| David Betancourt |
WASHINGTON (WP-BLOOM) – Right after the first-look trailer debut of Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man”, Marvel Comics — as it so often does pegged to future blockbusters — has a comic book ready for the character’s current and future fans: Ant-Man #1, which came out last week.
“Never let it be said that Marvel (doesn’t) know how to cross-promote,” joked Nick Spencer, the writer in charge of guiding Scott Lang/Ant-Man.
Spencer — who recently ended a 17-issue run on Marvel’s well-received comedy hit “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” (the success of which Spencer attributes to him getting the Ant-Man job) — is looking forward to the experience of writing a comic book with a connection to Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.
“For me, the coolest thing about this is, we know that we have a real shot at making a Scott Lang/Ant-Man book that can actually be viable from a sales and audience standpoint,” Spencer said. “What the movie allows for us is a multimillion-dollar marketing budget that’s going to keep Ant-Man in front of people and in people’s heads all year.
“That is a huge advantage for us,” continued Spencer, who is working with artist Ramon Rosanas. “And to get to be a part of that, just as a fan of the Marvel movies and a fan of what Marvel is doing in other mediums, to get to kind of ride those coat tails, I’m thrilled about that. That’s fun for me.”
Despite the character’s growing recognition factor thanks to Hollywood, Spencer is aware that for many readers, this could be their first experience with Ant-Man. (He also notes that the book gives a brief look into the history of the character and the men who have worn the suit before.)
“There was a real emphasis on making sure that the book was accessible, making sure that the book was something that if you saw the movie, you could go and pick it up and you wouldn’t be completely lost,” Spencer said. “You wouldn’t be drowning in continuity. There was a real focus on making sure that the book was new-reader-friendly.
“Scott has never had an ongoing (series),” he added. “It very much honours the characters’ past.”
Ant-Man’s past is chequered with something not known to most Marvel heroes: unreliability. Spencer paints Scott Lang as a guy who has always been around, just never for long. It’s a reputation that haunts Lang in Ant-Man’s first issue, especially when he’s applying for a job with Tony Stark (who, in his current Superior Iron-Man role, has no issue with letting Lang know how much of a flake he is).
Combine employment (or lack thereof) issues along with being a divorced, single dad who is dealing with child-custody arguments, and you have a fertile setting for Spencer’s comedic narrative.
Spencer has shown a special ability to write antiheroes who have to laugh to keep from crying, and he says there’s never been a better time to write that way.
“I’ve been doing books with a fair amount of humour for a while. What’s nice right now, though, is the market seems a lot more enthusiastic about books with that kind of (comedic) feel,” Spencer said. “As someone who enjoys writing that stuff, I would be crazy to not take advantage of that. For most of comics history, a book being called ‘fun’ or ‘funny’ has been death for sales. To be in one of the rare phases where that’s what the audience is really excited about, and really responds to, is pretty great timing for me.”
Ant-Man #1 shows Lang as an ex-con who is still willing to cut corners, but Spencer says the one way his Ant-Man will come off as a hero is in terms of the lengths he’ll go, and the sacrifices he’ll make, to maintain a relationship with his daughter.
“What (Ant-Man) has is a daughter, and his desire to prove himself to her, to be someone who can look her in the eyes, to be someone that she can be proud of,” Spencer said. “I think that one of the best things about kids is, they make people better versions of themselves, and that’s very true for Scott. He’s a classic, great Marvel character in that he’s a human being first. And, you know, he can shrink and talk to ants.”