Marvel’s Avengers Now Review & Spoilers: Ant-Man #1 by Nick Spencer, Ramon Rosanas & Jordan Boyd

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ANT-MAN #1 Review & Spoilers
untitled (30 pages)

Story by: Nick Spencer
Pencils by: Ramon Rosanas
Colors by: Jordan Boyd
Letters by: VC’s Travis Lanham
Design by: Idette Winecoor
Covers by: Mark Brooks; Skottie Young; Ed McGuinness & Marte Gracia; Jason Pearson; Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson; Salvador Larroca & Israel Silva; Andy Park
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

An astonishing debut for a diminutive character!!

Quite a wordy issue for 30 pages of story but Nick Spencer beautifully weaves a tale of confidence, cockiness, defeat, hope, and change! He blends a most-perfect recipe for an ‘obscure’, ‘off-the-radar’ individual whose name is (in)famous in the annals of Marvel history.

First person narration, specifically participant, is the most effective way of getting into the protagonist’s mindset. How else can we figure out what makes said person tick? Humor is the prevailing motif of this tale and it fits Scott Lang like a spandex suit.

For a new audience out there, Mr. Lang lets you know that he is also known as Ant-Man. He even has the decency to scoff at his own moniker. He knows exactly how others in the super-hero social circle think and act upon defining his name and nature. Instead of being all moribund about it, he brushes it off. You can tell he relishes his persona to the max. His humanity is even more present when he mentions that naming the ants makes them feel important and appreciated. He then proceeds to inform us laymen of the amount of ants that walk the Earth. The numbers are staggering, to say the least. Consult Google for confirmation.

Scott seems to be going back to his roots — B&E in the corporate world. The prime target of his burglary is none other than…Tony Stark, the Superior Iron Man :0 This is now. Time for a flashback! What better way to show up for a job interview than in costume?!? Not cosplay, true believers. Bona fide kick-ass wear for super-heroics. The process is painfully hilarious to read. Scott lays all his cards on the table: from nervously rambling on about his name, to the double-sided résumé (unconventional indeed!), to confirming a past criminal conviction which leads to an expected origin recap (3.5 pages), to nonchalantly referring to his former death as the cause for the gap in employment history. Hi-larious!! What company is Scott valiantly vying for? Stark Enterprises, naturally. What a twist! NOT.

Enter former employer/Avenger associate Tony Stark. The two men have a bit of history but Stark flat out punctures Scott’s potential position by not giving it to him. How cruel. Why be mean? As Tony astutely points out: Mr. Lang is the running man. He can’t commit to just one thing. He always takes the easy way out and bails when the going gets tough. Stark doesn’t want to invest in an ex-con. However, Tony is touched by Scott’s pleas and allows him a second seventeenth chance. Nevertheless, he exudes his d-bag-ness by telling Scott not to get his hopes up. There’ll be a trial by combat (of sorts). May the best (ant-)man win!!

Cue to personal interactions. Scott runs across his recently resurrected daughter Cassie as he mopingly meanders through the Big Apple. She thinks that he dropped by to see her. He informs her that it was pure happenstance, so much so he wasn’t even aware of the school she attends. Scott cherishes the adolescence experience unlike most parents since he knows what both he and Cassie lost. He listens to her typical teen tirade and offers tickets to her fave movie: Battle Royale. Interesting commentary on her part regarding that film. Their warm fuzzy moment is cut short by Scott’s no-nonsense ex-wife Peggy. Cassie has debate club on Saturday effectively kyboshing Scott’s outing with her. The discussion between the divorcés is dead-on. Each wants what’s best for Cassie. Scott seems to be making a convincing argument until he mentions that he can shrink Cassie for future visits. Major taboo for Peggy and major strike for Scott.

My heart cried out for Scott. After that abrupt exchange, he returns to his studio. Imagine my horror when I saw that it’s a fleabag of a place (no insult intended, Ant-Man :$) Upon returning to Stark Industries, Scott meets his rivals: Prodigy, Victor Mancha, and the newest Beetle (a woman, just to be clear). The winner must clear the obstacle course and crack the Mother Code which will allow entire access of Stark’s personal and professional wealth. Each candidate shows what s/he can do. When Scott is up to bat, he fakes sickness to back out. Ultra-cool sci-fact: he can shrink certain parts of his body. WHOA!!! Did Hank Pym or Eric O’Grady ever do this??? As soon as Scott does this, I felt disappointed. Here’s a guy who wants a new lease on life but seems to be retreating rather than trying, exactly like Tony told him. Tony is gracious to reconvene the session and keep Scott in the game. Scott made a strategic retreat. He knows he’s outmatched but he’s determined to get this gig. Attaboy!

Scott will go FTW any way he can. To ensure success he resorts to cheating! Why put off til tomorrow what you can do right now? I chuckled as Scott espies Tony coming home making out with Janice Lincoln (the current Beetle). Scott is somewhat disgusted that Janice is also cheating (but in a more overt manner). He justifies that his method is the ‘right one’. Talk about calling the kettle black. Scott wants to finish before he witnesses Tony and Janice going to third base. Just as he’s cracking the Mother Code, some undies are tossed on the Iron Man helmet. Scott laments that it’s always too late with him. As the access continues, lo and behold, “congratulations” appear on the screen. Scott did it!! He’s the victor!

