With Avengers and Deadpool 2 having made boatloads of cash in the box office recently, eyes are now shifting towards the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film. With that in mind, Marvel is releasing Ant-Man/Giant-Man: Growing Pains, a collection that covers Hank Pym’s superhero transition and relationship with Janet Van Dyne. Is it good?
Growing Pains collects an assortment of issues that depict experiences and moments that make Ant-Man the superhero we see and think of today. Ant-Man debuted in 1962 and since then the mantle has been taken by a number of different people wearing a number of different suits. These issues mark the major transitions throughout the character’s history, from his first venture as Giant-Man to coming out of retirement to rejoin the Avengers. Prior to this collection I didn’t realize just how many transitions the character has been through and from what it sounds like, neither can Hank Pym.
The collection begins with a classic 1959 Lee/Kirby collaboration issue (just fourteen issues after the character’s debut) which is wildly entertaining, but shows just how both Pym’s character and his relationship with Janet has changed over the decades. The comic is a traditional Silver Age comic in both its art and writing and is full of antiquated jargon and quasi-sexist disposition towards Janet Van Dyne as she’s portrayed as the stereotypical beautiful airhead that swoons over Hank’s every brilliant plan or heroic act. While this characterization is obviously offensive, it does serve as a great introduction for the series as it represents the stark contrast between the subservient Janet of the 1960s and her tough, independent portrayal decades later. The rest of the issue is notable for its zany, extraterrestrial villain, The Eraser, as well as the debut of Hank Pym’s ability to grow into Giant-Man.
The collection to goes on to include Avengers #28 (1966), #139 (1975), a four part arc from Marvel Double Feature: Avengers/Giant-Man (1995), and Avengers Academy #7 (2010). The collection is organized chronologically which makes for a nice reading experience to see the character development, Hank Pym’s superhero title progression and transition in art and writing style. The Avenger titles document Pym as Goliath and Yellow Jacket before the Double Feature delves into Hank’s psyche and serves as a hard-hitting character piece that features a cast of great characters.
Marvel not only selected noteworthy storyline issues, but ones that featured great artwork that represents the decade in which they were published. Kirby’s artwork speaks for itself, but Don Heck and George Tuska also display some dynamic illustrations. However, my personal favorite was the collaboration between penciller Jeffrey Moore and colorist Maryanne Lightle within the Avengers Double Feature. It’s at this point in the collection where there would normally be a lull, but the artwork prevents that from happening. There are a number brilliant splash pages of giant ant battles and alternative panel perspectives with blasts of neon color — everything you need in an Ant-Man comic.
Is it good?
Ant-Man/Giant-Man: Growing Pains contains eight issues that give you the perfect representation of Ant-Man’s journey throughout the decades. It’s packed with talented writers and artists and while it suffers based on the abrupt story transitions, like any other collection of this nature, it makes for a great read especially prior to the upcoming film.