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Comic Book / Ant-Man (2022)

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"I've been told I suffer from hubris. But...maybe that's part of what it means to be Ant-Man. Because when you're the world's smallest hero, the best thing you can do...IS THINK BIG!"
Hank Pym

Ant-Man (subtitled Ant-iversary for the collected edition) is a 2022 limited series published by Marvel Comics, timed to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the titular superhero Ant-Man. The series is written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Tom Reilly.

Each issue focuses on one of the different people who have worn the Ant-Man costume over the years - from Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, to Eric O'Grady, Scott Lang and a new Ant-Man of the year 2549, Zayn Asghar.

It was followed in 2023 by Wasp, a 60th anniversary series focusing on Ant-Man's original partner.

Ant-Man contains the following tropes:

  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: Zayn Asghar, the Ant-Man of 2549, is darker-skinned than any of the three previous Ant-Men; his name implies that he's of Iranian descent.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Deconstructed; the Black Ant copy of Eric O'Grady is fully aware that he's a robot, to the extent that he tries to release Ultron while arguing that he's following the natural order by giving himself a leader.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: As All-father Ultron once more proclaims to be Hank Pym, Lang points out that if he were Pym, he’d be using the All-father’s power to free himself from Ultron, briefly stunning their foe.
  • Art Shift: The art and writing style change as the time period does, mimicking different styles of comic book over the years:
  • Avengers Assemble: The end of issue 2 shows the Ant-Man of the 25th century has summoned the other Ant-Men to fight a future version of Ultron. Eric gets summoned up because the situation has gotten so desperate anyone will do.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Ant-Men succeed at defeating All-Father Ultron but the versions of Pym and O'Grady involved with the deed are still doomed to rather bleak fates. However, studying his predecessors has provided Zayn Asghar with vital information that could help him heal the ravaged future Earth, and all four protagonists share one joyful perfect moment of victory before they part ways.
  • The Brute: Eric lambasts All-Father Ultron for using his cosmic powers to just punch and fire laser beams at people. His foe tries to rectify this by summoning some demons, but even then all it amounts to is just giving him some Combat Tentacles.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • In the first issue the villains Trago, the Protector, Time Master and the Window-Washer all return from the original 1960s Tales to Astonish stories.
    • Skrull infiltrator Criti Noll, killed off in 2008's Secret Invasion, appears in the Eric O'Grady issue while impersonating Hank Pym.
  • Call-Back: The events of Ultron Forever play into issue 4 in a big way, the future Ant-Man coming from the same future shown there.
  • Call-Forward: With a mix of Dramatic Irony. 60s Hank hears one line of dialogue for Ultron, and states that none of his A.I.s will be programmed to act like that.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Time Master's aging ray, which just seems like part of issue 1's one-off story, comes back in issue 3. It's used to free Ultron from his prison. Vibranium may be a fictional metal, but it's still one that obeys some of the laws of physics... like entropy. Then Scott brings it along with him to the future by accident, allowing the Ant-Men to use it to defeat Ultron.
  • Comic-Book Time: Given a nod in the opening recap for issue 2, with the ant noting the events of Irredeemable, published in the early 00s, are just six years ago in Marvel Time.
  • Connected All Along: The first issue reveals that both Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady, two Legacy Character versions of Ant-Man, crossed paths with Pym early in his career.
    • O'Grady, as a teenager, pelts Pym with popcorn when he's trying to watch a movie with Janet Van Dyne.
    • Scott Lang inadvertently rescues Hank by trying to burgle the villain's soundproof lair, as Trago's music is heard by the Wasp as soon as the window's slightly open. The Wasp lets him off with a warning.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Alongside teenaged Eric is his best friend Chris McCarthy, who was the one who used the G.I.Ant suit before Eric.
    • Black Ant suggests he and Scott should exchange notes on Hench, the app seen in Nick Spencer's Ant-Man run.
    • TTA Hank Pym accidentally misnames Ultron "Ultimo".
    • When zapped by the Time-Master's age ray, Ultron shifts through some of the forms he's had over the years, including his Phalanx-Ultron form, and his Ultron-13 form, finally ending on his very first.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: In the future, Marvl apparently owns the trademarks on the phrases narrative experience, instructions, and info-dump
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Issue 2 shows Criti having a private freak out over her being punked by Eric, wondering if he knows she's a Skrull and is plotting against her, while it's already shown Eric is a complete moron who has no idea about her.
