Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Blog: Power of the Atom

Howdy "Silver Age Sunday" and other fans. If you've been by in the past week or so, you've noticed a new look and title for the former "Atom: The Mighty Mite" blog. As you may recall, this blog was created as a stand in for Damian Maffei's The Tiny Titan to take part in the yet unfinished Crisis On Earth-Blog: The DC Challenge multi-blog crossover last January. I rather faithfully reconstructed (with Damian's consent) the old site, down to the layout and out of date links. I'd also tried to write in Damian's style, which I never achieved, but it did help break me out of the more cool, dry voice I'd developed for my Martian Manhunter blog. The similarity between the two blogs caused a bit of confusion, and has inhibited me from trying new things here, so I decided it was finally time to make this place my own companion/continuation rather than a botched clone.

The new banner isn't the easiest to read, isn't as cool as Damian's, and has some rough "lettering" by yours truly, but it'll keep for a while. Some folks really dig it, and I don't have time to start over or apply major tweaks. The actual "ATOM" logo was an unused Rian Hughes piece that evolved into the one sported on The All-New Atom series starring Ryan Choi. I dig that retro vibe, and wanted something that would be easily distinguishable from the classic logo Damian employed.

The new blog name came from the 1980s Power of the Atom series, which had a logo font even creator Todd Klein finds boring today, which is why I went a different way. It might come into use at a later date, though.

I hope folks like the new layout and colors. I experimented with colored backgrounds and text, but when you're playing with reds and blues, it can get to be quite a pain in the eyes. I also like a certain uniformity between my super-hero blogs, including the sidebar links, 400 px wide standard images, and so forth found at the Manhunter and Justice League Detroit blogs. Suggestions and criticisms are welcomed.

As for "Silver Age Sunday," well, that's going to see some changes, I'm afraid. I want to sync up coverage between my three main hero blogs, and since the Atom's series doesn't tie into the Manhuhunter's Justice League of America coverage until fourteen issues in, I've got some serious catching up to do on that blog. In the meantime, I'll still offer roughly bi-weekly write-ups of the Atom series up until #4 (where everything would sync up,) aided by the book's bifurcated format (usually two stories per issue.) I'll also be bringing back Bronze Age coverage with the Sword of the Atom series, as well as more varied posting subjects to launch this May.

Between now and then, my posting will be erratic, as I have a couple of tests coming up that I must study for. I just wanted to give ya'll a head's-up in the meantime, and the knowledge I'll have something (a Sword probably) for ya'll between now and then...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Atomic acCount for July, 2010

Sorry I skipped another "Silver Age Sunday," but production on all my blogs is slowing to a crawl this week. May will be a better month for the newly renamed but not yet revamped "Power of the Atom blog, I promise...

First off, some modifications to this column. I'll try to offer up random links along with solicitations, as well as extended commentary on each product. For instance, we no longer have to worry about the future of Ray Palmer. He's getting a one-shot special in July, followed by become the co-feature in Adventure Comics. Meanwhile, Ryan Choi fans should start sweating bullets. The Atom's new writer speaks out in the CBR interview Lemire Embiggens Ray Palmer. The gist of it is no more bellyaching about Jean or anything else, and just getting down to Silver Age revivalist adventuring. Jeff Lemire seems very fond of the early stories, and is backing away from the right-wing hardliner of recent years.

The creators of "Brightest Day" also had things to say. Several fans asked after the status of the "new" Firestorm and Atom now that Ronnie Raymond and Ray Palmer had come back. The panel played coy on the issue of the Atoms and how many there would be, though Johns noted that in terms of "Brightest Day," "Jason and Ronnie don't like each other."

On sale JULY 7
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Written by JEFF LEMIRE
Discover all-new allies, enemies and adventure as The Atom leaps from the pages of BRIGHTEST DAY into this one-shot special! Rising stars Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) and Mahmud Asrar (Avengers: The Initiative) update the Atom’s origin and kick off the tiny titan’s next major story, which continues this month in ADVENTURE COMICS #516 (see page 87). If you thought you knew Ray Palmer, then think again! The smallest hero in the DCU is about to become one of its biggest, and the excitement starts right here!

