Welcome to Comics Wiki Adventures, a weekly deep dive into just how unhinged comics can be. I will randomly select a character from comics and read their wiki each week.
I will then take only the choicest bits and serve them to you, over easy. What does that mean? I don’t know.
Anyway, today’s randomly generated character is:
Marvel Comics Own: Ant-Man
Which Ant-Man, you ask? Well, if you already know there’s more than one of them, why bother me for trivia? If you know so much, write your own articles (No, wait. Don’t leave).
Well, I’ll tell you…all three! Yes, there have been three Ant-Mans (Ant-Men?), and I will be sifting through all three. First, there’s Henry Pym, the original, then Scott Lang of movie fame, and finally, Eric O’Grady of being a total piece of garbage fame.
A fun fact about the Ant-Men is that they are all, to various degrees, awful. So let’s do this from least terrible to most, really give ourselves a satisfying ramp-up.
I’ll rate them on personal issues, ineffectiveness, and their crimes’ Enormity.
The Least Terrible Ant-Man in Comics: Scott Lang
Ok, I lied. They’re not all terrible. Finding Scott at the bottom of the list may be a surprise, considering he is a known burglar. But he’s got two things working for him. One, he’s not either of the other two Ant-Men, who are sometimes insanely over-the-top evil. And two, he has a kid to take care of.
To be clear, I am not advocating stealing. Not even from giant corporations that can afford it. Even if they deserve it for crimes against their own workers and the world itself. Which I didn’t say they do.
Anyway, Scott’s daughter had a heart condition, and only one doctor could fix it. Or maybe others could have, too. The wiki isn’t super clear on that. But either way, Scott wanted Dr. Erica Sondheim to do it, and she said no. So he did the only reasonable thing, given his set of skills. He robbed a superhero*.
He breaks into the first Ant-Man’s home, takes the suit, and immediately returns to see the doctor. Why he thought being dressed like Ant-Man would help, I have no idea. Maybe her nephew is having a birthday party he can show up to?
But luckily for Scott, there is no need to subject himself to that sort of humiliation. Dr. Sondheim is revealed to be held hostage by Darren Cross, the C.E.O. of Cross Technological Enterprises (probably a coincidence), and later the supervillain Yellowjacket.
He is keeping her to have her treat his own heart condition. This makes sense. It’s not like a doctor could treat two people’s heart conditions. Or that the C.E.O. of a company capable of rivaling Stark Industries could simply pay literally anyone else to do this.
Darren dies in the resulting fight (he gets better later), and Erica eventually helps Scott’s daughter. So everything turns out great. I am sure it gets incredibly complicated and probably involves multiple additional fights with Darren, but that’s outside our purview here.
It also turns out Pym has been watching Scott this whole time, and while Scott offers to return the suit (Oh, geez mista, I was just borrowin’ it), Pym lets him keep it permanently.
And so the worst thing Scott Lang ever did was a fantastic thing that saved at least two people’s lives and killed a C.E.O.**. Great work all around.
So that’s pretty much all pro for Scott. But, on the other hand, he is from Florida.
Personal issues: 2
Scott is well-liked beyond his early issues with his family caused by his burglary.
Scott is about as effective as a bug-based superhero could be.
Enormity of crimes: 2
Only this high because I have no idea who he burglarized in his early days. If this was just based on taking things away from Hank Pym, this would be a -100.
* After consulting multiple other wikis, I discovered that Dr. Sondheim’s abduction is what precluded her from helping Scott in the first place. But unfortunately, no information is available about why she was the only person who could help. I know it may seem callous for Scott to let someone be kidnapped, but he could have just called the police and then gotten some other cardiac specialist, right?
** who was a supervillain. To be clear, that is the only reason it was a good thing he died.
The Second Least Terrible Ant-Man in Comics: Eric O’Grady
Now, this was a close call. Upon careful reflection, I have decided that Eric is not as bad as Hank, but I need to provide that disclaimer because Eric is genuinely awful.
Instead, they knock Pym out (“by mistake”), then straight up ransack the lab and steal an experimental suit. Although, to be fair, Pym has been pretty lax in doling out punishments for that sort of thing.
Chris puts on the suit and shrinks himself accidentally. Now, I have to assume Eric knows what Ant-Man’s powers are. The man works for S.H.I.E.L.D. And yet somehow, when he sees his friend vanish, he instantly panics and runs away.
So obviously, Eric is in the wrong career. Still, his massive cowardice and incompetence aren’t the worst thing about what he did that day. Having concluded that his best friend is dead, he does the only sensible thing and informs Chris’ long-term girlfriend, Veronica King.
Specifically, he informs her that Chris cheated on her. Which would be bad enough, even if Chris wasn’t tiny in a nearby vent watching the whole thing.
Veronica is, understandably, a bit upset by this and tries to find Chris, but the Helicarrier is attacked by Hydra. They fight the incursion off, but Chris dies in the fight, and Eric strips his dead friend right there in the corridor and takes the suit home with him.
