Grumpy Bird Reviews: Ant-Man #1

A new title: launched! A classic hero: returned! The feeling of a new take on that hero in preparation for a movie: palpable!

GBR AntMan 01Ant-Man #1

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Ramon Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel

As everyone knows Ant Man is a soon to be movie. I think this summer? Honestly, since I live in Japan I pay less attention to the actual release date as it could be several months to almost a year until new movies are released over here. But that isn’t the point of this review. The point is to say that this is a oversized first issue that does in fact feel oversized. Here is the plot: Scott Lang is a schlub as a hero and as a family. He is divorced and has a child and while meaning well he really isn’t any good at anything. All the rest of this comic is just to illustrate that point. The job interview with Stark industries, the random appearances of his daughter and ex-wife, it all just serves as exposition. As the ending renders much of the contents moot it left me with a feeling of “that was repetitive.”

Part of this repetitive feeling is that Nick Spencer is an effective writer. Within the first five pages I feel I know everything that I am going to learn about this version of Scott Lang. The rest of the issue just serves to drag it out. And it slowly drags out.

I am not overly familiar with Scott Lang. I’ve read books with him in them but not enough to write a bio of the man. A lot of this serves to re-introduce the character. And it feels like it is to re-characterize this Lang as someone new. The comics I have read never felt like this character. And yet, I could hear Paul Rudd (who will portray Lang in the new movie) saying most of his lines. And I yawned because it feels so familiar. You can see traces of the Chris Pines’ Starlord. Also, there was a lot of Eric O’Grady but without the fun of the character being completely self-absorbed. Plus there was a lot of Boomerang from Spencer’s Superior Foes but without the douchebag charm. The resulting character was nothing special, which was a shame because the whole point of this book was to make the audience like the character of Scott Lang.

And they tried so hard. Maybe too hard. Almost every joke and gag screams to be liked. It just feels heavy handed.

I’m just glad I liked the art. I’m a fan the not-quite-cartoony style that Rosanas brings. He also really knows how to make characters act, even if eyes are covered by an Ant-Man mask. All i can really say is that I liked and while there were some static pages I hope Rosanas stays with the book long enough so we can watch the natural evolution of am artist.

Two minor quibbles: Cassandra Lang, daughter of Scott, is now in Middle School. Which is better than being the dead that she was. But it makes me wonder how much of her past is either in place or important. Is she a former super-hero or is that a memories-lost-to-death thing? With every aspect of this new Scott’s life over-explained it felt odd that this question was totally unexplored. Still, this is one of those things that if you read enough comics you get used to being annoyed with. But it is annoying, at least for me. (Maybe this is explained in Axis, but I have little interest in reading that.)

Quibble number two is the (slightly) larger one (and contains slight spoiler): Did Beetle and Tony Stark have sex? Word balloons imply no. Art shows there was certainly some naked Tony fun times happening. But then we get that there was a plot by Beetle to kill Tony. (Which was another unimpressive aspect of the story.) If she had a plot, why not enact when they are alone? Perhaps when his boxers are being tossed over the hiding Ant-Man? Other than poor storytelling of having a killer not take advantaged of a disrobed and distracted target (Dark Knight Rises, anyone?) it makes me frown about the possible implications towards the treatment of Beetle.

Cue Rant:

Anyone remember Echo? The Marvel character created by David Mack in early Daredevil vol. 2 issues? I liked that character. But no one really seemed to know what to do with her. Then Bendis revealed her as Ronin. in between that and killing her off in Moon Knight it seemed he also had her sleep with several Avengers. Other that not seeming in character it just had a flavor of not having any real use for a female character other than as a sex toy/reward for a male character. Sex is a part of life, but we (or at least I) don’t have sex with every person that shares a five minute conversation with us. I see Beetle appear as the only female character not related to Scott Lang and when she ends ups with a stark-naked Tony by issues end a little alarm goes off in my head. Admittedly, Spencer does get a little bit of a pass for writing Beetle in Superior Foes, but it still leaves a bit of an ick.

End Rant.

As an overall wrap up: this issue drags and uses far too many pages merely to set up the status quo for issue two. I’ll still check out issue two if only to see what sort of plots we can expect.

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