The most astonishing thing about Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosana’s “Astonishing Ant-Man” #5 (and the series in general) is that more people aren’t talking about this funny, witty series. In many ways a spiritual successor to Spencer’s work on “The Superior Foes of Spider-Man,” this book gives fans a comic that blends humor, drama and real emotion unlike any other superhero book currently on the market.
There’s so much to unpack in “Astonishing Ant-Man” #5 that it’s difficult to even know where to start. Should we begin with the conversation between Scott Lang and Janet Van Dyne over the usage of the Giant-Man outfit and powers? Spencer’s script has a wonderful mix of recrimination, guilt, the nature of heroism and even a bit of exposition that comes across as effortless. Even as you understand why Scott gave it all to Raz, Janet’s anger is both palpable and understandable; it’s the perfect lead-in to why Scott tries to train Raz to become a better hero.
Then there’s the training sequence itself. The idea of training Raz how to be Giant-Man by building a model of San Francisco out of LEGO is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a while, even though it makes perfect sense. I love how it’s a way for Raz to not have to worry about property damage, even as it’s bookended with comments about how San Francisco is worried about an alien monster being in the endangered species list or looking into the environmental impact on giants in the area. It’s wonderfully loony, despite ring of truth to it all.
And of course, the ongoing war between Hench and Lackey (think the competing Uber/Lyft apps) is getting stranger and more brilliant by the minute. The arrival of Hench X, similar to UberX’s “anyone can drive you” idea, is not only a logical extension of the attempt for each company to one-up the other, but it’s suddenly a very dangerous addition to the Marvel Universe. With a smart cliffhanger tying into everything we’ve seen up until now and then taking it to the proverbial next level, it’s hard to not be on pins and needles even as one continues to wonder just how Scott is going to finally end up back in jail.
It would be remiss if I didn’t also mention what a great job Rosanas does drawing all of this. His work is impressive, with a disciplined, fine ink line that makes detailed depictions of the villains look expressive, dangerous and — at times — deliberately silly. Who knew that villains sitting in an auditorium could look so good? That’s not even getting into the crushed LEGO minifigure under Raz’s foot or the curved flick of Blacklash’s whip as Ant-Man perches on it. I think the best part is how well he draws Raz in the costume, though; not just the big moments (so to speak) like the upset look on his face as the residents of San Francisco throw things at his huge body, but even the smaller details, like how the mask pulls away from his face around the top of his nose when Ant-Man is talking to him. Thanks to Rosanas, there’s never a loss of quality in the artwork.
“Astonishing Ant-Man” #5 has it all: it’s funny, it’s serious, it’s touching, it’s ridiculous — and all of those elements show up at just the right times. I really want this book to stick around for a long time, because it’s one of the best ongoing series at Marvel right now. Seriously, if you aren’t reading it, give it a shot. I bet you’ll love it.