Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Irredeemable Ant-Man #12

I really enjoyed the flippant approach to a “previously in” blurb that opened this issue, even if it was somewhat misleading. The more straightforward, business-like demeanor that fills the rest of the book seems to contrast the lighter tone of that introduction. As the final issue of the new Ant-Man’s self-titled series, I guess the pressure was on to wrap up a lot of the book’s loose ends and move him forward to life as a member of the Initiative, though, so that mood shift may just come with the territory.

The character himself is an interesting change of pace from your typical superheroic fare. Instead of using his powers to help those less fortunate and fight global threats, he incorporates them to better his own life. He’s not a great guy – someone who shirks responsibility, runs from commitment and turns on his friends - but he’s good enough at covering his tracks and fast talking his way out of any situation that he’s managed to trick most of his peers into accepting him as one of their own.

I like that concept, the guy who fancies himself a hero but doesn’t reinforce the idea through his actions, but it’s a tricky thing to pull off. He has to be presented as someone the reader can root for, despite his downfalls and shortcomings, and I didn’t get that in this issue. He feels more like a douchebag than an identifiable guy with problems. Maybe that’ll make him a good match for Tony Stark’s team of registered heroes, where he’ll be part of a team effort rather than the only man in the spotlight, but that’s neither here nor there. At the very least, the issue’s parting shot works for him tremendously, and left me with the impression that writer Robert Nirnman has more than just a foggy idea of what he’s created.

As the artist for several high-profile ongoing titles over the years, Phil Hester has done enough quality work to earn my respect, and he doesn’t stray too far from that norm here. He’s done better work, particularly during his runs with Green Arrow and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, but still provides a solid contribution. Even though his actual character detailing is kept very minimal and simplified, he knows how to differentiate one face from the other. That’s particularly important when he’s dealing with more than a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, dressed in identical wardrobe with just their heads exposed. Nobody feels like a clone, which is something that really helps the reader connect with the human element of this kind of an operation. He doesn’t knock my socks off anywhere in this issue, but the story didn’t really give him any opportunities to.

This felt every bit like a farewell, a conclusion to the story, when I think the goal was to use it as a sort of handoff from one series to another. I’d expect a certain degree of closure, but a clean break like this makes it seem like the character is headed out to pasture. That string of goodbyes (seriously, he bids adieu to half a dozen different people) leads the story to feel very one-track and monotonous. I never felt like I was fully brought up to speed as a new reader, either, but now I’m starting to nitpick. I wanted to like this, but it never really came through. I’m recommending you flip through it, which is a shame because from all indications the previous issues told a much better story.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 5

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