Scott Lang has never exactly been the world's best super hero. Heck, most people don't even think he's been the best Ant-Man, and the last guy invented Ultron and joined the Masters of Evil, so that's saying something. But when the Superior Iron Man calls with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Scott's going to get a chance to turn it all around and be the hero he's always dreamed of being. Sure he's been to prison! Sure he's been through a messy divorce! Sure he's been, um... dead. But this time is different! This time nothing is going to stop the astonishing Ant-Man!
The return of Ant-Man and Scott Lang comes in the form of a brand new solo series written by Superior Foes of Spider-Man writer Nick Spencer. Ant-Man #1 is a typical starter book, with a lot of information being thrown at you in the most efficient way possible, but it still manages to pack in an interesting story on top of all the quick character development.
As someone who has not read any Ant-Man stories leading up to this, solo or otherwise, I feel like I am totally up to speed after the first issue. It revolves primarily around Lang trying to get into a new job at Stark Industries as the new Head of Security. With Tony Stark being Tony Stark, the application is anything but normal and requires Lang and the other applicants to jump through some odd hoops to win the job. Nick Spencer cleverly took all this time – between Scott Lang interviewing for the position, and eventually winning the job – to drop a lot of hints about Lang’s past naturally into the story, instead of flooding the issue cover-to-cover with nothing but expository dialogue.
We learn about Scott Lang’s history with his family, how he “acquired” the Ant-Man suit to save his daughter, how he used to be a criminal, and more all woven into the story. There is of course some segments where it is just Lang talking to the reader to get the history across, but it all feels like important information laid out intelligently with a definitive level of charm. Ant-Man #1 knows you may be coming into the character because of the popularity of the upcoming movie (or maybe you’re a new Nick Spencer fan after the surprise hit Superior Foes of Spider-Man), but it doesn’t treat you like an idiot. There are plenty of things to infer on your own while reading the issue, aside from what Lang and other characters are directly telling you.
This Head of Security job, of course, is needed so that Lang can support his daughter and ex-wife, with whom he has a rocky relationship with. The dynamic between Lang and his family feels pretty standard and borderline generic – great relationship with his daughter, ex-wife not so much – but it’s handled with enough unique charm that it doesn’t feel contrived. On top of that, in terms of personality, there are several pop-culture references in Ant-Man #1 that are not out of place or forced. One reference in particular, about Lang arguing with his daughter that Battle Royale is a ripoff of the The Hunger Games or vice-versa is a very real argument that an adult would have with his teenage daughter today. Heck, I’ve had that argument with other people my age (Battle Royale came first, it’s not an argument, you’re wrong). There is also quite a bit of fourth-wall breaking, but again, it feels completely natural within the world created in the issue. In general, the fourth-wall breaking dialogue that Nick Spencer put into Superior Foes was always great and full of the main character’s personality, and Ant-Man so far is no different.
Art from Ramon Rosanas is pretty good, if not great. With Ant-Man’s shrinking ability the idea of perspective is going to be one that comes up a lot as the series progresses, but in the first issue there are moments where it is definitely hard to tell if Lang has shrunk, or if he is riding a giant ant (which obviously isn’t the case). Other times, like when he is ant-sized in Tony Stark’s apartment, Rosanas has a great handle on the perspective with several angles starting on the floor behind Lang and showing just how large the world is around him. The one fight scene in the book, which had Ant-Man going into a gun to disable it, is also drawn quite nicely – complete with an obvious nod at the iconic James Bond down-the-barrel-of-a-gun opening shots.
I won’t spoil it in its entirety, but I just love how this issue ended. It was a simple gesture that could have been done in his human-sized form, but was done instead at an ant level. The ending scene invokes a lot of strong childhood memories of dreaming of being extremely tiny and seeing real-world objects being gigantic. Maybe it won’t have the same effect for everyone, but I really liked it as a genuinely touching moment as well as a way to set up what’s coming down the road for Mr. Lang.