SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "Ant-Man" #1, on sale now.
Part of the reason the super heroes of the Marvel Universe don costumes and fight crime is their desire to forge a better world. That desire burns especially bright for those super heroes who are parents and want to make a better world for their children. Of course that also means balancing the responsibilities you have to your family and the city you've sworn to protect. For ex-con turned hero Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man, that balancing act is even more complex thanks to his self-destructive tendency to take short cuts when it comes to important decisions.
For several years, Scott's life was tragically simplified thanks to the death of his teenage daughter Cassie, but in the recent "AXIS" event she was brought back to life by an inverted Doctor Doom. In the debut issue of Marvel's new "Ant-Man" ongoing series writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas kicked off a new chapter in Scott's life that found him recommitted to both super heroics and raising his daughter. CBR News spoke with Spencer about Scott's struggle with his responsibilities, the role his daughter and ex-wife will play in the series and the trouble Ant-Man will get into in his new stomping grounds, the city of Miami.
CBR News: Nick, after reading "Ant-Man" #1 it feels like in many ways this book is sort of the opposite side of the coin from your last Marvel book, "Superior Foes of Spider-Man," in that it's about a hero who's considered C-List by his peers and because of his self-destructive tendencies is striving to be a better hero and better person. Is that a fair comparison?
Nick Spencer: Yeah! I think so. With "Superior Foes of Spider-Man" so much of the humor was derived from what terrible people the main characters were and just how low they would sink. So with "Ant-Man" the jokes come from a very different place. They come from a place where a guy is trying to do what's right, but he doesn't quite have the most sturdy moral compass. For all of his best intentions he's still very prone to taking short cuts and looking for the easy way out.â€¨There's lots of humor you can drag out of that. So it's the same kind of laughs, but they come from a very different place.
Last time we chatted about "Ant-Man" you couldn't talk about one of Scott Lang's big motivations in this series, which turned out to be his daughter Cassie, who was resurrected by Doctor Doom at the end of the "AXIS" tie-in issue of "Avengers World" that you co-wrote with Frank Barbiere. What made you want to bring Cassie back?
For me it would have been impossible to do a book about Scott Lang that didn't also feature Cassie. To me, the idea of a super hero single dad is so intrinsic to the character. It's so fundamental to what makes Scott unique and relatable. It also literally explains his entire motivation as a hero.â€¨So the first paragraph of my pitch for the book was that we were going to have to figure out a way to bring Cassie back. Because without her I think we lose a key part of what makes Scott tick.
Cassie plays the role of normal teenager in the first issue, but she has a lot in common with her dad given that they've both come back from the dead and both have been super heroes. How does that impact her relationship with her father? And do you have plans for the super powered aspect of Cassie's life in "Ant-Man?"
Yeah, definitely! Part of the fun of Cassie is that she's very much her father's daughter. So I think a lot of the parallels of their careers as super heroes is a great part of their relationship.
Cassie really became Stature because of her dad and Scott really became Ant-Man because of his daughter. It's a funny thing because I think Scott is very much driven to make sure that Cassie turns out better than he did. The fun thing about that is the personal dynamic of wanting your kids to achieve so much more, but at the same time they can often mirror you. So that's definitely an interesting thing to explore.
I'm sure Cassie's presence in the book has a lot of people wondering if you're interested in eventually having the her former teammates from the Young Avengers make an appearance in "Ant-Man."
Yes, my Tumblr questions are pretty much non-stop about the Young Avengers and whether or not they'll be appearing in the book. What I can say is be patient. Right now at the beginning of the book the focus is very much on Scott and Cassie's relationship and setting up their new status quo. As we go forward, though, you never know.
Cassie isn't the only supporting character in "Ant-Man." Her mother, Scott's ex-wife Peggy, is also member of the cast. How large will her role be in the series?
Peggy is a pretty key part of the book. Again, the idea of a super hero single dad is integral to the book and you don't get the full picture of that unless you show the person who is co-parenting with Scott and helping to raise Cassie.
It's really fun to write Peggy and Scott. I have a blast when I write their back and forth.
Scott is such a classic Marvel character in that Peter Parker vein, and that's what I think is so great about him. He's instantly relatable. His experiences are familiar and what happens to him out of costume is every bit as interesting if not more interesting than what he gets up to as a super hero. His relationship with Peggy is a part of that.â€¨When I dug through all the back issues that featured Scott I noticed her portrayals had been pretty inconsistent. She was all over the place. Sometimes she was portrayed as a caring mother and other times she would be portrayed as a nag and a person trying to yank Cassie away from Scott.
I wanted to find that real place in the middle. Obviously there are some big differences between Scott and Peggy and there are things that lead to their marriage not working. They don't often get along very well, but I think they both love Cassie very much and they both want what's best for her even if they have different ideas of what that is. So making sure we got Peggy's voice right was really important to me.
