Marvel Comics has published some of the best superhero comics over the past few years including Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil, Charles Soule and Javier Pulido's She-Hulk, and Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's Magneto. All of these superhero comics have (for the most part) eschewed the big event/crossover distractions and have focused on simply telling compelling, funny, serious, and all around enjoyable stories in the vein of the Marvel Comics of old. While the larger properties such as The X-Men, Avengers, and Spider-Man have been mired in crossover hell, the aforementioned titles have quietly stolen the big names' thunder. With the introduction of Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas' Ant-Man, this quality solo superhero group of comics expands.
What's Happening: Scott Lang/Ant-Man, the Marvel U's best portrayed everyman hero right now (perhaps only second to Soule's She-Hulk), needs a steady job, and hopes to secure it as Tony Stark's new security expert/director. Between balancing the unconventional actions required of the application process with the precious little time he has to devote to his daughter (who is in the custody of Lang's ex-wife), while trying to convince his ex-wife that he has his act together and is ready to play a larger role in his daughter's life, Lang surely has his hands full. Family is most important of all though, and sometimes it requires you to drop one of the many things you're juggling...but does Lang end up dropping the biggest one?
The Writing: Nick Spencer (Morning Glories) manages to put together one of the best first issues of a solo superhero comic book published over the past year. Tapping into the Marvel Magic that is currently dominating the box office AND Marvel Comics' solo superhero books right now, he manages to not only give the reader a complete back story on Scott Lang (without resorting to extra-narrative flashbacks), but creates some of the best dialogue possible, while mixing it up with some great, and coequal, doses of humor and seriousness. Spencer weaves a narrative as fun and engaging as any of the best of the Marvel Cinematic U films. He creates the exact same sense of fun and action that the Ant-Mantrailer created. The plot of Ant-Man #1 is everything that we have come to expect from Marvel's best productions right now. Marvel Entertainment has a great job striking a balance between the dark and light of and in their superhero universe on screen, and is lucky to have so many talented writers like Soule, Waid, and Spencer to keep it alive on the printed page.
The Artwork: Ramon Rosanas' art is perfect for Ant-Man. He captures the aforementioned serious/silly balance through his characters' facial expressions and body language, but there's nothing silly about Rosanas' talented work. Clean, crisp, and thick inks trace out his pencils beautifully and create just the right amount of TV cartoon look while keeping the work sufficiently detailed and realistic enough to be engaging to an adult audience. Visually, Rosanas visually creates on the page what Spencer creates with his narrative. There's a revitalized "Marvel Way" at work here. It's one that stretches all from the silver screen all the way into the artwork of their best books, and it is a winner.
The Verdict: Is it possible to be the biggest comic book/superhero/mega-corporate owned entertainment company and still be the best comic book publisher in the game? Even when everything is planned, marketed, and released to the most strictest of marketing directives? (Ant-Man #1 was published the morning after the Ant-Man trailer debuted, during another Marvel TV show, which runs the night before new comics are released weekly-damn, Marvel/Disney has this marketing thing down don't they?) The answer is, scarily, yes. As long as books like Ant-Man #1 keep getting published by said mega-corporate owned, multi-media platformed company. Make Mine Marvel now more than ever.