Tag Archives: Ant-Man

Today’s Super Comic — The Astonishing Ant-Man #13 (2016)

The Astonishing Ant-Man reaches a satisfying conclusion in issue #13.

Since it’s recent and it’s the final issue, I don’t want to give much away. Just know that the father/daughter relationship remains at the heart of the series through the end. The book isn’t so much about the adventures of Scott Lang as it’s about Scott’s efforts to be the man his daughter Cassie deserves.

There’s a clear arc throughout these thirteen issues, and it’s a complete story that allows for further stories to follow. It’s also about something far more relatable than superhero action, and it never forgets to have fun along the way. Scott and Cassie both commit mistakes and grow a little, making them engaging co-protagonists.

Nick Spencer wrote a winner here.

Also, very obliging of its Marvel Unlimited release schedule to roughly coincide with my year of daily reviews. I didn’t include every issue, for the sake of variety and because I didn’t have anything new to say with some, but the entire series is an enjoyable read.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artists: Brent Schoonover and Roman Rosanas

Cover: Julian Totino Tedesco

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Astonishing Ant-Man vol. 3: The Trial of Ant-Man (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Marvel Premiere #47-48 (1979)

marvel_premiere_vol_1_47When Hank Pym debuted as Ant-Man, his early stories were kind of lackluster compared to those of the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, and others. There were several reasons for that, but a big one was Pym’s lack of a clearly defined motivation.

But Marvel got it right in the second draft, when ex-con Scott Lang took over the role in Marvel Premiere #47 and 48. Like in the movie, Scott steals the Ant-Man suit from his predecessor, but the circumstances are different. His nine-year-old daughter is suffering from a life-threatening heart condition, and there’s one specialist who might be able to operate on her…if Scott can rescue this doctor from her kidnappers.

That’s a pretty compelling motivation driving the story, and it gives us a Marvel superhero different from most others at the time—a single dad who’s a reluctant thief. Importantly, he’s a thief who’s willing to turn himself in after his daughter is safe, but Pym lets him off the hook…perhaps a bit too easily. Then again, Pym lacking clear motivation for his actions brings us full circle in a way.

The action is solid throughout. The villain shares the name of the movie’s villain, Darren Cross, although here he’s a pink brutish Hulk sort with a much higher IQ. He, too, has a heart condition, and he’s willing to steal people’s hearts to replace his own. He’s a true monster inside and out and a formidable obstacle for the rookie superhero, who has to rely much more on ingenuity than brute strength.

Definitely a much more interesting Ant-Man all around.

Writer: David Michelinie

Artists: John Byrne and Bob Layton

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Ant-Man Scott Lang (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Astonishing Ant-Man #8 (2016)

astonishing_ant-man_vol_1_8The fun continues in The Astonishing Ant-Man #8, this time with a colorful bunch of henchmen playing poker while sharing the tips of the trade with a newbie.

Don’t work for Nazis, laugh at Spider-Man’s jokes, pay your taxes—the henchmen dispense such wisdom throughout a book that’s clearly not taking itself seriously (always a healthy approach, I’d say). But the silly humor never detracts from the central father/daughter conflict that continues to build.

The payoff will come later, but I remain interested in seeing how it plays out. And I remain impressed at how well writer Nick Spencer balances the comedy and drama. A good time all around.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Brent Schoonover

Cover: Julian Totino Tedesco

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Astonishing Ant-Man vol. 2: Small-Time Criminal (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Astonishing Ant-Man #6 (2016)

astonishing-ant-man-6In this issue—100% less Ant-Man! But that’s okay, because the focus shifts to his daughter Cassie Lang, the former superhero formerly known as Stature.

Issue #6 shows Cassie adjusting to a post-superhero life in which she’s no longer capable of growing to fifty feet tall whenever it’s convenient…and not adjusting very well. She’s so desperate to regain her powers, she’ll pretend to be interested in joining forces with the evil Power Broker and becoming a super-villain.

This issue is all recap and set-up, which could easily be a recipe for boredom, but writer Nick Spencer uses it as an opportunity to show us what’s going on in Cassie’s head while also instilling reasonable doubt about her aims going forward. And he rattles off the convoluted backstory efficiently and smoothly enough to not scare away newer readers. Yeah, the backstory is messy, but he gets it out of the way and uses only what’s necessary to provide context for what Cassie is going through here and now. The book remains sufficiently focused on the present even while planning ahead for future issues. It’s nicely balanced.

Another fine issue in a consistently entertaining series.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Annapaola Martello

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Avengers #275 (1987)

avengers_vol_1_275It’s the Wasp and Ant-Man as David…and the Absorbing Man and Titania as Goliath. Comic book battles are always more exciting when we’re rooting for the underdog, but there’s even more going on here than a pair of superheroes fighting outside their weight class.

