Written by: Nick Spencer
Art by: Brent Schoonover , Ramon Rosanas, and Jordan Boyd
Ant-Man has by far been one of my favourite comic series to have been released this year. With its goofy characters, and witty dialogue, I urge everyone to give it’s TPB a read. The Ant-Man annual has come out during the same week as the film release which will hopefully lead to more people picking it up as it’s a hoot to read.
The annual continues on right after the events of the last arc but before Secret Wars and fortunately has a more beat tone throughout than the rather bittersweet and melancholic ending of issue five. The story begins with Lang and his two co-workers at a bar, connecting and here Spencer is able to show off his skill at writing snappy dialogue that’s sure to bring a laugh or two. The Machinist gets a lot of focus here, which I was pleased with as he only featured in small parts of the last arc due to his late arrival, and his dry, sarcastic humour is a breath of fresh air when contrasted against Lang’s more silly, surreal style. It is here that Lang learns of the disappearance of Hank Pym during the Avengers: Rage of Ultron story and then most of the remainder of the plot is Lang remembering the last time he met Pym, a team up against an old villain of Pym’s, Egghead!
Yeah, I don’t know…
That’s part of what makes Ant-Man great for me, the obscure nods and villains that are C-tier, at best, brings about a style of its own and produces characters completely different than what you would see in any other Marvel comic. Anyway, Egghead’s big master plan is to use robot versions of the Classic Avengers line-up (that Pym created) in order to take revenge on Pym. There’s some cool fight scenes here and some funny dialogue but once everything’s been taken care of the story slows down and you are reminded that it’s really all about the loss of a friend. Here’s where my favourite thing about Spencer’s writing, sure he’s good at doing witty story telling and making you laugh but he truly excels at making you feel for his characters; in the previous arc, you understood Lang’s love for his daughter as they shared moments and here you feel the genuine respect between Hank and Scott in a lovely scene they share watching a sunset.
The thing with the annual though is that its focus isn’t on the Ant-Man you’d expect, it’s more on the original, Hank (Giant-Man currently), and problems may arise here if you’re genuinely new to comics as Pym doesn’t really show his head that often (certainly not enough to get a feel for his character). I myself have only just recently read the Mighty Avengers run where Hank starts leading the Avengers but with this previous understanding of Hank’s character and his problems, which as a friend of mine put, “is defined by his failures,” such as Ultron and shortcomings compared to other Avengers it pushes the book from a 7.5 to an 8.5.
I did like the idea of using two artists to differentiate what was a flash back and what was the present day and thought it was quite a clever little gimmick. I think that Jordan Boyd may have even changed his colouring style between the two artists to emphasise the difference further which was a nice touch. Unfortunatley at times it did look a little odd that Rosanas’ art seems to now have a much larger emphasis on bringing across soft-lighting now and I missed the style that reminded me of a modernised Bronze-age DC format.
Overall I really enjoyed this annual which surprised me as I often find them very tacked on and out of place but fortunatley the event that is Secret Wars allows this to fit snugly between arcs, therefore feeling more like a continuation of the story and nods to the previous arc help carry this through as well. If you have been following the series up to now it is well worth your time and if you haven’t but you’re interested in jumping in, this would serve as a good point as it does a good job of introducing and fleshing out characters and relationships.