A mystery character turns up in Avengers #31 who it looks like is going to drive at least part of the plot of the last arc of the book. I have a theory of who it might be, and I really hope I’m right.
We first see a mystery woman in the first pages of the issue being shot at in some sort of an air-bike chase. Her face and head are wrapped in cloth, disguising her features.
Later we see her again, and discover that her goal in the chase was to reach a city where she could send a signal out from wherever she is. And it’s then revealed that she’s an Avenger:
Alien #1: Customer!!
Alien #2: Humanoid?! You followed this day?
Woman: I was. Not anymore. Please, I need–
Alien #2: Humanoid.
Alien #1: Ugly.
Woman: You have no idea what I have been through to get here. Rich-Ellatali told me of you. She said you had a machine. You could transmit a signal out of here.
Alien #2: Ritch-Ellatali. Fiery pirate. Where now go she?
Woman: She’s dead. Can you help me? Can you transmit a signal for me?
Alien #2: What signal kinds?
Woman [holding up Avengers ID Card]: This–this makes a signal. Can you use it? Please say yes. You are my last chance.
Later, we see Tony Stark get the signal in Avengers Tower:
Tony Stark[dreaming]: Whitney, stop…
[Computer pings twice]
Tony: 39-7-14? What does that mean exactly? What kind of–?
Tony: Son of a–
He then runs to the assembled Avengers:
Tony: Guys! The Avengers emergency signal just went off.
Clint Barton: Is there an emergency?
Tony: It’s the signal only Avengers can broadcast.
Steve Rogers: From?
Tony: I don’t know.
Peter Parker: Is that — what is that? Outer space?
Tony: No. No, I think– I don’t know. But I think it’s… Inner Space.
Clint: There’s an Avenger in Inner Space?
Steve: Who is it?
Which is of course where the fateful “to be continued” comes in.
Inner Space, also known as Sub-Atomica, is the collection of microscopic worlds of the Marvel Universe. Places you have to be really, really tiny to get to.
I can think of exactly one missing and/or presumed dead female Avenger who fits the build of the mystery character above and could plausibly be found trapped in Inner Space: Janet Van Dyne.
So, is this the long-awaited return of the Wasp to the 616-verse? I really, really hope so. I miss Janet a lot, she’s been at the top of my list of Marvel characters who need to come back to life for quite some time.
Part of me worries this is a little too easy and obvious, but I honestly can’t think of anyone else it could be and have the proper gravitas for Bendis’ closing Avengers arc.