Perfect 10: Ant-Man – Scott Lang

Perfect 10 is a series of essential recommendations that fully encapsulate a comic character – 10 desert island picks of runs, single issues, arcs, etc – curated by Comfort Food Comics.

  1. Ant-Man Vol. 2 #1-5: By Zeb Wells, Dylan Burnett, Mike Spicer & Cory Petit. This is the best Scott Lang and Ant-Man story ever made. We dug into this one on the Podcast recently. This is one of those rare books you could hand to anybody and they’d be able to not only understand it but really love it. It provides enough context and continuity while not bogging itself down with long winded recaps. Information you may need is introduced in a fun, organic way that either entertains or moves the story along. Longtime Marvel heads can appreciate it right alongside Paul Rudd fans. The story is so fun and the characterization of every character involved is done so well. I end up cracking up at nearly every page of this book. One of the legitimately funniest comics I’ve ever read and I didnt even groan once. This one hits so many of the essential bits for Scott: the relationship with his daughter Cassie, his inferiority complex, his inability to always get his shit together, his unique and charming love for and relationship with not only ants but all bugs, and so much more. Zeb Wells provides insanely funny moments, witty dialogue and an inventive exciting plot that I’m shocked hasn’t been done before with an Ant-Man. Dylan Burnett provides some of the most expressive art I’ve ever seen alongside extremely detailed insect related stuff. Mike Spicer’s colors make it a pop art extravaganza as the colors blind you in a good way, enhancing and helping to tell the story.

2. FF Vol. 2 #1-16: By Matt Fraction, Mike & Laura Allred, Joe Quinones & Clayton Cowles. The big leader turn for Scott! The Fantastic Four are going away for what Reed figures is 4 minutes in our dimension so they appoint an FF team of replacements to handle business and take care of the Future Foundation just in case. Things of course go wrong and the team is needed for much longer than 4 minutes. Scott is absolutely fantastic in this series. He deals with the loss of his daughter in this one by helping mold the new generation of FF kids. He finds love with Darla Deering. He reaffirms his place as a bonafide hero by handling Doom and all other threats that come his way. This is a creative and personal rebirth for Scott done in such an entertaining and organic way. I really love this one because even though Scott has his usual humorous hangups and setbacks he’s given a lot of agency and intelligence in this one. He is a credible leader and not just always played for laughs. Theres so much real heart in him for this book. This series is one of my alltime favorite Comfort Food Comics as evidenced by the fact this entire article is coming out as part of the site’s FF Week celebration, so please go check it out if you haven’t.

3. Avengers #195-196: By David Michelinie, George Perez, Jack Abel, Ben Sean, Carl Gafford & John Costanza. This is just a really solid little Avengers story that’s always stuck in my head. The Wasp gets mysteriously kidnapped and taken to a compound. In order to sneak in and get her out, Hank Pym, now Yellowjacket, teams up with new Ant-Man, Scott Lang! Two Ant-Men on the case!! Once inside they find out this compound is a place where henchmen are being trained for supervillains by The Taskmaster, who makes his debut here. It turns into an all out brawl and ol Tasky is kinda sorta pushed into being one of Scott Lang’s only archenemies. It’s really solid, creative storytelling by Scott Lang creator Michelinie along with some of legend George Perez’s BEST art ever in my opinion. I always remember it’s snowing outside while the Avengers do reconnaissance. It’s a nice touch.

4. “Late For Supper” from Marvel comics Presents #131: By Sandy Plunkett & Michael Higgins. Sandy Plunkett is an underrated master who never did a lot of comic work but when he did he was on an almost Dave Stevens level of talent. This one is really enjoyable. A thief steals something from Tony Stark and stashes it in a random suburban house. Ant-Man tracks it down and has to deal with the little shitty kid that lives there. What follows is a wonderfully drawn absurd romp of Scott avoiding the kid throwing mashed potatoes and other dinner items at him as he hides inside of a cooked chicken. It is so ridiculous but is very much in on the joke which is what makes it so humorous.

5. Fantastic Four #405: By Tom DeFalco, Paul Ryan, Danny Bulanadi, John Kalisz & Jim Novak. During the 90’s during the DeFalco/Ryan run of Fantastic Four, Reed is gone and Scott Lang comes in first to help the team but eventually as a full fledged member. Prior to this issue, Kristoff, who is also hanging around as a sort of member makes a cool new suit for Ant-Man and hits it off with Scott’s daughter Cassie when she comes to visit her Dad and tour the Baxter Building. Unfortunately Zarkko the Tomorrow Man reveals himself to be hiding in their midst and pulls all manner of Marvel characters from history to attack Scott. He pops on his new suit and has to avoid or clash with the likes of Conan the Barbarian, Iron Man 2020, the Green Goblin and so many more before the rest of the team comes back to help. It’s a really fun cameo issue and one of the few issue of this era where Ant-Man gets the focus.

