Today’s new guide for Patrons of Crushing Krisis covers one Marvel’s first Silver Age superheroes who was among the last to get his own ongoing series – and that series featured the third iteration of this hero…
Ant-Man & Giant-Man – The Definitive Reading Order and Collecting Guide
This is one of the handful of Marvel guides that have been stymieing me for months now. I think you’ll soon understand why.
The original Ant-Man was Hank Pym, who debuted in a late-Atlas-era monstrous one-shot story in Tales to Astonish just as Marvel’s Silver Age superhero universe was gaining traction.
He was quickly brought back as a superhero (rather than a mad scientist) to anchor anthology stories in that title as well as to found the Avengers, though he was immediately super-sized in Giant-Man while Wasp held on to the miniaturizing powers of the couple.
Hank Pym would go on to be one of the Marvel characters to hold the most different superhero names in the course of his career – Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket – later he even took Janet’s name of The Wasp!
When Pym abandoned the Ant-Man name for good in the late 70s, Scott Lang took over. (There was a precedent for this – Pym’s lab assistant Bill Foster nabbed the Goliath name in 1975 when Pym and Hawkeye were through with it. He’s in the guide, too.)
Lang was more of an everyman than Pym – an electrical engineer who turned to a brief life of crime when his career could not support his wife and young daughter. Now a single father working for Stark Industries, most of Lang’s Ant-Man missions were his way to atone for his crimes or a thank you to Tony Stark for taking a chance on hiring a former convict.
Scott Lang as Ant-Man was a solid supporting player in the Marvel Universe for over 25 years, but he was never a solo star outside of a handful of anthology issues. That made him an easy Avenger for Brian Bendis to kill off in Avengers Disassembled in 2005 – and Lang wouldn’t return until just shy of Avengers vs. X-Men in 2012.
In his absence, we got a third Ant-Man – Eric O’Grady. O’Grady broke with the tradition of Ant-Man being a scientist, but kept up the trend of Ant-Man having some questionable ethics … after all, not only was Scott Lang a convict, but Hank did invent Ultron and (infamously) physically abuse Janet.
O’Grady was an entry-level SHIELD agent, but he used his Ant-Man powers to engage all of his worse impulses as a crook and a sexist in The Irredeemable Ant-Man in 2006 (the first Ant-Man ongoing title!).
Ever a follower of the path of least resistance, he joined Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts during Dark Reign. Later, it was Steve Rogers who gave him the chance to become a real hero in Secret Avengers.
With O’Grady out of the picture in Marvel Now, Scott Lang returned to the Ant-Man mantle just in time for Marvel to tee up his starring role as Ant-Man in their Cinematic Universe. That meant Ant-Man appeared in FF, and then Original Sin, before he finally landed his second (and, thanks to Secret Wars, third) ongoing title in 2015, penned by Nick Spencer.
Scott Lang’s Ant-Man ongoing wasn’t very long-lived, but it helped him cement himself in the middle of the Marvel Universe and in the hearts of writers and readers alike. It seems that he will be our Ant-Man for the foreseeable future, especially as he starred in a second Ant-Man movie in 2018.
Whew… that’s a lot of characters and character history, especially with Hank Pym’s constant name-swapping!
That made for a lengthy and tricky guide as I worked out where Hank Pym appeared in which identity, how to track Scott Lang through years of guest appearances, and where Eric O’Grady popped up (and when he disappeared).
Altogether this wound up taking a little on the higher-side of a typical Silver Age hero guide, which doesn’t even really indicate how confusing the whole endeavor was. I don’t feel like I even had a plan for the structure of the page until at least four hours into working on it.
There are still a handful of additions I’d like to make – including when Hawkeye took over as Goliath, some further tracking for Hank Pym, and the ANAD-era Giant Man. However, as a guide to the mantle of Ant-Man, it’s totally complete!
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DC Guides: Animal Man, Catwoman, Batman – Index Ongoing Titles, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Flash, Justice League, Nightwing, Outsiders, Teen Titans & Young Justice
Marvel Guides: Alpha Flight, Ant-Man & Giant-Man, Champions, Darkhawk, Dazzler, Gwenpool, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Moon Boy / Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan, Scarlet Witch, Sentry, Silk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Venom