Embarking on a life of crime in the Marvel Universe often leads to unexpected places like membership in the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. That's because criminals with good hearts like Scott Lang, who became the second and latest Ant-Man, are often given a chance to redeem themselves. That doesn't mean the path to redemption is an easy one though. As Ant-Man, Lang has has had to deal with a number of personal problems and confusing and heartbreaking situations like his own death and resurrection and the death of his daughter, Cassie Lang AKA the size-changing hero Stature.
This January, Lang will rededicate himself to battling both the villains of the Marvel Universe and the personal demons that plague him when writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas kick off an all-new "Ant-Man" series, announced by Marvel yesterday at their "Axel-In-Charge" panel at New York Comic Con. CBR News spoke with Spencer about his protagonist, the role the Superior Iron Man will play in the series, and his thoughts on the upcoming "Ant-Man" feature film.
CBR News: Nick, what drew you to "Ant-Man?" Why is chronicling the adventures of Scott Lang an interesting assignment?
â€¨So we kept revisiting it and then my buddy Wil Moss came over from DC Comics. Wil was one of the first editors I ever worked with. He was responsible for getting me on Jimmy Olsen and on "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" at DC back in the day. So he came over to Marvel and we were already working together on "Avengers World," which he had inherited from Lauren Sankovitch. He e-mailed me out of the blue asking me my thoughts on pitching an Ant-Man book, not knowing about the conversations Axel and I had previously. So the stars just sort of aligned perfectly for me to finally get a shot at this.
To address the other part of your question, for me, Scott Lang is an absolute dream character to write. He's my kind of super hero because he's a good guy at heart. He wants to be a hero. He wants to matter, but he has these self defeating tendencies and inherent flaws that just keep creeping back up.
â€¨He's a great character because he's an everyman and an underdog. He's relatable to the audience, and a big part of what makes him relatable is that he's constantly tripped up. He's constantly getting in his own way. So he's a character that I really connected with and I knew if I got a shot at writing him I thought we could really do something special.
What can you tell us about where Scott is emotionally at the beginning of "Ant-Man" #1? If I remember the end of the last volumes of "Fantastic Four" and "FF" correctly, he had started to deal with his daughter's death and was in a burgeoning relationship with his teammate, pop star turned super hero Darla Deering.
Yeah, we will touch on some of those things as the series goes on. Others we're going to deal with right up front. Obviously Cassie and what happened to her is a defining part of Scott's character and going to be a big part of our story here.
So some things may have happened to Scott off panel that we'll find out more about as "Ant-Man" moves forward?
I understand that in "Ant-Man" #1 the Superior Iron Man sets the series in motion by making Scott an offer. What can you tell us about Tony Stark's role in this book?
I look for any excuse to write Tony that I can get. He's got a voice that I really love to play with. I'm constantly trying to work him into whatever book I'm on at the moment, and in the starting point of this first issue there's a really fun role for Tony to play. He's a big part of what establishes Scott's new status quo in the book. So yeah, there's going to be a lot of fun interactions between him and Scott particularly in this first issue. He's a huge part of what gets the ball rolling in our story.
What's it like writing the sort of no filter Superior Iron Man?
It's funny, when we talked about using him Wil told me, "He has this new status quo, but honestly you already write him this way to begin with." And I do! It's really true. Because to me that's the fun of Tony as character. So it's great to see them embracing those aspects of the character in "Superior Iron Man." My Tony always has these tendencies. It's more of an effort for me to write away from those than toward those.
What types of stories are you interested in exploring in "Ant-Man?"
Scott is a fantastic character because he gives you that Spider-Man style everyman vibe, but you're allowed to have Scott screw up more. Scott doesn't necessarily have to be quite as virtuous as Peter Parker, and while he would like to do the good thing and be a hero he's also very prone to taking short cuts. This is a guy who, every time he faced any sort of adversity or had a problem that he couldn't solve, he tended to take the easy way out. That's something that's kind of dogged him throughout his life.