  • Everyone Has Standards: O'Grady tries to tell himself that the fact that he isn't comfortable about digging up Lang's grave is what's important, even though he still attempts it.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Tales to Astonish-era Hank comes face to face with Pymtron.
  • Hint Dropping: When Black Ant takes Cassie hostage, Scott makes numerous size-related remarks until Cassie finally uses her size-shifting abilities to escape.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Hank defeats the Ant-agonists using their own powers against them, breaking free when Time Master's aging ray ages him enough to slip his bonds, then grabbing it and using it to age Window-Washer's spritz bottle enough it decomposes, getting his paralyzing fluid on him.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: At the start of his issue, Eric O'Grady discovers that his suit is out of Pym Particles, so can't shrink. He has absolutely no idea how to get more of them. After an attempt at Grave Robbing and a battle against Criti Noll, he discovers he simply needed to tell the suit to make more.
  • Identical Grandson: Parodied with the ant narrating issue 2, who notes that the original narrator ant was his ant-cestor.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Every issue's cover has that issue's Ant-Man pictured in an identical pose, helmet under their arm, in a close up that doesn't show their face. Each of them is against a single-colour plain background.
  • Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: Desperate for more Pym Particles, O'Grady tries to dig up Scott Lang's grave in the hope that he was buried with his equipment. As is later pointed out, Lang was killed when he was blown up, so the grave is purely symbolic and there's nothing buried there.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Criti Noll in her disguise as Hank Pym used Skrull technology to upgrade the Ant Man suit. This allowing it to now synthesize its own pym particles. It makes her paranoid to retrieve it from Eric, believing he either suspected or can find out her identity as a Skrull infiltrator.
  • Info Dump: Issue #4 has a "Marvl Narrative Infodump! (TM)" to explain just who Zayn is.
  • Kill It with Fire: Thor suggests this as a solution to Ultron, dropping him in the forges of Nidavellir (which, he notes, would also give whatever's left of Hank Pym a Viking funeral). Tony rejects this because, aside from the fact this particular Ultron's survived being dunked into the Sun before, the casket keeping him contained would melt long before Ultron would.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Black Ant and Scott's fight in issue 3 has Black Ant note this is the first time the two have ever actually crossed paths.
  • Leaking Can of Evil: The Avengers hoped Ultron was a Sealed Evil in a Can after his defeat over in Iron Man, but he was still able to speak out to Black Ant and arrange his freedom.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The narration boxes for the future sections of the first issue ask viewers / readers not to spoil the villain of the piece, which anyone who's read the solicits for the final issue may know.
  • Legacy Character: A theme of the series, with each issue spotlighting a different character who's worn the Ant-Man helmet.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Turns out Black Ant is (partially) responsible for the Bad Future of Ultron Forever thanks to his actions in issue 3. Namely, freeing Ultron from his casket gave him a boost thanks to the Asgardian magic and vibranium present, allowing him to conquer Asgard and then the entire universe.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: An enforced trope. Criti uses a washroom while impersonating Hank Pym and the mirror shows her undisguised Skrull form. This is a narrative device for the reader's benefit, as her in-universe reflection doesn't reveal her disguise.
  • Morton's Fork: Sitting alone in an apartment, Eric O'Grady considers all his possible options, concluding that no matter what he does, he'll die in jail.
  • Nanomachine: In the future, a lot of Earth species including most ants have gone extinct, so the Ant-Man of that time uses nanoscale robot ants instead. Though they can manipulate atoms, so far they have failed in their intended purpose of restoring Earth's ecosystem.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Criti Noll (the Skrull impersonating Pym) actually used Skrull technology to make the new Ant-Man suit, with the result that O'Grady's suit is significantly more dangerous than what Criti can achieve when he tries to go after O'Grady in the original suit.
    • Zayn's illegal time travel experiments inadvertently allow the Ultron of his time to recorporate himself after being killed in Ultron Forever.
  • Noodle Incident: The fake recap page for issue 4 lists several future Marvel comics as being part of the events of the Ultron: Forever future, including "Mighty Thor #4774", "Avenging Ultron: The All-Father Imperative", "Immortal Doom: The End Omega" and "All-New New Champions".
  • No-Respect Guy: Lampshaded by Cassie Lang, who points out that Scott shouldn't have to suck up to the other Avengers, given he's just as accomplished as any of them; it's implied that they would respect him more if he wasn't so desperate for their approval.