6. Rom #58-59: By Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, Mel Candido, Steve Ditko, Bob Layton, Ben Sean & Janice Chiang. Oh baby, do I love this one. Just like the rest of Rom, it uses the wider Marvel Universe to propel and enhance the already awesome adventures of the Spaceknights. Prior to this one, Rom’s eternal enemies the Dire Wraiths used their evil space magic to unleash a “Wraith-Taint” into a Canadian Lake. This spreads to all the wildlife transforming them into Dire Wraith mutated lifeforms. Ant-Man shows up to help after Rick Jones tries to get ahold of the Avengers. He’s brought in because the “Wraith-Taint” has traveled through the water source into the ground and they’re concerned over what organisms in the ground may be affected. Rom and his companion Starshine, pretty humorously, synthesize the Pym Particle gas Scott uses to shrink down to travel into the Earth with him. They come upon a colony of ants who soon transform into Wraith monsters. As Scott leads the charge against this ever spreading monster ant invasion, Rom and Starshine go sub atomic to chase the “Wraith-Taint” and destroy it. Scott, commanding an army of regular ants and the rest of the humans, tries to stop all the rapidly mutating wildlife as the Spaceknights finally destroy and transform the “Wraith-Taint” into an antibody which then magically hits all creatures infected, saving the day. This is some crazy ass shit that is such a hot slice of Comfort Food.

7. Ant-Man Vol. 1 #1-5, Annual #1; Astonishing Ant-Man #1-13: By Nick Spencer, Ramon Rosanas & many more. Nick Spencer is a tough one for me. There are times I think he spins some real effective comedy gold within very tight plots with solid characterization. Other times he seems to be spinning his wheels, regressing how characters act to some simplistic or harmful way just to fit his stories with no thought to their history, how fans feel about them or their larger place in the Marvel Universe. This series lands smack dab in the middle of those two Spencer extremes. There are some genuinely hilarious and moving moments throughout his time on both of these books while also some parts that just don’t work. His resolution of Scott’s relationship with Darla Deering for one is something I’m not a fan of at all. I didn’t love how much of the plots or characterization for Scott were riffing on all his greatest hits and locking him into a synergistic infantilization of his character. BUT even with all that, Spencer gave us a very entertaining book that tried to do a lot of things with Scott’s world in a way I really appreciated, especially the introduction and continued development of Raz Malhotra, a truly great new character, as well as the reintroduction of his daughter Cassie Lang. In the end the good outweighs the bad here and you end up with a pretty solid series of which I really enjoyed. I also think Ramon Rosanas does some of the best comic art ever done in the medium. I am such a huge fan of his beautifully simplistic line work. He puts on a real show and makes this book his.

8. Ant-Man and The Wasp #1-5: By Mark Waid, Javier Garron, Israel Silva & Joe Caramagna. This is a really fun and charmingly adorable litter series that kind of flew under the radar. Scott is in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy at this time and asks the new Wasp, Nadia Van Dyne to science him home for his daughter’s birthday. Unfortunately, things go awry and the two of them end up stranded in the Microverse. They try to find their way out with the help of a Microverse native scientist but things get even worse as they end up getting “entangled”, sharing memories, moving when the other moves and more as they dangerously start to become one being. It’s a really entertaining tribute and boost to not only Scott and Nadia, but the original Ant-Man and Wasp as they celebrate both character’s history and legacy.

9. War of the Realms: Giant Man: By Leah Williams, Marco Castiello, Rachelle Rosenberg & Joe Sabino. This was a genius idea for a Marvel event tie-in. There was no reason this needed to exist, but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of War of the Realms. All Mother Freyja needs some Bad Dudes who can infiltrate the newly established Frost Giant Nation of Florida – New Jotunheim, and who better than all the various growing dudes the Marvel U has to offer. Scott headlines this group that includes Raz Malhotra, Atlas & and the new Goliath, Tom Foster as they try to pass as Frost Giants and end up in a bunch of entertaining shenanigans. This is an excellent spotlight on some of the best underutilized characters Marvel has deep in their pocket. Williams gives them all clean and tight characterization with all their vastly different personalities that plays out through some of the most enjoyable banter you’ll ever read.

10. Marvel Premiere #47-48: By David Michelinie, John Byrne, Bob Layton, Bob Sharen & Tom Orzechowski. The origin! It had to be here. Scott Lang has one of comic’s all time best origin stories, on par with Spider-Man, Batman and Superman. Everything’s here, baked in, right from the start. He’s a regular schmoe with a heart of gold, an ex-con that’s way more than his lot in life would have you imagine. You get the divorced Dad who would do anything for his daughter and eventually is forced back into a life of crime to save her from a heart ailment. The genius idea that he just happens to steal Hank Pym’s Ant-Man stuff during this crucial time to handle business is just so good. Of course in the Mighty Marvel Manner, everything goes wrong and a new supervillain emerges to give Scott the crucible for his new super-hero life. It’s so pitch perfect, from pacing to plot to art. Scott’s genesis is so unique and relatable, it’s odd it took until he was in a movie to make him THE Ant-Man and such an enduring character.

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