Thursday, July 16, 2015

CBR Irredeemable Ant-Man

To celebrate the release of an Ant-Man film, let's review this fan favorite classic Ant-Man series!

Introducing the world's WORST superhero! Let me say this right here, it's nothing like you would imagine (in a good way)!

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

Comic title: The Irredeemable Ant-Man 
Written by Robert Kirkman
Drawn by Phil Hester, Cory Walker and Ande Parks

Published by Marvel Comics 
From 2009
Lineup Ant-Man series
Format: Trade paperback softcover collecting Irredeemable Ant-Man issues #1-12.

Certainly if you're familiar with the character of Ant-Man, when thinking about who should be under the costume of the tiny Avenger the first name that comes to mind would usually be Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, the scientist who developed the "Pym Particles" formula able to shrink him to the size of an ant (or grow into a giant, later on). 

Or maybe you're thinking about the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang (who despite lengthy runs on the Avengers seem to have only been elevated to bigger popularity now thanks to the film), a thief who stole Hank Pym's Ant-Man suit to save his daughter Cassie. Cassie herself would also join the ranks of the Ant-Man family under the names of Statue and Giant-Girl.

Or you might even think about Bill Foster, a colleague of Hank Pym who want on becoming Gant-Man/Goliath.

But there is yet another Ant-Man. Few usually think about Eric O'Grady as their Ant-Man. An ex-Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who found the Ant-Man suit at SHIELD and decided to keep it for himself. Never truly interested into becoming a superhero, he instead only thought about himself and used these incredible astonishing powers for his own selfish gain.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man was an on-going series created by now-hugely popular writer Robert Kirkman (thanks to Walking Dead) and the cartoonist Phil Hester. The series would also see Cory Walker and Ande Parks on the art occasionally.

The series was launched with easily the best tagline I've seen for a superhero comic -The World's Most Unlikable Super-Hero!

While Eric O'Grady's Irredeemable Ant-Man series was short lived, it quickly became a cult favorite and the character would keep popping up for the following years (until Scott Lang kind of came back and took that title back from him). It ran for 12 issues between 2006 to 2007 before being canceled - but fear not Kirkman was able to pull off a great ending like it had been planned all along.

Robert Kirkman imagined the series has a great parody of traditional superhero stories, mocking the usual tropes and clichés of the genre by simply featuring the complete opposite of your usual image of a superhero.

He brought Phil Hester on the book to design the look of this satirical series, easily one of my favorite underrated artists out there. Hester had mostly worked on indie comics by that point, such as The Wretch. Kevin Smith took him on his Clerks comics before bringing him to the forefront on his Green Arrow run at DC Comics.

Irredeemable Ant-Man was a comedy series unlike any other. With a complete unlikeable jerks as the main titular hero. Don't let that pull you off reading this book, afterall if straight-up murderers can support decades of comics (The Punisher anyone?) I'm sure Kirkman would find a way to make this comics enjoyable for readers, right?

This entire series was published around the Marvel event Civil War. Most issues are split between flashbacks and present day, revolving before and after the post-Civil War's Initiative.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man follows this low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Eric O'Grady. Eric is the exact opposite of your traditional Captain Americas and Spider-mans. Eric lies all the time. He's a coward. And he's only really preoccupied by being accepted by others, that's the main reason why he always end up lying to everyone.

Eric used to work aboard a Helicarrier with his best friend from the same hometown, Chris McCarthy. They both were S.H.I.E.L.D. surveillance agents, their job consisting of mostly staring at computer screens for the entire day. And some days they'd wound up playing poker with a bunch of other guys.

One day while a brainwashed Wolverine was being debriefed aboard the ship, Eric and Chris got reassigned to a new job. This security agent Mitch Carson under Dum Dum Dugan put our two heroes in charge of Hank Pym's lab security. Surprised by Hank Pym, they attacked him... leaving the two idiots glimpse into Pym's lab. And there they found Hank Pym's All-New Ant-Man suit!! The latest model! Chris took the suit, shrinked by accident and got lost inside the Helicarrier.

Suddenly HYDRA attacked S.H.I.E.L.D.! During the confusion Chris found Eric... only to get shot by a supervillain! Eric stole the Ant-Man suit back from Chris.. and ran away!

Now Eric O'Grady finds himself on the run from Mitch Carson, who was badly disfigured, blind and deaf in his escape by his suit's jets.

Will Eric O'Grady become a righteous superhero and put the power of the Ant-Man suit in good use... or not?

Turns out Eric prefers to lie low. He does some crimefighting whenever the mood strike, but only if there's a pretty girl in there! And he spends most of his time using his shrinking abilities to peep into women's showers.

He also knocked out Chris's (ex-)girlfriend Veronica!

He stalks some girl only to find out she's in fact Ms. Marvel! He steals from the thief Black Fox in the aftermath of a big super-hero brawl (the two would later bond over some Wii games, true story!). Since he needed a regular job, he was able to get a job with Damage Control, the super-hero post-fight cleanup crew. He uses a fake id and thus become "Derek Sullivan", aka the "Slaying Mantis". For a while things a good. Things are great. He starts going out with his Damage Control co-worker Abigail, a low-level telepath.

