Open Mike Night: It's a Hank Pym World, And We're All Living in It...

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Maillaro: Hank Pym is Weaver’s favorite character, and with the movie coming up (plus two Ant-Man comics came out this week), we decided to throw a spotlight on him.

Marvel’s Ant-Man Prelude

Written by: Will Corona Pilgrim

Pencilled by:  Miguel Sepulveda

Inked by: BIT

Colored by: Jay David Ramos w/ David Curiel

Lettered by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Published by: Marvel

Cover Price: $2.99

Maillaro: Holy crap?  We paid 3 bucks for this??  This comic was literally 18 pages long.  I am going to assume the print version comes with some behind the scene looks or something like that, but the digital version was 18 pages, and to be continued.  And most of them were splash pages.  I really felt horribly ripped off after reading this comic.

The sad part is what was here was pretty cool.  We get to see an older Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, and a younger Hank Pym, who is working for SHIELD. A SHIELD operative has gone missing in Berlin, and SHIELD wants to use Pym’s shrinking particles and suit in order to rescue him.  Pym insists that he’s the only man who can do this mission.   Carter gives him the real quick version of SHIELD field training and out he goes.   The issue ends with Pym arriving in Berlin in tiny form and almost getting eaten by a dog.  To be continued.

I couldn’t help but compare this to Star Wars (original series) 7 which we reviewed a few weeks back.  That book was a little short too, BUT, you still felt like you got a whole story here.  This felt like a cash grab and not much else to it.  

It did show us some new corners of the MCU, and confirmed that Pym was the original Ant-Man (something we basically all knew already) and worked for SHIELD.  But was it worth $3?

Weaver: This was not worth three bucks.  I liked the ideas being set out here too, but there was just so little to justify the cost.  Even with the splash pages...the early double splash of Pym was pretty unnecessary, and it’s more than 10% of the comic just for that.  And it’s good, sure, but it’s not so phenomenal that it justifies the price.  My favorite moment was Carter giving him field training, but mostly because it was more or less the only memorable moment.  Everything else felt like something that has been addressed by Iron Man (among others) ad infinitum.  I have this awesome tech and work for the military.  The military wants to give it to soldiers.  But I only trust it in my own hands.  Time to go be a soldier with it.

Maillaro: After how crappy men treat her in her TV series, I think Agent Carter was just looking for an excuse to open fire at a guy and not get in any trouble for it.  I was kind of hoping she would laugh gleefully as she shot at Pym forcing him to shrink or die!

Even the art on this book just kind of felt like it was there.  I did think the Ant-Man costume looked good, but old Peggy and old Stark seemed kind of vague.  And Pym didn’t look much like a young Michael Douglas.  Everything just looked really generic and rushed through. To me, if I didn’t know specifically this was tied into the movie going in, I would have no idea what I was reading here.

I haven’t read too many of the comics tied in to the MCU...and this one makes me really glad for that.  They clearly put much more effort into their movies and comics than the comics based on their movies.  But they still want you to pay $3 for them!!

Weaver: The Ant Man costume was basically the high point.  I mean, the shooting panel was good and the dog was decent, but that’s the only panels that spring to mind in a positive sense.  I feel like I understand more about the upcoming movie from the short teaser trailer than this entire comic.  

I think when a comic is created for a specific promotional purpose, such as “lead in” to a movie, it can often be...just really generic, especially if the writers aren’t privy to all the movie details.  This was one of those.  I can’t say enough how disappointed I was, because really, you could condense this to three or four pages and have something decent enough to stick in an anthology, but this is padded out and even worse it’s to be continued.  To be continued without my money.

Maillaro: For me, this is something you give out on free comic book day to help promote the movie.  You don’t charge $3 for it.  I actually am not sure how to score this book. The writing...what was there...was fine. Nothing special, but it’s very likely the writer was just following orders.  I almost feel bad for scoring it low, but it’s not intended as a slight against the writer...just the editor who decided this book needed to exist.  1 out of 5 for the writing.  This isn’t even close to the worst book we reviewed, but I really don’t like getting ripped off.

Art I’ll go a little higher.  It wasn’t painful in any places, just uninteresting.  3 out of 5.

