Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tiny Dancer #4

Comics Alliance's Chris Sims has a Photoshop-enabled humor feature up titled The ComicsAlliance Mixtape: 13 Songs We Wish Were Comics. As implied, Sims takes old comic book covers and alters them into representations of classic songs. 1963's The Atom #4 becomes Tiny Dancer, star of the 1971 Elton John hit. There's a dozen more, my favorite a Ramones Judy/Pussycats mash-up, so check 'em out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Justice League of America Wedding Special #1 (November, 2007)

The bachelor party of Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen was attended by a mass of male heroes, including Damage (who was seen hanging out with Dick "Nightwing" Grayson) and the All-New Atom Ryan Choi, chatting with Adam Strange. Atom-related villains Deathstroke the Terminator, Giganta, Cheshire, and Doctor Light appeared in the story, but our heroes did not progress past the party. Enjoy the cameos, folks!

"Unlimited, Chapter 1: Injustice League" was by Dwayne McDuffie, Mike McKone and Andy Lanning.

You can read this story from different perspectives at the following blogs:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sword of the Atom #3 (November, 1983)

I wrote up the first issue in early March, and the second issue in early May. Since I've run out of months beginning with the letter "M," allow me to deliver partie trois a week or two early on this embarrassing bi-monthly schedule I'm on. I told yas before and I tells ya again, Damian covered Sword of the Atom - Book 3: Mourning's End 2 1/2 years ago. If ya gots ants in yer pants, you can reach the conclusion thereabouts, as well.

The Atom was faced with the prejudice of Voss, who had decided to judge Ray through the poisoned tip of his spear. “You’re wrong, Voss. I’m on Taren’s side… but that doesn’t mean I’m on yours!” The Mighty Mite evaded the spear, throwing his shoulder into Voss’ midsection, then rolling to kick him in the face. His jaundiced foe flat on his back, Ray assumed, “I guess you know—if I killed you now, no one would blame me.” Voss expected no less from a spy, figuring he’d be foolish not to. “I’m a fool, then. But we need you, Voss. Taren and I need you.” A truce was called, and Ray even figured Voss would make a good second-in-command. Taren knew he’d chosen his replacement as leader well, while lady love Laethwen was already getting sticky over the outsider, cooing before Taren’s gouged out eyes.

Back in Morlaidh, even King Caellich’s own men were disturbed by the public torture of Pohrager, as they pulled his weary body down off the cross. All was going according to the plans of the king’s treacherous advisor Deraegis. Emboldened, the manipulator had even begun toying with the ancient Star Drive, a forbidden act that earned him a backhand from Caellich. Even still, Deraegis’ conniving and tinkering continued.

Back in Ivy Town, Ray Palmer’s ceremonial coffin a few weeks to months in the ground, wife Jean Loring’s life was back on track with her “characteristic efficiency.” While her lover Paul showered, Jean claimed she was over the shock, and recognized all the evidence of Ray’s death was circumstantial. Resentful but certain the Atom yet lived, she booked a flight to Brazil.

Voss wondered how much longer the Atom would put off the siege on Morlaidh, which prompted Ray to confide to Laethwen that he was procrastinating to delay Taren’s assured suicide. Suddenly, a stampede of jungle creatures heralded the onslaught of flesh-eating ants. The rebels’ former leader wished to succumb to the ravagers, but the Atom decked Taren and put him over his shoulder. The pair, along with Voss and Laethwen, climbed ever higher up a tree to escape the determined ants. When the opportunity arose, Taren fulfilled his death wish, diving blindly into the ravenous insect host. Taren’s last words noting what a good friend he had in Ray, the sword of the Atom swung at the creatures long after it served no good. As Laethwen cried, Voss consoled, “He’s gone, Princess. Taren belongs to the jungle now. As for the Atom, don’t worry… He’ll be up—when his arm gets tired.”

Later, the Atom decided he didn’t yet deserve Taren’s role as leader, and that while the jungle reigned today, he would not assault Morlaidh until he proved himself the master of his environment. Ray had considerably fewer reservations about assuming Taren’s role in Laethwen arms, though. The Princess gave a speech about how fast life ran in the savage jungle, allowing no room for lengthy grieving. Instead, Laethwen had begun her mourning once Taren was blinded, and had already allowed room for Ray Palmer’s (lengthy?) penis. “Is… is it too soon to speak again of love, Atom? Between you and me?”

“No… it isn’t too soon…”

Meanwhile, Jean Loring was in Manaus, Brazil, investigating the hotel bar and whining to any shmuck that would listen “Ray’s not the sort of guy who’d let a little thing like death keep him from making my life miserable.”

Having mastered the intricacies of microscopic trim, the Atom now sought to master the gol’ durn jungle, by way of tossing his poison tipped sword down a crocodile’s throat. I will stop short of drawing another parallel to his night with the princess, ‘kay? Having repeatedly confirmed his manhood, the Tiny Titan decided it was about time to lead his army into Morlaidh. Deraegis had pretty well secured the joint his own self by defaming King Caellich, but now he would be tested on whether he could keep it…

Conceived by Gil Kane & Jan Strnad.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

1988 Justice League International Postcards: Captain Atom

Art by Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubinstein

When a 1968 experiment to create protection against a nuclear blast went awry, Captain Nathaniel Adam was catapulted nearly 20 years into the future, where he arrived as an energy being! Now, though secretly working for the government, he is known to the world as the super-hero Captain Atom!

The Tiny Titan was Damian Maffei's daily devotional to the Atom, but he also threw the spotlight on other favorites of his, like Hawkman, Red Tornado and Animal Man. As one of only four members of his "Mates of The Atom" fan-helper roll call, I started this blog as a resurrection of Maffei's. I even went so far as to allow its very first post to be devoted to a Red Tornado Christmas story, even though I hate that character. Still, I figured to (and may still) give each of Damian's boys face time, but also intended to add a few of my own. While Damian's look at the Atom focused on Ray Palmer, Ryan Choi and Al Pratt, I've thrown in more distantly related characters like Damage. Aside from the name, I also always plotted to cover the completely unrelated Captain Atom. That likely won't materialize for a little while (at least until I complete the glacially paced Sword of the Atom summaries,) but here's a teaser. For more post cards, visit the index at DC Bloodlines.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Brave and the Bold: The Lost Issues: Batman and Doctor Mid-Nite & The Atom

Thanks to an announcement at the Aquaman Shrine, I was directed to The Brave and the Bold: The Lost Issues, "Featuring Batman and the greatest stars from DC, Marvel and beyond! All covers are created with MS Paint." A cool idea with a progressively better execution, Ross offered Doctor Mid-Nite & The Golden Age Atom early on.  I always liked Rich Buckler, so this would have been fun if it existed here on Earth-Prime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The All New Atom #8 (April, 2007)

Ryan Choi and Dr. Hyatt were falling through time, the former stripping off his suit and donning his Atom garb, the latter still half the man he used to be. Song lyrics referencing time filled the caption boxes surrounding the rainbow colored vortex of temporal “gravity” suck. Choi struggled to think linearly, and of Linear Men.

Choi had been threatened with having his family wiped from existence by Ryak should Ryan not call on him when the fugitive Hyatt showed his partial face and other remaining parts. Instead, Choi offered Hyatt a moist towelette. Hyatt explained that his father had been a confidant of the All New Atom’s predecessor, Ray Palmer. Years back, the original Professor Hyatt had discovered a “time portal, a singularity open to all chronological points at once. The only problem being the event was so microscopically small, only Ray Palmer could fit through it. They called it the Time Pool.” The junior Hyatt couldn’t figure out how the two men could keep themselves from being corrupted by the potential of such a discovery. Choi offered that men like Palmer and the senior Hyatt “weren’t tempted by things. All they cared about was knowledge.” Hyatt explained that after the disappearance of Palmer, his father fixated on the incredible responsibility of the Time Pool being left entirely in his hands. “I’d find him staring at it for hours on end, not eating, drinking nothing. I feared for his sanity.” One day, Hyatt the senior vanished, and Hyatt the junior went a bit mad with worry. Since he couldn’t enter the Time Pool, Hyatt “ate it. Swallowed the singularity whole.”

Ryak smashed through a classroom wall, sword drawn, asking if he hadn’t made it plain enough the consequences for Ryan not alerting him to Hyatt’s arrival. “It’s him… the Chronal Destroyer. He’s found us.” As Ryak chopped through a desk, Ryan shouted, “Respectfully, Doctor… MOVE YOUR BISECTED ASS!” Ryak the Rogue gave chase, until Hyatt drew Ryan into the singularity with him. The pair fell into a future where Ivy Town had become a hi-tech metropolis dedicated to the Atom. In town, Ryan spied a statue dedicated to a female Atom named “Jia Choi? How in the world?” Meanwhile, Hyatt explained that he knew his father must be in this time that the pair had both been drawn to, and where the other half of the junior Hyatt’s body resided.

Ivy Town was a fascist state where signs warned “Little Brother is Watching You!” Choi and Hyatt were caught after curfew by a squad of Atom officers in a hover car. “Hol’ up, boy. You have the right to remain full-sized. You do not have the right to an attorney. Anything we make up can and will be used against you.” Choi was manhandled and clubbed with a golden baton/truncheon somewhat resembling his own, and it ticked him off. Sweeping the officer’s legs, Ryan had picked up a new futuristic cuss word. “Clak you, clakface.” The other cops initiated “random size combat mode,” growing and shrinking in turns against the Atom. Luckily for Ryan, the pigs weren’t used to anyone putting up a real fight, though Choi was concerned “Is this… this police state really going to be Ray’s legacy. Or, God help me, is this something else caused by the weird physics of the Bio-Belt? I can’t even think it… Could all this be my fault?” Given Ray’s conservative leanings, I’d place the money on him, if I bet on alternate futures (in a word: no.)

Turbojet Batwings and Supermobiles launched an air raid against Ivy Town, as news reported that negotiations with Themysciran diplomats had broken down, and “cityshrink” would begin in five cycles. Atom and Hyatt leapt into the cops' hover car, as the latter explained friendly rivalry between super-heroes had devolved into perpetual warfare over two hundred years, with Elongated City the first to be obliterated. Time was short and the stakes were high, so the Atom launched the hover car at the local gulag in a kamikaze dive bomb while he and Hyatt escaped through Ryan’s flying baton Bangstick. On the ground, they were greeted by Hyatt’s bound other half, and Ryak the Rogue pointing his laser pistol at them. “Is this what you’re looking for, oh fleeting mantle-holder? Here’s the reflection, boy. But you can’t have him, nossiree. He broke the rules and nearly turned the timepool into a typhoon."

The Atom tried to fight Ryak as a distraction for "Teddy" Hyatt, but the one half wouldn't leave without the other. Ryak traded a few blows, but managed to restrain Choi while shifting the group into a Time-Void, an infinite nothing of independent space-time. Atom swore he would fight on, but Ryak relented, recognizing Choi had deduced the truth of the situation. Ryan told "Teddy" that he had never come up in ten years worth of weekly letters traded with Ray Palmer, nor was he listed at Ivy University. Rather, "Teddy" had shown symptoms of senile dementia, indicating that he was in fact Professor Alpheus V. Hyatt himself. The seventy-eight year old had managed to use the Time Pool to regenerate his body, but not his ravaged mind. Ryak and Ryan came to an understanding, in which the Linear Man would set everything back as it was, but the twenty-four year old Atom was now solely responsible for both the re-aged Hyatt's welfare and the guardianship of the Time Pool. "Goodbye, Ryan. You reminded me about mercy. Unfortunately, my memory is really something hideously faulty.

As the Atom and Hyatt walked home, the Professor noted, "I remember you. You're my best friend Ray!" Choi kindly played along...

As with the first half, this story is so busy throwing random crap at you, it all become a dizzying and somewhat grating whirlwind of nonsense. Why cowboys? It gives the writer a chance to comment on the racist treatment of Asians in the Old West. Why was Hyatt bisected? Cool visual. What was with all that war of the super-hero houses stuff? Something to occupy space and offer up action without having to fill in any blanks. How about all the smash cut scene transitions? Nothing is given space to breathe, and all the Morrisonesque “mad ideas” feel more like undercooked distractions to bloat a less-that-poignant single issue story into a two-parter. Also, I disliked Ryak’s cutesy dialogue, which faked a new spin on a tired cliché genre character. At least Norton’s art was nice, recalling Byrne from the earlier issues.

“The Man Who Swallowed Eternity: Part Two—The Entropy of the Universe Tends to a Maximum” was by Gail Simone, Mike Norton and Andy Owens.

Brave New World

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Atomic acCount for September, 2010

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Co-feature written by JEFF LEMIRE
Co-feature art by MAHMUD ASRAR & JOHN DELL
It’s not easy being Superboy. He knows he’s destined for greatness as Superman, but how does a teenager deal with that knowledge? Not as well as you’d think...
Also: The Atom co-feature continues with Ray Palmer trying to learn who stole his shrinking technology!
On sale SEPTEMBER 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
None of this Atom series has hit the streets yet, so ???

Written by GAIL SIMONE
This is the showdown you’ve been waiting for, as two Secret Six teams head for a nasty collision! Who is left standing, and will there even be a Secret Six when the dust settles? Bad guy guests galore in this explosive issue!
On sale SEPTEMBER 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
I see Simone is keeping Dwarfstar alive-- for now. Giganta's in here, too.

Art and cover by FREDDIE E. WILLIAMS III
The All-Stars survive their first major battle against an army of super-foes in this first JSA ALL-STARS volume collecting issues #1-6, but in the aftermath, one team member is missing. The mysterious Strike Force has taken that member captive – and there’s someone else who wants the missing hero even more.
On sale October 27 • 160 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Damage's final adventures

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book [Paperback]
Here are 100 of the most important, most incredible, and most bizarre comic-book covers from DC's incredible archives—all perforated and ready to display in your apartment, dorm room, or cubicle. From Action Comics #1 and Batman #1 to lesser-known heroes like Mister District Attorney, this oversized compilation features every major milestone in DC's extraordinary history: Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Watchmen, Fables, 100 Bullets, and much more.

On the reverse of each poster are images of related covers and entertaining commentary, often with remarks from the cover artists themselves. Complete with a foreword from longtime DC Comics veteran Paul Levitz, this amazing anthology is a must-have item for any comic-book fan.

208 pages/ Quirk Books (September 15, 2010)
$40.00 US
DC Adventures RPG Hero's Handbook: Super-Hero Roleplaying in the DC Universe [Hardcover]
Join the never-ending battle for truth and justice in the world's greatest super-hero universe, using the world's greatest super-hero roleplaying game! The DC Adventures Hero's Handbook is a complete super-hero RPG, based on the award-winning Mutants & Masterminds system. Take on the roles of legendary DC heroes like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, or create your own! Get started right away with a wide selection of hero archetypes, or build from scratch using a comprehensive creation system. The Hero's Handbook provides everything you need for hours of adventure in the DC Universe, including all the rules of the game, an overview of the original comic-book setting, and details on major heroes and villains, complete with game information. It's all presented in gorgeous full-color, with art by some of DC's most famous illustrators. Experience super-hero adventure in the world that defined the genre: Become a hero of legend with the DC Adventures Hero's Handbook!
On sale August 31, 2010 • 256 pages, $39.95 US

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The All New Atom #7 (March, 2007)

Dean Mayland accepted a phone call at his home from Sylbert Rundine, better known as Dwarfstar. The diminutive deviant had been chosen by Mayland to receive a size-altering belt and battle the Atom. Failing that, Ryan Choi had stripped Dwarfstar of his belt, stranding the “quivering, undiagnosed” serial killer in microscopic parts unknown. Rundine had managed after several days’ effort to reach Mayland via a communication device mounted on his gauntlet, only to be dismissed as a failure. “Kill ya. Find ya and give ya a hundred slow aneurysms, one bit o’ brain at a time, rip, rip, rip.” Mayland calmly explained that Dwarfstar had no idea what he was dealing with, describing himself as an impenetrable, inhuman enigma. “…Inside, I’m filled with a boiling gristle of scorpions and infections and the misery of continents… I didn’t want either [of you] to win, young man. It is the schism I worship. And the schism shall prevail. Goodbye, little one.”

Ryan, his best friend Panda, and the alien Head were sitting in their living room, watching the outlandish sci-fi show Star Hunters on television. Panda was appalled by the bad science on display, but Ryan defended it as “fun.” Ryan was recovering from an abdominal injury, but nursed a beer anyway. The Atom had, with help, recently saved the world, but Panda wondered if Ryan Choi would now answer his father’s call to return to Kowloon. Ryan was too enamored with the “beautiful science” he experienced while miniaturized to go back to his old life, and confirmed he was staying in Ivy Town. “Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep myself from putting the belt on and never taking it off.”

Suddenly, cowboys on horseback burst through the windows of the house, aiming to string up Choi. One kicked Panda in the face, distracting the posse long enough for Choi to retrieve his belt. “Okay… American history? So not my subject. What’s worse is that there’s three of them and only one me.” While Choi hid in the kitchen and changed into costume, the cowboys threatened to kill his friends and eat his dog. The Atom burst through the door, riding his Bangstick flying baton past the “big dumb turds” to the street outside. “I’ve got to learn some good English language curse words! And I gotta get out of here… Get ‘em away from my friends. I wonder, if I run, if I can catch the plane back to Hong Kong.”

Trying to figure out what he could have done to raise the cowpokes’ ire, the Atom dodged bullets and bashed an ornery cuss with the Bangstick. “Hurts to concentrate and I didn’t have time to put on the singularity field generator.” Atom had to grow a bit, offering a large enough target to get caught in a noose. While being dragged by the neck behind a horse, Choi thought “My people… they built the railroads. They helped make this country. But in the cowboy shows, we’re always the cook. Not this time, pal. Okay, hard to shrink when I’m in pain. Good to know.” Shrink he did, catching the noose around one end of his baton, flying around a lamp post, and catching a cowboy across the neck. “Hey, maybe all the rest of the cowboys were Rhoades Scholars, but these guys… not so much.”

The last cowboy dared Choi to fight him man to man. “Why don’t you try and smell like one? A man, I mean. A human, instead of a donkey. A donkey’s butt. Never mind… I have got to learn some good cussing.” Choi talked up his having plenty of fight in himself for a little guy, and as he knocked out the wrangler, claimed he was the guy “who just kicked you raw hide!”

Afterward, Ryan worried about having lost it a bit there at the end. “That’s not who I am. But something, something about the way he talked to me… like I wasn’t fit to walk the streets. Dammit.”

“Regret? From the mighty Atom?” Behind Choi was a very tall, stocky, pointy-eared, green-skinned being-- well armed, wearing a long, fascistic coat. “My name is Ryak. I sent these idiots to warn you. I’d say they did a rather craptastic job. “ Disappointed with them and well aware that there are plenty more lackeys to be had throughout history, Ryak exploded the cowboys' heads. Ryan was aghast and unresponsive, so Ryak took on a more authoritative voice, explaining that he was a Linear Man-- one of those tasked with “keeping chaos from invading the timestream.” Ryak could override all of the Atom’s technology, so there would be no interruptions as he demanded to know the whereabouts of Dr. Hyatt. Ryan didn’t know who he was talking about, but had no intention of aiding a murderer. Ryak acknowledged there may have been a chronological error on his part, but that Hyatt would be in contact with Ryan. Should the Atom fail to call out Ryak’s name at such a time, the Linear Man stated his intention to wipe out the Choi family line across past generations.

One sleepless night later, Choi pet his dog Copernicus and headed off to school. Did he have the right to imperil his entire family as the Atom? En route, Choi ran into Dr. Zuel, a.k.a. Giganta, who apologized for having eaten him while mind controlled by M’nagalah. Zuel came on strong, and made a date. “Everyone deserves a second chance! Especially redheads!” Choi was loving America, Ivy Town in particular, but felt like a failure in his professional life. Lots of students took nuclear physics class for a shot at meeting Ray Palmer, the world famous Atom, and could care less about a baby-faced Asian professor with a secret identity. “I didn’t think I’d be a great teacher… but it hurts that I can’t seem to manage to even be a good one… I suck!”

After class, a voice called to Prof. Choi from behind a curtain. It was the fugitive "Teddy" Hyatt, claiming to be the son of Ray Palmer’s mentor, Alpheus V. Hyatt. Despite the junior Hyatt’s protestations, Ryan pulled back the curtain, finding one half of a ambulatory bisected scientist…

“The Man Who Swallowed Eternity: Part One—The Energy of the Universe is Constant” was by Gail Simone, Mike Norton and Andy Owens. This was only the third Ryan Choi story I’ve ever read, so I found it annoying that despite the protestation of some of his fans, the race card was already being played. The wisecracking immigrant with sometimes dodgy English shtick doesn’t really wow me, and Choi feels a bit like Peter Parker during his own brief tenure as a university instructor.

Brave New World

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ryan Choi Lives!

Ryan Choi fans, including writer/co-creator Gail Simone, have been taking his death hard. The Irredeemable Shag pointed out to me that many of them have sought solace through humor via a campaign to insert Choi into current comic book pages to prove that, in fact Ryan Choi Lives!. It even inspired me to do up one of my own featuring Zatanna, as seen above.

Honestly though? I was indifferent to the prospect of Ryan Choi's death, so I won't front. I didn't feel bad until I read the Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1, which impressed me as starring a pretty heroic dude with a rich back story. However, critical essays like The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling and DC Comics vs Asian Americans make a point of crapping on Ray Palmer to "prove" Ryan was the character most deserving of life. Chris Sims even went out of his way to find the smarmiest Ray picture he could find. I have to fight my old "fire troll" urge to become radicalized by all the hateration. I tend to prefer the guys who bring a more moderate view, like Bill at Trusty Plinko Stick. That discussion convinced me that Choi could have stopped being a younger, "hipper," more "cultured" model Ray Palmer and developed his own super-heroic identity. I'm reading more Choi stories now, and while I don't quite like the guy, I'm sorry to see the kid get axed before reaching his potential.

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 Indigo Tribesman Ray Palmer Convention Sketch by Chris Giarrusso

Click To Enlarge

Alternately titled "Indigo Tribe Atom (Blackest Night) by Chris Giarrusso (Mike Carbo's New York Comic Book Marketplace 2010.)" And I thought my titles were a mouthful. Cute, huh?