Intriguing writer, a really swell artist who has done good by "Dynamo 5," and the launching pad for Ray Palmer's future. Why wouldn't you buy this?

On sale JULY 14
40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Co-Feature written by JEFF LEMIRE
Co-Feature art by MAHMUD ASRAR
ADVENTURE COMICS returns to its historical numbering with this issue just in time for Paul Levitz to retell the Legion’s origins! Everything begins on a somber note reflecting on the past with “The Last Will and Testament of R.J. Brande”!
Also, this issue begins an all-new co-feature starring The Atom, which continues the story begun in this month’s BRIGHTEST DAY: THE ATOM SPECIAL #1 as Jeff Lemire (SWEET TOOTH) launches Ray Palmer into an exciting new adventure smack-dab in the middle of the DCU.
According to Lemire, this will be the first of ten 10-page chapters. I dug Levitz's Legion from back in the day, but after Shooter was given the bum's rush following an under appreciated run, I was going to give this a pass. With the Atom, I've changed my mind, though you may prefer to wait for the inevitable 122 page trade in 2011. By the way, Kevin Sharpe is a solid artist in the 80s mode.

On sale JULY 7
On sale JULY 21
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
1:25 variant cover by IVAN REIS
Deadman discovers the truth behind the formation of the White Lantern and what it means to the twelve returnees and the rest of the DC Universe. Plus, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Firestorm discover the price for their resurrections...and why they may be doing more harm than good to the world.
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
I'm still listing this, but be warned, Lemire says the Atom won't actually be getting much play in this series.

OOn sale JULY 21
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
1:25 “DC 75th Anniversary” Variant cover by GEORGE PÉREZ
In part 2 of the JLA/JSA crossover, the Starheart has staked its claim on Alan Scott and his kids Jade and Obsidian! Can the combined might of the Justice Society and the Justice League break up the newly reunited family before they unwittingly unleash serious damage on the DC Universe?
Also features the second piece of the 5-part interconnecting cover by Mark Bagley and Jesus Merino!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
As far as I know, Ray Palmer is still in the Justice League at this point, though Robinson says he'll have had some characters taken against his will from his line-up by this point.

On sale JULY 28
40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
The BRIGHTEST DAY continues with Part 3 of the JLA/JSA crossover! Jade is back! But is her return a blessing or a curse? The powerful Starheart empowering Green Lantern Alan Scott is out of control and unleashing its chaotic energy across Earth. What has lured the Starheart here and what familiar threat must the World’s Greatest Heroes and the Justice Society of America team up to stop?
Also features the third piece of the 5-part interconnecting cover by Mark Bagley and Jesus Merino!

Ditto, and really, perhaps it would be for the best?

On sale JULY 21
3 of 10
40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Written by LEN WEIN
1:25 Variant cover by DAVE GIBBONS
The evolution of the DC Universe continues as the Silver Age of Super Heroes dawns with the appearance of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and dozens more in the wake of the disappearance of the Golden Age heroes from active duty. Simultaneously, heroic humans without powers hold up their end of Earth’s defense as the Challengers of the Unknown and the Sea Devils emerge to lend a hand!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.

Al Pratt had his turn, and Ray's likely ascendant here.

