Ant, a long-awaited Image Comics series from Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, is finally going to be a reality in 2021, Larsen shared on social media. The series originated as a kind of meta-superhero narrative, centering on 8-year-old Hannah Washington, whose father goes to prison, and who finds consolation in stories she wrote, featuring her adult self as a superhero called Ant. Wearing a head-to-tie red bodysuit that shines like an exoskeleton and has antennae, Ant fights crime, first to clear her father's name and later more generally as a traditional superheroine. That first, "meta" volume was published by Arcana, but creator Mario Gully brought Ant to Image for a second volume in 2005.
That volume, which featured guest appearances by Spawn and Savage Dragon, gave fans a look at a young adult Hannah, who has been institutionalized for falling too deep into her adolescent power fantasies. It seems, though, that it's more than a fantasy, as Ant's adventures become more real.
Big City Comics was the home to a third volume of Ant, which took on a much more adult bent -- a direction Gully began during the Image run. The third volume was cut short, though, and a few years later, Gully would sell the rights to Larsen, who initially hired him to draw a final issue to cap his Image run. The story had ended with #11, and Larsen thought a #12 to tie up loose ends made sense. After a disagreement over some content Larsen felt was too risque for a character he planned to publish as a general-audience book, Gully stepped away and Larsen announced in 2013 that he would be making an Ant book of his own. The character appeared in a crossover story when Larsen was writing and drawing both Savage Dragon and Spawn, reuniting the trio from Gully's original Image run, but has had little to do since.
"It's pretty much what I had hoped her series would have been," Larsen told ComicBook in 2016. "When Mario Gully brought Ant over to Image we'd talked a lot about the character and I'd given it a lot of thought but between the five different writers who took a crack at her book it never really found its voice. I'll finally be able to show readers what I had in mind. But a lot of the basics are essentially the same, it's not as though it's a different person under that costume or anything."
So--this is finally going to be a thing. pic.twitter.com/mZWbfO2bk3— Erik Larsen (@ErikJLarsen) February 26, 2021
The general-audiences appeal is evident from the cover Larsen released online, which features Ant standing shoulder to shoulder with the Golden Age Daredevil, a recurring guest character in Savage Dragon but one who tends to stay true to his Golden Age characterization -- meaning he's more on the straight-and-narrow than most of Savage Dragon's other characters. Larsen himself has drawn criticism for the book becoming increasingly sexualized in the last five years.
It isn't yet clear when Larsen's Ant will be on the shelf, although it seems likely to be this summer since Larsen already has a cover with trade dress made up. On Twitter, he answered some fan questions, clarifying that this would be a continuation of the previous Image series and that he would not reprint the Arcana or Big City volumes.
"Issues were written by various writers and I don't necessarily have rights to those issues," Larsen explained. "Characters were created in those which I don't own and don't have rights to. When creators have a piece of their creations, it complicates things."
While Larsen may look to get his hands on some of those comics and characters, he did concede that it may not be possible, and since he owns Ant and the creators own other elements, it could create a stalemate that makes reprints by anyone impossible for the time being.