We’re just weeks away from Paul Rudd putting on Scott Lang's suit and helmet as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Ant-Man. To many, Lang seemed like an odd choice when Marvel could have used the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, just as easily.
But Lang is a hero in his own right, and he’s got the comics to prove it. We’ve taken a look at Scott Lang’s 36-year superhero career, and picked out five of his best stories for your enjoyment.
“To Steal an Ant-Man!”/”The Price of a Heart!” (Marvel Premiere #47-48)
Writer: David Michelinie Artist: John Byrne
While Avengers #181 is technically Scott Lang’s first appearance, this two-parter in Marvel Premiere is his first outing as “The Astonishing An-Man.” The origin story introduces Lang as a normal human working as an electrical engineer at Stark International while raising his daughter, Cassie, as a single parent.
It’s concern for his daughter’s health the spurs Lang to steal Hank Pym’s old Ant-Man suit and attempt to rescue the only surgeon capable of saving Cassie’s life from the clutches of industrialist supervillain Darren Cross. The story is a classic Marvel superhero adventure, with light social class themes sprinkled in (the hero is an ex-con risking his second chance at life in order to save his daughter, while the villain is a millionaire harvesting hearts from the homeless to feed his corporate ambition), and a fantastic introduction to the character.
“Hulk Is Where the Heart Is!”/”The Man Who Would Be Hulk”/”The Hero Within” (Iron Man #131-133)
Writers: David Michelinie and Bob Layton Artist: Jerry Bingham
In this three-part story, Lang and Dr. Sondheim (the surgeon from the Marvel Premiere story) are recruited as part of Tony Stark’s attempt to finally cure Bruce Banner of the Hulk. The plan backfires, leaving Banner trapped as the Hulk permanently. Iron Man is able to subdue the Hulk so that Sondheim can undo the damage, but the battle leaves him trapped in his own armor.
The finale is a twist on the “Fantastic Voyage” style-story, with Ant-Man shrinking down and inserting himself into the innards of the Iron Man's armor in an attempt to save the hero before he runs out of air. It’s exactly the kind of story Ant-Man was meant to tell.
“Assault on a Mind Cage!”/”The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster” (Avengers #195-196)
Writer: David Michelinie Artist: George Perez
In this George Perez illustrated Avengers tale, Lang teams up with Hank Pym (then operating under his Yellowjacket persona) to rescue the Wasp from a criminal institution held her captive. The resulting adventure of Earth’s Tiniest Heroes reveals that the institute is actually a training ground for supervillains’ hired henchmen, created by the villain Taskmaster.
In Taskmaster’s first appearance, he proves himself a formidable foe not just for Ant-Man, Wasp, and Yellowjacket, but the Avengers as a whole. Deciding there’s no profit in the fight, Taskmaster slips away. But he becomes a perennial thorn in Ant-Man’s side, and about the closest thing Lang has to an arch nemesis. The two would clash again in Avengers #223, Marvel Team-Up #103, and in the pages of the most recent Ant-Man solo series (more on that later).
FF Vol. 2
Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Mike Allred
Things got complicated for Scott Lang. He died, was resurrected via time travel, and saw Cassie (then a Young Avenger in her own right, going by the name Stature) killed by Doctor Doom. After a short stint with the Defenders, Lang is recruited by the Fantastic Four to become the leader of the Future Foundation while Reed Richards takes his family on an interdimensional vacation. The trip is only meant to take moments in real time, but when the Fantastic Four don’t return, Lang finds himself stuck leading the replacement squad and being a surrogate father to the motley crew of genius children.
The light-hearted series is full of sci-fi adventure. Lang tries to work through his grief as he adjusts to a leadership role he didn’t ask for, focuses the team’s resources into getting revenge on Doom, and enters a romantic relationship with Ms. Thing, Darla Deering. Seeing Lang as a fish-out-of-water is charming, and it features perfectly matched artwork of Mike Allred.
Ant-Man Vol. 2
Writer: Nick Spencer Artist: Ramon Rosanas
During the events of Axis, an inverted Doctor Doom used his and Scarlet Witch’s magical powers to resurrect Cassie Lang. With Cassie back in the fold, the new Ant-Man solo series goes back to basics with Scott Lang, as he tries embracing fatherhood with the daughter he once thought he lost for good.
Unfortunately for Scott, Cassie’s mother decides some distance from Cassie’s superhero father, and the lifestyle that got her killed in the first place, is what’s needed. She moves herself and Cassie to Miami, but Scott is persistent and follows suit, opening up a private security firm where he can use his superhero skills for legitimate business purposes.
Writer Nick Spencer brought his humor and love of B-list villains, which was put on full display in Superior Foes of Spider-Man, to this series with Scott hiring a villain called Grizzly – who wears a bear-shaped exoskeleton suit – as an employee in his firm. Balancing humor and heart in equal measure, it’s Marvel’s most recent sleeper hit.
The series “ended” with issue #5 to make room for Secret Wars, but it will be back with even more smalltime villains in October.
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