Marvel's semi-regular "Next Big Thing" conference calls with the comic press are back, starting with a focus on the January-debuting "Ant-Man" series starring future Marvel Studios star Scott Lang, from writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas.
Spencer was on the line along with series editor Wil Moss, and Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso. CBR has a full report of the discussion, which follows after a few freshly debuted pages of Rosanas' interior art from the first issue:
Marvel PR's Chris D'Lando starts the call by asking Spencer about the status quo at the start of the series, and where Scott Lang is at the series begins. "The darkness around Scott's life is starting to lift. Cassie Lang is going to be coming back," Spencer revealed. "She is going to be back. If you want some details on that story, you can find [them] in 'Avengers World' #16, which is going to be out next week. Scott is going to get a new shot at being a dad."
"It's very much about a new lease on life for him," Spencer continued. The book will be set in Miami, where Spencer recently visited to help research for the series. "It's just such a great setting for a comic. Lots of bright colors. It just looks like a comic city."
Speaking of Cassie, "She's such an integral part of who Scott is as a character," Spencer said, adding that "superhero single dad" was primary part of his pitch for the series.
D'Lando asked what was important on the editorial side in putting together the series. "We wanted the book to have its own identity, first and foremost," Moss said. "It was important to get somebody like Nick, who has a strong and unique voice. We just wanted the book to stand out, and this is the best team for it."
"Doing a book that's big and bold and very widescreen but allows for humor and poignant character moments, like you'll see between Scott and his daughter, was really the goal, Alonso said. The editor-in-chief -- identifying as a big Ant-Man fan -- called Lang a "deeply flawed individual" but "an Avenger, goddammit," and a character with a lot of inherent humor and pathos.
Alonso said that Spencer's work on "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" proved to Marvel that the he could do humor, but his broader output shows that he's more of a dramatic writer, all of which helped make him the publisher's top choice for this series.
Tony Stark will play a role in "Ant-Man." "A lot of what we're doing in this book is reconnecting Scott to one of the best foundations in comics, and Tony was a key part of it," Spencer said.
Taskmaster is on the cover to issue #3, illustrated by Mark Brooks. "I look for any excuse to write Taskmaster, I think he's been in my last three Marvel books one way or another," Spencer said, calling the character his "go-to bad guy." "I really like his voice, and what he brings to the table. He's as close as Scott has, in a lot of ways, to an archenemy. The two have faced off a bunch of times."
"Establishing a full rogues gallery for Scott was one of our top priorities," Spencer continued. "There are going to be a lot of villains, some new, some old. I hope that we build up a nice gallery for him, because he certainly deserves it."
D'Lando asked Spencer about the tone of the series, and how it may compare to "Superior Foes." "I think fans of that book will find a lot to enjoy here," the writer replied, adding that it's more dramatic than the earlier series. "It's a hero's journey, but with stuff that can make you laugh along the way, hopefully."
First press question, from Marvel.com: Will Darla Deerling from "FF" play a role in the series? "You'll see Darla briefly" in issue #1, Spencer replied.
Next question, from CBR: What does the Miami of Marvel Universe look like when the series starts? "I've got a million ideas for what the Marvel Universe version of Miami looks like, and the kind of stories that can bring out," Spencer answered. "It's just like Marvel Universe New York -- you take true elements of a city, and blow it up. It'll be a Miami that people recognize, but just blown up 10 times. It struck me as the perfect place to set a book. When you're in the city, there are all these primary colors and the neon -- you can just see how fun it is of an environment for your stories. And it's a port city, obviously, it's a very international city. For me, I did a lot of this on 'Avengers World,' on a global scale -- I'm always interested in getting out of New York. As much as I love Marvel New York, I get excited when Venom goes to Philadelphia, things like that. For me, it's interesting to see the other cities -- and I know it's fun for fans in the cities, as well."
Alonso praised Rosanas' work on capturing Marvel city, saying the artist has skill for capturing scale and environment.
Next question, from Newsarama: Will Hank Pym play a role in the series? Spencer said he didn't want to say anything too concrete, but Pym plays an important role in the Ant-Man legacy, and it's something to look out for.
Next question, from ComicVine: Will the series have a Marvel Studios "tone," with the feature film out in July 2015? Spencer called himself a "Paul Rudd" super-fan, and said he's very excited about the movie, but the comics series is, "really the book we would have done, whether there was a movie or not."