Weaver: I’ll actually average out the same, but go 2 for the writing and 2 for the art.  Both were rather pedestrian efforts that could have been 3-worthy, except there wasn’t enough.  Man, the editor kind of irritates me here too, deciding this was worth shipping.  And I say that as a guy who will never say, “Let’s have less Ant Man.”  In fact, let’s have more Ant Man, here in Avengers #161.

Maillaro: I blame myself for this.  We should have reviewed Ant-Man #2 instead.  That book was actually great.  Scott Lang gets attacked by Grizzly, who has him confused with someone else who was Ant-Man.  “It wasn’t me, I was dead at the time.”  

Avengers (1963) #161

Written by: Jim Shooter

Penciled by: George Perez

Inked by: Pablo Marcos

Cover by: George Perez

Published by: Marvel

Cover Price: 30 cents ($1.99 on Comixology)

Weaver: Here’s the first comic I ever bought with my own money.  It wasn’t the newest issue at the time, but pretty close.  Spinner racks (at least in my area) used to carry the last few months, and for whatever reason, this is what I chose with my four year old birthday money.

As I read this again, I keep thinking about the fact that I literally had no idea who any of these characters are before I bought it.  In one panel, Beast is watching a narrative of the Avengers’ first issue, and that was all news to me.  It talks about Wonder Man’s resurrection, and Two Gun Kid coming through time, and all sorts of historical things about Pym and Jan, even Quicksilver history gets a few mentions despite the fact that he never actually appears in the comic.  And yet I felt, and still do, that even though this was clearly just one part of a larger story that I had no idea of (I actually keep meaning to buy 162...and have for 37 years, so…), I got enough of a story about everyone in order to not just understand it, but think it was awesome.

Maillaro: Even for someone with 25 years of reading comics, this issue throws a lot at you.  Some of it I knew because the ramifications were still being dealt with in the Korvac Saga (it started in Avengers 167).  I actually thought this was a really good issue.  They really introduce the characters well to someone who happened to jump into this issue.  You definitely picked a good comic to jump in on.  We’ve reviewed first issues that were worse jump on points that this one was.

I have a lot to talk about here, but I want to start with something that stuck in my head as soon as I read it.  I never knew Wonder Man’s original costume was made by Beast...clearly, his mutation made him color blind.  Holy crap!

Weaver: Either that, or he didn’t want to be the only person who looked goofy.  This isn’t quite his original costume, though...the original one had a similar color scheme, so apparently Zemo really wanted him to hate life.

I agree that some first issues we’ve read were harder to jump in on than this.  It’s dense, there’s a lot of moving parts, but by the end, we know enough about everyone to be able to grasp the basics.  I especially liked that panel I discussed earlier about Beast watching a narration of the first Avengers adventure, since Pym is clearly stuck in that spot mentally.  It gave us enough to know what Ant Man was going on about without Ant Man himself having to spell it out or using a giant yellow box.

Maillaro: I will say this...Pym is probably the most abused character Marvel has.  Sure, most Marvel characters have shitty things happen to them a lot, but typically they have some big redeeming moment.  Pym hasn’t had a lot of them.  Avengers Forever probably comes closest.   

Remember how we were talking about how often Sinestro showed up in the early days of Green Lantern?  Maybe I was just using perception bias, but Ultron seems to show up a lot throughout Avengers history.  Whenever I happen to check out an old Avengers story, more often than not I seem to stumble across an Ultron story, or it’s tied into Ultron in some way.

I thought it was hilarious when confused Pym demanded to know who “the woman in the swimsuit” is, referring to Scarlet Witch.  Just be glad he didn’t see her in her Gypsy Costume later on…

Weaver: By the same token, when you think of Pym’s feats, it’s more often than not involving defeating the evil robot that he created.  So even as a positive, it’s still mired in negative.  And here, we see his most convincing defeats of super powered people...against his teammates.

Ultron is basically the Dr. Doom of Avengers.  He’s always hanging around.  I think they got away from this in about the 80’s or so, but before that, he was omnipresent.  But unlike, say, Joker, I feel like he had threat level enough to be omnipresent and a reasonable enough way to keep coming back.

