Today, we conclude our look at the 1990s Christmas comics with a spotlight on a weird Ant-Man and Wasp comic.
This is our annual Advent Calendar Comics should be good! Every day until Christmas Eve you can click on the current day’s Advent calendar post and it will show the Advent calendar with the door open for that day and you can see what will be the “Treat” for that day! You can click here to view previous Advent Calendar entries. This year the theme is a Very Dope 90s Christmas! Every day will be a 90s Christmas comic book story, maybe the ones with a specific 90s trend (it depends if I can come up with 24).
This year’s Advent calendar, of Grunge Santa Claus handing out 90s gifts, like a Tamagotchi, while posing with four superheroes in the most 90s costumes, is by Nick Perks.
And now the last day, day 24, will be open (once opened the door will have a featured story panel) …
Today we’re watching “The Big Christmas Ant-Man” from the 1999 comic book of the same name by Bob Gale and Phil Winslade (with a bunch of inkers).
In 1996, Marvel sold its Avengers and The Fantastic Four comics at Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld studios (then, halfway through, gave them all to Lee). These titles were reinstated into the Marvel Universe in 1998, so it seemed like Marvel had moved beyond the idea of raising their characters like this, but instead they did it AGAIN, but this time while keeping characters in the Marvel continuity. (unlike the Heroes Reborn comics which took place on a new Marvel Earth with its own brand new continuity, like having Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as soldiers in Desert Storm, which, I mean, right? just kinda hilarious to be, like, “Oh man, this benchmark is way too outdated, let’s use a NEW topical benchmark that will quickly be out of date!”). This time around, rather than going to Image Comics, Marvel turned to small publisher Event Comics, owned by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti, who mainly released their superhero firefighter character, Ash. The resulting line of books was called Marvel Knights and it was such a success that Marvel not only continued to do so after the first year ended, but Marvel simply decided to make Quesada the leader of the game. business as a whole!
Either way, while Marvel Knights IS an integral part of Marvel’s continuity, most of the titles involved tended not to get too involved with the rest of the Marvel Universe (Black Panther was a notable exception, but even there it tended to be later that the book had more ties to the main Marvel Universe). So that’s one of the most unusual aspects of this one-shot. It takes place during Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s run on the Avengers, with the then-current list from the book decorating Avengers Mansion with Christmas decorations.
At the time, Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne had recently re-paired, with Hank now assuming the Giant-Man identity (while having other shrinking qualities in his power set). However, he quickly fell back into his old patterns of getting caught up in his job and he and Janet argued over a family vacation …
You can tell Gale is trying a very different approach to the characters we normally see, and that’s weird, as I both enjoy the attempt on his part while also wondering if he made a mistake trying to s ‘adapt to this kind of approach on Hank and Jan. In other words, Hank and Jan don’t really speak like they do in other comics. They are more like a generic middle aged couple.
As they grapple with the drama of family to spend Christmas with, they receive a letter from a young boy who writes to Ant-Man asking him to help him over Christmas …
Even though Hank is no longer Ant-Man, the couple decide to give this boy a huge Christmas surprise. They try to call the boy ahead of time first, but of course he thinks it’s just a prank (we saw this in Avengers # 27, no one talks about the Avengers voices on the phone. because most of them seem to be normal people without their powers) …
So he and Wasp go to the boy’s house and surprise him by revealing themselves to him (Hank reverted to his Ant-man identity for this mission) (along the way, we understand that Hank and Jan have lost their access to the money, so somehow MUST stay with the kid ….
And then, hilariously and quite bizarrely, Ant-Man and Wasp set out to torment the boy’s extended family by shrinking and growing them. Honestly, it’s quite disturbing how they take annoying people and then subject them to messed up psycho and mental trauma.
Even when it’s clear that the people involved really DESERVE to be treated badly, it’s a bit of a weird setup, because then the family members look so messed up it’s like, “Why are we? we JUST playing with their heads ?, “know what I mean? Some of these relatives are damn almost criminal in their behavior !.
However, Bob Gale is such a good writer that he handles it without it being TOO crazy, and there are also sweet moments in the story, like the family of the boy who takes a special trip on a toy train. .
Honestly, it was kind of reminiscent of Home Alone, where overall it’s still a heartwarming movie, but you still get to a little boy torturing two crooks.
Either way, it was a weird yet fun comic book. Phil Winslade did a great job on the artwork for the story. He and Gale were also paired up on pretty much the final storyline in daredevil before Brian Michael Bendis resumed the series.
Merry Christmas to everyone!
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