Review: Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man

Ant-Man-1Author: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd
Publisher: Marvel
Genre: superhero,
Rating: N/A
Now that people have seen the movie and have been awakened to the reality that Ant-Man is awesome, as noted in our review, what better time than now for people to start reading comics featuring Scott Lang himself?
And luckily enough Marvel, in a deft marketing move, recently wrapped up a new volume of Ant-Man to bring in new readers during the lead-up to the movie’s release date.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Marvel’s Ant-Man (2015) Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man.

Story

Our tale opens with Scott Lang, both a loveable loser and the Astonishing Ant-Man, in the middle of the application process to become Tony Stark’s new head of security solutions. During this process, Scott gives the short version of his superhero origin.
Formally a professional burglar, Scott was a divorced ex-convict. When he was released from prison, he resolved to go straight, until a threat to his daughter’s life forced him to steal Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit. After performing some mighty heroics and defeating supervillain Darren Cross, Pym allowed Scott to keep the suit, and thus Scott became the world’s tiniest hero.
Both a former Avenger and head of the Future Foundation/Fantastic Four, Scott now finds himself without a job, which brings us to the present day. We follow Scott as he attempts to maintain a career in security, and be there for his daughter Cassie. Not your normal superhero fare, but it makes for quite the read.

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The story here manages to be self-contained while also drawing on the character’s past continuity. I think that it is the perfect tale to introduce new readers to the characters, and even to introduce non-comic readers to comic books. Spencer explains and exposits without tripping over the narrative, instead using the character’s self-commentary to juxtapose an internal journey of growth with the external conflict. Readers new to comics (or just to Scott Lang) should have no trouble following the story and enjoying the jokes, but those who do know a bit of the character’s history will find nods geared towards them as well.
If you’ve read Nick Spencer’s work before, then you know that his books are some of the funniest around.  He is also the writer behind the much beloved Superior Foes of Spider-Man, which is a must read on its own. True to form, this book is hilarious. Spencer throws in a lot of references both to pop culture and to Marvel continuity, using the complex nature of the latter to his advantage. His narrative allows for plenty of commentary on the nature of Ant-Man’s powers, his reputation in the Marvel universe, and the fact that it’s easy to get all the Ant-Men confused. As for pop (There’s even a Johnny Five reference for those of you who are old enough to catch it).

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While the majority of the book is funny, Scott’s role as a father and his self-reflection provide for some surprisingly emotional moments. Scott is trying to be a good father, trying to be the man his daughter deserves, in spite of himself. Scott’s desire to be there for Cassie is the driving force behind many of his choices in this book, and allows for some moments and monologues that have the potential to hit you right in the feels.

Content Guide

While generally books from the Big 2 can be read by kids who are old enough to understand what’s happening in them, they do sometimes get pretty edgy and skew more mature. This is not one of those times. I had zero problem letting my ten-year-old sister read the book after she came back from the film on an Ant-Man kick. While many of the jokes will definitely fly over younger kids’ heads, there’s nothing to really worry about in this one.
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Positive Elements: While Scott may not be the greatest role model in the world, he can be an example of the road to redemption. It can be hard, but it’s always worth it.
Spiritual Content: There is a “revival,” but it has more to do with comic book science.
Violence: It’s pretty PG. There’s plenty of action, but it’s mostly your punching and kicking fare.
Language: None
Drug/Alcohol Use: None
Sexual Content: None

Presentation

The book is illustrated by Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd. You may know the former from Night of the Living Deadpool. The art here helps to set the book’s casual, funny tone without causing it to suffer from being too cartoony (looking at you Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl). Sometimes with books that skew comedic, the artists will skimp on the faces or background detail. That is certainly not the case here. While the art does set a lighter mood, it manages to stay realistic and convey the impact of emotional moments as well as the humor of comedic moments. There isn’t any overly complex or artsy panel composition. Rather, the artists opt to use the standard method, and I think that it serves the story very well. Also, a few of the covers, especially that of issue #4, are special, and will bring a smile to your face.

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Conclusion

With serviceable art, a compelling story, and great humor, I would call this book a must-read. It is a welcome aside from all the crazy cosmic Secret Wars stuff, and will make you laugh and “feel”–sometimes both at once. Whether you want to get into Ant-Man or are just looking for a good book, I suggest you pick this one up.
Convinced? You can yourself a copy right here: [amazon template=add to cart&asin=0785193871]

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Francis King Jr

Marketing and Government student at the College of William & Mary. Video Games and Movies writer. Enjoys Jesus, writing, and all things geek.

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