Tag Archives: Nick Spencer

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 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