Review by Ian Keogh
The adjective ‘Astonishing’ may have been appended to the title, but this is the same creative team of Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas who successfully re-booted Scott Lang as Ant-Man in Second Chance Man. He’s now based in Miami, running a security agency, and lives in the vicinity of his ex-wife and their daughter.
The short? This is more of the same unadulterated joyful fun. We see Ant-Man engaging with the elderly and obese populations of Florida, an ap for super-villains causing problems, and pretty well everyone seen in Second Chance Man. The team-ups mentioned in the title? They’re with Captain America, but first Hank Pym, originator of the Ant-Man costume. Due to the inconvenience of Pym being dead at the time of publication, it occurs in the past.
Spencer takes a meandering approach to his plots, dotting around in a non-linear fashion and linking the elements via Lang’s narration, which is of necessity discursive while also serving to establish his likeable personality. He’s further inventive with both the situations Lang finds himself in and his seat of the pants methods of employing shrinking powers to extricate himself. Among other decent innovations we see Ant-Man travelling over bullets spurted from an automatic gun. Being a former jailbird, Lang has an understanding of circumstances, so places some trust in former super-villains who work for him. The Grizzly and Machinesmith are hardly anyone’s choices of A-list threats, but the latter’s arch character and the trivial use of his abilities are extremely diverting. It applies to pretty well everyone involved in the series. They all have a manner that raises a smile, and everyone Spencer adds to the series is engaging. There are occasions when the script is just that little bit too knowing, particularly the not quite up to scratch final chapter, but they’re rare and hardly experience shattering.
In terms of art there are no problems. Rosanas is a consummate professional storyteller, so good at what he does that it’s only on reaching the end of a chapter you’re aware he’s done it all. There are no distractions figuring out how we arrived at panel six from panel five, no wonky figures that bring the reading experience to a shuddering halt, and no wondering why it is that the cast appear to be floating on a white background throughout. Much of the opening chapter is illustrated by Brent Schoonover, and while his art can be distinguished, it’s also accomplished.
By the end of the book things don’t appear to be going so well for Ant-Man, something we’re privy to early on due to Spencer’s plotting style. There are several ongoing complications to Lang’s life and they drag us into Small-Time Criminal.
Fun is key. That and charm. Well, that, charm and talent. And well applied foreshadowing, which might fall under fundamentally good plotting. With decent art. Just buy it.