Issue(s): ROM #58, ROM #59
Ant-Man (or, as he cutely puts it, "the astonishing... me") shows up at the site of the mining town in Canada that was destroyed by the Dire Wraith's tidal wave. Alpha Flight is still on site, getting bandaged up (I thought it was amusing when Ant-Man is surprised that Sasquatch can talk. I enjoy those little details when a character is encountered by someone for the first time).
Shaman declares that the work of Alpha Flight is finished, which i think we'll soon see is debatable.
Rick Jones has also shown up. He's with the army general (Merriwether Locklin) from last issue, but it's still not 100% clear why he gets to stick around. On the other hand, it looks like my complaint about Rick not calling in the Avengers has been addressed - it turns out that he has. But they've only bothered to send in Ant-Man, who isn't really even officially a reserve Avenger. They've fought some Dire Wraiths of their own recently, and i guess they can't be everywhere at once.
Plus, it turns out that Ant-Man's special abilities are really what is needed here. The corrupted water from last issue is now being absorbed into the ground, so ROM wants Ant-Man to shrink him and Starshine down so they can head into an anthill and figure out what's going on.
A point is made to say that the Spaceknights use their analyzers on Ant-Man's gas, so they can replicate his powers. A caption says "Despite his awareness that what he has agreed to has been for the good of his planet... Scott Lang cannot help feel that he's just been edged from his own exclusive club." Regardless, i don't think we'll be seeing the Spaceknights doing much shrinking outside of this arc.
Inside the anthill, they find that the ants are mutating. It's said that this won't just affect ants. All living creatures touched by the water will mutate. ROM and Starshine decide to shrink further so they can investigate the water at the atomic level. Ant-Man is sent back to the surface to warn everybody. When he arrives, he finds all of the soldiers being attacked by swarms of ants.
I'm sure the soldiers wouldn't have minded if Shaman were still around to mystically scrub off the attacking insects. Or maybe Snowbird could have turned into an Arctic Ant-Eater or something. Some additional super-powered help wouldn't have went unappreciated, is what i'm saying. But Alpha Flight is gone at this point.
We now switch to Steve Ditko art. Oddly, issue #59 starts back in time to before Ant-Man leaves the anthill and the Spaceknights shrink further. Almost as if there wasn't a clear communication in how much of the plot was covered in issue #58. But regardless of that, we now have Steve Ditko drawing the sub-atomic world, which looks a lot like his alternate dimensions in his groundbreaking Dr. Strange run. And it's therefore awesome.
Eventually ROM and Starshine find "the Wraith-taint"...
...and they find a way to trigger anti-bodies for it. The anti-bodies spread and the cure is passed from infected creature to creature until it's all gone.
Back in normal sized world, Ant-Man summons untainted ants to fight the corrupted ones.
And the army attack with flame-throwers (i imagine they're rather indiscriminate, killing "good" and "bad" ants alike).
Ditko's art depicting more realistic scenarios doesn't look quite as good.
Similarly, his Dire Wraiths aren't quite as menacing as Sal Buscema's.
Still, it's cool to see a veteran like Ditko on this book.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place soon after ROM #57. Alpha Flight is still on the scene, getting patched up. But there's been enough time for Rick Jones to arrive, and he's called the Avengers, who sent Ant-Man. If i understand the sequence correctly, Avengers #244-245, which has the Avengers facing Dire Wraiths, takes place concurrently with ROM #55-56. Then Rick Jones arrives in Ontario, calls the Avengers, and explains the new situation, leading them to send in Ant-Man.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAnt-Man (Scott Lang), General Merriwether Locklin, Marrina, Rick Jones, ROM, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Starshine II
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