I want to take this opportunity to remind you Eric is only the SECOND worst.
So naturally, he uses the suit to fight crime in his off time, and for once, he does something remotely decent. A man is beating his wife, and Eric punches him so hard in the neck that he is “seriously injured.”
There is a lot of wiggle room there. A serious injury could mean the guy could have whiplash or be paralyzed, so kind of a grab bag. But at least he protected someone, so I have to give him credit there.
He also was still working as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. As a side note, what has happened to this country when a man with a shrinking suit and zero morals still has to work a day job?
His boss Mitch Carson is trying to track him down and prove he stole the suit. Why is that necessary when Dr. Pym saw Eric and Chris knock him out right before his property vanished? No idea. It’s not like due process is an issue for these people typically. But anyway, Mitch fails when Eric burns half of his face off and later has the gall to pin the theft on him.
In the meantime, Eric continues pursuing Veronica. He even uses their shared grief over Chris’ death to get closer to her. Eventually, they sleep together, she gets pregnant, and he abandons her. Yeah.
He also routinely uses his shrinking powers to spy on other women while they are changing, including Ms. Marvel (the Carol Danvers version, not Kamala Khan. I hunted that one down to be sure).
All told an absolute monster. So let’s go to the stats!
Personal issues: 67
Eric is a petty jerk who betrays old friends at the absolute first chance he gets. You’d have to be a real mess to do worse than this.
Eric mostly hides and routinely fails even at that.
Enormity of crimes: 100
Eric is a sex criminal, plain and simple. He’s also a thief, but it’s hard to say that really changed the score much, considering.
The Least Least Terrible Ant-Man in Comics: Hank Pym
Going into this one, I know it seems like it will be a tough sell to convince you Hank is worse than Eric. But I promise it won’t be.
Per the wiki, Dr. Hank Pym was an “entomologist, biochemist, roboticist, engineer, and physicist.” He invented the Pym particles that let people shrink and grow and a remarkable amount of size-related superhero names. Ant-Man, Yellowjacket, Giant-Man, and Goliath all started with him.
He’s also a jerk. The most famous example is slapping his wife, Janet Van Dyne, which seems terrible, but I’m sure there’s an explanation. Not an excuse, of course, but surely he must have had a reason of some sort.
Ah, here we go. He was stressed since he’d been shooting people trying to surrender and was up for a court marshall from the Avengers. So he devised a great way to get back in their good graces: fake an attack by a robot to disrupt the trial. He’d program it so he was the only one who could stop it and be heralded a hero.
When Janet wasn’t into the “fake an attack” thing and tried to talk Hank out of it, he slapped her. Which, if anything, makes the situation look worse.
This is compounded by the fact that Pym had created the evil android Ultron not too long before using his own brain patterns. I’m sure we’ll cover Ultron in the future, but if you haven’t heard of him, here’s a quick summary: He sucks. As he is a villain in a comic book, he constantly fails. But, in alternate worlds, he has destroyed humanity entirely. So Hank Pym is responsible for trillions of deaths.
So that alone would make him the absolute worst, but then there is an extra wrinkle. Hank and Janet dated for quite some time, but though Hank wanted to propose, he was too shy. Then one day, he dropped some chemicals in his lab and suddenly had “a radical temporary personality change.”
Having Jekyled himself from being of incel to being another, worse kind of incel, he started calling himself Yellowjacket. Then, when no one seemed to care about his proclamation that he’d killed Hank Pym, he kidnapped Janet and forced her to marry him.
In a sane story, this would fail when Hank wrested control of his body back and gained the courage to ask Janet to marry him. But here, Janet just decides to play along. The rest of the Avengers too. They actually come to the wedding. I am sure they eat canapes, and Thor catches the bouquet.
The wedding is attacked, as is the fate of all such ceremonies in comics. The shock of seeing Janet in danger undoes the psychotic break Hank had. But they don’t redo the wedding. They just let it stand. This is probably fair, though, since he continues to fight crime as the Yellowjacket. So clearly, there was never really any difference.
So, how do the ratings come back on Hank?
Personal issues: All of them.
Hank is a sullen jerk who hits his wife, whom he married while pretending to be someone else. He’s a stone-cold loony, and he still somehow gets to work with the Avengers. Top marks.
Hank could be better, but I must admit he gets more done than Eric in the superhero name department, if nothing else.
Enormity of crimes: 1e^100
Literally a googolplex of death, destruction, sexual assault, and physical battery. Just a chef’s kiss of complete awfulness.
So That is Ant-Man!
Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you might also like this previous entry on Green Lantern! Or if, for some inexplicable reason, you want to check out something I didn’t write, you can check out this review on Octopath Traveler 2! I didn’t complete the first one, but I hear this one is also good. So now I get to feel bad about not finishing two of them!
Let me know in the comments below what you think is the Least terrible character in comics and what character I should randomly select next!