Review by C.J. Bunce
Originally released in 2015, Jason Starr’s Ant-Man: Natural Enemy is back in a new paperback edition as part of Titan Books’ new novels of the Marvel Universe. Separate from the stories in the comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s still tough if you’ve watched the movies to separate Scott Lang from Ant-Man and Ant-Man and The Wasp actor Paul Rudd. But why would you want to? Readers or moviegoers new to Ant-Man who missed out on classic Dr. Hank Pym Tales to Astonish in the classic comics or S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady in Robert Kirkman, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks’ The Irredeemable Ant-Man will want to put those on their reading list. But if the movies are what reeled you in to become an Ant-Man fan, get ready for even more fun with Scott Lang in Ant-Man: Natural Enemy.
Scott’s daughter Cassie is living with him in New York, with custody being amicably split with her mother and Scott’s ex-wife Peggy, now living in the Pacific Northwest. Cassie is a teen now, so along with Scott using online dating to find companionship he also is trying to look out for Cassie as she is looking for her first boyfriend. As they both try to get along with each other and face uphill battles in their hours apart each day, a piece of Scott’s past creeps in. When Scott was in jail he made plenty of criminal acquaintances. Scott ultimately turned state’s evidence on one of the smarter criminals, Willie Dugan, after Scott met Dr. Pym and began to take on the role newly minted good guy and superhero Ant-Man. Dugan has now escaped from Attica, and the FBI puts Scott, Cassie, and Peggy in protective custody. Scott refuses the help of Iron Man Tony Stark and the resources of the Avengers, figuring Dugan is a small-time hood that he can handle. That’s until several of Scott’s old jail acquaintances end up dead, and Cassie seemingly vanishes while under the watchful eye of an FBI agent.
Ant-Man: Natural Enemy is surprisingly real and current. Both Scott and Cassie struggle with the negatives of current technologies. Cassie is bullied on the Internet by her peers at school. Scott can’t seem to meet the right people via dating apps. Scott is as down-to-Earth as a superhero can be. Fans of the laid back hero motif in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comic book series will feel right at home with the similarly put-upon everyman Scott Lang. And if you liked watching Peter Parker’s day-to-day goings on in the big city in Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover (reviewed here at borg.com), you may also find Starr’s novel to be a good read. Cassie becomes as interesting an heir to Scott as Scott was to Dr. Pym.
In light of the thousands of Batman and Superman stories that have been told, it’s easy to slip into a new superhero story not tied to another series. While the movie Scott Lang’s life hangs in the balance after the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and The Wasp, fans of the character stand ready to read hundreds of more stories about his adventures in the micro-world.