The Astonishing Ant-Man Vol. 3 was not my first introduction to Nick Spencer’s (Scott Lang) Ant-Man, so I was excited to get back to Miami and the great little world Spencer has created. While the book continues to have a lot of the charm of the rest of the series, this volume is ultimately a frustrating collection.
Collecting issues #10-13, and randomly Guardians Team-Up #7, Volume 3 wraps up Spencer’s run on the title and a series-long story arc. Scott Lang has been captured by his nemesis Darren Cross, leaving Lang’s daughter and his ragtag team of misfit employees to break him out. Unsurprisingly they save him, but Scott ends up in jail for breaking into Cross’s company. After his trial is interrupted by a bad guy, saving the day gets Scott off… scot-free.
The Astonishing Ant-Man Vol. 3: The Trial of Ant-Man (Marvel Comics)
Spencer writes Lang as a good guy perpetually, inadvertently, making things worse for himself. There’s plenty of humor and heart in this story, especially when you factor in a great supporting cast. As much as I love Grizzly and Machinesmith (Ant-Man’s Miami employees), it’s Spencer’s work with Cassie, Darla, and She-Hulk that really shines. Touching on Lang’s history with these three characters adds weight to the story and helps connect it to the bigger Marvel universe without feeling cheap.
My biggest gripe with the story in these four issues is that each one opens with a multi-page flashback sequence that summarizes nearly the whole run thus far. This doesn’t leave the actual story much real estate, which is even more apparent in the collected volume. I suppose this was done to make the individual issues more accessible, but it just seems odd at the end of a story arc, let alone a year long one. As a result the story plays out pretty quickly without any real surprises, which is a real bummer, since Spencer does such a good job with the characters.
On the art front, Ramon Rosanas delivers middle-of-the-road pages. The break-in scenes are well rendered, and Rosanas does a good job capturing the humor in the book, but nothing really stands out as a particularly great or daring panel. His She-Hulk looks a bit off-model in most of the courtroom scenes, which definitely threw me off. I wish Spencer would have played with the Ant-Man powers a bit more, it probably would have given Rosanas more interesting things to draw rather than a courthouse. It doesn’t help that large percentages of each issue was blue-tinted washed out flashback, either.
Finally, I have to mention the packaging of the book itself. I try not to factor the trade paperback format too much into my reviews, but in this case I couldn’t ignore it. At $16 for only 4 relevant issues, this book feels like a rip off, especially when the issues didn’t even cover a full arc. Making matters worse is Marvel throwing a random 5th issue in the back. To be honest, I didn’t even finish since it was so tangentially related to Ant-Man.
Overall, Spencer does a great job with his characterization, but flashback sequences prevented him from telling a really interesting story. A weak story collected into a slim Volume 3 makes it really hard to recommend.