The hugely successful BLACKEST NIGHT action figure line continues!
Included in this eighth installment of the series are: Black Lantern Black Flash, Professor Zoom’s reanimated corpse, holds curious sway over The Flash’s other undead rogues; Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, the new Orange Power Ring seeks out Lex Luthor for his avarice and lust for power; Indigo Tribe The Atom, with compassion and sense of duty stronger than ever, Ray Palmer serves as the binding force uniting the spectrum of power; Sinestro Corps Member Scarecrow, delights in instilling fear in others and is rewarded with the Yellow Ring of Power.
All four figures feature multiple points of articulation and include a display base. Character-appropriate accessories are also included.
Orange Lantern Lex Luthor - 6.75” h
Sinestro Corps Member Scarecrow - 6.5” h
Black Lantern Black Flash - 6.75” h
Indigo Tribe The Atom - 6.75” h
4-color clamshell blister card packaging.
On sale December 8, 2010
Action Figures
I'm unwilling to shell out good money for the action figure representation of a variation on the Atom that lasted for a handful of comics, but I wouldn't hold your breath for a "Sword of" toy. This might be your best bet along those lines, and well executed besides.

On sale September 8
192 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Art and cover by MARK BAGLEY & ROB HUNTER
In this first volume collecting stories by James Robinson and Mark Bagley from issues #38-43, the JLA is reborn with a new roster of heroes: Batman, Green Lantern, The Atom, Green Arrow, Donna Troy, The Guardian, Cyborg, Mon-El, Starfire and Congorilla. Also in this volume, the BLACKEST NIGHT darkens the skies over the Justice League. Can the team get it together in time to survive the return of the undead, villainous Dr. Light?
Whether or not the Atom is still a member, he definitely appears here in reprint form!

DC Comics 75 2011 16 Month Wall Calendar
Expected to ship in Aug-2010
Our Price: $11.99.

DC Comics 75 2011 Pop-Up Calendar
Expected to ship in Aug-2010
Our Price: $16.99

The Tiny Titan is on the preview art of the pop-up book, and hopefully will turn up in both, though likely really small.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Atom #1

Gardner Fox, Gil Kane & Murphy Anderson-- kicking all kinds of tail in five stories over three try-out issues of Showcase! An eponymous ongoing series was the only natural progression, and for the launch things had to open big!

D-Day is the historical date of the World War II invasion of France by the allies.
V-J Day signifies the victorious end of the war with Japan.
Now comes P (for Plant) Day-- the invasion-date of the United States by the plant world! Commanding the army of plants is Jason Woodrue-- and waging a desperate one-man battle against this fantastic foe is the World's Smallest super-hero-- the Atom!


Why, that's a pretty impressive shift in scale, right? From something of a detective series to thwarting the global menace... of plants? This is a Justice League of America caliber threat-- like Fox wrote in his utterly inane and terribly overrated work on that awful title?

What I'm saying is, that surprising streak of quality scripts? That's over with now.

Henry Chalmers is lighting a cigarette after dark on the sidewalk near Ivy Town Bank. Chalmers spies a mysterious figure drop a seed outside the financial institution, only to see it instantaneously sprout into an acid spitting flower. The pungent petals burned a hole right through the bank wall, then crept their way across the floor to give the vault a similar treatment. Chalmers followed, only to find a mystical dryad (looking like a recolored Poison Ivy, with green skin and lavender hair/costume,) making off with loot. The child-sized wood spirit flew off, leaving Chalmers to vainly explain what he saw to the police, only to end up in handcuffs.

That last bit may sound familiar. Substitute a dryad for a genie, and its the same basic set-up as the first costumed Atom story, "Battle of the Tiny Titans!" Chalmers of course enlists lady lawyer Jean Loring for his defense, Ray Palmer's intent to propose to Jean yet again is rebuffed (before they even reach his romantic getaway spot,) and the dejected young scientist helps her case as the Atom. This portion is a by-the-numbers introduction for new readers, including an origin recap, an internal monologue from Jean about how she won't marry until she's an established lawyer of note, and another from Ray expressing his willingness to undermine her achievements with his super-heroic contributions if that's what it takes to get to the alter.

