Ant-Man is a fan-favorite Marvel superhero, especially after Paul Rudd’s incredible MCU performance as Scott Lang. However, Scott is actually the second out of three Ant-Mans in Marvel’s history, the first and third being Hank Pym and Eric O’Grady, respectively. While the first two were not all good but redeemable, the third was anything but.
That being said, there’s much to dive into regarding Ant-Man as a character, regardless of which of the three we’re talking about. That’s why I bring you the 15 best Ant-Man comic storylines of all time, ranked from least great to the greatest. It is a subjective list, but I tried to rank the storylines based on overall popularity, importance, and awesomeness.
15. The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1-12
What it’s about: The Irredeemable Ant-Man introduces us to the third version of Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady. Created by Robert Kirkman (best known for The Walking Dead comics), the mini-series follows O’Grady as he separates himself from his Ant-Man predecessors by being just plain bad.
He uses his powers to do anything but heroic work. He steals, cheats, and watches women in the shower. He shows us the true meaning of being ‘irredeemable.’
Why you should read it: We’re starting the list with the third incarnation of Ant-Man, as I believe it gives you a whole lot of perspective on the two prior Ant-Man’s that were somewhat in the ‘grey area’ but heroic in the end.
Hank Pym was an egoist with a temper, and he did tons of bad stuff but redeemed himself. Scott Lang started off as a burglar and a petty criminal but was ultimately, and arguably, the ‘most heroic’ guy out of the three. Eric O’Grady, however… Well, just read his introductory storyline, and you’ll appreciate Scott and Hank a bit more.
14. Secret Avengers #22-25
What it’s about: Eric O’Grady is known as the Irredeemable Ant-Man. The first two incarnations of the characters were flawed but redeemed themselves through their actions. This is O’Grady’s ‘swan song’ of redemption, where he proves that he can, too, be a hero.
An army of ill-advised androids is here to capture a young boy with superpowers, but the Avengers haven’t arrived to help yet. O’Grady steps in and uses his shrinking powers as a last-stand effort to save the boy, managing to hold off the artificial beings just long enough for the Avengers to arrive – and for him to meet his end, being demolished by the enemy.
Why you should read it: And there goes a miracle. I liked this storyline a lot for one simple reason – nobody is irredeemable in comics. Even the worst guys like O’Grady can have their moments of heroism. Sure, it doesn’t make him a good guy in the long run, but I found his end to be at least somewhat worthy of the Ant-Man mantle.
13. Alias #13-28
What it’s about: Jessica Jones’ debut storyline reveals a long, tumultuous relationship with Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man. Scott is there for Jess and provides support on every level, be it her job, her emotions, or anything else. By the end of the storyline, you’ll witness Scott Lang’s death in an absolutely brutal fashion – or, was it all just a plot between him and Jessica?
Why you should read it: We all know that Jessica Jones’ most important love interest is her Defenders partner, Luke Cage. However, this storyline gives you insight into her and Scott Lang’s history. Before Luke, Scott was Jessica’s misfit romantic interest that actually lasted for quite a while.
This might not be the best Ant-Man storyline ever, but it certainly develops greater character depth for Scott, who was always there for Jessica, even though they were clearly not a good fit together from the start.
12. FF #1-16
What it’s about: The Fantastic Four is temporarily not on Earth. So, Scott Lang and a group of misfit heroes lead a group called the Future Foundation – genius kids in desperate need of mentorship and tutelage. As the group leader, Scott eventually faces one of his biggest nemeses – Doctor Doom, the guy who played a major role in his daughter’s death.
Why you should read it: Scott Lang is a cool guy and proved to grow into a great hero, but one can hardly consider him a leader. Well, this storyline puts him in exactly that position – as a leader of the faux Fantastic Four team, teaching young heroes how to be heroes, being a mentor, and a father figure, despite facing the person who played a role in his daughter’s death.
11. Avengers #54-55
What it’s about: Written by Roy Thomas and drawn by John Buscema, this storyline is also known as the Mayhem over Manhattan. The Avengers battles a group of dangerous, sinister supervillains whose leader is known as the Crimson Cowl.
