By Kyle Pinion
Today, Marvel resumed their semi-regular “Next Big Thing” conference calls with comics press, focusing this iteration on the upcoming Ant-Man launch in January. The soon to be Marvel movie featured Scott Lang is the star of this new series written by Nick Spencer (Morning Glories, Superior Foes of Spider-Man) joined by artist Ramon Rosanas (Night of the Living Deadpool)
Joined by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Alex Alonso and series editor Wil Moss, the team came swinging out the gates with the news that Cassie Lang, Scott’s long departed daughter who was murdered by Doctor Doom in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, would be returning to life. Spencer elaborated:
The darkness around Scott’s life is starting to lift. Cassie Lang is going to be coming back…if you want some details on that story, you can find [them] in Avengers World #16, which is going to be out next week. Scott is going to get a new shot at being a dad.
Spencer also stated how important the character of Cassie is to his run, going so far as to say that the concept of a “superhero single dad” was an integral part of his initial series pitch to Marvel.
Moss, speaking to Spencer’s assignment on the series, stressed that his “strong and unique voice” allows the book to stand out and give the book its own identity. Alonso chimed in that the goal for the series was to create a book that is “big and bold and very widescreen” but insisted that humor and poignant character moments will be present and Alonso cited the breadth of Spencer’s work from Superior Foes of Spider-Man to his broader dramatic titles underlines just why he was the top choice of the series.
But the praise wasn’t just reserved for Spencer, as Moss and Alonso had many a kind word for series artist Rosanas, highlighting his versatility and page density. Alonso added:
He really makes you feel like you’re in a lab, the everglades. He moves the camera very well. When Nick suggested the change of venue for Ant-Man, I knew this was exactly the kind of detail that Ramon could handle.
To that point, one of the big changes set for the series is that Scott is relocating to the Marvel Universe version of Miami, which Spencer called “a great setting for a comic” and that its bright colors make it look just like a comic book city. The writer went so far as to visit Miami for series research. When asked by a member of the press what the Marvel U version of Miami looks like, he spoke at length:
I’ve got a million ideas for what the Marvel Universe version of Miami looks like, and the kind of stories that can bring out. It’s just like Marvel Universe New York…you take true elements of a city, and blow it up. It’ll be a Miami that people recognize, but just blown up 10 times. It struck me as the perfect place to set a book. When you’re in the city, there are all these primary colors and the neon… you can just see how fun it is of an environment for your stories. And it’s a port city, obviously, it’s a very international city. For me, I did a lot of this on ‘Avengers World,’ on a global scale. I’m always interested in getting out of New York. As much as I love Marvel New York, I get excited when Venom goes to Philadelphia, things like that. For me, it’s interesting to see the other cities and I know it’s fun for fans in the cities, as well.
As has been reported previously, Tony Stark will be playing a role in Ant-Man, to which the newly christened Superior Iron Man will precipitate Scott’s move to Miami. Spencer wanted to give a nod to his protagonist’s former recurring role in the Iron Man, and says that the dynamic between the two of them in the first issue is a lot of fun.
The team then discussed the series’ aim to build up Ant-Man’s rogues gallery, which was described as “meager at best”. One of the first attempts to enhance it will be with the third issue’s inclusion of Taskmaster, of whom Spencer proclaimed that he “will look for any excuse to write” and that he’s appeared in his last three Marvel titles in some varying form or another. He went on to say that the villain is the “closest thing Scott has to an arch-enemy…the two have faced off a number of times” and that beyond Taskmaster there would be a number of new and old villains that will play a role in the series.
Spencer also spoke to the tone of Ant-Man, relaying that while it won’t have the outright comedic tone of Superior Foes, it will contain many moments that will make readers laugh and cringe (initiated by Scott). But he maintained that the “hero’s journey” is key to the story being told, specifically citing Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man as key influences.
Other questions raised by members of the press included…
Will Darla Deering (Scott’s semi-love interest in Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s FF) make an appearance?
Spencer said we will be seeing Darla briefly in Issue #1; he also stated, in response to another question on the topic of Scott’s FF tenure, that this history will be touched upon but his primary goal is to make Ant-Man a great solo book.
Will Hank Pym play a role?
Spencer had to provide a no-comment answer here, but he emphasized Pym’s role in the Ant-Man legacy. On a similar note, another question was raised regarding the third Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady, and if he might appear. Spencer said that “it would be fun” and that “their relationship is interesting, as they are part of the same legacy but have never met”. O’Grady’s tenure in the costume will have ramifications for Issue #2 as well, according to Moss.
Will the series carry a Marvel Studios tone to line up with the upcoming film?
Spencer said he was a big fan of Paul Rudd, and that he’s very excited for the movie, but that the series is “the book they would have done, whether there was a movie or not”. Alonso chimed in that the key is to “write a really great Ant-Man story and make it accessible” and that readers don’t have to be Ant-Man fans to understand who Spencer’s version of the character is.
On the subject of accessibility, we asked about the structure of the series and whether it would be composed of “done in one” stories ala Hawkeye and She-Hulk or more multi-part arcs?
Spencer replied that it would be a bit of a mix, that the first two issues are self-contained stories, while the next few past that are more connected and there definitely be some multi-issue stories going forward.
We also asked about any new characters that Spencer is introducing that he may be excited about:
“There are characters that are new to Scott that I’m excited about, including a couple that are new to Scott, but regulars in the Marvel Universe.” Spencer also said there would be some continuity nuggets there for longtime Ant-Man fans, especially given that the character grew up in Coral Gables.
How will Scott’s criminal past affect the character going forward?
Scott hasn’t always had the greatest moral compass…Even in FF, he starts out with wanting to end Doom, and everybody needs to walk him back from that, and say that’s not really the heroic thing to do. That’s always been a part of Scott’s character. He wants to be a hero, if only to inspire his daughter and be a good dad …he wants to do the right thing, but he’s not always entirely sure of what that is.
Circling back to the topic of Miami, is part of the fun of setting the book in Miami establishing the character’s identity away from the other heroes of the Marvel Universe?
Yeah, definitely…it’s a less crowded space. But also it’s fun in a city like that…what does the costumed community in a city look like? Miami is a city that you see in a lot of crime fiction, because it’s a port city. It’s fun to say, how does that play out in a series like this? That was definitely part of the fun, to take those things and build them out. When Scott moves to a place like Miami, he thinks he’s going to be the only show in town, and that may not end up being true, which is part of the fun.
Spencer also said, in response to another question regarding Scott potentially roaming the area beyond Miami’s downtown, that the creative team will be making the most of the new location. And in a query regarding any potential inventive uses of Scott’s powers, Spencer emphasized that it was important that they found new and novel ways to utilize his power-set, including the way he communicates with ants. Issue #3 was singled out as an upcoming example of that effort.
Ant-Man #1 will be available January 7, 2015; Marvel has graciously provided us with the following preview images for your perusal.