Friday, May 30, 2014

Book-A-Day 2104 #149: The Irredeemable Ant-Man by Kirkman, Hester, and Parks

Eric O'Grady makes a very unlikely superhero: he's obsessed with sex (in a very schoolboyish, voyeuristic way, so as to be more general-comics appropriate), better at lying than at any useful pursuit, shallow, vain, not particularly smart, unmotivated, and a coward. He's a SHIELD agent for pretty much the reason young men in our world are in the military: it was a way out of his podunk town, and it sounds more impressive than the desk-jockey surveillance-officer reality.

But he is the central character of The Irredeemable Ant-Man -- "hero" really isn't the word for him -- and he's wearing a supersuit most of the time and living in the Marvel Universe with Nick Fury, the Hulk, and Wolverine. And -- not to give the ending away, or anything -- but the ending of this collection of his adventures sees him teary-eyed as he pledges to give up his wastrel ways, grow up, and be a Real Superhero Just Like The Ones He Loves! So perhaps this book is not so much "world's worst superhero," as it's usually billed, but more like "world's longest origin story," as if Spider-Man's wrestling career and self-satisfied pursuit of money was drawn out for a dozen issues before being clobbered by the hairy thumb of Stan Lee's plot.

(After this point, young Eric bounced around minor teams on the superhero/villain border, before unsuccessfully dying -- one of the requirements of a modern superhero is at least one death -- and completing his long heel-face turn.)

But we can enjoy Eric is his fully irredeemable state in the stories collected here -- all written by Robert Kirkman and pencilled by Phil Hester, though the cover claims the second artist is Cory Walker and the interior insists that it's Ande Parks -- as he takes the supersuit from his dead friend's body (admittedly, while their flying headquarters was crashing during an attack), goes on the run with the suit, and engages in mostly antisocial behavior. The SHIELD agent sent to retrieve the suit is of course someone we readers can hate, and Kirkman puts his own hairy thumb on the scales late in this book to make Eric look somewhat better than the alternative.

It's decent superhero stuff, smart enough not to take itself too seriously and willing to mildly ding the assumptions of the genre (though not too far, of course: got to remember who's buying this!). And it's definitely amusing to see such a classic anti-hero stuck into this situation.

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

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