"The key thing was to write a really great Ant-Man story and to make it accessible," Alonso said. "Issue #1 is all of those things. You don't need to be an Ant-Man fan to understand who this guy is."
Next question, from ComicBook.com: Will Cassie Lang come back to life in her previous superhero identity Stature, or as a civilian girl? "Some of that falls under 'wait and see,'" Spencer said. "The details and logistics of that are going to be stuff that will be revealed really quickly in issue #1. Making sure that she's safe, and making sure that she's OK, is a major focus where we begin."
Next question, from IGN: Will Scott Lang's relationship with the Future Foundation be explored in the series? "It's stuff that we touch on," Spencer said. "At the same time, this book is about folks who have known Scott as a solo character. He's never really gotten that opportunity. For me, he was long overdue for the camera to be very much on him."
Next question, from Comics Beat: Will there be new characters in the series? "There are character that are new to Scott that I'm excited about," Spencer replied, saying he'll also be using characters that have only "technically" been in the Marvel Universe that he'll be exploring.
Next question, from Word Balloon: How much will Scott's convict past affect the character going forward? "Scott hasn't always had the greatest moral compass," Spencer responded. "Even in 'FF,' he starts out with wanting to end Doom, and everybody needs to walk him back from that, and say that's not really the heroic thing to do. That's always been a part of Scott's character. He wants to be a hero, if only to inspire his daughter and be a good dad -- he wants to do the right thing, but he's not always entirely sure of what that is."
Back around to another question from CBR: Is part of the fun of setting the book in Miami is establishing the character's identity away from the well-known superheroes of the Marvel Universe? "Yeah, definitely," Spencer said. "It's a less crowded space. But also it's fun in a city like that -- what does the costumed community in a city look like? Miami is a city that you see in a lot of crime fiction, because it's a port city. It's fun to say, how does that play out in a series like this? That was definitely part of the fun, to take those things and build them out."
"When Scott moves to a place like Miami, he thinks he's going to be the only show in town, and that may not end up being true, which is part of the fun," Spencer added.
Next question, from Newsarama: In what ways has Spencer considered using Ant-Man's powers? "It's a big thing for me that we use these powers in new and novel ways," Spencer said. "Particularly with the communication with ants." In issue #3, there will be elements to that end that readers "may not have seen before," the writer hinted.
Next question, from ComicVine: Will former "Irredeemable" Ant-Man Eric O'Grady play any role in the series? "We'll definitely hear about him," Spencer said. "I wouldn't ever rule him out as being part of this story. The legacy of this character is a key part, and the relationship between Scott and Eric is interested, because they never really interacted."
Moss and Spencer hinted that "repercussions" of Eric's time as Ant-Man will be felt by issue #2.
D'Lando recapped the details of Ed McGuinness' previously revealed shrinking variant to "Ant-Man" #1.
Next question, from ComicBook.com: Will Ant-Man be tied to his new town, or roam a bit -- for example, since Miami is a port city, will Ant-Man be exploring the surrounding areas? "Definitely," Spencer answered. "We're going to play around, and make the most of our new location."
Next question, from ComicsBeat: Will the series lean more towards one-in-done issues, or multi-part arcs? "You're going to see a little bit of both," Spencer replied. "Issue #1 is very much its own story. #2 is as well. The next few are a little more connected. We just sort of bring you into it slowly. We'll definitely do some multi-issue stories as well."
Last question, from Word Balloon: What can the editorial team say about the work of series artist Ramon Rosanas? "Ramon is very versatile," Moss said. "With 'Ant-Man,' you want exactly that, because he can go places no other superheroes can go. Ramon is also very good at conveying emotions, humor, character beats."
"Ramon doesn't take a panel off," Alonso added. "His pages are very dense, they're very detailed. He really makes you feel like you're in a lab, the everglades. He moves the camera very well. When Nick suggested the change of venue for Ant-Man, I knew this was exactly the kind of detail that Ramon could handle."
"It really is beautiful work," Spencer said. "I'm so proud of how it came together."
D'Lando ends the call with a reminder that "Ant-Man" #1 is out the first week of January, and that more details on Cassie Lang's return can be found in next week's "Avengers World" #16, also written by Spencer.