Avengers #275 is part of the classic “Under Siege” storyline in which the Masters of Evil infiltrate Avengers Mansion and defeat Earth’s Mightiest Heroes one at a time. As of this issue, the last Avenger standing is the Wasp, and she’s feeling like a failure. After all, the team’s worst defeat has occurred under her watch as chairwoman, and now Hercules lies near-death in the hospital while everyone else is captured by the enemy. But she and guest-star Ant-Man (Scott Lang) are all that stand between two powerful villains and a hospital full of innocents. So she’ll have to put the pity aside and get the job done, redeeming herself and renewing hope for the team in the process.

The best part of knocking down the good guys is watching them get back up again.

Writer: Roger Stern

Penciler: John Buscema

Inker: Tom Palmer

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in Avengers: Under Siege (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Astonishing Ant-Man #4 (2016)

Astonishing Ant-Man 4As far as superheroes go, Scott Lang isn’t much of a role model. But he’s not a bad guy either. It’s a difficult balance to pull off in comics, but writer Nick Spencer handles it exceptionally well in The Astonishing Ant-Man. Scott isn’t a total jerk. He’s not unhinged. He just possesses faulty judgment and keeps trying to do better.

Things get a bit more serious in issue #4, but ridiculousness will forever be inescapable so long as your protagonist is Ant-Man. The humor remains strong, but Scott’s strained relationship with his daughter provides a solid foundation for the comic booky antics to stand on. Scott’s recent tendency has been to literally shrink away from Cassie, supposedly for her own good or something, and here we see how well that works out for him.

I also have to compliment artist Roman Rosanas. He’s got a good, clean style and knows how to effectively convey the hero’s sometimes-diminished stature. For example, Ant-Man spends a portion of this issue hiding on the shoulder of his ex-girlfriend, Darla. By using wide but short panels and fitting only the lower half of Darla’s face within, Rosanas succeeds in making her appear relatively gigantic and Ant-Man actually tiny without having to resort to any splash panels (which would cost a lot more of the book’s limited space). That’s good, efficient layout work right there.

Ant-Man isn’t a superhero to emulate, but he’s fun to read about.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Roman Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; The Astonishing Ant-Man vol. 1: Everybody Loves Team-Ups (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Astonishing Ant-Man #3 (2015)

Astonishing Ant-Man 3Ant-Man and Captain America team up! Though it’s neither the original Ant-Man nor the original Captain America … but it is Scott Lang and Sam Wilson, who are both great characters with a lot of history in the Marvel Universe. Besides, by now, the Ant-Man identity belongs to Scott more than it does Hank Pym. And knowing how comics operate, I have no doubt Sam will inevitably return to his Falcon role and hand the shield back to Steve Rogers, but he’s a worthy substitute for the short term.

Plenty of fun ensues in this issue, particularly with Scott critiquing Sam’s performance in his new role.

As written by Nick Spencer, The Astonishing Ant-Man does not take itself too seriously. For Exhibit A, this issue features what might be the first Ant-Man vs. Giganto fight, with one combatant making short work of the other. The stakes don’t feel terribly high, but it makes for an entertaining scene.

The book is just goofy enough to delight, but Spencer avoids getting too ridiculous with everything. Scott’s personal problems help ground it just enough.

I’m liking it and ready for more.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Ramon Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in The Astonishing Ant-Man vol. 1: Everybody Loves Team-Ups (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Astonishing Ant-Man #2 (2015)

Astonishing Ant-Man 2This is shaping up to be a fun series. Ant-Man working private security! (Or trying to.) It’s not exactly a straight superhero book, but it takes full advantage of playing in a world of superheroes and villains. And “playing” is definitely the right word—and definitely the right approach for a character like the Scott Lang Ant-Man. (If someone could pull off a dramatic take on Ant-Man, I’d be pretty darn impressed. Alas, he’s not exactly Marvel’s answer to Hamlet.)

The book is saddled with convoluted continuity as backstory, but writer Nick Spencer uses what he inherited to fuel entertaining story possibilities. The second issue draws on Ant-Man’s time leading the substitute Fantastic Four that served while the real FF were playing Doctor Who not too long ago. He had gotten involved with a teammate, “Ms. Thing” Darla Deering, and the way it ended was not Scott’s finest moment. That history leads to a compelling dynamic for this series.

The Astonishing Ant-Man features a character who is very human and capable of screwing up in huge ways, but he keeps plugging along and trying his best. And once in a while, he might even succeed.

You know, he did beat up Doctor Doom that time.

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Roman Rosanas

Publishers: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; Astonishing Ant-Man vol.1: Everybody Loves Team-Ups (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up