Back in January, Marvel launched a new Ant-Man series written by Nick Spencer, done in the same “Marvel Indie” style as other titles such as Hawkeye and Superior Foes of Spider-Man.
The title seemed to be hitting it off with fans and critics alike… but then came the Secret Wars crossover and Ant-Man found itself as one of the many books cancelled and intended to be relaunched. Lo and behold: Astonishing Ant-Man #1. Is it good?
The Astonishing Ant-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
Following the events of the last series, Scott Lang has been trying to grow his security business as best as he can; sure, he hasn’t made any huge progress paying off his loan and he’s been a complete jackass to his daughter by ignoring her, but things may be looking up with this new opportunity coming his way. Well… that is if he doesn’t get screwed over unintentionally by the Cross family…
The Astonishing Ant-Man #1 is a first issue with a lot to say. It’s thankfully new reader friendly and explains all the important points and characters introduced from the previous series. That, and returning readers will be happy to see the series following up pretty much exactly where we left off — checking in with the Crosses, Ant-Man continuing his business, and more. It’s a solid issue in that regard.
Ant-Man needs a diary.
The problem however is that Astonishing Ant-Man #1 suffers in the storytelling department by doing all of these things and ends up being one of the wordiest, slowest comics I’ve read recently — really overindulging the telling instead of the showing. In order to explain things to new readers and also progress the storylines from the last series, there is tons upon tons of exposition and awkward sounding dialogue everywhere. Almost every page feels like it has four paragraphs worth of dialogue just constantly trying to explain things and the conversations often don’t sound natural (with a lot of basically “as you know” type statements and such) and it gets tiring after a while. It’s good that comic tried catering to both new and old readers, but the execution needed work.
Then there’s the characterization. Let’s start with Scott himself. Scott is pretty much the same character as he was in the last series. He wants to do good and he is trying to run a successful business, but he is treated like a loser by all of the characters and the story itself. There’s not much else to him other than that and there’s a certain charm to him, but he’s not particularly sympathetic as he was previously. That’s because of the treatment he exhibited towards Cassie, his daughter; he pretty much outright abandoned her and refuses to make contact with her in any way, trying to justify it by the whole “my life as a superhero will only cause you problems” cliché that’s been done several times (he doesn’t do that well since he is still watching her from afar). It’s rather annoying and doesn’t make him that likable, especially since he stopped talking to her while she was recovering from getting her heart broken.
Cue shitstorm from Young Avengers fans in three… two…
Then we have Cassie. One of the complaints that was expressed by several fans was her treatment during the last series, where she was just an object to protect, damsel in distress, and had her backstory ignored. It wasn’t well-received, especially since it came after Nick Spencer brought her back from the dead. This first issue makes an attempt at correcting some of those problems; she expresses her feelings about her situation (the previous run never did that) and fondly reminisces about her time as a superhero. It’s nice, but Spencer unfortunately cuts into that by depowering her and making her unable to be a hero anymore, making her completely miserable with her life, and having her hate her dad. It really destroys all of that work Spencer did in building up the father-daughter relationship in the last run and it’s kind of a sour note for fans of the character by further regressing the character.
But enough about the complaints, let’s focus on what is actually good here, since it’s not all bad. Besides the pacing and a lot of the dialogue, the writing is pretty good overall and has a nice flow to it. Astonishing Ant-Man retains a good sense of humor and is pretty amusing at points, especially with Power Broker and his henchman app (though I can’t help but feel his service isn’t very cost-effective). Everyone else’s characterization is on point and fits with their character, Cassie’s mom and Grizzly especially. Plus, the ending has a great hook. It’s just a shame that the execution with the main characters and the story as a whole wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Ramon Rosanas continues to provide enticing artwork. While pages are often cramped with word balloons or text boxes, his layouts are constructed well and everything is easy to follow. His characters are drawn well and full of expression (though his female characters tend to look the same at times). The small bits of action are nice and they’re imbued with a strong sense of energy and movement. Plus, the coloring job by Jordan Boyd is still excellent. The only negative thing that could be said about the artwork is that the first page is just a full-page spread of Scott’s face and that all of the exposition in the book doesn’t allow Rosanas to really stretch his legs.
Is It Good?
The Astonishing Ant-Man #1 is a good entry point for new and returning readers, but is burdened by slow pacing and mountains of exposition that doesn’t allow the story to breathe. If you liked the previous run and the execution doesn’t sound like it would bother you, then this book should be good for you — otherwise, wait to see if the pace picks up.