The Astonishing Ant-Man #2 Review

Written by: Nick Spencer

Art by: Ramon Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel

Nick Spencer is quickly rising in the ranks of Marvel writerdom, and with good reason. His down-to-Earth approach to the super hero world is great, and series like his past Superior Foes of Spider-Man and his current Ant-Man run add a good amount of diversity to the tone of books Marvel puts out. As much as we love it, not everything has to have a Hickman-level of grandiosity to it. And not only is the focus on pathetic characters refreshing, it’s also surprisingly humanizing when Spencer does it.

The cheesy nature of these D-list villains that are far off from standing the test of time is embraced in this series, and we the readers are all the more better for it. If a man in a bear suit or a shiny metallic computer-terrorist showed up in something written by Jason Aaron or something drawn by Esad Ribic, they’d seem out-of-date and out-of-place. But these corny losers and more (Crossfire, Darren Cross, heck, even an Ant-Man himself) shine in a world like this. Spencer proves this by again pulling from silver age lore in this issue and injecting relevance into the old villain, The Magician, whose modern successor is essentially a Criss Angel wannabe.

Beyond that, he really makes us care for the down-trodden screw-ups that litter these stories. The few pages at the start of this issue centred on Grizzly and Machinesmith made me realize that if these two super-villainy-duds spun off into their own Spencer-helmed series, I’d have no choice but to follow it. This issue has the two lovable goons making a deal with the younger Cross behind their friend’s back, as characters in Spencer’s series are wont to do. Secret dealings, backroom intrigue, and double-crossery are his bread and butter, so while this moves the story forward, it doesn’t come as too big of a surprise.

As much as I love the re-purposing of decades-old losers like them though, I can’t help but be disappointed at the continued absence of Spencer-created characters the new Beetle and Raz, the new Giant Man, both of whom were on the cover of issue 1 but have yet to be referenced in this series. I’d also like to be the first to formally posit the theory that the All-New-All-Different Giant Man and Machinesmith, who seemed to be outed last issue as being gay (can robots be gay?), will end up dating. Having an IT guy hook up with a computer just seems like too good of an opportunity to pass on.

The issue showcases another Hench-induced showdown between Scott and a low-level super-powered criminal, but this time involves a team-up with Darla Deering, a.k.a. Ms. Thing, who has a history with Scott from their Fantastic Four stint. The issue ends with Scott and Co. being hired on as her personal security, which will no doubt dictate the plot for at least the next few issues. In addition to all of that, we get some closure on Scott and Darla’s short-lived relationship during Matt Fraction’s FF run. Once again, Spencer paints over these characters with a coating of failure as Scott and Darla accept that they were a terrible couple and amicably (awkwardly) stay split. Not everything in Spencer’s vision of the Marvel Universe has to be nice and perfect, and for a character like Scott Lang who’s never had a life that glamourous, that seems to suit a series focused on him just fine.