By the end of the destructive storyline, the villain’s identity is revealed to be Ultron – the AI creation of none other than Hank Pym, the Ant-Man, and the founding member of the Avengers.
Why you should read it: Hank Pym was the first Ant-Man, and undoubtedly a hero, despite his countless mistakes over the years. The creation of Ultron, however, is probably the one that haunted both Hank and the Avengers the most.
This particular storyline led to things never being the same for Hank again because, when the identity of Ultron was revealed, Ant-Man was never viewed the same again. It’s kind of a short but epic storyline that was a major turning point for Hank Pym. Hence, it is significant and an absolute must-read for Ant-Man fans.
10. Avengers: Rage of Ultron
What it’s about: Avengers: Rage of Ultron is a graphic novel that features the final battle between Ultron and his creator, Hank Pym. After all the destruction and battles gone awry, Pym decides to do whatever it takes to save the Avengers and the world from his sinister creation. He pays the price of unleashing – and ending – Ultron with his own end.
Why you should read it: Hank Pym is a layered character that messed up numerous times – but always seemed to redeem himself that one extra time. This storyline had Ant-Man deliver the ultimate sacrifice, accepting his mistakes, putting his ego aside, and eventually giving his life to defeat Ultron and save everyone from the mess he himself created.
It was an awesome storyline in the form of a graphic novel – which Marvel doesn’t do that often nowadays – and one of the most emotional storylines I can think of, including Hank Pym.
9. Marvel Premiere #47-48
What it’s about: Someone is trying to steal Hank Pym’s equipment! That someone – is none other than Scott Lang, who eventually becomes the new Ant-Man. He’s introduced as a petty thief, but over the course of the storyline, we learn that he has benevolent intentions, doing what he has to do to provide for his daughter.
Why you should read it: Who doesn’t like Ant-Man and doesn’t like a good character introduction story? Well, this storyline is an introduction story of the second and probably most beloved Ant-Man, Scott Lang.
Even though we meet him mid-theft of Hank Pym’s Ant-Man tech, this two-issue storyline provides you with a lot of background info on Scott that is integral to him as a character. Some bits of the story were also used in the first Ant-Man movie, so it’s a nice read to pick up on the similarities and differences between the MCU and the comics.
8. The Astonishing Ant-Man #1-4
What it’s about: Scott Lang uses his Ant-Man powers to move away from the life of crime and start a legit business. The plan is to start a security company, but his employees – all of which are former supervillains – make it anything but smooth sailing and anything but legit.
Why you should read it: I loved this storyline for two main reasons. The first was seeing Scott Lang in a leadership role – which could never go right considering his misfortune character. The second – and more important reason – is seeing just how hard Scott tries to be a good guy, only to fail in every way imaginable.
It’s an exciting and hilarious storyline that once again shows how Ant-Man has good intentions but, despite that, always somehow manages to mess it up.
7. Avengers #212-213 & #217
What it’s about: Hank Pym goes through a mental breakdown and assumes the identity of an evil, violent alter-ego known as the Yellowjacket. Hank’s wife, the Wasp, gets worse as Hank unleashes his fury on her, abusing her throughout the storyline and getting thrown out of the Avengers.
Why you should read it: If you want to know Ant-Man, there’s no way around this storyline. It’s the reason why Hank Pym is such a controversial character, and this storyline is still one of the most controversial storylines in the history of Marvel comics.
It will forever mark Hank Pym as the wife-beater, and no matter what he did later to redeem himself, he’ll forever remain just that in the eyes of many. Luckily, the introduction of Scott Lang helped restore Ant-Man’s reputation, at least a bit. This is far from the best storyline for Hank Pym’s Ant-Man, but it is certainly one of the most important.
6. Avengers #227-239
What it’s about: Following his mental breakdown and abuse of his wife, Hank Pym ends up on trial – the trial of Yellowjacket. He regrets his past actions and seeks retribution. He somewhat gets it after going undercover with the Masters of Evil and messing up their plans while clearing his name after someone attempts to frame him.
