This week we check out Ant-Man’s new solo series, and we take a look into the seedy underbelly of Hollywood with The Fade Out!
Ant-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
Ant-Man is starting to become a pretty big deal for Marvel Comics. As you may or may not know, there’s a movie coming out (look, there’s even a trailer), and with that means that Marvel is going to start pumping the character up in the comic book circle. Of course, this means the start of a regular ongoing series for the diminutive hero, but before you turn away, it should be worth noting that this series features a creative team of Ramon Rosanas on art, and Nick Spencer on writing duties, which puts Ant-Man #1 in the category of “must read”, since Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man was one of my favorite titles of the past year. In fact, a lot of Ant-Man fits right in with Spencer’s previous series.
Much of this issue serves as an introduction to Scott Lang. While interviewing for a Head of Security position at Stark Industries, Lang gives his long and convoluted history to the hiring representative. This is the first example of Nick Spencer’s uncanny gift for presenting comic book history in a succinct and extremely entertaining way. Spencer’s characterization of Lang is very much in line with what we’ll probably be seeing from Paul Rudd this summer, and it works really well. Spencer keeps the gags coming at a steady pace, and presents Lang as a really compelling, if irresponsible, lead character.
That’s not to say that this book is all laughs though. Ant-Man #1 really shines when it focuses on Scott Lang’s relationship with his daughter Cassie. While it’s a little strange to see Cassie up and walking around so soon after her death, the book wouldn’t be half as good if she wasn’t in it. Spencer really sells the idea that Scott Lang would do anything for his daughter, even if in hindsight it’s the absolute worst thing he could do at the moment (you’ll get a great example of this at the end of the issue). Scott Lang really believes in doing whatever’s necessary to be with his daughter, even when it supremely pisses off his wife.
I hadn’t been aware of Ramon Rosanas art before, but I have to say, it works really well with Spencer’s script. While it’s not as dynamic as Steve Lieber’s art was on Superior Foes, it definitely fits the tone of Ant-Man perfectly, and to be honest, as much as I love Spencer and Lieber together, I don’t know if LIeber would be the best fit for this book. Rosana’s facial expressions are perfect, and the action scene with Ant-Man and the other heroes trying out for the Stark Security Position is really excellent.
Marvel’s been on quite a roll with comics starring their B and C-Listers, and it looks like Ant-Man could be added to that list. I know that between this and Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Nick Spencer is now a creator whose work I will buy sight unseen (and speaking of Superior Foes, there’s a really fun cameo in this book by a member of the “Sinister Six”). Ant-Man #1 is perfectly timed with the poster and trailer release yesterday, and serves as not only a good introduction to Scott Lang, but as a great comic as well.
At four issues in, Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips’ The Fade Out is quickly cementing itself as one of the best comics on the shelves. The continuing saga of Charlie Parrish’s investigation in the murder of a Hollywood Starlet (that he may or may not have caused) keeps getting better as the issue numbers climb. Much of this issue finds Parrish’s neurosis getting worse and worse as the days drag on. He’s suffering from strange visions that may be from the night he can’t remember, and to add to it, a run in with Clark Gable at a Hollywood bash stirs up memories of World War 2 that he’s tried to forget. He’s also noticing some people starting to follow him, which of course only adds to his stress.
At this point it’s moot to tell you that Ed Brubaker’s script is awesome. The man practically bleeds noir, and his love and knowledge of the genre is in every word he puts on the page. Brubaker masterfully puts us inside Parrish’s head, unveiling things to us only as he learns them. For all we know, Parrish could’ve killed that poor girl, and is soon going be “taken care of” by the hired muscle that the studios employ. This unnerving sense of dread is carried up until the very last page, which leaves us begging for more.
Adding to the noir is Sean Phillips. The Jack Kirby to Brubaker’s Stan Lee, Phillips moody art transports you back to the days of old Hollywood. His depictions of real-life actors and actresses are fantastic, and he shows you that even in the bright lights of Hollywood there’s some dark stuff going on.
The Fade Out is taking a little break so Brubaker and Phillips can release a special Criminal one-shot (which I’m a-okay with). While the wait will be tough, these two are such a dynamite team that I know it’ll be worth the wait. Plus, it will give people time to catch up on the series in time for issue 5 (which if you’re reading this review and haven’t read any of it, you really should).