Writer: Al Ewing
Art: Tom Reilly and Jordie Bellaire
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 27th, 2022
Around Page 3 of Ant-Man #1, you’ll feel like you stepped out of a time machine into 1967, as the bulk of the book is formatted to look like a Marvel Comic you might’ve grabbed off a twirling rack of comics back in the ’60s, right down to the font style, dialogue, and frames around the panels that look faded and off-color, as if the book sat in an attic just a little too long. In addition to that, we get a fast-paced Ant-Man story featuring Hank Pym and a mystery time traveler from the far future with a message of coming doom.
Ant-Man #1 is meta. Now I know most people think anything “meta” is as appetizing as month-old nachos, but it works pretty well here. In the first couple pages, where a scientist in the year 2549 is running an “MRVL narrative experience”, we’re told that we don’t need to know who the scientist is, more information will be revealed later in the narrative. It also tells us to think of specific scents. It’s like the book is instructing us how to read it, which goes beyond any “breaking the fourth wall” elements into pure surrealism.
The bulk of the remainder of the book, as mentioned in my intro, feels like you’re reading a Marvel comic from the 1960s when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby reigned supreme.
Even the characters’ dialogue freely uses 60’s slang. In one scene, Hank Pym says “I don’t know who you’re talking to chum” as if he walked off the set of the Adam West Batman show.
The story itself involves Hank Pym’s Ant-Man facing a team-up of some of his more obscure enemies like The Time Master, The Protector, Trago (complete with his “hypnotic horn”), etc., forming a Sinister Six-style band of villains united against him.
It’s a fun little tale, very much like a Silver Age story, with some action and Hank having to figure out a way to escape the jaws of death, with some help from the Wasp. It’s wonderfully nostalgic, the kind of simple story you don’t see anymore in this time of multi-book epic crossovers and year-long storylines constantly involving the galaxy teetering on the brink of destruction. I wish we could get more simple one-shot stories like this these days.
My only complaint with the issue is that this “Sinister Six” story didn’t seem to matter that much to the over-arching plot of the book, because the scientist from the beginning of the issue, heralding doom, pops up near the end and the whole “Sinister Six” story is just quickly swept aside.
I enjoyed seeing Hank and Jan both use their powers in interesting ways, seeing the two in the prime of their relationship, and Hank’s out-of-the-box thinking to get out of danger.
The future scientist is mysterious enough to where he can either be malevolent or good. I’m guessing he’s up to no good, but that’s only because he’s drawn to look like Vandal Savage, a DC character that’s not known for being squeaky clean.
Tom Reilly’s art on Ant-Man #1 varies in style from a modern animation style to a simpler retro art style reminiscent of Darwyn Cooke.
The opening pages, set in the far future, have very sparse backgrounds but more detailed character features.
The scenes set in the past have an almost Dick Tracy style, with characters’ expressions shown totally through squinty eyes when characters are angry or frustrated, or wide open saucer eyes showing surprise.
The antennae on Ant-Man’s helmet always seem to be pulsating and sparking like two pylons in Doctor Frankenstein’s lab, and the villains seem to wear permanent sneers.
The art really makes you feel like you’ve stumbled across a lost Marvel comic from 55 years ago, and that’s a good thing.
Ant-Man #1 is a fun story that kicks off the mini-series in an interesting way. It looks like future issues will be taking jaunts into Ant-Man’s past also, so maybe we’ll get an Ant-Man story that looks like it was drawn by George Perez or Gene Colan. I also look forward to learning more about this mysterious scientist from the future and what his intentions REALLY are.