Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Roman Rosanas
Published by Marvel Comics
If there’s anything that can be said on Marvel Comic’s recent approach to the character of Ant-Man, it’s that it’s awkward. Despite being a founding member of the Avengers, Ant-Man has never been a big enough draw to support a long term solo series. Because of this, he’s often overlooked (in any incarnation) and lives mostly in the shadow of his Avengers or other super science teammates. He isn’t a high profile member of any section of the Marvel Universe as say Thor comes packaged with Asgardian adventures, Captain America is bundled with all sorts of political espionage and World War II pulp action, or Iron Man being part of the super science scene. This public perception really sunk in when he was absent from the lineup of the massively popular Avengers film. Even now, it seems Marvel’s awkwardly looking at its feet and trying to make up for whatever small complaints there were that Hank Pym wasn’t yet part of the Cinematic Universe. While the same studio will pump money into making non-comic fans excited for characters completely alien to them with Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a complete lack of zest when trying to market an Ant-Man movie.
Forgive the lengthy introduction, but this type of awkward puttering is similar to what it’s like reading the new Ant-Man #1. Released the day after Marvel dropped their brand new trailer, Ant-Man #1 is an issue that is both fresh but problematic. It’s an enjoyable tome ,no doubt, but also ends up as something that will likely agitate old fans of Scott Lang and his daughter, Cassie. The plot itself is rather simple as Lang, the second hero to wear the antennaed helm, is trying to apply for a new job as Stark Industries’ new chief of security while competing against some seemingly more qualified super humans and trying to find time to spend with his daughter. Scott Lang is portrayed as the everyman, a simple guy who’s had some bad streaks of luck in the past yet seeks some redemption. He wants what’s best for his daughter, but suffers from low self-esteem. The story, much like its central character, is laid back, not in search of explosive action or complex long term story arcs, but focused in the here and now. In fact, the reason why Scott even bothers wearing his superhero suit for the comic is just because it’s the best clothes he has at the moment. Roman Rosanas’ art style shows a world where heroes aren’t anything mythic or Earth shaking, but real people who occasionally don some nice looking costumes. If anything, the series shares the most with is Ms. Marvel in how business casual it is with the main hero and supporting cast. Despite this, it makes for a very enjoyable read. Where a lot of titles try to hit the ground running with city leveling super battles, Ant-Man doesn’t drop a single hint that it’s building up to anything if it even is.
However this book comes with major elephant in the room with how it portrays its heroes. The issue seems to be drawing far too much from the cinematic concept of Ant-Man and not enough on the Scott Lang of the Marvel Comics Universe. Despite being a character who’s been around since the late 70’s, this comic seems to disregard most of Scott’s previous exploits. All of his time as a superhero and as an Avenger seems glossed over despite the comic itself referencing his participation with groups like the Future Foundation. Scott Lang says he belongs on “the C-List” of superheroes. To compound things is the presence of his daughter and fellow superhero, Cassie Lang a.k.a. Stature. Despite her part in the Young Avengers and recent resurrection in the pages of AXIS, any heroic exploits of her own seem to not exist anymore as Scott’s ex-wife wants to keep her away from superheroes without ever hinting that Cassie was one. It’s almost as if anything related to Ant-Man’s previous history has been swept under the rug for the sake of new readers. While hand waving continuity is not always a bad thing, this seems to ignore it. It’s not something that makes the book structurally flawed but it does make things confusing for anyone with even the barest knowledge of either Scott Lang or Stature.
It’s for this reason that Ant-Man #1 does comes with a recommendation but with some reservations as well. It’s a noble little story about a hero who’s rarely carried a series of his own with some real pull at the heart strings moments, but can be off putting to older readers. Hopefully these discrepancies will be ironed out in later issues, but for now: be enthusiastic though weary, Ant-Man has real potential though it’s awkward to say the least.