The storyline finishes with the first Ant-Man retiring from superhero duties – for now…
Why you should read it: After the previously mentioned storyline where Hank assumed the identity of Yellowjacket, it’s only natural that he got a redemption storyline later. Honestly, it wasn’t much of a redemption in my eyes, but no one can argue that it was an incredibly amusing storyline with a shocking culmination.
Surely, Hank Pym’s retirement didn’t last too long, but a founding Avenger was hanging it up, which was quite a surprise. It also provided a nice character arc for Pym, showing his redemptive qualities again, putting his head on the line to do the right thing.
5. Avengers Academy #14-20
What it’s about: Hank Pym takes the job at the Avengers Academy that ties into the Fear Itself storyline. Hank becomes a mentor for numerous young heroes while simultaneously taking on Titania and Absorbing Man, powered up with Asgardian weaponry, protecting the Academy, his students, and the entire world from imminent doom.
Why you should read it: I’ve seen people dub this the best Ant-Man storyline ever. While it is absolutely epic, I don’t think it’s as iconic as the others on this list that I’ve ranked above, as it doesn’t provide too much of a character arc for Hank.
Still, it sees him in a mentorship role – something we grew accustomed to seeing in the MCU – but not just for Scott Lang – he mentors an entirely new generation of superheroes.
4. Avengers #93
What it’s about: Before the Kree-Skrull war, the Avengers seemingly battled the Fantastic Four – which, of course, proved not to be the Fantastic Four. The biggest victim of the battle was Vision, and Hank Pym needed to shrink tiny enough to enter the android’s inner circuits and find a way to save his life.
Why you should read it: This is a one-shot storyline, but I believe it shows Hank Pym at his best. Sometimes, Ant-Man lost control and behaved erratically, but sometimes, he proved that he was a man of science first and brute force second.
This was one of those moments when he proved that brains and calm thinking could sometimes beat strength and punching and be even more crucial to winning a battle and battles to come later. Had it not been for Hank, there likely wouldn’t be Vision, resulting in many a fight lost.
3. The Avengers #1
What it’s about: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes assembled for the first time and wrote comic book history that will be changed forever. Along with Thor the Hulk and Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp stood in a battle against Loki, the God of Evil. Their first battle together results in their first win and the official beginning of the Avengers as we know them.
Why you should read it: The first issue of the Avengers was the first issue where the team was formed. Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hank Pym, and Janet Van Dyne were the team’s founding members, making this storyline incredibly important and significant for them.
However, the fact that it was the first Avengers issue makes it significant and important for the history of comics in general, which is why I had to put it in the top three on this list. Oh, and yes, they first battled Loki, just like in the first MCU Avengers movie, and no, it’s not a mistake – Loki was initially called the God of Evil, not the God of Mischief.
2. Ant-Man #1-5
What it’s about: After Scott Lang dies during the Avengers: Disassembled storyline, his daughter fights tooth and nail to bring her father back to life. Incredibly, she manages to do so, but it seems that Scott can’t seem to stop himself from messing it up, no matter how hard he tries…
Why you should read it: This storyline is everything you can hope for and everything you need to know to grasp what kind of character Scott Lang’s Ant-Man is. He was given a second chance at life and really wanted to do good, but everything he did seemed to lead him down the wrong path.
I wish not to spoil too much because, out of all the awesome Ant-Man storylines, this has to be my favorite – the most emotional, deep, and intriguing of all. It would be number one had it not been for that awesome, iconic, best-ever scene…
1. Avengers #223
What it’s about: Hawkeye and Ant-Man team up to defeat the Taskmaster at a carnival in this one-shot story, written by Davide Michelinie, and Grog LaRocque doing the artwork.
Why you should read it: Ta-da! Like you didn’t see this one coming. It’s a one-shot storyline and a great story, but it would likely be nowhere near the top had it not been for that insanely memorable and iconic scene between Ant-Man and Hawkeye.
The team-up where Ant-Man rides Clint’s arrow (oh, that sounds SO wrong) was so epic that the scene actually made its way into the MCU as well, and once again, it was absolutely brilliant. It had to be my number one, and I’m sure you’ll absolutely love the dynamic between these two characters.