Marvel Pick Of The Week – January 20, 2016 [SPOILERS]


Pick Of The Week:

Astonishing Ant-Man 4, by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas

Since the early 1960s, comics have tried to impress upon the reader that with great power comes great responsibility. I love that lesson. It’s such a great feeling when a character steels up and flies courageously into action to take care of the mess he or she has made. It’s an inspiration. And Nick Spencer is doing a great job showcasing that.

In Captain America: Sam Wilson.

Because in Astonishing Ant-Man, he’s giving the lesson by showing what happens when you just can’t take responsibility for what you’ve done, and he does so with humor and heart.

In this issue, Scott Lang has every intention of getting to his security detail on time, but he sort-of accidentally hooks up with a super-villain he sort-of accidentally hooked up with back when everyone thought the world was ending, so he’s late to guard his super-hero ex, pop-star-turned-hero Miss Thing. And because he’s late, he can’t quite navigate things with his teenaged daughter. And because he can’t take responsibility for the problems he’s caused her, he’s been sort-of stalking her in an effort to be supportive. So every time she has felt abandoned because he didn’t come to her basketball game, he’s been invisibly watching her from the rafters. And she takes that as well as you’d expect. Mix in a little mind control from classic bad guy The Voice (not the singing competition show, the fat guy with the silly hypnotism mask) and a feud with real-life comedian Paul Scheer (of the brilliant How Did This Get Made? podcast), and this becomes the madcap, silly comic I needed this week.

I love that Scott just isn’t learning his lesson. He really wants to do what’s best, but he always takes the easy way out, to the point where he wakes up naked in bed thinking, “How does this keep happening to me?” I see this all the time, in my clients (I’m a psychiatrist in my day job), my friends, and yes, myself. We externalize responsibility. It’s not my fault for sleeping late, the traffic shouldn’t have been so bad. It’s not my fault for buying beer in the first place, I can’t help but drink everything in the fridge. I can’t possibly be held accountable for my sexual choices when people look so good and it feels so fun. In real life, this is embarrassing, frustrating, and sad, but in this comic, through the pen of a writer who loves but does not condone his character, we can gently accept little truths about ourselves.

So no, I don’t look at a challenge and think, “Time to be like Sam Wilson.” But I do look at the messes I’ve made and think, “Yep, I’m Scott Lang again. What do I do about it?” And I think maybe we’re better for that.

Honorable Mentions:

Patsy Walker, Hellcat 2, because maybe I want to go to the mall where you CAN do parkour as more than just a cute sound effect.

Silver Surfer 1, for this unfortunate angle that, yes, is the Silver Surfer having just shot a bad guy with cosmic rays but which looks like he is trying to relieve the pain of a radioactive genital injury.

Uncanny X-Men 2, because now I want to smell all the X-Men. And we need to all pretend this is a new thing brought about by these two panels. Nothing weird here.

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