Raise your hand if you’re surprised that we’re getting a new Ant-Man title just in time for the upcoming Ant-Man film! Yeah, me either. Marvel has been producing what they call “tie-in comics” for the last few years that are specifically written and designed to coincide with the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (since, as we all know, converting a title from the pages of a comic onto the big screen apparently requires a good bit of rewriting and creative licensing). It’s a pretty brilliant marketing move on their part as it give comic fans yet another title to add to their pull lists, and provides new fans with a clear and easy starting point in a never-ending sea of reboots, alternate realities, revolving door collaborations, etc. ANT-MAN #1 is not currently listed as one of the tie-in titles, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that it probably should be*.
Not surprisingly, of the three people who have donned the antennae, this book features Ant-Man #2, Scott Lang. When we catch up with Lang, we learn that he has been a thief, a prisoner, a hero, an Avenger, a member of the Fantastic Four, a shoddy husband, a devoted father, unemployed, and dead. So, really, not too much has changed from the previous books. Lang is trying to put his life back together after being dead for a bit in order to provide for his daughter, Cassie. Essentially, the bulk of this issue is spent establishing backstory and setting the overall tone for the title. There is just enough action to give unfamiliar readers a crash-course in Ant-Man’s abilities, but while it’s decently woven into the story, it’s clearly only there to break up the pages and pages of internal dialogue and conversation. That being said, Lang’s sense of humor is the highlight of the issue. While an argument can be made that the use of the awkward, imperfect hero who trips over his own words is getting to be a bit overdone, Spencer is able to establish Lang as a regular guy with a good heart, who’s trying to do the right thing in a world where the only place he seems to fit in is with his 14 year old daughter.
Complimenting Spencer’s realistic and casual writing style are Rosana’s clean, bold lines accented with just enough fine detail to keep the pages from looking like they came out of a coloring book. His characters are drawn proportionately and consistently, with defined facial expressions (particularly impressive given that Lang is wearing a bubble helmet in 85% of the panels), and his sense of perspective is basically on point. Those simple, clean lines Rosana seems to be fond of also show up when he draws Lang changing size. Instead of sticking with the classic shrinking photocopies technique other artists often employ, he uses simple, overlapping, outlined cutouts. His artwork might not be groundbreaking or particularly frame worthy, but it is clean, crisp, and gets the job done nicely.
Overall, even though it wasn’t exactly action-packed, I thought this was a fun read. I’m looking forward to seeing where these guys take the title now that they’ve established a good base, and how much of the character’s previously established history will leak in since they haven’t exactly shied away from referencing the past. Perhaps most of all, though, I’m particularly interested to see if this new Ant-Man comic parallels the film as much as I expect it to. My prediction is that the timeline will be off, but the content will likely sync up nicely. Either way, this new series looks like it might be a great place to get newcomers into the Ant-Man title (especially if you’d like to avoid that whole Hank Pym: Wife-Beater nonsense).
The Verdict: 8.0/10
*Quick Note: There is an official tie-in comic for Ant-Man scheduled to be released in February 2015. Ant-Man Prelude will be a two-part story from writer Will Corona Pilgrim and artist Miguel Sepulveda.