At least this time, Jean puts forth an actual effort toward managing the case on her own. Loring finds evidence of the potential existence of the super-plants Chalmers described, and manages to link them to a robbery from the greenhouse of retired Ivy University professor Walter Dudley. In her purple suit, pillbox hat and white gloves, Loring stakes out the greenhouse, only to be knocked out by gas emitted from some orchids. A couple of mite-sized "floral spirits" then made off with more flowers, not realizing a Tiny Titan has stowed away on one of their stems.

The sprites returned to their new master, Jason Woodrue, in his starched white old school medical uniform. Looking as he did, it never occurred to me that this wasn't "Doctor" Woodrue or "Professor" Woodrue, and I'd always assumed he was a mad scientist who later transformed himself into "The Floronic Man." That would be a false assumption on my part, as we'll soon learn.

The Atom lunged at Woodrue, but was bombarded by seed projectiles and swallowed by a [sic] "Venus's flytrap." Just as in The "Disappearing Act" Robberies!, the overconfident villain left our hero for dead in a desktop trap, but the Mighty Mite broke free with his size controls. The Atom then answered the cries of Maya, Queen of the Flower Spirits, who was being held captive by Woodrue in order to force her to give him control of her dryads. My, by the way, had blond hair and wore a red one-piece, to differentiate her from her minions.

Maya explained, "Woodrue is not a true Earth-Man! He comes from a dimensional world close to our own which is inhabited by wood nymphs, dryads, nereids, air sprites and flower-spirits! He was exiled from this world because of his wicked deeds and banished into ours where it was believed he would perish... He retained all knowledge of his other world, however, when he arrived here-- which gave him the power to capture me and compel my obedience." Although Woodrue could control Earth's plants on his own, he found it much easier through Maya, speeding his path toward global conquest through flora.

Maya took an enlightened Atom by the and flew him back to Prof. Walter Dudley's greenhouse. "I sure am getting a lot of free rides tonight!" There, they met with the recently revived Jean Loring, he didn't know enough to be jealous of Atom's "little girl friend." She was too busy being self-involved and demanding, anyway. "I'll win my case if you can catch this Jason Woodrue for me! That shouldn't be too hard, Atom..." Yeah? Why don't you do it then? Let's pit your Jackie O wannabe ass against the Plant Master, huh? Oh-- that's what I thought. Ray's considerable charms may have been lost on Jean, but Maya was all set to hang with the Mighty Mite until Woodrue next revealed himself. "I don't mind waiting-- with you here, Atom!" Awww, yeah. Don't try to tell me Ray didn't take out some frustration with Princess Laethwen after Jean (presumably) kept him chaste that night.

P-Day (what a segue) launched at 9 o'clock EST, with giant plants scaling skyscrapers, melting jets, and assaulting our armed forces. With a control box strapped to his chest, Jason Woodrue commanded "People of America-- surrender! I give you five minutes to yield to me-- otherwise my plant army and I will march on your capitol city and demolish it!" Yes, tremble before his... "deadly plantoids?" All that mess, and we still can't take plantoids seriously, can we? Anyway, Ray dials up Washington D.C., while Maya finally remembers to countermand Woodrue's ordering of her flower-spirits and redirect them to stymie his progress.

In the nation's capitol, the Atom redirects organic cannonballs away from fighter planes and back toward the plants that fired them, all done with crackerjack timing and dazzling skill. Unfortunately, Ray's only human, and the same gasses that overcame our troops knocked him out. Good thing Maya and her carbon dioxide breathing flower-spirits arrived to carry the Atom to fresh air, and eventually to Jason Woodrue. However, Woodrue was aware of the wrenches in his works, and nearly downed the Mighty Mite in the grabbing tentacles of a water-plant. Woodrue could again command Maya at this range, and ordered her to sleep for a decade. Jason then fired a seed capable of destroying a city with his slingshot-- which was spiked back at him by the Atom, who'd extricated himself and stolen Woodrue's control device. Fearing for his life, Woodrue agreed to revive Maya in exchange from salvation against the all destroying... "puffs?" Sigh.

