More Than Just A Lovely Pair of Antennae
I think all of us have experienced being bullied at least a few times in our life. If you’re reading this, you probably land somewhere on the nerdy scale. Not to be judgy, but just sayin’. Whether you’re that weirdo who ate glue in the back of the class, or that dweeb who read comics at lunch instead of making friends (that’s me!), some insecure bully has probably made you feel like a human booger growing up. We all have had fantasies of kicking the living popcorn out of someone who’s bullied us. Kernels everywhere, am I right? But it’s not likely any of us has ever done it. It’s even less likely that we’ve put some sexy bug armor on, tackled our memories, and stuck it to those who deserve it. And if you have, I want to see pictures. Until that photographic evidence arrives in my inbox, I’ll just stare lovingly at one lady who has done that, over a nice big pot of glue. Hey, sometimes evolution goes backwards, k?
Ant is a character I have rarely ever had a discussion with anyone about, so let’s start talking! I’ve seen her first appearance reported as being in both Ant #1 and Arcana Studios Presents: Free Comic Book Day 2004, but I’m personally going to go with the latter. Also, free comics! She was created by Mario Gully after he was convicted of armed robbery, and he got the idea for her when he was locked up. An ant had crawled in from the outside, and he remembers wanting to trade places with it, and it became his inspiration to live out his dreams of being a comic book creator. Deep, huh? Well, it paid off because Ant was published by Arcana for four issues before moving to Image Comics. I think it’s important to note that Stefani Rennee was the colorist for both the Arcana and Image runs, and she really makes the series pop. Ant is drawn explicitly sexy, if you’re into that kind of bug lady thing (guilty), and accenting her curves with color the way Rennee does really makes the comic come to life beautifully. Of course J. Scott Campbell is along for the ride with covers, because of one word: booty.
Ant’s looks are nothing compared to her story. The original mini series is about an eight year old girl named Hannah Washington, who is incessantly tormented and bullied at school. Her father is convicted of armed robbery (there’s that real life inspiration!), and Hannah writes in her journal to escape the harsh real world she’s experiencing. She writes about her alter-ego named Ant, and teams up with a boy named Stephen after he returns her lost journal. He eventually becomes Gadget Man, her sidekick. Meanwhile, the real world gets a lot harsher, and without giving too much away, Hannah blacks out and wakes up in a mental hospital somewhere in her middle teens.
The Image series continues on with Hannah having little to no memory of what happened, and she tries to piece her life back together. The only thing that makes sense is her being Ant, though she gets frequent flashbacks to her rough younger years. We as readers are following her story as she’s experiencing it, which is her battling what is real and what is in her head. Essentially, Ant is a story about a girl fighting herself while trying to have a foot in the real world as well. We get a visit from Spawn, which is simply fantastic, and meet some other familiar characters.
Ant is an admirable character because we have all been to that place where we are trying to get a grip on ourselves while trying to cope with the real world, which can sometimes be crazier than the things our minds throw at us. Striving to be a good person, while having been beaten down so many times is no easy feat. Ant could have easily turned villainous, having been mistreated so many times, and it would only make sense to want to get revenge. But she doesn’t, and in one scene she’s getting tormented by a particular nasty little tot at school, and thinks, “Most people start to believe anything if they are told often enough. But I was determined to never believe her. To never think those things about myself.” It’s this kind of courage that carries through the storyline. She isn’t the type of character who doesn’t admit fear or anxiety, rather she embraces it and uses it as a tool to carry her forward. We may not all put on some bug armor and go fighting crime, but that’s definitely a theme we can all learn from.