But after a while, right around the events of the World War Hulk storyline, he's back in the line of sight of SHIELD. As Eric was falling in love with Abigail, she tells him she's a single mother... so Eric dumps her! Hey, guy's still a jerk! And he tries to help out as the Hulk starts rampaging through Manhattan...

Eric later wakes up in a SHIELD infirmary in the hands of Mitch!

That's when the story flips over as we find out how Mitch has always been a huge sociopath all those years! In fact he enlisted in through all these security jobs over the years as a way to get paid beating up people! That's why he was also part of the Ant-Man program! Mitch takes him inside a secret room aboard the Helicarrier to torture Eric! That was a big bad guy in the making all along!

But Iron Man, now Head of the SHIELD, stops Mitch just in time. Eric is able to spin the entire story in his own favor. And soon he finds himself back in his old job.. Sigh..

Eric talks to Veronica, finds out he was going to be a father but convinces her he would have been the worst dad in the world. Iron man and Hank Pym give him back the Ant-Man suit since he turned out to be the only candidate able to control the suit.

From now on Eric will be part of the Initiative! A real legit super-hero working for the government! After one last goodbye to Abigail, Eric heads up to Camp Hammond as an official recruit along other new heroes... 

This is how you have an origin story done right!

The story of how this little S.H.I.E.L.D. agent becomes the new Ant-Man is a really great hilarious adventure. With great power comes no responsibility!

Eric is no real hero. He actually feels more like a reluctant hero or an anti-hero until the very end of his own series. He goes through a lot of great character development through this series (even though his later appearances would seem to ignore most of that).

Eric cheats and lies overtly. He does lives up to the book's title of "World's Most Unlikable Superhero"! He's a coward with no real redeeming qualities.. and yet the book works. Through the series Eric learns to love others and starts trying to be a better person. Sure he's an unheroic bastard. He's no superhero like you've ever seen.

Kirkman writes a quirky book filled with quirky characters. Eric peeping into women's showers walks the thin line between creepy and funny. There's plenty of soap opera scenes as Eric starts dating a girl he wants to hide his shady past from. It's such a fun series!

Sadly, the book would be canceled only a year later.

A shame since it was so fun and cleverly written! The series never takes itself too seriously. Eric's immoral behavior is the source of a lot of great jokes. Never truly mean, you do get to see the more human Eric O'Grady trying to hide from others here and there.

The artwork was gorgeous through the entire run. Phil Hester's always been one of my all time favorite artists out there. His art is simple, cartoony and clear, with a great use of shading. Gorgeous! We do get a few filler artists near the end of the run, but they kept relatively the same tone for the series.

Great humor. Kirkman at his best. From the very fun and enjoyable amusing covers to the hilarious recap pages narrared by this introductory ant (and guest Hulk-ant in the World War Hulk tie-in).

This series was the perfect answer to the more traditional and stale books Marvel and DC were publishing at the time. All these superheroes were starting to feel the same. These are the funniest offbeat 12 issues you'll read! And Kirkman wraps up the story in the end like he planned it all along!

Critics and fans alike loved the series back then, but I feel the character fell into obscurity this past decade or so. Give it a read!

Overall,Irredeemable Ant-Man is an excellent series on its own right, well worth to have a look at! Highly Recommended!

A really fun enjoyable read. A very fun anti-hero doing all the wrong things a "good" hero would never do. Plus he's a very entertaining huge jerk, kind of like the Green Lantern Guy Gardner was back in the days of the JLI. It's a really fun read!

Eric O'Grady only looks out for his own interest. The book never takes itself too seriously. The art is fantastic, some great visuals including the very original good-looking Irredeemable Ant-Man suit. A funny and clever series. The worst hero is a selfish self-centered, backstabbing coward! He does grown on you as the story progresses. This marked one of Kirkman's last works at Marvel. 

I can't recommend this enough, it's so much fun and good!

This wouldn't be the last we would see of Eric O'Grady, he would soon join The Avengers: The Initiative, the Thunderbolts and later the Secret Avengers. He would later team up with the original Ant-Man Hank Pym in the fantastic 3-issue Ant-man & Wasp miniseries. Shortly after Scott Lang's return to comics in Matt Fraction and Mike Allred's FF, Eric would be killed and replaced by a Life Model Decoy and become the villain Black Ant. (Yeah.. "comics" everyone!) And now Scott is back heading the main Ant-Man title just in time for his live action MCU movie debut.

I give it:
3 / 3 Howards!


  1. Hey, I think I've heard about this series.
    It's the one where he is having sex with his dead best friend's girlfriend on his grave, right?

    1. Exactly!
      Hmmm.. that doesn't sound that right, does it?

      And don't let that awful sentence prevent you from checking it out! He's just a very despicable kind of guy. Give his series a chance!