Paul Rudd is about to don the suit as Scott Lang – the petty thief who stole his way into becoming Ant-Man, the little superhero that could – on the big screen. We recently took a look at the latest Ant-Man series with Lang in the titular role, so it’s only fair, as we wait with bated breath to see Paul Rudd kick some ass as a tiny, tiny man… to go all the way back to the beginning.
Scott Lang was introduced in Avengers #181 in March of 1979, but first took on the Ant-mantle in April 1979’s Marvel Premiere #47. That issue was written by David Michelinie, drawn by John Byrne & Bob Layton, colored by Bob Sharen, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, and edited by Roger Stern. It’s an action-packed, non-linear origin story that takes the reader on a fast-paced journey with Scott Lang, who ends up stealing Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit from Cross Technological Enterprises with the end goal of saving his daughter’s life.
Overall, now that I’ve read the original introduction, I appreciate Scott as Ant-Man and the newest Ant-Man series even more. There’s a lot of aspects of Marvel Premiere #47 to which Nick Spencer’s Ant-Man is paying homage. Both begin with Scott Lang setting out to live a life without crime, only to have to resort to crime in order to do the right thing. Both have Scott working for Tony Stark. Both focus around Scott’s relationship with his daughter, Cassie. It’s fascinating how well the two work together, and how iconic Scott’s characterization is that, though he has certainly been developed a lot over the years, the nuance of his story remains the same.
The stakes are high in Marvel Premiere: Scott is fresh out of jail and is already committing crimes again, despite his vow to stick to the straight and narrow… and if he is caught, he’ll be stopped from saving the doctor who could save his daughter, Cassie, who needs her care right away. With that in mind, though, the storytelling is far from grim. Scott is unlike most superheroes, in that he didn’t build this costume, he hasn’t had time to train himself before taking on villains, and he has no big plans… he’s a guy in a suit that he really doesn’t know how to work. So far, all he’s got going for him is that he can make the suit shrink and that the ants aren’t attacking him. The sense of blundering action here, where Lang throws himself into situations and succeeds purely because of some strange mixture of luck and the unwillingness to fair, makes for some great, unconventional action.
It feels like Byrne and Layton had a blast drawing it, because Ant-Man’s powers are drawn with a sense of life, creativity, and invention. When he shrinks mid-punch, it’s fantastic – but nothing beats the iconic shot of Lang shrinking down for the first time. It’s kinetic, packed with intricate motion that seems to burst off the page.
The issue ends with a hell of a cliffhanger, and leaves me wanting more… so much so that I’m finding myself antsier and antsier for the movie.
Antsy? See what I did th… Sigh. Yeah, I’m sorry.
PAT SHAND writes comics (Family Pets, Robyn Hood, Charmed: Season Ten) and pop culture journalism. You can follow his Twitter account — @PatShand – where he tweets about writing, comics, and yells incoherently about Orange is the New Black. I mean, come on, Ruby Rose, you guys…