Maillaro: That I will agree with.  Ultron always feels like a big deal when he shows up.  Yeah, I do want to point out that even before Ultron showed up, Pym and his army of ants pretty handily beat up on most of the Avengers, even taking out Iron Man for a significant chunk of time.  Pym is probably the worst bad guy the Avengers have to deal with…

There was one real big flaw in logic in this issue.  Beast drives Wasp back to her home in Jersey and they are attacked by Ultron.  But despite this, Beast is basically able to run back to New York with Ultron in tow to set up a confrontation with the Avengers..  Seems like if Ultron  was all that serious about taking out the Avengers, he could have stopped Beast somewhere between Jersey and Avengers Mansion.  He must have gotten stuck in tunnel traffic.  

Weaver: I wondered about that when I reread it.  Beast certainly got out of the state quicker than most people.  But remember, this is before Christie shut down bridge lanes because vindictiveness.  My feeling is that Ultron let him get there, probably some of the way by car.  Hell, maybe Ultron blasted him straight to New York, his clothes looked tattered enough.

Look at Jan living the high life in Jersey.  I actually liked that, since typically that’s the sort of house they’d place upstate or even in Connecticut, but here, Jersey was embraced as something other than a landfill.

avengers 161c.PNGMaillaro: One thing that was real odd about that house...Wasp just has a picture of Reed Richards just randomly thrown up on the wall.  WTF??

Weaver: Maybe Jan put it up just to make Hank feel inferior all the time.  

The other thing I keep thinking here is...Hank gets a lot of hate for that one open hand slap.  Here, before that even happened, Jan blasts the crap out of him and very nearly makes him fall to his death.

Maillaro: And this is after she basically tricked him into marrying her during the whole Yellowjacket mess. Someone call Gail Simone of Earth-11.  In that gender-swapped reality, he ran the website Men in Refrigerators, and ignores any bad thing that has even happened to a female character in order to help push the idea that men in comics have it badly.

And yes, that is officially our first playful attack on Gail Simone on Critical Blast.  I miss that proud tradition…

Weaver: Ah, refrigerators.  I missed that too.

You can’t help but feel bad for...basically everyone here.  Pym is totally cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and Jan doesn’t WANT TO blast him to his death...even though that was her first plan...uh...moving on.  Iron Man and Captain America want to help Pym recover, but can’t get a hold of anyone because reasons.  Vision has to just basically sit there totally useless, and thinking about how useless he is in this fight, Beast gets hated on for making ONE PUN, just basically things suck for everyone.  Oh, and Cap in a daze blocking Wanda from the kill shot, but at least Wanda got to lay the smack down on Ultron after the early “afraid of insects” thing.

Maillaro: Bugs are icky, but giant robots, she has no problem dropping a building on Ultron.  That was a great moment.  But she needed to make up for that bathing suit crack. Go Wanda!  

So scores?  

Weaver: Well, there’s nothing like your first.  Speaking of, I totally did not understand for the longest time why Jan was wearing that outfit, even though she pretty clearly says it. I blame it not being sexy anymore by the time I was interested in sexy.

I have to give it 5’s.  It’s a good book, and it holds up even reading it now.

Maillaro: The art was Perez.  That is pretty much automatically a 5.  I almost want to dock points for Wonder Man’s costume, but I will give the points back for Beast’s chauffeur outfit.  That was just awesome.

The writing had no major flaws, but I think it falls just short of a perfect 5.  I’ll give a 4.5, but there was nothing particularly wrong with it.  This is definitely a book that holds up real well over the years.  Not all of the ones we review do.  


Maillaro: I have no idea what to review next week...I am kind of throwing everything on the wall here…pick your poison.

Weaver:  I’ve always wanted to try All-New X-Men.

Maillaro: We can do that.  It’s sort of in the middle of an Arc, but it’s usually pretty accessible.  At the moment, the team is in the Ultimate Universe.  So, another X-Men twofer?  All-New x-men and whatever the next Uncanny is...250?

Weaver: Sure.  250 is kind of goony because it’s not at all an anniversary issue, but it’s the next in line.

Maillaro: Sounds like a plan!  See you then!

Final Scores


Maillaro – Story

Weaver – Story

Maillaro – Art

Weaver – Art

Marvel’s Ant-Man Prelude





Avengers #161