Review: Ant-Man #1

Ant-Man #1

Rating:


Ant-Man is one of the least surprising #1s to launch this week, seeing as there's a film out soon and no easily collected Scott Lang material to flog, what with him having been dead recently, as he notes to his embarrassment in his job interview. After being killed in 2004's Avengers Disassembled, he exchanged places on the mortal plane with his daughter Cassie (who had, in his absence, become Stature out of the Young Avengers) in 2012, under the Marvel afterlife's apparent one-in-one-out policy.

Scott was well-developed in the Fraction/Allred FF, but rather than follow that path, Ant-Man resets him, back to my imagined Scott Lang of the 1980s and 1990s. There's no sign of his girlfriend, Darla Deering, and he's back in the position of scrabbling for work and engaging in custody disputes with his ex-wife, Cassie's mother.

It's the relationship with Cassie that is the focus of this. She's alive again. This confused me because I did not know that. I spent some time trying to figure this out. Maybe it was out of continuity? If so, why the reference to Scott Lang's recent service with the Fantastic Four? Maybe it was a mystery that the series was setting up? I even briefly entertained the thought that Cassie had a younger sister that I had forgotten or had previously been unmentioned, before confirming that no, she gets named firmly enough.

It turns out she was revived by a flipped-alignment Doctor Doom (by which I mean Lawful Good rather than Chaotic Evil) in Avengers World #18. Fair enough. Her death was pointless, anyway, and she was easily in my top 1 Marvel characters I wanted brought back to life. But doing it so suddenly smells more of a desire to match the movie's set-up than to reverse a needless character death. There's not even a nod to the fact that she was dead until last week (bar her mother's incredibly vague comment talking about "after all she's been through".)

Cassie is 14 in this. That says it all, really. She was 14 in the first volume of Young Avengers. Since then the rest of the Young Avengers have aged a couple of years (Gillen reckons Teddy and Billy have gone from 16 to 18; and for sure Kate turned 21). Saying she is 14 nullifies all that. Nothing is acknowledged, even in passing. Cassie is said to be awesome by Scott, not because she is a kick-ass superhero who followed in his giant-size footsteps, but for being a slightly predictable anime fan. And she's back to being a football. While this is over-familiar territory, it could have had a new spin on it. Imagine Scott coming back at his ex-wife, making that case that it's her fault that Cassie got into superheroing and then died. I mean, it's not like he was around at that point.

I explained to a friend the narrative gap, and showed her the last few pages of Avengers World. Cassie's career is noted and Scott is hanging with Darla. And Cassie appears on his doorstep. The end. We don't see the emotional reunion and either end. Could this, my friend suggested, be crossed wires? Maybe each of the teams thought the other one was doing it? But no. Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas have credits on both Avengers World and Ant-Man. They made those last couple of pages, it seems fair to assume.

This is typical of the book's confusion as to who it is for. Is it for movie fans, a few months later? If so, why not do an Ant-Man Season One? Is it trying to retell the classic Scott Lang Ant-Man story for people like me? Is it for long-time Scott Pym fans? I guess? But in that case why so derivative?

This is all a shame, because there is much that the issue does effectively. Line artist Ramon Rosanas and colourist Jordan Boyd combine in a clean modern style that's just the way I like it, with effective action sequences and good use of palettes to indicate shifts in location and timeframe. And it's funny. There are some solid jokes. It's just, both Scott and Cassie Lang are better than this. And so, frankly, are Spencer and Rosanas. Maybe they just don't want to overload us. I'm sure it's a hell of a backstory to try and explain. So they'll get a second chance. But just one.