Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Will Pilgrim, David Michelinie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Nick Spencer
Artwork: Chris Allen, George Perez, Stephanie Hans, Ramon Rosanas
Release Date: 30th May 2018
Following a significant delay caused by some sort of international soccerball tournament or something, Ant-Man & The Wasp finally hits cinemas in the UK this week. And to help get us all in the mood, I’ve decided to take a look at Marvel’s Ant-Man & The Wasp Prelude TP, on sale now at all good comic book shops (and probably some bad ones, too).
It’s an interesting collection which includes the official two-part Prelude miniseries, along with a classic Avengers two-part tale from 1963 which sees Yellowjacket and Ant-Man teaming up to rescue the Wasp from the clutches of Taskmaster. We’re also treated to the Avengers Origins: Ant-Man one-shot and, curiously enough, the first issue of Nick Spencer’s Astonishing Ant-Man series.
Kicking things off, it’s safe to say that the Prelude miniseries feels almost entirely surplus to requirements. It’s essentially an abridged retelling of the plot of the original Ant-Man movie, complete with line-for-line dialogue and absolutely no new material or insight of any kind. The creative team do a solid enough job with what they’ve given I suppose, but while “Prelude” or “Road to” comics usually help fill in the blanks either between or before movies, this feels like a cheap, unnecessary recap that only really serves to pad out the page count here.
Thankfully, things pick up next with some ‘60s Avengers goodness, and while the story and George Perez artwork is very much of its time, there’s a real sense of charm here as Hank Pym (as Yellowjacket) teams up with Scott Lang’s Ant-Man to rescue The Wasp. It’s more than a little cheesy at times, but feels a lot more enjoyable because of how awful the first comic in the collection is. It also provides a fun snapshot at some of the early years of these two (or three, I guess) insect-sized superheroes working together, even if the Avengers muscle in and steal all the glory right at the end. There’s also a glorious moment where the villains, wielding blaster rifles called ‘janglers’ that disrupt the central nervous system, are instructed by their boss to “jangle them!” Brilliant.
The absolute standout of the collection, however, is the Avengers Origins one-shot. Brilliantly structured, the story shows us the genesis of the Ant-Man character (Hank Pym in this case), and his first meeting with Janet Van-Dyne. It’s a strong narrative that focuses primarily on the relationship between the two characters, reducing the villains and monsters they’re fighting to mere background noise as we watch them gradually fall in love while getting to grips with their powers. As strong as the writing is though, it’s the artwork from Stephanie Hans that really makes the story sing, with a rich, painterly style packed with expression and drama. A beautiful looking story that, while not strictly speaking relevant to the movie (other than providing an insight into Michael Douglas’ formative years, I suppose), is well worth seeking out.
As I mentioned above, Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas’ Astonishing Ant-Man feels like an odd inclusion, particularly with it just being the first issue of the series. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of this series, which carries the same brilliant sense of humour as Spencer’s work on Superior Foes of Spider-Man, delivering some cracking visual gags and a surprising amount of drama. It’s just that while everything else in this volume is somewhat self-contained, this single issue leaves the collection feeling a little unfinished, and, unfortunately, appears to be yet more padding to bulk out the page count.
At the end of the day, while a couple of the issues here are legitimately bad (seriously though, WHAT WAS THE POINT?!) and one is curiously placed, the strength of the Avengers Origin story and the charm of the classic ‘60s tale ensure that this is still an enjoyable read. The value for money isn’t great, but if you’re looking for something to help you get in the mood for the upcoming movie, you could do a heck of a lot worse.