the Sub-Mariner was heading for New York City. Fearing trouble, they decided to alert the Avengers. The Wasp was captured by first Namor's foe, the undersea barbarian leader Attuma, and then by the Collector. In order to help the Avengers rescue Janet, Pym decided to use his growing power again, donning a new costume and adopting the new name of "Goliath".
Marriage and Divorce
Pym had always loved Janet, but various inhibitions kept him from proposing to her - feelings of inadequacy due to her wealth chief among them. One day, while he had still not fully mentally recovered from the stress of accidentally creating one of the Avengers' greatest foes in the form of Ultron, Hank had a lab accident with experimental gases. These caused a reaction in him that broke his inhibitions down, and induced a severe case of schizophrenia. This was his second breakdown, the first having been after his first wife, Maria, had been killed. Believing he was a new person named "Yellowjacket", Pym broke into Avengers Mansion and told the team that he had killed Henry Pym When the team attacked him, he captured the Wasp and escaped. Soon after, the Avengers were shocked to hear that Janet, who suspected it was Pym all along, was going to marry him. Their wedding at Avengers Mansion was attended by a who's-who of active superheroes at the time. Immediately following, the Avengers were attacked by the villainous Circus of Crime. Janet later felt guilty at having taken advantage of Hank's mental state to finally get married, but the couple was happy... at first.
Wasp was once temporarily possessed by the Power Prism fragments, briefly acting as Dr. Spectrum.
Hank later had a third breakdown, during which he was captured by Ultron, reverted to his earliest days as Ant-Man, and made to attack the Avengers. During the fighting, it was the Wasp who took down her wayward husband. Janet later suspected that this, being brought down by his own wife, might have further exacerbated Pym's fragile mental state. She had begun seeing a therapist on the side, hoping for insight into how to help Hank's ego.
When the Avengers were battling the Elfqueen, Hank blasted her in the back during a lull in the fighting while Captain America was trying to talk her down. This began another round of fighting that caused Captain America to charge Hank for reckless behavior under the Avengers by-laws, since bystanders could have been killed. This began Pym's fourth nervous breakdown. He decided that if he could build a robot to attack Avengers Mansion, he could defeat it and be a hero in the eyes of his teammates. He included a special hidden weak spot on the robot just for the occasion. When Jan protested, Hank lashed out, brutally striking his wife. His plan went awry, and when the robot attacked the mansion, it was the Wasp who disabled it after Hank was overpowered. In the subsequent court-martial, Pym was stripped of his Avengers membership. Meanwhile, Jan began divorce proceedings.
Continued Avengers service and Chairmanship
Over the years, Janet had become a seasoned hero, a far cry from the ditzy thrill-seeker she had been while first teaming with Pym as Ant-Man. She continued service with the team after Hank's fourth breakdown despite the tremendous stress of the situation. After the divorce, she at times revisited her old dallying romance with Paladin.
- The Wasp was elected as chairman of the Avengers, a position she held for a long while, having been molded into a savvy and able leader. Janet and several other Avengers were among the group of heroes summoned to Battleworld by the Beyonder to fight in his Secret Wars. During the conflict, the Wasp appeared to be seduced by Magneto after he captured her, but she was merely playing along in order to find out his plans. Temporarily overpowering Magneto and his new allies the X-Men, she escaped in an alien aircraft that soon crashed. Jan took refuge with the outcast Lizard. The Wrecker gravely wounded her when the Wrecking Crew was dispatched by Doctor Doom to retrieve the Lizard. Left in a death-like state, she was revived by the alien healer Zsaji.
While Avengers chairman, Jan led the team in discovering Jean Grey, an X-Man long thought to be dead. Her teammate Black Knight had an unrequited crush on her for some time, while another, Hercules, chafed at being given orders by a woman.
The most serious test to the Wasp's leadership ability came when the Masters of Evil under Baron Helmut Zemo attacked and conquered Avengers Mansion. Hercules was beaten into a coma by the Masters, and admitted to hospital, and Zemo sent two of the most powerful Masters, Titania and Absorbing Man to finish him off. With the help of the second Ant-Man, the Wasp defeated the two far stronger villains. With every other active team member incapacitated and a small army of supervillains holding their headquarters, it was up to the Wasp to assemble a rescue squad and mount the assault to retake the mansion.
The Wasp soon took a leave of absence, but was abducted by the goddess Artemis on the orders of Hercules' father Zeus, who blamed the Wasp for his son's condition. The Wasp and the rest of the Avengers stood against Zeus and some of his offspring until he saw sense and ended the hostilities.
Eventually Hank's mental balance returned and he was reinstated as an active Avenger under the name Doctor Pym. Janet was briefly assigned to the West Coast branch alongside Hank after this. The two managed to rekindle a friendship and, some years later, a romance. While on a trip to Las Vegas, however, Jan turned down a marriage proposal of Hank's; she said she would not marry him again.
