The Wasp is a founding member of the Marvel Comics superhero team, The Avengers. The original character to bear that name was Janet van Dyne. Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, she was the love interest of Henry Pym — the hero variously known as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket. After her 2008 death, the grieving Pym adopted "the Wasp" as his own code-name.
Both versions have had the ability to shrink to a height of perhaps several centimeters, fly by means of insectoid wings (which appear only at small size), and fire energy blasts.
Making use of sub-atomic Pym particles, the Wasp possesses the power to alter her physical size, causing her body's mass to be shunted to or gained from an alternate dimension known as Kosmos. She is able to shrink to a minimum of half an inch or grow to a maximum of several hundred feet. Smaller or larger sizes are possible but the exertion begins to put a strain on her body. Initially, these abilities stemmed from use of a Pym particle gas released from special capsules. Over time, however, her body has absorbed enough particles to allow her to alter her size at will.
At miniature size, her strength level increases as her body's mass is compacted. At giant size, her strength and endurance increase geometrically with her height, reaching superhuman levels. Despite the advantages of giant size, Janet usually prefers to remain the diminutive Wasp, calling on her growth power only in times of extreme emergency.
At miniature size, the Wasp grows a pair of translucent insect wings from her back, a result of genetic modifications provided by Hank Pym. These grant her the power of flight, at speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
The Wasp is able to harness and augment her body's natural bio-electric energy, releasing it from her hands in powerful electrical bursts, which she calls her "stinger blasts" or "wasp's stings." Originally, she required special wrist devices to produce these but again, Pym particle absorption has allowed her to create the ability unaided.
The Wasp's genetic modifications also grant her the ability to sprout small prehensile antennae from her forehead which allow her to telepathically communicate with and control insects. However, this is an ability which she rarely uses.
Van Dyne has also displayed several non-superhuman abilities that have garnered her special fame and attention, foremost of which is her fashion sense, as in nearly all of her early appearances, she sported a new costume, presumably designed and manufactured on her own. In addition, The Wasp is one of the most intuitive, if not deductive, members of the Avengers. She effectively deduced that a chemical accident created a schizophrenic break in Henry Pym, the relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision was the result of the infused personality of Wonder Man, and guessed the identity of Iron Man at a time when Tony Stark faked his own death.