NYCC 2014: Spencer Says New ANT-MAN Series Shows “Flawed Hero”

Ant-Man #1 variant cover by Chris Samnee
Credit: Marvel Entertainment
Ant-Man #1 cover by Mark Brooks
Ant-Man #1 cover by Mark Brooks
Credit: Marvel

Ant-Man may be one of Marvel’s smallest heroes, but 2015 is going to be a big year for him – in more ways than one. At Sunday’s “Axel-In-Charge” panel at the 2014 New York Comic Con, Marvel announced that the shrinking hero Ant-Man is getting his own ongoing series with writer Nick Spencer and artist Ramon Rosanas – coming out just months before the Ant-Man movie starring Paul Rudd. The series will focus on Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man after Hank Pym, who as Spencer tells Newsarama might seem ill-fit as an A-List hero with a legacy name – and that’s why he wanted to do this book.

Ant-Man is scheduled to launch in January, and Spencer says that the criminal-turned-crimefighter will be wrestling with himself as much as he is supervillains. Describing this series as the inverse of his critically acclaimed Superior Foes of Spider-Man, this is about a criminal attempting to make good on his life and stay on the straight and narrow: he’s got good intentions, but has trouble with the follow-through.

Newsarama: Nick, what can people expect from this new Ant-Man series you’re writing?

Nick Spencer: It’s the adventures of Scott Lang, who is a guy that’s no stranger to the Marvel Universe and has been in and out of trouble his entire life. He’s been part of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, but this is his big solo spotlight – his shot at being the lead character, and I’m excited about it.

Ant-Man #1 variant cover by Jason Pearson
Ant-Man #1 variant cover by Jason Pearson
Credit: Marvel Entertainment

Nrama: I’m told this is tied into the upcoming Superior Iron Man series. How would you describe the connections between Scott and the “inverted” Tony Stark, and that series and this one?

Spencer: Superior Iron Man and Tony Stark play a pretty specific role in the initial conceit of the book. Tony is a big part of the first issue, and he’ll be a big driver of Scott’s new status quo. Tony has a pivotal role to play, and he and Scott are fun to put in a room together. It’ll be a fun pairing.

Nrama: You mention a “new status quo” for Scott here in this series; what is that, exactly?

Spencer: I can’t say too much this early on. The thing with Scott that is attractive to me is that he’s the kind of hero who has made a lot of mistakes. He’s no stranger to tragedy, some of his own making and some he’s had to deal with nonetheless. In this series he’s going to focus on being a hero; attempting to make up for his past, and try to prove to the world (and to himself) that he can be something.

Nrama: Scott’s Ant-Man here, but even he would agree he’s not the best-known – that would be Hank Pym. Will you be dealing with that at all in this?

Spencer: Actually, that’s a huge part of the appeal of the character for me. Anyone who’s read my work on Superior Foes of Spider-Man knows that I really like dealing with characters that maybe aren’t naturally on the A-List; they’re more working class in their approach, and Scott Lang very much fits in that category as well.

Ant-Man #1 variant cover by Chris Samnee
Ant-Man #1 variant cover by Chris Samnee
Credit: Marvel Entertainment

Hank Pym casts a big shadow on Scott Lang’s life; the Ant-Man helmet comes with a certain legacy, and not all of it is good. Scott’s here, seemingly just another guy in the suit – almost interchangeable. That’s a big part of his life and how he thinks of himself, and trying to get around that.

Nrama: Speaking of the original Ant-Man, will Hank Pym play a role in this series?

Spencer: I can say he won’t be in the first arc, but obviously Hank casts a pretty big shadow and it’s safe to assume at some point he’ll show up in Ant-Man.

Nrama: So we got Scott, we have Hank’s status – who will Ant-Man be up against here? He seems to have his own troubles to deal with, but what about on the outside?

Spencer: Like you just said, one of the key components of the book is that Scott is his own worst enemy. Before he can even begin to worry about dealing with any villain, nemesis or adversary, he has to worry about his own shortcomings. But at the same time, of course one of my big goals is to build up a great rogue’s gallery for Scott. We’re going to see him take on bad guys, some of which you’ll recognize but some of which will be new. I can’t say too much just yet, but adversaries for Ant-Man is something I’ve thought about a lot.

Nrama: This debuts in January, and the Ant-Man movie comes out in July. How does the movie affect your plans for this series?

Credit: Marvel Studios

Spencer: I’m a huge Paul Rudd fan, and I was excited as a fan to hear he was cast as Scott Lang. That being said, it’s two separate things. I haven’t seen the movie or read the screenplay, so we here in comics got to approach our story fresh and it very much honors Scott Lang, the comic book character. This will be a good book for people to jump into after they see the movie, but also a good book on its own and very respectful of the comics continuity.

Nrama: Ant-Man, as a solo star, has had a rocky road in terms of sustaining a series. What do you say was the reason for that, or can you say you have something up your sleeve that somehow counteracts that?

Spencer: I think you’ll agree with me that this is a very unique moment in time for the Ant-Man character, and obviously that’s a big part of what excited me about this project. We have this multi-million dollar marketing machine that’s going to be pushing all things Ant-Man next year, so of course the comic series will benefit from that. I think you’re right those, there have been previous instances where an Ant-Man book was a tougher sell – but now we have a major movie with Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and others coming down the path, giving the comic book the opportunity to have a lot more eyeballs and attention. For me, that’s a real thrill.

At the same time, I really love this character. I’ve been campaigning for this job since 2013 because I really felt like this was a dream assignment for me. I think Scott is such a fantastic character, and his background and general hook are really strong. He’s a character who deserves to be an A-List character, and deserves to be able to carry an ongoing.

Nrama: Last question – you’re currently doing two other ongoings for Marvel, showing very polar opposites in terms of spectrum: Avengers World and Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Where do you think Scott Lang and Ant-Man sits on that spectrum?

Spencer: That’s a good question. I think this book will have a lot in common with Superior Foes of Spider-Man. This is sort of the flipside to that series: he’s a guy who was a criminal, but is trying to be a hero. Sometimes he’s good at it, sometimes he’s really not. Like I said before, I generally really enjoy looking at the everyday life of these characters and getting past the bravado to poke a little fun at the situation. That’s the commonality between this and Superior Foes of Spider-Man that people will recognize.

At the end of the day, Scott is not a bad guy – he wants to be a hero, but his problem is that generally he’s too willing to take shortcuts and he’s, so to speak, bad with directions. He’s prone to wandering down the wrong path. That kind of stuff makes for a really interesting character, so for people who are willing to accept their heroes as flawed they’ll find a lot to like in Ant-Man.

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