In terms of the kinds of stories I want to tell with him as a character I think people are going to like the fun approach we're going to take here. We've set this series up as a vehicle for Scott to get himself into a lot of trouble, still come out on top and do some good, but a lot of the time he's just trying to stay afloat.
He's broke, he's unhireable, and he's got some pretty damaged emotional processes. So he's facing a lot of his own obstacles. Before he can save the world or the city he's in he's got to worry about saving himself.
It sounds like this could be a series that's both wildly funny and heartbreaking and serious. How would you describe the tone of "Ant-Man?"
It's not quite as out there as something like "Superior Foes of Spider-Man," but it's also not played entirely straight. There's a lot of comedy and jokes in the book. If you enjoyed my work on "Superior Foes," "Jimmy Olsen," or "Infinite Vacation," if you liked the humor in those books, you're going to find a lot to like here. I think they wanted to do something in that vein and we're been pretty successful in that regard.
So there's a lot of comedy, but there's also a lot of stakes. There's some real drama and real tension in the book.
Did you ever see the TV show "Terriers?" What's your saying reminds me of that show.
Of course I've seen "Terriers!" "Terriers" is phenomenal and if you enjoy that show you might dig this. I don't think that's a million miles off. In that show you had hard luck heroes who had their own messes. It's not a bad comparison.
"Ant-Man" artist Ramon Rosanas has drawn a variety of worlds from the land of the dead in "Night of the Living Deadpool" to 17th Ccentury super heroics in "Spider-Man 1602," and a number of different style flashbacks in the miniseries "Age of the Sentry." What do you feel he brings to the microscopic and full-size worlds of "Ant-Man?"
Ramon is a super versatile guy. He handles comedy really well and he handles action really well. So it's always great to work with an artist who can do a lot of things. It frees you up to tell the best story you can without worrying about any limitations. Ramon really is a guy who can do it all.
â€¨We just got a big new batch of pages from him in today, and they're awesome. He's a fantastic artist and he's really getting into the character. You can see on the page that he's having a lot of fun.
Like everyone, I'm really looking forward to the movie. It's got an amazing cast. Paul Rudd is one of my favorite, favorite actors. Looking at the IMDB I believe that I've seen every movie that he's been in. I even saw "The Curse of Michael Meyers!" So I'm a big fan, and Judy Greer is in that movie! Nobody even talks about that. It's a phenomenal cast. I'm really excited about the movie.
In terms of how it impacted the book I'd say it's had a pretty minimal influence. We obviously wanted to do a book that if you saw the movie or were excited to see it you could pick this book up and not feel like you were drowning in continuity. We wanted to do an approach that would respect all potential audiences.
â€¨So I'm excited about doing that kind of thing, and more than that, for me, what's exciting about it is I think we all know that with a lot of books with characters who haven't had titles of their own very consistently sometimes it's a struggle to get the audience to give the book a look. The blessing for us is with the movie coming we've got a real fantastic shot at making Scott a character that has a book for a very long time to come, and really give him the best exposure and the best shot he can can get as a leading role character.
That's exciting for me; just the prospect of all the eyeballs on a character that might have struggled otherwise. I want to thank Marvel and their multi-billion dollar promotional machine for making that possible. [Laughs] It's very nice to piggy back on all that.
[Laughs] So they did a multi-million dollar feature-length commercial for your book?
Exactly! That's how you approach it. You know that way more people are going to pick up your book because Marvel is taking all this time to promote the character in other mediums. And Scott is a character that deserves it. He's got one of the best origins and character hooks in all of comics. So he's somebody who's way past due for this.
I know that it's our job to promote these books and hype them up as much as possible, but I would genuinely say that in my personal opinion the first issue script is one of the best things I've ever written. I'm really proud of it and I'm really excited for people to see it. I really think that we've got a special book on our hands here. I have an exceptionally good feeling about "Ant-Man." So folks who were sad about "Superior Foes" ending will hopefully come along for this.
Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas go solo with Marvel Comics' "Ant-Man" in January.