Written by Zeb Wells
Art by Dylan Burnett and Mike Spicer
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
Comics contain multitudes. This is a medium that can dive into the depths of the human condition, shining a light into different perspectives and teaching readers valuable lessons in culture, empathy, and compassion.
And sometimes, it’s a medium where someone puts on a giant suit made out of bugs so he can go and suplex another giant bug.
This shouldn’t be a surprise that Ant-Man #5 takes that latter approach, but there’s a certain amount of lizard-brain fun that comes with this conclusion, thanks to artist Dylan Burnett’s slick visuals and writer Zeb Wells giving us just enough character development to get readers on the hook. While this last issue is more action-packed wrestling match than any particularly deep narrative, this series manages to successfully stick the landing purely based on style points.
With the villainous Macrothorax now in telepathic control of some Pym Particle-enhanced Bug-Lords, Ant-Man and the Stinger have to figure out how to stop an impending insect apocalypse. But without either of their greatest weapons, what are the Langs going to do? Wells’ solution is both convenient and sappy, but he manages to clear the net by rooting everything in Scott Lang’s inherent decency — sure, it’s a contrivance to give Ant-Man his own titanic suit of insect armor, but when a dying Bug-Lord reminds us that Scott did all this because of the death of a single solitary ant, it’s hard not to want to root for the guy.
But even with some clever table-turning involving Pym Particles and Stinger’s helmet (and some admittedly delightful trash talk from Macrothorax), much of this story is still a by-the-numbers beat-’em-up — which is why it’s great that Burnett is on board. I’ve said before that Burnett should be in the same pantheon as James Harren, Daniel Warren Johnson, and Tradd Moore — he’s hyperkinetic, full of bouncy fun, and he’s even able to sneak in bits of emotion when you least expect it (like when Scott sadly curls up watching a Bug-Lord die). He’s able to sell the outlandishness of Ant-Man wrestling a giant bug, while never sacrificing the energy and danger in the piece.
Yet with all the fists flying, there are some bits that get lost in the shuffle. Wells’ subplot involving Stinger still feels a little underdeveloped, with the push and pull of whether or not Scott will step in to fight her battles seeming a little basic for a teenage superhero who’s been doing this for years. (Thankfully, Burnett’s artwork certainly goes a long way in making Stinger’s characterization work, giving Cassie some likable expression-work that elevates her past stock tropes.) But even for a superhero book, the actual themes feel a little thin — and because the bug mythology can’t help but feel small-scale even with Pym Particles involved, it means there’s a lot of flash but not necessarily a lot of substance to this read.
What could have been seen as a mixed bug — err, bag — Ant-Man #5 manages to pull off a win thanks to its stunning visuals and its breezy storytelling, even if it feels insubstantial even by the continuity-heavy standards of modern superhero comics. While I wouldn’t consider this miniseries to be a seminal story for either Scott or Cassie Lang, Burnett’s artwork makes this a solid offering during a quiet week from the House of Ideas.