Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Release Date: 21st October, 2015
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That seems to be the message at the heart of the first issue of Marvel’s Astonishing Ant-Man. Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas are back in style, looking like they haven’t missed a beat since their critically-acclaimed “Second-Chance Man”, so no change there. Scott Lang is still struggling to put his past behind him and make his private security firm into a success in spite of family woes, money troubles and utterly lacklustre co-workers, so no change there. Oh, and this is still one of the sharpest-written, downright hilarious books on the shelves today. So yeah, no change there.
In spite of the eight month hiatus, the story picks up pretty much directly after the events of Second-Chance Man, and sees plucky everyman Lang trying to get his small business up and running with only a bear costume-wearing ex-villain and a sarcastic, reformed cyber-terrorist to help him. Both Spencer and Rosanas are clearly having an absolute blast poking fun at the absurdity of “superhero” life, and manage to strike an impressive balance between the absurd (their training sessions being interrupted by holographic male strippers) and the emotional (Lang’s relationship with his daughter, and desire to keep her safe no matter the cost).
However, after a strong start, it started to feel like things might be coming off the rails ever so slightly as the issue seemed to lose its way, wandering a little too far into slapstick silliness with ultra-serious villain Darren Cross – now plagued by unstable Pym particles – having to deliver his scowling monologues while being carried around in his son’s hand. Thankfully, with the introduction of a mysterious businessman with an absolutely genius proposal (seriously, wow), the issue rights itself sharply, providing several more gut-busting laughs before the eyebrow-raising conclusion.
Rosanas’ artwork retains its slick, minimalistic style, providing a lot of great moments of physical comedy while managing to cram in all manner of chuckle-worthy Easter eggs along the way. Jordan Boyd’s colours are lively and energetic, and give the comic a sense of Golden Age innocence; a noticeable departure from some of the gritty, washed-out titles on the shelves right now. Spencer’s gift for comic timing is also still as absolutely spot-on as it always has been, and one particular line delivered by a certain whirling dervish of a villain nearly had me on the floor.
Aside from a minor stumble midway through, this first issue serves as a truly impressive return for a title I’ve been waiting for ever since I devoured the first series. Spencer and Rosanas are telling a small story (no pun intended) filled with heart, humour and excitement, and are clearly having the time of their lives doing it. Highly recommended.