Thursday, 8 January 2015

Ant-Man #1 Review (Nick Spencer, Ramon Rosanas)

Like the re-launched Guardians of the Galaxy comic familiarising readers in advance of the movie, Ant-Man gets a new Marvel NOW! title six months before we see the (pun not intended) big screen Ant-Man in theatres this July. 

Scott Lang is divorced with a teenage daughter, Cassie, he rarely sees. He lives in a studio flat, doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have money and life in general is not great for this middle-aged reformed criminal turned superhero. Then Tony Stark offers him an opportunity to become his new head of security and things look like they could turn around for him. Will Scott become the father he wants to be to his kid? 

This extra-long (and extra-expensive!) first issue sets out to introduce this relatively unknown character to new readers and does a fine job of that. It’s just that the way it’s done is a bit artless – Scott goes for an interview and we get a truncated version of his life story via that. Then writer Nick Spencer lays out what this series is going to be about and I immediately lost interest: it’s all about Scott wanting to be a good dad. Zzz… 

There’s not much story besides exploring this and introducing Scott in the issue. Scott’s a reformed thief who used to break into offices and he does the same here to win over Tony Stark (or Superior Iron Man as he’s known these days even though, barring the armour, he’s indistinguishable from regular Iron Man). Spencer gives Cassie some boring dialogue where she rants about how The Hunger Games is a ripoff of Battle Royale - wow, never heard that before! – before sending her and her mother off to Florida. I’d say “because Plot” but actually it makes sense. I mean, if you were a parent in the Marvel Universe, wouldn’t you move away from New York City? The place is a lightning rod for all the evil in the universe because of Avengers Tower/the Baxter Building being slap bang in the middle of it! And it’s even more dangerous for Cassie being the daughter of a superhero! 

I liked how Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas used Ant-Man’s powers in this issue. He may have a studio flat, which is small for an adult, but shrink down? It’s MASSIVE! Ditto the small amount of toothpaste left in the tube. Shrink down, get inside the tube, and that small glob becomes huge. Need a flat? Buy a toy house, shrink down and move in! Need a big screen TV? Set up your phone to play a movie, then shrink down so it looks like a cinema screen! It’s very imaginative. 

And while the creative team does a decent job of informing readers about Scott Lang’s character (which looks identical to Paul Rudd’s depiction, going by the recently released trailer), it’s a good self-contained issue – except it’s an ongoing series! A good first issue should ideally pump up the audience to read the next issue, and the next, etc. and this one doesn’t. I feel like I’ve got everything I need just from this and I’m now good! Nor does it whet my appetite for the movie which has to be one of its objectives. 

The other thing too is that Scott does such a thorough job of telling you what a loser he is without really proving otherwise that you end up believing him – he IS a waste of time, why am I reading about him?! 

The biggest problem though is that the divorced dad “doing right by his kid” (which is an actual phrase in the comic, ugh!) storyline doesn’t grab me at all. In that way, Ant-Man #1 is unfortunately looking a lot like the movie: it’s fine but not terribly exciting or fun.

Ant-Man #1

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