Much to his surprise (and mine), Scott came out on top. He quickly offers to back out of the race, and begs Tony not to press charges. Tony emphasizes that Scott came out the winner. His way of going about it may have been unethical but it showed initiative, audacity, and determination. Tony then offers Scott the swanky apartment as one of the perks. An abrupt assassination attempt is made by Beetle but Ant-Man deflects the bullet as Iron Man flies off after her.

Euphoria leads to heartbreak. Ant-Man’s elation is dissipated when Peggy tells him that Cassie has gone to Miami to stay at her sister’s. More crushing blows are delivered when Peggy says she’s moving there too effectively cutting off all contact with Scott. Naturally, Scott is enraged and outraged upon hearing this. Scott opts for the only solution: fly to Miami to join his daughter.

Final scene — after creatively purchasing a new home, Scott joins Cassie in viewing her aforementioned fave movie, the Hunger Games knockoff that supersedes all the rest.

New city! New status quo! New life! This should’ve been titled ALL-NEW ANT-MAN but the simple eponym suffices.

Nick Spencer is quite the funny man. He is ace in the field of funny books. I applaud his flawless incorporation of the 3 H’s — humor, humility, and humanity. From the get-go he makes it clear that Ant-Man is the Aquaman of the Marvel Universe. This is such a strong first issue that in no time, Nick will pull a Geoff Johns and make Ant-Man a respected name in fandom and the realm of fiction. Lang is such a loveable loser. Mr. Spencer is sly enough to put in The Beetle (a main cast member of the recently cancelled Superior Foes of Spider-Man penned by him). He effectively summarizes Scott’s origin. The most important thing is that he flushes out Peggy, the ‘shrew’ who was previously just a footnote in Scott’s history. I felt all the emotions Scott did as the story progressed.

Ramon Rosanas is a newer name to me but he’s been with Marvel for the last five years. He’s a four-time phenom: artist, inker, colorist, creator. His pencils on this issue evoke ebullience with a tempered amount of levity and empathy. Ant-Man is first and foremost a feel-good book. The Marvel of Old is just that. Enough with the dourness. Time to embrace the positive. His facial expressions accurately depict each character: Scott’s disappointment from Stark, Peggy’s panic at her ex-husband’s other life, Cassie’s joy in spotting her dad, and even Tony’s aloof attitude. Gripping stuff.

Jordan Boyd works with a simple palette. There’s nothing too flashy here. There are somewhat darker hues to the brighter colours but this works well since the universe Ant-Man frequents is an ever-evolving one.

Travis Lanham remains in top form — from the über-wicked cover page to the two logos of Stark Enterprises to the distinct design of Cassie’s number one movie. Hats off!

There truly is a first time for everything. Case in point: credit for the designer. This is definitely a first for me!! I collect a fair chunk of comics on a monthly basis. Never in my entire life have I seen “designer: [enter name here]”. The acknowledgement goes to Idette Winecoor. I’m too curious!! Does this mean she drew up the new costume? the helmet? the logo? Never mind. I answered my own question. She’s a real recent edition to Marvel Comics. She’s a letterer. The logo is by far one of the most simple yet original pieces of art ever spawned.

I give this book 9.5 thousand trillion out of 10 ten thousand trillion ants.

Ant colony

Extras:

1. Just for laughs —
a. Scott’s self-deprecating is just too good to ignore. It’s better to laugh at yourself than have someone else point at and mock you. That way, you have the most effective coping/defense mechanism there is.
b. The job interview. This is what Sony Pictures should’ve produced and released.
c. Tony Stark’s womanizing ways. Don’t ever change, Mr. Stark.
d. Undies tossed and bedsheets ruffled. Hanky panky indeed!
e. “Oh. You’re one of those.” Scott is looked down upon for being a Trekkie/Trekker and a toy collector/consumer. A man after my own heart!

2. Super smart stuff —
a. I’d never give ants a second thought or ten thousand trillion thoughts for that matter but this is just one hell of a fact to dismiss.
b. Google vs. Yahoo! Answers. You decide which is the better search engine.

3. Pop culture mania —
a. Battle Royale. I’m totally with Cassie on this one. A superb movie in all its merits. Hunger Games may be accused of ripping it off but one might say B.R. ripped off another famous novel which I will initialize L.o.t.F.
b. Trekkies/Trekkers, live long and prosper!! Scott mentions Kobayashi Maru to a perplexed Tony. Adding insult to injury, even after the allusion is explained, Stark sneers at him.

4. Nod to fans —
a. Young Avengers — Cassie (formerly Stature), Prodigy (of the newer incarnation)
b. Runaways — Victor Mancha
c. Beetle IV — already elaborated upon in my review.

5. Cool concepts to come into our world
a. Pym Particles — Can there be a more inventive way for their usage? I’m referring to body (bawdy) parts. Natch 😉
b. The Mother Code
c. Iron Man Skyrise Apartment — Scott Lang’s new abode. Utter brilliance!!

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