Marvel Comics is preparing for summer blockbuster Ant-Man and the Wasp with some reissues and new collections focusing on the hero. This week comic shops will be stocking Ant-Man: Astonishing Origins which collects 2012 series Ant-Man Season One and Nick Spencer’s 2015 series’ first issue Ant-Man #1.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Marvel’s size-changing superstars in astonishing adventures! Meet scientist Hank Pym – and find out how he became the man in the anthill! Hank soon harnesses his shrinking prowess to become Ant-Man – joined by his partner-in-crime-fighting, Janet Van Dyne, the high-flying Wasp! And in an all-time classic, Scott Lang – Hank’s successor as Ant-Man – races into action with Hawkeye against the Taskmaster! Plus, it’s Ant-Man and Hulk versus the Mad Thinker, while Wasp must save Captain America from the Wendigo! Tiny foes cause Jan big trouble when invaders from the Microverse attack! And Hawkeye puts Scott Lang through his paces on Monster Island!
Why does this matter?
This collection gives you a taste of Henry Pym and Scott Lang, two of the most famous Ant-Man heroes. The Pym storyline delivers an origin story that gives the story a slight spin on the original while the Scott Lang story introduces a conflicted anti-hero’s hero who has good intentions but has a criminal point of view. Together these stories will give readers a good sense of who Ant-Man in the Marvel universe is, be it Lang or Pym.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Writer Tom DeFalco does a good job reimagining Hank Pym’s origin as Ant-Man in the Ant-Man Season One story, which runs 120 or so pages. It opens with a horrible explosion that kills Hank’s wife Maria and soon he finds himself in a lab working for Egghead Industries because his dad pushes him into it. DeFalco mixes his mental health issues into the story which lines up with the peculiar nature of his powers. Who would believe a man can talk to ants, especially if he has a history of mental illness? The story is a caper that lasts just two days, but in it he perfects the suit, powers, and gains a friend in the process. It sets up a hero who can’t trust the authorities and takes heroism into his own hands. Drawn by Horacio Domingues, there’s some great imagery of the size shifting and insect fighting action.
This collection is topped off with the first chapter of Ant-Man #1 from Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas. It’s a well written issue, dropping readers into Lang’s adventure as he breaks into a Stark facility. Spencer layers his personal life into the plot making his desire to make his daughter happy the number one priority. That makes his slightly immoral acts understandable even if it’s the wrong way. The captions are very well written and get you inside his head and Rosanas uses a lot of panels per page to help slice up the action and captions, keeping things moving nicely. You get a good sense of who the man is by the end and while the entire collection can be found in The Astonishing Ant-Man: The Complete Collection it’s a good taste of how this Ant-Man is different than Hank Pym.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The main feature, Ant-Man: Astonishing Origins, can have a younger reader vibe at times but then have adult-themed elements too. It doesn’t quite strike the right balance. For the most part this is a basic origin with some rather cliched villains and a few common tropes too. The villain has zero character work done and is rather boring in his maniacal acts. It’s a perfectly fine adventure, but it’s also basic and keeps things simple. It doesn’t probe Hank Pym’s psyche as well as most comics these days do and instead plays out its origin adventure as simply as possible. The art in this main feature can also be too basic for its own good (it has a cartoony style) with later chapters looking unfinished.
The Nick Spencer story is good, but it’s also the start of a bigger story which makes its inclusion here seem a bit odd. It’s nice to see a taste of Scott Lang and Hank Pym in one place, but you’ll definitely want to pick up Astonishing Ant-Man: The Complete Collection to get that whole story by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas.
Is it good?
This is a nice collection for anyone who wanted to learn more about Hank Pym and Scott Lang in one sitting. It’s basically a republishing of Ant-Man Season One with the first issue of Astonishing Ant-Man: The Complete Collection, but should satiate new fans who want to know what is up with Ant-Man in the Marvel universe.
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