Sunday, May 23, 2010

DC Comics 75th Anniversary Golden Age Atom Variant Cover Suggestions

Last year, Brian Cronin at CBR's Comics Should Be Good came up with his list of The Most Iconic Covers for thirty different characters. Some I felt were stronger than others, and took enough exception to his list for the Martian Manhunter that I compiled an extension. Meanwhile, DC is revving up for a year's worth of 75th Anniversary variant covers, which I commented on at length at my new Wonder Woman blog. However, it wasn't until Anj at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary offered his choices for a potential Supergirl 75th Anniversary Variant Cover that it occurred to me I'd like to throw my hat into the ring in a fairly big way. Over the course of this week, I'll try to offer cover suggestions for the various characters I cover on my blogs.

Here at the Atom blog, I've got three bearers of the name I plan to cover. Al Pratt was the first, and he's reasonably well regarded today thanks to his role as a member of the Justice Society of America, but he's never been a headliner. Pratt was just another feature in the '40s, vanished throughout the '50s, and only popped up sporadically until the '80s before dying midway through the '90s. These selections are the result of his marginalization...

Dishonorable Mention: All-Star Comics #28 (April, 1946)

Al Pratt is the closest figure in a group shot on a period cover. This is the sad state of the "iconic" Golden Age Atom image.

10)Secret Origins #25 (April, 1988)

"This is the Atom, who had little man's disease. That was his motivation and his sole 'power.' Remember that the next time you mock Arms-Fall-Off Boy or Matter-Eater Lad."

9) All-Star Comics #54 (August, 1950)

Big points here to Pratt for getting cover featured after most super-heroes had bitten the dust, and balancing bigger stars on his arms to boot! Big demerits for getting upstaged by a circus elephant and clowns.

8) Infinity, Inc. #8 (November, 1984)

Those of you upset by the recent death of Ryan Choi would do well to remember that strife amongst the very tenuous Atom family is one of its defining characteristics. For instance, here's Pratt trying to bash in the brains of his godson, Albert Rothstein, then known as Nuklon. Don't get used to Pratt being on the dealing end of such in-family confrontations.

7) All-Star Squadron #21 (May, 1983)

For instance, here's Al getting his unusually well drawn ass handed to him by Cyclotron, from whom Pratt would later swipe a costume and powers.

6) JSA #71 (May, 2005)

See, it's a lot more impressive when a Cyclotron-styled Atom pounds a size-increasing Al "Atom Smasher" Rothstein, but still, are you really all that excited?

5) The Atom #29 (March, 1967)

Ray Palmer makes the scene, as his very body, diminutive though it may be, is used to bludgeon Al Pratt. Worse, it was C-list Silver Age villain the Thinker doing the beating. This was the kind of moment instant replays were made for. At least Pratt had sense enough to immediately hang his head in shame.

4) Adventure Comics #1 (May, 1999)

This was the single best Pratt-starring cover I could find, but a forgotten fifth week event does not "iconic" make.

3) All-Star Squadron #1 (September, 1981)

These final three covers are the only 75th anniversary suggestions that are not only serious, but mighty damned likely to see print. Brad Meltzer wasted half his time on the Justice League of America having the DC Trinity conveying what Al, Dr. Mid-Nite and Hawkman got through in this singular striking image. This is so a JSA All Stars variant in the waiting.

2) The Atom #36 (May, 1968)

Images like this really reveal the idiocy of Ray Palmer haters. How can you call the Silver Age Atom boring when, while his contemporaries were having charity foot races with their predecessors and generally fawning over the Golden Age/Earth-2 crowd, Ray was making Al his bitch on this cover. Further, this isn't one of those '70s Marvel bait-and-switch jobs where a dynamic Gil Kane cover masks hack interiors, but the man himself continuing his fantastic three year run on the title! The reason I don't mind Ryan Choi dying at Deathstroke's hands is because it was only a matter of time before Ray beaten the hell out of the poor kid for trademark infringement. Ray Palmer will straight up cut a bitch, yo.

1) All-Star Comics #3 (November, 1940)

This is a lock, considering it's not just the most recognizable Al Pratt image, but among the most famous and oft-imitated in comic book history!

Tomorrow, we'll look at the sons of Al Pratt...

Check out more spotlight countdowns of great art from the past 75 years of DC Comics Covers at DC75: Top Character Covers of the Dodranscentennial


LissBirds said...

I never realized the Atom "family" fought so much.

#2...Damn, Ray! Beating up your Golden Age predecessor. That's just cold. I never knew he had such a mean streak. Is this how he deals with all that pent up frustration caused by Jean Loring?

Diabolu Frank said...

While this in no way absolves Jean for her shrewishness, I've got a theory that Ray's proposals are just part of a complex of his.

From the very first story, its made clear that Ray is no meek scientist, but a brilliant, confident, agile, and all around adept individual. I suspect he sees the highly gifted Jean as the only woman "worthy" of him, so his proposals are just another competition for him to win/challenge to overcome.

Ray Palmer kicking the hell out of Al Pratt is one of the most *ahem* striking Atom images of all time. Ray has otherwise ignored all other members of the "family," leaving Atom Smasher to twist in the wind while Damage, Molecule and Adam Cray were allowed to die unaided. Ray has of course made time to fight some of their reanimated corpses/ghosts/etc.

So basically, once Ray Palmer took up the Atom mantle, he took that thing, and he doesn't share.