The Ant by Mario Gully

 

I first came across this one randomly a while back. I had never heard of it but it seems to have some sort of an underground following in terms of popularity. It looked bizarre and was just strange and rare enough that it fit into the category of what I had to check out.

Mario Gully is a comic artist from Indiana. He, I believe, started his career with the Ant where it was quickly picked up by Image. From there he began working with Marvel on various titles. Honestly there is not a ton of info out there about Gully, but I did read that he was in prison for a short while for robbery and has said that this was the turning point in his life. It was great to see how Mario too something bad and turned it into something positive in his life. Such an awesome inspiration.

This one starts out in Chicago where a young girl, Hannah Washington, is dealing with her parents’ divorce and her dad is trying to find a new job while still supporting her. She is also going to a new school where she is having trouble fitting in and often gets made fun of. Hannah’s only solace is a journal that she writes in religiously, logging her feelings that help her cope with the volatile situation. Things seem like they cannot get any worse until her father is accused of murdering his old boss. The case seems cut and dry and there seems to be no hope of him getting out of prison. In her journal she writes about the greatest superhero the world has ever known, the Ant. A child’s mind is truly fantastic but what is even more fantastic is if what the girl is writing about is real, does the Ant truly exist, or is it simply a figment of a child’s imagination.

This one was totally not what I was expecting at all. I am having trouble even figuring out how to describe the overall genre. Regardless, I think it is a really good read even given only 4 original issues. I know I am a stickler of 4 issues not being enough, the difference here is that there are no ads in these issues, so you get 36 full pages of story. Whereas in a normal mainstream comic you would only get about 24 pages the other 12 would be ads. So you certainly get you money’s worth.

This story was awesome in my opinion, and the twist at the end completely threw me of guard. While reading I kept wondering how it was going to end and as each page turned I felt that it was just going to end in a normal fashion were all lose ends were nicely wrapped up. Man was I wrong. The ending, while leading the reader toward one conclusion, took a wild turn and opened another door that creates many more questions than answers. As I ran out of pages to turn I simply could not figure out how it was going to end, there is an awesome twist at the end that is totally worth your time to read.

As I stated earlier I am not sure where to classify this story. When I purchased it I was under the impression that this was a superhero comic as the title suggests. What I was still trying to figure out was how a young girl and the superhero, The Ant, all fit together. I was kind of thinking that it was along the lines of SHIZAM and Billy Baston, but man was I wrong again. Gully did an awesome job of keeping the story rolling while keeping the main point of the story hidden and out of focus. Throughout the story you are focused on what is going on in Hannah’s life currently, mainly that is because that is all the reader sees, but there is much more to this story than what is presented at face value.

The artwork in this one is pretty good, but not great. I say that because you can now see how Gully has improved his skill as an artist compared to his current work. There is certainly nothing wrong with the artwork in this story, but again if you compare it to what Gully can now produce it is nowhere near as refined. Gully states that this was his first published work and was published more than 12 years ago. I think that is the best way to describe it, traditional but somewhat unrefined, lacking a little polishing. Still this adds a slightly stylized aspect to the artwork to make it more unique as well. The colors in the book are great, lots of rich color and scenes that pop off the page. The actual color of the Ant is very cool and she certainly sticks out in every scene, very rich and almost metallic looking. The page layouts were above average, with at least one full page splash every issue. Overall the artwork as a whole in this one was solid.

I also wanted to mention that if you want to read the original first issues you are going to pay for them! I say “original first” because there are a few sequels and other miniseries that were later produced as this title was picked up by Image. I paid quite a bit for the first 4 original issues. It is also worth noting that each issue also has an “A” and a “B” cover. I was only able to get the first issue with the “A” cover. What I did not discover till later was that Ant #1B is worth quite a bit of money, so I have my eye out for that one. But as always if you don’t want to spend a lot to read this issues just get the trade, it is available on Amazon for like $5 or something like that. I would have thought that the trade would have been worth more as I am sure there was a limited or small print run, but I guess I was wrong. So if you are a collector, you may want to spend the money to get the original issues, but you also have to think about the increase in value. I would have to say that there is a slim chance that this character ends up in a TV show or in a movie, so I would say there is a somewhat limited collectability. But that is just my opinion.

Overall I loved this one mainly because it surprised me so much as to what the story was about. There are some great characters and a monumental twist that I did not see coming at the end. The artwork is sold and works well with the story overall. I highly recommend checking this one out if you get a chance, you will not be disappointed.

Manik

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