Review by Ian Keogh
Since Nick Spencer began writing Ant-Man he’s dangled scenes of Scott Lang back in prison without ever fully addressing how this came to be. From Everybody Loves Team-Ups he’s been gradually moving events forward from the recent past to the present day, and Small-Time Criminal ended on a cliffhanger at almost that point. This opening chapter finally reveals how it is that Scott Lang ended up in jail. It’s an imaginative and surprising piece of plotting on Spencer’s part, something he hid in plain sight in the previous books that now has horrible consequences, and Spencer even manges to twist the knife a little further.
A clever intermission chapter set in jail during visiting time alternates visitors apologising for their responsibility in Scott’s current situation, and those to whom he has to apologise, after which we reach the trial promised in the book’s title. This is every bit as good as anticipated, and again Spencer has set up some nice details without us realising they’re being set up. If it’s the trial of a Marvel superhero She-Hulk’s presence is inevitable, and she also has previous for sitcom style superheroics, so fits in just fine. Somehow you’ll suspect that the judge’s pre-trial command that the trial isn’t interrupted by costumed antics or alien invasions is spouted more in hope than belief.
As in previous volumes, the majority of the art is by Ramon Rosanas, with Brent Schoonover filling in so smoothly you’d barely know the difference. It might have been nice had someone from Marvel bothered to remove the sequences explaining the plot at the start of each chapter, which sometimes runs to three pages, but that would have left them with an even shorter book, and they already had trouble with that. Their current default is five comics equal a graphic novel and Ant-Man’s series ending on a fourth chapter left them at a loose end. Luckily he also guest-starred with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
More precisely it’s Ant-Man teaming with Drax, the purpose being to have them enjoy the culture Miami has to offer, which works as well as might be expected. This is the work of collaborating writers Nick Giovannetti and Paul Scheer and artist Shawn Crystal. It’s not up to the quality of the remainder of the book, but neither is it shamed by comparison. There’s a few laughs, too much dialogue and the joke of Drax in gym gear.
Oddly, despite a second movie due in 2018, Ant-Man is back in limbo as far as comics are concerned, seen as a guest star, but lacking his own title. If a series as good as that by Spencer and Rosanas isn’t selling you really have to wonder what hope there is for Ant-Man in comics.