March 11, 2015
Ant-Man faces off against his deadliest arch-enemy - the mercenary known as Taskmaster! Can we really call him an "arch-enemy"? Well, they've actually fought a bunch of times. And they definitely don't like each other...that's what "arch" means, right? There's a mystery villain pulling the strings! He's the one covered in heavy shadow.
Another month of Ant-Man, another month of nothing going quite right for Scott Lang. He has finally started his own personal security firm that he always wanted, complete with Grizzly sidekick, but that still isn’t enough. Lang’s old frenemy Taskmaster is back for a fight in Ant-Man #3, but as Scott finds out, the skeletal mercenary is not looking to kill him, but do something much worse.
Similar to Ant-Man #2, this book has a cold opening, followed by the main chunk of the story, then the conclusion to the cold open. This time, however, it’s not Scott Lang in the opening but Dr. Erica Sondheim instead, speaking with a man who we don’t know. It’s revealed right before the cutaway to Scott’s story that Sondheim is being held at gunpoint to help this mystery man, but why?
In Lang’s bit of the story, we get to see more of his life with his ex-wife and daughter in Miami. If you recall, he followed the two of them there to keep Cassie safe and “be boring” as to not put her in near-death experiences like he’s done in the past. He’s mostly done this so far with his privacy security firm that he’s founded, and we get to explore this is a bit while he’s setting up his first job – guarding a bunch of paperclips.
The dynamic between Lang, his ex-wife Peggy, and his daughter Cassie is excellent as always. It’s clear that Peggy actually wants the relationship between Cassie and her father to work to an extent, and she’s not just out to sabotage it at every turn. In particular when Lang misses Cassie’s drum recital due to his fight with Taskmaster, Peggy explains that he probably just used his shrinking ability because he couldn’t find a seat, instead of saying something that would hurt their relationship further.
It is all just more nods to how human Nick Spencer’s characters are. Everything they do and say, even in the strangest and most fantastical situations, have weight and consequences and all the characters realize this.
At first, the connecting parts of Lang and Sondheim’s stories don’t make a whole lot of sense, but as the fight between Ant-Man and Taskmaster lingers on – full of expository dialogue – it becomes clear. Not all writers can pull off having a fight that is nothing more than two characters spitting information at each other, but once again Nick Spencer handles it masterfully. Taskmaster and Lang are rivals, but not the cutthroat enemies that Lang believes they are, and it really feels like it with the dialogue. In between recanting past battles that sum up the events of Lang’s storied past as well as the events going on in the other part of the story, the two of them have an excellent back and forth with all the jabs coming from Taskmaster. Their interactions also feed into how delusional and downtrodden Lang is, with how he sees Taskmaster as his arch nemesis but the mercenary just laughs it off and reminds him that all the times they fought he was actually after someone else.
Art during these action sequences is great as usual, and comes complete with a bunch of ants forming a giant fist and punching Taskmaster in the back of the head. Following that, in a scene seemingly straight out of Big Hero 6, Taskmaster presses a button and all the paperclips that Lang has been guarding are suddenly transformed into a giant sword and slice the ant-hand in half. The many ways that Lang can go into battle using his powers are constantly being explored in this run and I’m loving it.
Although I will say the idea of Lang getting pinned down while it ant form – something that has happened in every issue so far – is wearing a little thing already. Again, the expository dialogue is well done and placed where it needs to be, but seeing enemies constantly pin tiny Lang down and talk at him is already repetitive.
The cover itself is just fantastic as well. At first glance it looks almost as if Taskmaster is eating Lang, but if you look closely it’s clear that Lang is kicking him in the teeth. Mark Brooks handles the perspective of Ant-Man extremely well and gives a good feeling of what the story inside is going to be.
With the big reveal at the end of this issue, as well as what happened to Lang’s daughter after Taskmaster stalled him long enough in their fight, Ant-Man #4 is setting up to be an emotional one. Scott is not only going to have to deal with his own trauma of having his daughter kidnapped, but explain it all to his ex-wife as well.