You do get the feeling that she tries to be fair with Scott in issue #1 when she talks about how he often screws up but she also believe that he cares about their daughter.
Yeah and that's the kind of thing you hear a lot of from couples who are divorced and had kids together. There's a sense that 'this person isn't the best person for me, but I get that they do care a lot about our child.' That kind of balancing act is a very real world thing.
The big reveal at the end of "Ant-Man" #1 is that Scott followed Peggy and Cassie to Miami. Will the city be the book's main setting or is this just a stop along the way?
Yes, we're definitely going to be set in Miami from here out. I'm really excited to explore Miami as a city in the Marvel Universe and it's super hero and super villain population.
In the real world Miami and New York enjoy a very close relationship. So it seemed to me that they should have that as well in the Marvel Universe. Plus it's such a great setting for a comic book. With all the art deco architecture, the bright colors, and the palm trees it just looks like something out of a comic book. So it's fun setting visually too.
Can you offer up any hints or teases about the existing Marvel Universe ties to Miami that you're playing with at the beginning of the series? The only real Miami-based Marvel character that I can remember off the top of my head is the Slug, who debuted in Mark Gruenwald's "Captain America" run.
[Laughs] Well there's one! There are some other characters who maybe have stomping grounds nearby. Plus I dug deep into the Handbooks for this one. So there are a lot of characters who may have made the move off camera. Building up Scott's rogues gallery was a major priority for us. I wanted to make sure we had some fun characters for Scott to play around with and we'll see those characters pop up as the book movies forward.
Can you talk about what Scott will be doing in Miami when he's out of costume? What's his status quo? Did he close the door on the job he won with Tony Stark in issue #1 by moving to Miami?
Yes, Scott is definitely not going to be working for Tony again any time soon, and in terms of Scott's non-costumed life there's a couple things to keep in mind. The first is that he's from the area. He's from Coral Gables, which is a suburb of Miami. So there are some characters from his past that are going to be popping up, and Scott of course has a pretty checkered past. So they definitely should make things interesting.
The solicits for upcoming issues revealed that two other characters will be making Scott's life interesting: a shadowy villain, and the Taskmaster.
[Laughs] Right. Stupid shadowy villain!
Taskmaster, and we'll get into this a lot more in "Ant-Man" #3, is the closest thing Scott has to an arch-enemy. For whatever reason they've fought repeatedly. We in the real world know it is probably because [writer] David Michelinie loved both Ant-Man and Taskmaster. [Laughs]
It even happens with other writers, though. So the reality is that these guys came into contact with each other a lot, especially early in both their careers. So it's going to be fun to have him pop up in Scott's life again and it probably won't be the last time.
In this first issue the work done by the art team of Ramon Rosanas and and colorist Justin Boyd reminded me a lot of the great work done by Phil Hester and Bill Crabtree on the 2006 "Irredeemable Ant-Man" series, but it still had its own unique feel to it. I especially loved the way they handle the moments of humor and pathos.
Yeah, Ramon is doing phenomenal work on the book. It's been great to see people really taking notice. "Ant-Man" is a beautiful looking book and he's really doing a stellar job bringing the scripts to life. He's also a lot of fun of to work with and some of the stuff he's got coming up will really blow your mind.
He's so great at depicting Scott's powers. He has such a great sense of scale and he's got some awesome uses of perspective coming up. His Ant-Man is always fluid; always moving quickly and bouncing around. I love that.
Jordan has an awesome palette for this book. He's just the perfect compliment to Ramon's art. So they're a perfect art team for the book. I love working with these guys.
Finally, it's a new year and you're kicking off a brand new series. What can you tell us about some of your larger plans for "Ant-Man" as we move forward in 2015? Assuming audiences embrace the series, will you follow a similar path to your other works and tell a long form story with Scott Lang?
This book is so fun for me because I've rarely been given the opportunity to do a solo super hero book and certainly one that has this much room to play with. Scott has never had an ongoing series. He's been sort of a recurring guest star in Iron Man books, the Fantastic Four books, and Avengers. He really hasn't been given that much camera time over decades of his existence.
It's great to be able to come in with a new status quo and new city and reconnect as well to the fundamental aspects of the character that I think made him so unique -- being a super hero single dad, an ex-con, and a guy who is trying to be a hero by inspiring his daughter and becoming worthy of her love. Those are such great character hooks. So to be be able to take those things and fill out his rogues' gallery, supporting cast, and career path has been a lot of fun.
I've got a lot of room in front of me to play around and when you're in that space good things happen. So I'm really excited to do a book that's in line with "Daredevil," "Hawkeye," and "Ultimate Spider-Man" which feature these great, everyman, tried-and-true super hero stories. That's something I'm really excited about being a part of.
"Ant-Man" #2 goes on sale Feb. 4, 2015 from Marvel Comics.