While Marvel’s Civil War panel at Wizardworld LA is still going on, just announced was a new October-launching Ant-Man ongoing series by writer Robert Kirkman and art by penciler Phil Hester, inker Ande Parks, and colorist Bill Crabtree.
Newsarama had a chance to catch-up with Kirkman earlier this week for a brief conversation about the series. The first order of business was to ask who this new series will star, given Scott Lang joined the choir invisible during the “Avengers: Disassembled” storyline and Hank Pym seem comfortable in his Yellowjacket gear of late…
”It's a new guy,” revealed Kirkman. “Marvel was pushing for me to use zombie Scott Lang after the success of Marvel Zombies but I pushed against it. Hank Pym is a big part of the book but the man behind the suit is going to be a totally new guy. There are two guys in possession of the suit. Eric O'Grady and Chris McCarthy, they're two low level S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who, for lack of a better term, steal the Ant-Man armor accidentally. The plot kinda goes from there.”
Kirkman said much of the focus of the series is on the two lead characters, Eric and Chris.
”Chris is the all-American, the hero,” explained the writer. “He and Eric have been friends for a long time, through college, through the military, and into S.H.I.E.L.D. Thing is, Eric is kinda this rotten guy. He'll do whatever he has to do just to get by, and little else. He's been sort of manipulating Chris into dragging him along with him. At the risk of giving away too much of the plot, Eric turns on Chris, things get ugly. All the while Chris is trying to learn how to use this new Ant-Man armor, and they're both trying to keep their jobs. And at the same time, Hank Pym and S.H.I.E.L.D. are trying to find this missing armor.
“There's a LOT going on in this book.”
And as mentioned previously, the original Ant-Man – Hank Pym – is not forgotten in this series. And it will feature other familiar faces as well…
“Hank Pym is a central member of the cast,” said Kirkman. “Also, the whole first arc (and possibly beyond, you never know) takes place on board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, so there are going to be a lot of familiar faces walking around in the halls. Wolverine, for instance, has a cameo in the first issue.
“When I was developing the series I realized that the Helicarrier is this floating city with hundreds, if not thousands of people living on it. There's potential there for some great stories. I mean that has got to be the craziest place in the world to live and work. So yeah, this is going to be at the heart of the Marvel Universe and we're going to be seeing a lot of familiar faces.”
So with the “who’s” outta the way, the next question was “why”? Why an ongoing series about a guy who shrinks and hangs out with ants?
“Ant-Man is cool,” said Kirkman directly. “Ant-Man is one of the core Marvel Characters. He was right there with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four back in the sixties. He was a feature in Tales to Astonish but he never had his own series. To this day I don't think there's ever been an Ant-Man regular series. A mini here, a one-shot there, but never a full series. So this is pretty cool in that I think this is the last of the Stan and Jack creations to get his own series. And in honor of that we're going to gut the character and take things in a "bold new direction." It's going to be a lot of fun.”
But not the same exact kind of “fun” fans of Kirkman may be expecting…
”This is going to be a dark superhero tale,” he revealed. “It's not going to be Super-Hero-Rape-tacular or anything like that, but it's not going to be as ‘fun’ as Marvel Team-Up. It'll still be plenty fun, because that's just how I am... but the focus of the story is on these two complex characters and some really crappy stuff that happens to them and how they deal with it.
”I think the tone will be something in the middle of Invincible and Walking Dead. It's a superhero book, make no mistake, but it's going to have a depth and emotion to it that I think Marvel Team-Up doesn't have.”
Finally, we asked Kirkman about working with artist Phil Hester and what he and his art team bring to the table. The writer said no matter what, the book is going to be “pretty”…
“I could write this thing in Klingon and it'd still be a great book just because it's so pretty,” he said.
“Phil intimidates me into writing better stories, I think,” continued Kirkman. “Or at least making me try to. Phil himself is a fantastic writer. If you haven't read The Coffin or Deep Sleeper or The Atheist or the dozens of other things he's written you really are missing out.
“Ande Parks is putting me in the same boat with his Oni books Union Station and Capote in Kansas... I'm surrounded by writers on this thing.
“On the art side of things I'm not sure I could do this book with anyone else. I'm trying to make this comic super-dense. We're formatting the pages on a loose 16-panel grid just like Dark Knight Returns. That means a lot of panels and a lot of story. It's a hard book to pencil, ink and color... and it's coming out just beautiful!
“I'm trying to cram two or three issues worth of stuff in each issue. I'm trying to make sure everyone buying this book feels like they're getting their money's worth. It could have been a train wreck, but Phil, Ande, and Bill are pros. I just worry about poor little Rus Wooton, our letterer... he's going to be in an asylum by the time we make it to issue #3.”
Look for more on Ant-Man in the coming months here at Newsarama.
MORE WIZARDWORLD: LA COVERAGE:
DC Universe: One Year Greater Panel
Matt Fraction on His Punisher: War Journal Ongoing Series
Robert Kirkman Talks New Ant-Man ongoing series
X-Men Changes Panel
Garth Ennis on his Wildstorm Midnigther series
David Hine On X-Men: Civil War
DC Nation Tour Panel
Joe Quesada's Cup 'O Joe Panel
Ultimate Universe - JMS' Squadron Supreme Crossover in Ultimate Power
J. Scott Campbell Signs Marvel Exlusive/To Do Spider-Man With Jeph Loeb
Marvel to Publish OGN Based on HALO Videogame
Mondo Marvel Panel