Sunday, June 28, 2015

CBR Ant-Man Season One

With the Ant-Man movie finally coming up (it was originally planned for "phase 1" of Marvel's Cinematic Universe!), let's have a look at the original Ant-Man, Henry Pym!

Follow the reviews of Marvel's tiniest heroes - Ant-Man and Wasp!
Avengers: The Origin

Comic title: Ant-Man: Season One 
Written by Tom DeFalco (& Dan Slott)
Drawn by Horacio Domingues (& others)

Published by Marvel Comics 
From 2012
Lineup Avengers series/Ant-Man
Format: Standalone "Season One" Graphic Novel.

The character of Ant-Man was originally created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber & artist Jack Kirby in the pages of Tales to Astonish #27 back in 1962.

The character is relatively popular despite his silly name. Ant-Man's a fan-beloved complex superhero mostly known for being one of the original founding members of the Avengers team.

One time Dr. Henry Pym, aka Hank Pym, developed a size-altering formula via new subatomic particles which he dubbed "Pym Particles". In his very first story he was reduced to the size of an ant and was then trapped inside an anthill! He intended at first to destroy his formula before finally becoming a superhero. He would quickly then meet Janet Van Dyne, his lab assistant at first and later on his wife, which he would allow to join him on his adventures as the superheroine the Wasp.

Over the years Hank Pym's been known by all kinds of names, Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath or also Yellowjacket. But before all this he was just a young innovative scientist.

These Marvel Season One are a great occasion to revisit the origin of these classic iconic Marvel characters. Offering a chance to retale these classic 1960s stories for a modern audience. Sometimes reimagined and updated origins.

Published as all-new original graphic novels, these books offer about 121 page worth of comics. Exploring backstories or the first few days of the Marvel heroes.

This Ant-Man book takes some liberties to tale how Hank Pym came up with the Pym Particles in the first place.

Our story opens with the murder of Hank Pym's first wife, Maria. (Talk about Women in Refrigerators.. Sheesh!..) Maria was accidentally killed in a bombing while the couple was in Budapest. Since that incident Hank's been consulting a psychiatrist and closing himself from the outside world more and more.

His father didn't want to see his disgraced son missing all those opportunities in the scientific field and he was able to get Hank a job under the world-renowned scientist Elihas Starr (nicknamed Egghead for his particular head-shape).

With the help of his own assistant Bill Foster, Hank is finally able to finalize his "Pym Particles" and is forced to test that formula on himself when some goons sent by Egghead try to make him disappear.

Thanks to the late Maria's last few discoveries Hank's able to conceive a "cybernetic helmet" that can communicate to insects via waves transmitted through their antennas.

Hank is forced to trust Bill Foster and enlist his help to prove Egghead was trying to appropriate his new discovery. And he might just be behind the death of Maria as well!

It's the story of the first superheroics of the original Avengers, showing some first few signs of Hank's instable personality disorders and forced to confront the scientist he always admired who turns out to be a bad guy!

Like the other books of this line, this Ant-Man Season One is a pretty short tale that tries to cover all the essentials and runs pretty fast. Most of the pages of this comic are actually spent on the action scenes.

The story itself is sort of a condensed mix of Ant-Man's original origin comic adding a few elements and cues from his first few adventures.They also take this occasion to add some more depth to the character while staying pretty true and keeping much of the original Silver Age comics' tone.

Ant-Man Season One was written by Spider-Girl creator Tom DeFalco. His writing his always fun, full of energy and with a hint of vintage comic book innocence.

While I didn't think he would be a fitting author for Ant-Man, he wrote here a pretty decent self-contained standalone Ant-Man tale.

He tends to work with artists with these sort of more stylized and slightly cartoonysh art styles. The art by Horacio Domingues (Gail Simone's Welcome to Tranquility) in this book is actually reminiscent of the type of art featured in the Spider-Girl series.  He style can be a bit odd at times, to be frank. It looks fairly clean, decent and detailed, but it can also get a bit sketchy and out of proportions, no doubt due to a rushed production. It has a sort of manga-influenced "fusion" flavor to it. His insects are great though, particularly fun and creepy.

Ant-Man is a fun character. Most tiny-superheroes always are! Ant-Man can both enlarge or reduce his own size, I always found it interesting Hank usually prefers shrinking his size over growing bigger (which he did for a pretty long while). It says a lot about the character. And when reducing his size, he keeps his regular human size-strength.

The helmet's origin gets expended here, designed by his late wife. We even get to see the form of telepathy he gets from the helmet.

It's the story how Hank Pym finally finds a purpose in his life, how he learnt to become a hero.

It starts really dark with a murder. Some decent exposition. Hank bullied around by the pressure from his own father. And from then become a fairly standard superhero origin. It has a sort of old school feel to it. The bad guys are really bad.

Contrary to other Season One comics, this one only loosely alludes to a few elements from the later canon, but nevertheless it was nice to get those. Janet only gets a quick mention. But the future Goliath Bill Foster plays a much bigger role.

As a bonus second feature, Ant-Man Season One also reprints the first issue of the Avengers Academy series as a preview. It's a great series. I knew I would be getting that. These Season One books served as an introduction and a way to catch up these different Marvel characters. But somehow I would have preferred to see Marvel reprint the original first Ant-Man story as a bonus, but that might be just me.

Overall, this was a great fun comic. It has a great old school classic vibe. Albeit slightly upgraded form for a more modern readership. It's fairly newcomers-friendly.

It's nothing spectacular, the same goes with the art. But I Recommend it if you're interested in the character or were looking for a great starting point to get familiar with Ant-Man.

It's a really quick read due to all the action scenes, but it was fun!

The only real complaint I would have with it is that I would have loved to get some Wasp from it one way or another. Or they could have made the Ant-Man story shorter to allow for a Wasp feature. All in all,

I give it:
2 / 3 Howards!

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