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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reader's Diary #1154- Tom DeFalco (Writer) and Horacio Domingues (Art): Ant-Man

Ant-Man, had I been aware of him as a young boy, would likely have been my favourite superhero. I was an animal nut, and of all the creatures in the animal kingdom, insects were my favourite. It worked its way into everything I played. My imaginary ability was communicating with animals. My favourite He-Man figure was this guy. So, while the rest of the world may scoff at the silly premise of Ant-Man (i.e., a guy can shrink to the size of an ant and also communicate with his namesake kin), this still isn't a particularly hard sell to me. (And someone please explain why this is any dumber than Spider-Man?)

That all said, I was still let down by DeFalco and Domingues' Ant-Man reboot comic, setting his origin story in more modern times. It seems like they thought making it modern simply meant throwing in some contemporary science terms and drawing a computer in the background. What I love about modern superhero stories is their take on current society concerns. Like I mentioned Robert Kirkman saying regarding the best zombie stories not being so much about horror and gore but about social commentary, I likewise feel the best superhero stories aren't so much about violence and absurd science fiction.

And they had such an opportunity with Ant-Man. Hank Pym is supposedly wrestling with mental illness when he acquires his new abilities. What an angle that could have been! What a chance to explore the prejudices and the struggles and myths surrounding mental illness, to shed some light on something that only now seems to be making progress away from being something previously mocked or hushed-up. But instead, it just becomes another excuse to put him in a cliched straightjacket and Hannibal Lecter mask. Sadly, this is the most complex in the book. The rest are even more cartoonish and flat.

Domingues' art is slightly better, with some subtle hints of manga influence (especially in character expressions), but otherwise generic.

To be honest, the whole thing feels dated; out of touch with modern comic book stories. It's fun, sure, but in a stupid way. My insect-loving 8 year old self would have loved it, but 30 years later, I kind of wanted more.

(I hope the movie is better!)

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