- After sustaining severe injuries during the Crossing, Pym put Janet through the same process that had originally given her her powers. This temporarily mutated Janet into an almost completely wasp-like form. In this form, she was among the Avengers who seemingly gave their lives to absorb the energy of Onslaught, in reality being shunted to an alternate dimension. She was later returned to normal by Franklin Richards, and helped to re-assemble the team after this event. Following a membership evaluation after dealing with Morgan le Fay, Wasp was left in a reservist role for a time. She was pulled into the Destiny War along with Hank Pym, successfully leading a diverse team of Avengers from various times and realities, and eventually re-attained full membership and even the chairmanship of the team.
Janet hosted "America's Next Superstar" for a time. After he rejoined the team, Jan had a dalliance with Hawkeye, which left Hank reeling. She soon returned to her longtime, if rocky, flame. Around this time, Jan also began using Pym Particles to grow to immense heights, just as Hawkeye (as Goliath) and Pym had done.
An offhand remark from the Wasp to the Scarlet Witch regarding the latter's "children" accidentally ignited Wanda's breakdown that left the Avengers disassembled. During the chaos that ensued, the Wasp was badly injured by her good friend She-Hulk who had been driven into an uncontrollable rage, leaving Jan in a brief coma. It was Hank who brought her to the hospital and stayed at her bedside as she recovered. During this time they seem to have finally fully reconciled. Shortly thereafter, Pym received a fellowship at Oxford, and the two moved to England to reconcile and take a break from crimefighting. The two decided not to renew their relationship, although they remained on good terms. Their rooming together did not last for long. Tired of his dedication to his work, she eventually left him and returned to the U.S. to resume her own career as a fashion designer.
Civil War and the Mighty Avengers
During the superhero Civil War, Janet (who had always been open about her identity) and Hank both supported the Superhuman Registration Act and thus joined Iron Man's Pro-Registration Superhero Unit, with Hank helping spearhead the movement. She hosted a pro-registration reality TV show, America's Newest Superhero. Despite being on the Pro-Registration side, Jan was distraught when her friend Bill Foster, a leader of the opposing Secret Avengers, was killed in battle by a clone of Thor.
At the end of the Civil War, Iron Man and Ms. Marvel recruited Janet to the Mighty Avengers. She participated in the retaliation against the Mole Man's biological creations, but when Ultron infected Iron Man by downloading itself into his Extremis armor and held its own against the remaining team, she resorted to calling her ex-husband Hank Pym for help. Janet and Hank were not technically on very good terms even as friends and she was unaware that a Skrull impostor had replaced him for the last several months. She continued to serve with the Mighty Avengers against an alien symbiote-infected populace in New York, and even arresting Doctor Doom.
During the Skrull invasion on Earth, Jan, along with her Mighty Avengers teammates and the New Avengers, confronted a Skrull spaceship in the Savage Land and opposed many Skrulls who appeared as various superheroes dressed in older versions of their costumes. Both Avengers groups were taken back to New York by Mister Fantastic and Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. to confront the Skrulls in a final battle. What Janet was unaware of was that a growth serum that 'Hank Pym' (actually the Skrull Criti Noll in disguise) had given her a month earlier was tampered with and was designed to transform her into a monolithic, explosive bio-weapon. Criti Noll survived the battle long to activate the new growth serum in a desperate attempt to destroy the Earth following the supposed death of his queen Veranke in the final battle. Growing hundreds of feet tall with highly visible, and unstable, energy searing out of her body, Janet's former teammate and fellow founding Avenger Thor used his hammer to minimize the damage of the explosion by turning the energy emanated by her body back to herself so she exploded. Thor swore to avenge her death.
Months later after the war of the Avengers against the X-Men, she was revealed to be alive. Apparently when Thor hit her with a lighting, the process of expansion reverted sending her to the Microverse where she used her Avengers Identi-card in order to alert the Avengers of her presence. Without knowledge of which Avenger sent the signal, they asked help to Giant-Man and traveled with him to the Microverse, where they finally found Janet who was fighting someone named Lord Gouzar. She then became a member of the Uncanny Avengers, and had a romance with her teammate Havok.
Following the World War Hate in which Avengers and X-Men alike joined forces to defeat the Red Skull, a magic spell cast by the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Doom inverted the moral axis of numerous heroes and villains. Wasp was one of the Avengers who became tyrants.However, she was then captured by Captain America, who drained the Pym Particles from her body to use them to shrink and capture anyone who opposed him.
The Wasp was later retrieved by Havok when the inverted X-Men stormed the Stark Tower. Alex tried to convince his brother to spare Wasp's life from a gene bomb the X-Men planned to detonate which would've killed every person on the Earth who wasn't a mutant.
After the bomb's detonation was prevented, Havok freed Wasp and tried to escape with her, claiming he was the one who defused the bomb. After realizing he hadn't done such thing, Janet turned on him and then rejoined the Axis to prevent Steve Rogers from helping the inverted Red Skull reinvert the affected heroes and villains. When a reinversion spell was cast, Wasp became good once again. However, Havok didn't (as he had been accidentally shielded by Iron Man), and used her as a leverage to escape from the heroes.