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LaShayla Smith & Ying

Pricilla Lashayla Smith, or Shay to her friends, is a teenage girl who lives with her father in the Brownsville neighborhood in Brooklyn. Smith’s mother has recently moved away from the family for her job though her father was unable to leave his job. Despite a love of learning, Smith started skipping school when she became the target of a group of girls to beat up. Depressed about the situation and lying in bed led her to thinking about a solution to the problems involving her parents. It’s just that her solution was teleportation. Shay regularly stayed late at the library reading books on theoretical physics and once met Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It’s Shay’s curiosity and inventiveness that lands her on Nadia (Pym) Van Dyne’s list of recruits. (How Nadia knew about Shay is another matter. This is comics!) Nadia, like her father Henry (Ant-Man) Pym, is a scientific genius and she’s out to recruit other young women who excel in STEM fields and bring them together for her GIRL (Girls In Action Research Labs) program. After listening to Nadia’s pitch, Shay’s father approves of Shay joining the research program, reasoning it will give Shay access to facilities and equipment which will save their home from any of Shay’s experiments going awry as well as that she’ll be around other girls her age. There’s something about the way he refers to Shay’s last friend as someone who’d rather look cute than to pick up a book and Shay’s reaction that alludes to the friend as possibly being a girlfriend.

Ying was a Red Room operative at the same time as Nadia, the daughter of Hank Pym and his first wife, Hungarian citizen Maria Trovaya. Ying and Nadia worked together on projects in the Red Room under the supervision of Mother. Despite the harsh and isolating conditions of their situation, the two became close friends. Now Mother has tasked Ying to kidnap Nadia and return her to the Red Room. Ying almost seems to envy Nadia’s new found freedom and regrets having to kidnap Nadia but it’s either that or have the explosive device attached to her spine by Mother blown up as the penalty for failure. Nadia proposes another option and calls in all of her GIRL recruits, including Shay. Ying, Shay, and the other GIRL geniuses meet for the first time at Hank Pym’s former residence where Nadia has been staying as she tries to start her life over in the United States. Ying displays a black sense of humor and then calm confidence under the tenseness and gravity of the matter as she and the others work together to devise a plan and means to remove the explosive before it detonates and kills her. Perhaps it’s her curious and confident personality and interest in physics that drives Shay to be the one to remove successfully the device from Ying’s neck using gloves inspired by tech used to create the Vision. Despite some complications, Ying is free of Mother and the Red Room and displays a fierce appreciation of and protectiveness toward Nadia.

Janet Van Dyne throws a party for Nadia and the girls to celebrate saving Ying and all the initial steps they’ve taken as part of GIRL. Shay and Ying enjoy dancing together. While the first series ended with #8, look for more of Shay, Ying, Nadia, and the rest of GIRL when the Unstoppable Wasp series returns in October.

Pricilla Lashayla Smith and Ying both first appear in Unstoppable Wasp #3 volume 1 and their romantic interest in each other is seen in issue #8. It’s a presumption that they would identify as lesbian when either or both might identify as bisexual or pansexual. Both characters created by Jeremy Whitley and Elsa Charretier. Art by Ro Stein and Ted Brandt from Unstoppable Wasp #8.

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July 19, 2021
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