Monday, August 9, 2010

The All New Atom #9 (May, 2007)

Kowloon, Hong Kong. A beautiful young woman sought the council of a mediator to help her settle matters with her murderous husband. The mediator could sense the threat he posed, and gave the terrified wife the bum’s rush back out into the rain. On her knees, the woman cried “Is this it? After all my promise… is there no one? No one who even cares? There’s one. Please let him remember me kindly…”

One international phone call later, Ryan Choi was all but emptying his bank account for last minute plane fare from Ivy Town. His buddy Panda would take care of Head, feeding him four cans of spray cheese per meal as directed. Choi recognized his cab driver out of town as “that weirdo who keeps dropping anagrams on me," but the dude denied it until they reached the airport. “Hey… are web, man. Just are web.” Ryan groaned, “beware.”

Ryan wasn’t looking forward to sitting in a cramped seat watching a CGI cat movie and eating gross Cup ‘o Ramen for a girl he hadn’t spoken to in two years, but there he was. At sixteen, Choi had been a bookworm with no patience for sports. “Most people got the hint and left me alone. So, fine, call me a geek if you must.” Choi attended a band one Chinese College-- equivalent to an American high school that only accepted the best and brightest students. Alvin and his two buddies were soccer thugs with triad connections from a band three college brought in as ringers for the school team. They beat Ryan past his firm objections and rude hand gestures until he agreed to do all their homework.

“I wrote Ray Palmer about it. He gave me some advice about standing up for myself, and how bullies are cowards who always back down when faced honestly.” Choi had half-heartedly taken Chinese boxing lessons since he was eight, and tried to follow Ray’s terrible advice-- right into another beating. Choi resolved to keep his inquires to Palmer in the realm of physics from then on, and asked his father if he could reenlist in gung fu classes again. Ryan loved his father for agreeing without question.

Choi got revenge his own way, by plagiarizing a week’s worth of papers in Alvin’s name to an automatic expulsion. That night would see a mixer with a sister school, and Choi vowed to talk to the prettiest girl there. “I’d earned it.” In his horn-rimmed glasses with a spit curl in his pulled back hair, Choi was the vision of Peter Parker transitioning from Ditko dork to Romita stud. Despite his 200+ I.Q. and command of five languages, when it came to meeting Jia, the words wouldn’t come with.

Today, Ryan had his voice, but he mostly listened, to how Jia had been abused by her husband, Alvin. She’d never believed he’d truly have harmed Ryan, or anyone. Then they’d separated, and Alvin broke Jia’s arm. Now, Alvin was out there, frightening Jia and inspiring the vision of a decaying spirit version of himself in Ryan’s imagination… or was it? While Jia stayed at the library of the school where she worked, Choi would follow up on the bloody napkin he’d found stating “Tonight at the college, pansyboy.” Ryan donned the garb of the all new Atom, and hopped on his Bang-Stick. “Alvin, I say this as a scholar and a scientist… I want you to prepare for an experiment in asskicking you won’t ever forget.

At the band one, the Atom used his belt’s bio-luminescence to search the halls of his old school. From nowhere, he was struck by flaming nun chucks. In all her flirting and begging for help, Jia had neglected to mention Alvin was undead. The Atom fought with the rotten spectre that had sworn to kill Ryan Choi for ruining his life. Having lost his scholarship, Alvin became a drunk. His buddies Eddie and Qianfan had done a little drunk driving themselves after being expelled, and took their ride off Victoria Peak into the deadly drink. Once Jia killed Alvin in his sleep by smashing his skull in with a shovel, the three were reunited, and would remain partly in our earthly realm until they got even. Once again, Alvin’s goons held Ryan down as Alvin prepared to kill “pansypants,” just as he’d promised…

“Jia: Part One: Her Name Meant Beauty” was by Gail Simone, Eddy Barrows and Trevor Scott.

Brave New World

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