"Moving On (Part Five)"
Story: Jeffery Kaufman
Artists: Mario Gully (p), Rob Hunter (i)
Publisher: Image Comics
Seventeen months. Nine issues. A bimonthly series. At first sight, this is the release schedule for this second volume of the Ant (the first under the Image banner). However, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that if not for three issues (#4, #6 and #9), creator Mario Gully has been regular in sticking to the monthly format. Even from those three, this issue #9 has been delayed the longest, a whopping five months. One would think that Gully and Image were aiming for the obscene delays that have become the norm for quite a few titles from the big two comic publishers.
One possible reason for this delay could be the backlash that the previous issue received, not for the quality of its written content, but for its visuals. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing missing or "wrong" about Ant #8 was the lack of a "Mature Rating" stamp on its cover. Even without that, I donít think having semi-nude shots is in any way more mature rating warranting than the high gore content scenes in other non-Mature comics. I may be wrong, but I donít remember DC plastering a "Mature" label on the Infinite Crisis issue and tie-ins showing Superboy Prime knocking off Panthaís head, or Marvelís Ultimates showing Ultimate Hulk consuming human (okay, alien) body parts and entrails.
Rating rants aside, even though more than acceptably late, this installment of Ant in no way lacks in the story content department. In fact, except for a couple of scenes, which I take will be dealt with in the future, this issue can easily work as a standalone one, (and not the fifth part on an ongoing arc). Having come together in the last issue, Ant and her team head after Coldburn. Last seen in issue #7, ColdBurn makes good on his threat by taking Steven Richardís (Sidekick) family hostage, aiming to have Steven make "the choice." As for what "the choice" is and how it ties ColdBurn to Steven and the others and more importantly to Antís mysterious past, it all gets played out in three flashback stories, all three coming together to the final confrontation and the revelations it brings along with it. Suffice to say, this isnít the last we see of ColdBurn.
Not only do we have a new inker but with this issue, colorist Stephanie Renee ends (breaks?) her twelve issue run on Ant. How twelve? Well, along with the eight issue of this volume, Renee was also the colorist of the first four-issue series (published bi-monthly by Arcana Studios). While colorist Edward Bola makes for a more than competent replacement (fill-in?), inker Rob Hunterís inclusion makes the real difference. Whether Hunter is just a better inker than Gully himself or maybe having someone taking care of the inking allows Gully to spend more time on the pencil-work, whatever it is, the overall quality of art is definitely the best that this series has seen in quite some time, probably ever.
Conclusion: I would like the future issues to come out on time and not be afflicted by the same "delayed" illness as this issue. An Ant fan right from the start, I am quite interested in what new direction the new writer (and Mario Gully), take Ant, both the character and series.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net
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