  • Painting the Medium: The narration boxes for the scenes in the 60s are typically bombastic for that time period. The ones in the unspecified future era are terse and branded to fit not only the time period but the sterile laboratory setting, as if they were being spoken by a computer.
  • The Quisling: After being caught by Ultron, O'Grady- having yet to undergo the Character Development that would make him marginally less of a Dirty Coward- immediately begins pleading for his life by offering to be a henchman or stoolie. Of course, once Ultron is defeated, he immediately claims he was deliberately trying to distract Ultron so the others could beat him.
  • Recurring Element: Each of the Ant-Men appears in some respect in each of the four issues.
    • In issue 1, a teenage Eric O'Grady pesters Hank Pym at the cinema, while Scott Lang appears as a burglar trying to break into the Ant-Agonists' base.
    • In issue 2, the Skrull duplicate of Hank Pym catches Eric O'Grady in the act of trying to dig up Scott Lang's grave.
    • In issue 3, Scott Lang is tasked with dealing with the fused Hank Pym/Ultron, only for Black Ant, a robot copy of Eric O'Grady, to attack him.
    • In issue 4, all three previous Ant-Men team up with Zayn Asghar, who had made appearances time traveling back to each of the previous issues.
  • Retraux:
    • Issue 1 is written and drawn in the style of Hank's Tales to Astonish-era adventures.
    • Issue 2 is drawn in imitation of Irredeemable Ant-Man's art.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Hank uses his ants to scare a young Eric O'Grady out of pelting him any further.
  • Sequel Episode: Issue 4 to Ultron Forever. It's even titled Ant-Man Forever.
  • Sequel Hook: It's left vague whether All-Father Ultron is actually defeated this time, or has just been sent careening back into the timestream. The narration box advises readers to check future Marvl releases.
  • Shout-Out: Black Ant begins issue 3 comparing himself to the Philip K. Dick story "The Electric Ant".
  • Sliding Timescale: Lampshaded and played with. Even though the flashback sequences are, in-universe, supposed to be only to about fifteen and six years ago respectively, Hank and Janet are seen visiting a 60s-style movie theater, while Eric asks Zayn to tell him what happens in future episodes of Lost.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • The Avengers are unable to assist Scott in issue 3 due to being called away for Avengers stuff.
    • The Ant-Man of 2549 mentions there are heroes in his time he could call, but they're too far out to get there quickly enough to deal with the problem.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Like in the original Tales to Astonish, Hank’s ants spell out messages for him and the Wasp. Here, it’s shown the difficulties of creatures that can’t speak English trying to communicate in it (namely, misspelling help as “HLEP”)
    • As the narrator ant points out, the one from 14 years ago was its ancestor. Ants don’t live for that long.
  • That Man Is Dead: Scott Lang is very insistent there's no Hank Pym left in the Pym-Ultron merge.
  • Uncertain Doom: It’s not made clear what happened to Pym’s body when Ultron was regressed by the Time Ray.
  • Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: Why Black Ant's up to what he's up to in issue 3. He was made for a Kill and Replace scenario, but the being that made him has long been defeated. He's a robot made to follow orders without orders to follow (and you can only hang out with Taskmaster for so long). Fortunately, Ultron provides him with something to do.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Tony Stark outlines the simple plan to get rid of Ultron for good this time. It goes wrong.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Eric versus Criti in issue 3 has Criti discarding the Yellowjacket costume she preferred to go after him in the prototype G.I. Ant outfit from Irredeemable. Eric's only saved from death via unexpected time-travel summons.
  • Villainous BSoD: Scott Lang manages to temporarily shut Ultron's claim of being part-Hank Pym down by asking why, if he's got all the power he has, he never tried separating himself from Ultron. This gives the kill-bot a momentary existential crisis... and then he defaults to Ultron's usual solution: Kill everything in sight.
    Ultron: I'm Pym-
    Scott: Bull! You can't be! Because if the real Hank had the power of the All-Father, he wouldn't rest until he'd used it - TO FREE HIMSELF FROM ULTRON!
    Ultron: ... What? NO. I am Henry Pym. I am. I... I am... I AM ULTRON!
  • We Need a Distraction: Eric's contribution to the final battle amounts to being an unwilling volunteer of this trope as he's too much of a coward to fight All-Father Ultron, he just tries to run away from him. This paradoxically allows him to last longer against the mad god than any of his predecessors, giving the other Ant-Men time to think up a solution.
  • Worf Had the Flu: All-Father Ultron spends most of issue 4 not quite at full power after his resurrection, allowing the Ant-Men to fight him without being killed instantly.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Zayn Asghar's name would more typically be spelled "Zain", but the Y gives it a futuristic twist.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Cassie's general speech to Scott, after seeing him acting like a Butt-Monkey despite years of competent superheroing under his belt.