If you try to think of the saddest muppet of a hero in the Marvel Universe, you probably come up with Ant-Man. Stan Lee felt so bad for the initial Henry Pym Ant-Man that he quickly made him into Giant-Man instead. The later Scott Lang Ant-Man was used as a punchline in Brian Bendis’ Alias, before he got killed off randomly. (And plausibly, because — unlike Captain America — people think that you might just leave Ant-Man dead.)

So it makes sense that in Robert Kirkman’s The Irredeemable Ant-Man, vols. 1 and 2 , we have Ant-Man treated as a selfish, amoral asshole who uses his powers mostly to spy on women undressing. If you somehow get the sense that the new guy is putting the “ant” in “anti-hero”, well, give yourself a gold star.

The thing is, antihero books are hard to do right. If you don’t make the guy convincingly anti enough, he’s just a regular, if slightly dull, hero; if you make him too anti, the reader hates him and wants him to die. Kirkman threads the needle deftly here, and manages to balance precisely on the point where Ant-Man is doing awful things... but things that are, ultimately, able to be forgiven, if it comes down to it. Combine that with actual character development (a rarity for the monthly hero game, but possible here because these two volumes are the complete run of the title and finish the character arc), and you end up with an anti-hero that you end up, despite yourself a little bit, kind of liking.

Beyond the well-done characterization, Kirkman — who’s also the writer of the overrated Invincible, the very well done zombiepocalypse The Walking Dead, and a pile of other books — shows here that he can do humor with the best of them, with some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. This is superhero fare that stands out from the crowd with better characterization, story, and writing, and is recommended to comic fans, particularly those who might have walked past an Ant-Man title.


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