When Hank Pym had retired as Yellowjacket following his infamous breakdown, Rita DeMara found and stole his former costume and began using his identity and gadgets it to villainous ends as the new Yellowjacket. Although never printed, her origin was intended to be that Rita DeMara was a dead friend of hers whose identity she’d swiped while running from the mob.
Yellowjacket was created by Roger Stern and John Buscema and first appeared in The Avengers #264 in 1986.
Introduced as a villain to the Avengers, but mostly as an opponent for the Wasp, Yellowjacket endured an uneven and inconsistent history of sometimes being a villain and sometimes a hero. After her first appearance, she joined the Masters of Evil but then a few months later she joined the Avengers during the Evolutionary War. Again, this direction was short-lived as she then joined the Femizons and later the next incarnation of the Masters of Evil. Following a conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy, she then joined with them for an extended period of time before returning to Earth and allying with the Avengers again during The Crossing. Unaware of her status at the time, Kurt Busiek initially planned to include her in the original Thunderbolts team which never came to pass.
Major Story Arcs
Yellowjacket participated in a takeover of the Avengers Mansion, assisting one of the more powerful versions of the Masters of Evil. Defeated, Yellowjacket is sent to prison but is freed by the Fixer, who has amorous intentions. She flees and tries to gain revenge on the Wasp, by way of the Black Knight. Furious at being rejected, the Fixer tries to kill her. Black Knight helps Yellowjacket defeat him and the two part on possibly romantic terms.
During a time when no Avengers were active, her stolen helmet receives a call for help from an automated system at an old Avengers base. She finds herself teaming up with The Captain, Falcon, Hercules, Beast, Hulk and Jocasta after insisting that she was manipulated into joining the Masters of Evil. Accepting her aid in a time of need, Yellowjacket and the Avengers battle the High Evolutionary who wished to jump start humanity's evolution through worldwide catastrophe.
Yellowjacket helps battle through the Evolutionary's underground submarine base, fighting against dozens of his soldiers. Eventually the Evolutionary is defeated by Hercules, the two evolving out of reality. Although offered a chance to stay with the team following the battle, Yellowjacket parts ways with the Avengers and instead joins with Superia's Femizons.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Yellowjacket rejoins the Masters of Evil during when Doctor Octopus forms a new team believing that while the Avengers are busy with the Infinity War it would be the opportune moment to attack Avengers Mansion. The Masters of Evil are confronted by Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers Crew inside the Mansion. Yellowjacket was soon betrayed by her side.
Moments later, both teams were overwhelmed by waves of evil alien doppelgängers. Each member of each team had a double and when one was destroyed, yet another would appear. To survive, they had to work together. They fought until the aliens stopped coming, stopped at the source by other super-teams in other dimensions. When Doctor Octopus, desires to continue the fight, his men turn on him, not wanting to hurt those who had helped them. Yellowjacket was left behind and joined the Guardians.
She went to the 31st century with them and further proved her worth when she saved the life of Charlie-27 by shrinking, flying inside his throat, and performing "surgery" on a massive blood clot with her stings. She formed a close friendship with Nikki. She later used 31st century technology to redesign her costume, making it look less like Pym's design (she even found a way to fly without installing wings on her costume).
Homesick, she attempted to return to the 20th century. On the way, she stopped in the near future and learned that a disaster was about to happen to the Avengers in her target time. When she returned to the present to warn them, she was killed by Iron Man, who was being mind controlled by Immortus in the guise of Kang the Conqueror.
When Mikaboshi killed Nightmare, he was attacked by the living heroes of Earth who he sent into an eternal sleep. Mikaboshi then destroyed the underworld, with nowhere to go, the deceased returned to the realm of the living. Yellowjacket was among those "resurrected" and banded together with a small group of other dead Avengers (Captain Marvel, Deathcry, Doctor Druid, Swordsman and Vision) to protect the souls of those who had been plunged into sleep. The Avengers battled against the Mikaboshi's servants; the Lethal Legion (Grim Reaper and Nekra) and as most of them were defeated and killed by the villains, only Swordsman and Yellowjacket escaped unscathed when Deathcry and Vision both sacrificed themselves to stop the Legion.
The two survivors joined forces with Hercules, Alpha Flight, the God Squad and the Hulk's family in battling the Mikaboshi. When the Mikaboshi was defeated by Hercules, Swordsman and Yellowjacket found themselves returned to life and facing an uncertain future.
Powers and Abilities
Similar to her predecessor, Rita had the ability to shrink to the size of an insect. She could fly at high speeds, and fire bio-electric "stinger" blasts. She also demonstrated growing powers on occasion. However, due to the strain this placed on her heart, she rarely used them. Rita also improved upon the Pym Particles, being able to use them on others to change their size.
An alternate reality briefly seen where Yellowjacket returns from her tenure with the Guardians of the Galaxy and marries Hank Pym.
Earth-1298 (Mutant X)
For more details see: Mutant X
Yellowjacket is one of the few surviving members of the Avengers following a purging of the team by Sentinels. During the Goblin Queen's World War III, she joined with a new team of Defenders with Doctor Strange, Doc Samson and Stingray. The Defenders later fought alongside that reality's version of X-Factor against Dracula and the Beyonder.