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Marvel Pick Of The Week – April 8, 2015 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Ant-Man 4, by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas

Ant-Man has been a consistently funny comic book for the short run we’ve gotten so far, making my Pick Of The Week spot twice. This week’s offering maintains the dark humor while pushing the story forward.

The story thus far is that Ant-Man has had trouble getting a job, due partly to his criminal record and mostly to his obliviously grandiose attitude. His ex-wife moved his beloved teenage daughter to Miami to escape the superhero chaos of New York, but Scott Lang followed them down and has set up a private security firm. After a fight with Grizzly, Lang offered the fellow ex-con a job with the firm. Last issue, while Ant-Man was distracted fighting Taskmaster, his daughter was kidnapped by Augustine Cross.

The evil plot revealed in this issue demonstrates a dark creativity and a respect for the character’s history. See, in Scott Lang’s first fight as Ant-Man, Cross’s father had been giving himself superpowers, but that was causing his heart to collapse, so he was kidnapping homeless people and transplanting their hearts into his own chest for survival. When Ant-Man defeated him, he died. Driven by daddy issues, Augustine has been trying to resurrect his father, but he decides that the reason the hearts keep failing is that his legendary father would never survive with a classless, inferior heart of a “drug-addled vagrant.” Instead, he kidnaps a middle-class white girl. And if it had stopped there, this would be a funny critique on classism with a vaguely scary eugenics theme, but Augustine later clarifies that he wants Cassie Lang’s heart because she has shape-changing powers, and thus her heart may be better at sustaining the stressors of the elder Cross’s super powered body demands. I love when a book can pull science fiction logic into an already fine revenge- or evil-snobbery-driven tale.

That plot alone would have held my interest, but Nick Spencer’s strength is in dark humor, showcased in books like Morning Glories and Superior Foes Of Spider-Man. This issue’s best laughs come when Ant-Man recruits gay android supervillain Machinesmith to the firm to help him break into Cross’s building. This guy really needs a job, evident when the guys see him working a children’s birthday party allowing a group of kids in Avengers costumes to kick him to “death.” When mom underpays him, he calls her “Whole Foods-eating, Serial-listening yuppie filth!” Really, if this guy is single, I will be the Scarlet Witch to his Vision.

I hope the book continues to grow a cast of lovable ex-cons. I hope more amazing Mark Brooks covers summon Miami’s pop cultural footprints, moving on to From Justin To Kelly and Step Up Revolution. It feels like Spencer is doing a new version of the magical chemistry of the Superior Foes, and I couldn’t be happier.

Honorable Mentions:

Spider-Woman 6, for this scene where Jess has a discussion with her hostage and demonstrates both keen detective logic (why is someone blackmailing lame villains?) and a knack for branding (because “Porcupine” has room to expand).

All-New Hawkeye 2, because even though we STILL haven’t gotten the last issue of Fraction’s run, we get to fall in love with this new version. In the following images, you see the colors in the flashback washing the world around the abusive foster father in reds, and when the Swordsman rescues young Hawkeye, the red retreats, and the while world feels safer. This is absolutely how rescue fantasies feel when you’re six. This is storytelling that prose alone can’t do and speaks to the legitimacy of comic books as an art form. If Ant-Man hadn’t come out today, this page alone would have earned the book Pick Of The Week.

Howard The Duck 2, for this joke (one among many) where an extra-sensitive henchman takes a psychological approach after the boss has acid spat in his face by a space raccoon. This book is amazing. Read it.

Guardians 3000 7, because it warms my heart to know Rocket Raccoon and Nikki enjoy playing guns together.

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