New To You Comics #128: A Tiny Bit Weird In ‘Ant-Man: World Hive’
by Tony Thornley
Everyone has different tastes in comics. Here at New To You Comics, we explore that as Tony and Scott dive into comics that, well, it’s right there in the column title. We look at a recent series starring Marvel’s latest movie star.
Ant-Man: World Hive was a return in several different ways. It was writer Zeb Wells’ first story back at Marvel after several years away from the publisher, Scott Lang’s first series after several years, and Cassie Lang’s first big spotlight after returning to superheroics. All over, it was a big deal, and unfortunately, thanks to its release in early 2020, it was completely overlooked in the tumultuous times of the early COVID pandemic.
From Wells, Dylan Burnett, Mike Spicer and Cory Petit, Scott Lang is as down on his luck as ever. Doing his hero work for hire, he’s doing his best to be the best hero possible, while also making Cassie proud. When he takes a job to find several hives of missing bees, he doesn’t expect that they’re about to be pulled into one of the biggest and most terrifying adventures they’ve ever been a part of.
Tony Thornley: Well, it’s been a month since Ant-Man became a movie star again, and I think the world’s moved on a bit. So sorry for that Scott, but after reading this story, I’m just mad that Ant-Man 3 wasn’t based on this. I’m kind of mad that I missed it first time around!
Scott Redmond: Same to that last part for sure. I haven’t seen the movie but I can imagine it would be a lot more fun. This was one of those series that I was super hyped on but as noted in the intro it came out right as the world was shutting down and got lost in the shuffle. All that time off that I told myself I would fill with comics, but then didn’t. Wild times.
Tony: I love the plot progression in this story. It starts as a pretty standard superhero tale, then we get some soap opera, then it goes absolutely insane. The idea of the insect kingdom having avatars is great, and Wells plays with the totemistic concepts introduced in Spider-Man in a much more natural way here. Scott can talk to bugs. It’s an often-forgotten power of the Ant-Men. How can that build into drawing Scott into a much bigger story? It’s very natural from there.
Scott: Wells is one of those writers that I see his name and inherently know that I’ll have a good to great time with whatever the series and its subject might be. Honestly, at first I did sigh a bit at where Scott was at the start (us Scotts have to stick together) as I’m not a huge fan of butt of the joke/always down on their luck type stuff. Then, as you said, it just shoots into this whole insect totem kingdom stuff and even finds a way to tie all way back to the days of World War Hulk (just typing it that way I feel old now).
Tony: Yeah, the screw-up thing was a bit eye-rolling at first, but it developed really well. I really enjoy the father-daughter relationship that Wells writes. Scott is trying so hard to make Cassie proud of him, but he’s a major screw up. He’s living in an ant-hill in someone’s front yard, and taking jobs talking to bugs. Cassie meanwhile is doing great, but she’s just getting back into the superhero thing. That’s just the starting point, and it builds into a unique relationship that could only exist amongst a superhero family.
Scott: It was so good. One thing that I really liked was how despite her own anger and feelings about her dad, at the end of the day Cassie loves her dad and doesn’t see him as a loser or the butt of the joke like other heroes do. Her disapproval of their treatment of him even puts King T’Challa in his place. Sure she can poke at his flaws, but that is her dad and anyone else that dares do such things better watch out! I miss Cassie being in more stuff, she was on such a rise as a hero and honestly I could read a regular series with the two of them. We have so few books these days focused on any type of family outside of like the Fantastic Four where its baked into the premise.
Tony: Exactly. Best of all, this is a monster punching comic (which makes sense given the giant heroes). I wish more Marvel books did monster punching stories, considering the publisher’s roots. After the plot builds up to the World Hive, it becomes all about Scott and Cassie trying to stop an intelligent monster from taking over the world, both in their own unique way.
Scott: Playing my tune right there. I remember how many people felt about the Monsters Unleashed event years ago but that was my jam right there, heroes fighting big rampaging monsters. Some Pacific Rim type stuff, give me all that.
Wells makes sure to give both the characters plenty to do in the fights, and uses their strengths and their flaws as well as their personalities perfectly. It’s not a situation where Scott does all the stuff and Cassie is just there. She plays her part and is very integral to how things go down.
Tony: Yeah, that might be one of the best parts of this! Cassie is great, and she deserves a bigger overall role in the Marvel Universe.
Burnett is an artist that I like a lot and has kind of faded out of the public eye a bit after a few high profile projects. He has this cartoony, slightly impressionistic style that fits projects with high energy and a little bit of horror really well. His depiction of all the various bugs is gross in the best ways. He makes them creepy, but also physically imposing. Though he doesn’t go into detail with them, you can tell that these big human shaped monsters are made up of millions of tiny bugs, thanks to the shapes he gives them, the illusion of motion he gives each form.
Scott: Agreed all around. It’s cartoony and proportions are off a bit but in the best way, as it captures the emotion and heart but also as you said the gross nature of the bug beings so well. Each of those bug totems and the insect lords all are imposing and terrifying as much as they are cartoonish and comical in some respects. Takes some fantastic art to really hit those sorts of emotions all at the same time, without losing anything in the process.
Tony: He’s also fantastic at the character based comedy. Scott and Cassie feel like real people even though their actions and movements are so exaggerated. He’s able to make them feel genuine, even if it’s cartoony. They’re so proud of each other, they love each other, and you can tell through how Burnett has them interact.
Scott: Every little interaction and beat in the issue with the Avengers and Black Cat/Spider-Man had me chuckling, especially the clear agitation and such radiating off Spidey anytime Scott touched Felicia or made her laugh. Jealous spider is so jealous.
There is depth and weight to the space, no matter if we’re talking the confined spaces of an ant hill/cave or the wild open Savage Land, making the world feel like one that we can move through but is also so fantastical. The depiction of the bee buddy and Chudley the ant as well as Pamela the ant had me emotional when everything goes down with them. Got me all in the feels for bugs over here!
Tony: Spicer’s colors are uniformly great throughout. He starts with a fairly bright palette, and introduces some more dark and murky colors throughout. The bright colors match the insect kingdom though. He makes the heroes feel like brightly colored beetles and butterflies, right alongside actual beetles and butterflies. But in a grat touch, as individual bugs are colored on their own, when they join a collective, like Swarm, suddenly their brightness fades. It’s subtle but significant.
Scott: I love when colorists do little but also major things like that. We expect superhero comics to be vividly colorful or gloomy dark, or a mix of the two, and it’s even better when those colors have a deeper meaning. When they can communicate something tonally that we can pick up on and get so much more out of the story. Spicer is so very good at that sort of thing.
Tony: So what’s your verdict here?
Scott: I’m so glad that we chose this out of our handful of options we were looking at to hit the Ant-Man theme. Because this is the one out of those I had not read yet and I’m very happy I’ve now read it. I sat down and read through all five issues in succession rather than my usual rate where I have a break between an issue or two (took me like two weeks to read six collected issues of another series recently).
If folks want some fun family related insect heavy Ant-Man related stuff, this should be an easy choice. Tying it back to the start, this is the sort of fun stuff we need to see more of in the Marvel films. Let heroes be fun but also do the hero thing!
Tony: Completely! More superhero books like this, please.Come on back next time as Tom returns and we check out Slaughter-House Five The Graphic Novel!