Once again, the Atom delivered unto Jean Loring and acquittal on a silver platter, although by this point who even remembered Henry Chalmers' plight? For a supposedly science oriented strip, this thing dove deep into the supernatural and tethered itself to one illogical leap after another. Coupled with the formulaic opening chapter and all the plant nonsense thereafter, it was a relief to see Jean congratulate Atom and be done with it. In a cute twist, the Atom had to dive into the phone Jean was using to call her boyfriend Ray Palmer to tell him about the adventure, so he could answer at the other end. "I know all about it, but I'll have to hear it over again! Oh, well-- that's the penalty I must pay for having two identities!"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Greg Phillips: The Disappearing Act Robber

Alter Ego: Greg Phillips
Occupation: Thief, former newspaper feature writer
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None, formerly the Ivytown Herald
Base of Operations: Ivytown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Showcase #36 (January-February 1962)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Black

Greg Phillips knew his newspaper work would pay off big someday, as it provided him access to the right people, and their valuables. One such person was the great brain scientist Jason Saunders, who had developed a pill that would increase the telekinetic power of mind over matter in a person's brain. Before Saunders could announce his discovery to the medical society, he was killed in an automobile accident, leaving only Phillips aware of the pill's existence. Phillips memorized, then burned Saunders notes before turning the pills to his advantage.

Phillips began a crime spree to experiment with his new powers, stealing a wedding ring, the world famous Elgin Cameo, and a platinum chess set. Phillips seemed to target events where Jim Barnes, an acquaintance of Jean Loring, would be in attendance. This was presumably to throw off suspicion of Phillips' own presence at the robberies, but also drew the attention of Loring's boyfriend, Ray Palmer. As the shrinking hero the Atom, Palmer uncovered Phillips' wrongdoing, and survived an attempt on his life in bringing Phillips to justice. Phillips was captured during an attempted heist at the Ivy Museum, and has made no further appearances.

Saunders' pills enabled Phillips to utilize the power of his mind to remotely control objects. Phillips could levitate objects so swiftly the naked eye couldn't detect movement, causing them to seemingly disappear into thin air. Phillips was only ever shown to lift relatively lightweight objects for short periods of time, so the full extent of his abilities are presumed to be modest.

Although Phillips could move objects with great speed, his control over animated figures wasn't complete, as evidenced by the Atom's ability to resist Phillips' telekinesis. Also, Phillips required an undetermined amount of time to focus on an object to assert control, as he could be attacked by projectiles.

Distinguishing Features:
Mustache. Wore a brown trench coat and fedora while committing robberies.

Unscrupulous opportunist.

Pills created by the scientist Jason Saunders provided Phillips' telekinesis, allowing him to turn objects into projectiles.

A classic convertible.

Quote: "Up you go, Atom! You're so tiny I don't have any trouble levitating you!"

Created by Gardner Fox & Gil Kane

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2010 "Judd Winick Named DC Comics Editor-in-Chief" Promotional Art by Billy Penn

Click To Enlarge

I recognize there's was a lot of love for Denny O'Neil in the '70s for restoring Batman to "Dark Knight Detective" status and for coming up with Green Lantern/Green Arrow. An alternative view (mine) is that O'Neil was technically a terrible writer. I'd say he exemplified the growing pains between the Silver Age "middle aged white guys writing adventure stories for children" and the Bronze Age "twentysomething white guys writing adventure stories for man-children." Read today, O'Neil's scripts are cringe-inducing in their hoary dialogue, sensationalism and self-importance. In my opinion, it wasn't until O'Neil stopped drinking and embraced the hubris in himself and his characters that he finally earned his stature in the industry.

In a roundabout way, my point is that Judd Winick was the Denny O'Neil of the aughts, and maybe he should start drinking/drugging to improve his writing, before he drives his remaining audience to do so. Certainly, this news announcement has me wanting to call in sick to work and crawl into a bottle. Check it out.