During the time when I was still reeling from the break-up with my last girlfriend, I found online a simple brown cotton t-shirt with the words "Ant-Man" running across the chest. I wanted to get it because it captured how I felt: miniature, minute, down below shoe level, unnoticed and obscure.
Ant-Man is sort of a running superhero joke in the present Marvel Universe. But it hasn't always been this way. The character of Dr. Henry "Hank" Pym and his incredible shrinking Pym Particles actually predate the appearance of Thor and Spider-Man in 1962, though his Ant-Man alter ego is introduced a little bit later.
Marvel, now part of the Disney global juggernaut, is reviving the character, giving Ant-Man his own title, in prelude to this summer's blockbuster release of the Ant-Man movie starring Paul Rudd.
Three different characters have been Ant-Man: the originator, founding Avenger and pillar of the Marvel Universe, Hank Pym; Scott Lang, a thief, the second Ant-Man, and now, back from the dead, the current bearer of the superhero identity; and the third, and possibly the most anti-heroic of them all, is Eric O'Grady, presently deceased, who was featured as the Irredeemable Ant-Man, a tremendous title by Phil Hester and The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. If you ever get a chance to read Irredeemable Ant-Man, do. I have never read a Marvel comic book where the hero is so morally vacant and ethically lapsed. Eric O'Grady lies, steals, cheats; he is lustful, prideful and a coward. Very true to life and uncomicbook-like.
The present Ant-Man title is a kinder, gentler version of the Irredeemable Ant-Man. Written by Nick Spencer with low-key art reminiscent of a newspaper comic strip by Ramon Rosanas (Jordan Boyd is the color artist), I thought at first that Ant-Man #1 was going to be an homage to the Bronze Age, a threadbare good guys vs. bad guys tale spiced up a little by Tony Stark's large libido and the offbeat persona of a regular loser like Scott Lang. But then I was surprised to the point of satori when it turned to be more like a 'G'-rated homage to American Splendor. So wonderful it was I actually emailed my approval to Marvel:
I loved it. Scott Lang is an anti-hero worthy of Harvey Pekar.
For a while I was a little in doubt as to the the direction of the narrative. Was this going to be a slightly unconventional superhero yarn yoked to Stark Industries? The curve in the plot at the end was truly a delight.
In the present age of disappearing remunerative work and rapidly proliferating digital technology we are all Ant-Men now. Miniaturization is our Zeitgeist. Often times I feel like Scott Lang, a Sad Sack who should be sleeping in a doll's house.
Thank you, and count me in for future issues.Below you will find nine scans from Ant-Man #1: the cover and credits page followed by the concluding seven pages: