I’d like to take this opportunity to declare my independence from Ray Palmer. SOTA was a swell mini-series, but my synopsis of it has been plagued with de-motivational elements. From here, there were only one-shot specials published irregularly, the first being a total recappalooza, so I’m going to take an indefinite break to shake out the sillies. I promise to get to them sooner than Damian, who stated his intention to get around to it in January of 2008 in his take on Sword of the Atom - Book 4: Look Homeward, Atom In the meantime, we’ll look at some other atomic characters for a little while.
You would think hitting up the princess before Taren’s body had even been digested would have been enough for the Atom, but he had to get Morlaidh post-haste. Ray wasn’t sure he had the manpower to take the city, but he explained to Laethwen he knew he had to try. “The funny thing is, I feel at home here, at this size… as if Ivy Town were just a place in some book… a book I read a long, long time ago. This life suits me. I never had to be a hero—I could’ve just been a… a crazy professor who shrank things! But that’s never been good enough! I can’t go back to that life. I won’t go back! This is my life now… you’re my life! Ray Palmer is dead! I’m Atom! I was born to be… Atom!” Cue suckface.
That about sums up why Ray kicks the hell out of anyone in his proximity who steps on his act, not to mention why he could never have been as nerdy as Hank Pym. It may also offer insight as to why he pursued Jean Loring so fervently in the beginning, only to drop her at the first sign of trouble. He was validated by winning her at a time when he was just Ray Palmer, but once he became the Atom, he no longer needed her. Especially once he got a handle on wielding his sword in the wild, amongst the little yellow people. Dude-- a young Bill O'Reilly totally had wet dreams just like that!
Voss discovered the true spy in their ranks-- Biikus! Wait-- who? And he's a what now? And Peter Gabriel wrote a song about that? Or wait, maybe he's just a totally invented throwaway character whose arrow-messages to Deraegis qualified him to provide all the necessary subplot exposition to get all of our characters on the same page? Thank you, Bi-Curio! Now please willingly stab your palm with a poison tipped arrow as punishment for now being extraneous to the resolution of the plot. Just be glad we didn't make you eat it in the face. That happens a lot in SOTA.
With the cunning of Rommel, the Atom led his troops with such brilliant maneuvers as "watch each other's backs" and "We can't turn back now," forcing their way through Morlaidh's defenses through the raw power of their toad steeds. Admittedly, this is perhaps not the finest depiction of the complexities of tribal warfare, but Gil Kane drew jaundiced but athletic Smurfs stabbing each other en masse, and you'll damned well like it! Anyway, Deraegis was the mastermind, as he had already laid the groundwork for King Caellich’s troops to turn on their lord and join the rebels.
King Caellich, master of the obvious, finally confronted the conniving Deraegis at the last light of their lives, political and otherwise. Caellich pointed out that whatever the outcome, the citizens of Morlaidh were sharpening their blades for Deraegis as well as himself. Caellich had located and questioned Pohrager, then freed the arena trainer to spread the word of Deraegis' plots. Deraegis buried a tangible dagger in Caellich's back to go with all the proverbial ones, then hauled his tubby ass to the star drive. Princess Laethwen and company found the king in time for him to alert them of Deraegis' final gambit, but nowhere near enough time to designate a surrogate father for Laethwen to bond with right in front of her real dad as he drew closer to the grave. Instead, she just sobbed on Caellich's chest, and maybe mentally penciled in grief sex with the Atom after the siege.
The Atom and company reached the star drive housing just as Deraegis was exiting, demanding he was the king as his crimson eyes and radioactive aura betrayed his menace. After killing an onlooker with only a touch, Deraegis had his purple blood spilled by an arrow through the brainpan, compliments of Voss. "I should've done that years ago." Ray never even saw the dude draw his bow.
The Atom ran into the housing and tried to shut down the star drive, but failed. Further, its white dwarf radiation caused Ray to begin to grow. To save the people of Morlaidh, the Atom began stomping around town, driving out the terrified citizens
Two days later, a Sgt. Luiz notified Jean Loring that a man matching her estranged husband's description had been found. However, the gringo was less than cooperative, referring to himself only as "Atom." Before long, Ray had recovered his mind, while radiation burns simulated the patterns of his costume in his reddened skin. Eventually Jean showed, though Ray hoped otherwise, wanting only to return to his barbarian lifestyle. Still, Ray met with Jean, as they had business to attend to before the Sword of the Atom could again be unsheathed...
Conceived by Gil Kane & Jan Strnad.