Sunday, January 30, 2011

2009 Black Lantern Atom I design by Joe Prado

Click To Enlarge

It isn't as if most of the Black Lanterns were terribly effective during their reign of terror in Blackest Night, but what the hell did Al Pratt get to do? Dude's one of the earliest super-heroes, which seemed to only earn him a spot amongst the other dead men of the Golden Age in tormenting the Justice Society of Younger Counterparts or slightly less dead old fogies. The one major Atom "family" fatality went to Eclipso/Jean Loring. Now I realize of every super-family, including Wolverine's, the Atom tree marks possibly the worst application of that informal comic book term. Still, when zombies rise up, they ought to eat their own, right?

The design was a pretty basic melding of the original Atom costume and the standard Black Lantern suit, with a bit of Atom's second costume thrown in for flare. This piece of rotting (but in no way rotten) Golden Age Atom art was spotlighted in an article at Bleeding Cool, and can be purchased here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wizard: The Comics Magazine #136: Ultimate DC Atom (January, 2003)

Wizard Magazine was a, shall we say, polarizing presence in comics over the course of its near twenty year run. I bought it for the first several issues for reasons that escape me, seeing as how they were pretty terrible. I very much preferred Amazing Heroes, but it was black and white without a price guide, so Wizard slaughtered them in short order. The quality improved dramatically within the first year, and held until sometime in the 30s, by which point the few legitimate journalists/interviewers/feature writers they had bailed. The format then fully embraced the mentality of a lad mag for geeks with market manipulation at its core.

The joint was full of frustrated wannabe writers who seemed to think every comic should be like the X-Men, and started commissioning artists to help them put together fan fiction proposals to articulate that viewpoint. What a wet dream it must have been when Marvel Comics launched a new side line of entry-level books unburdened by continuity featuring their biggest stars. Once the Ultimate line hit big, everyone turned their eyes to DC to see when they would do the same. Proving once again "DC" somehow stands for "Superman and Batman" Comics, the company has offered two Ultimate knock-off lines consisting of two series each. Aside from an acclaimed Superman story, lateness has defined all of DC's attempts, to the point where the Batman book of the second line will probably come out before the one from the first line wraps up, and lord knows if Adam Hughes' take on All-Star Wonder Woman will ever see the light of day.

Seen from that perspective, the Wizard staff's low concepts for Ultimate DC aren't nearly as narrow and unimaginative as they seemed in 2003. Then again, two wrongs don't exactly make a right, do they?

Like the Martian Manhunter, the Ultimate Atom was relegated to the supporting cast in Ultimate JLA. While it sucks to be a designated team player instead of a solo star, I find this Atom revision a lot more interesting than Ryan Choi. The costume is more her own, and even a Peter Parker personality would have been more original if applied to a heroine.
SUPPORTING CAST: Filling out the JLA's ranks is the Atom, a female scientist. In addition to shrinking her size to that of an atom, she can also adjust her body's mass while small.

Aside from appearing in silhouette on Green Lantern John Stewart's shoulder in a group shot and taking advantage of a camera's perspective to show up in battle against Despero, that's all they wrote for Ultimate Atom. Both pieces of art were by Ken Lashley and his Draxhall Jump Studios.

Ultimate DC Day continues here...
Ultimate Batman and Aquaman
Ultimate Wonder Woman @ Diana Prince
Ultimate Green Lantern, Flash, and Superman @ DC Bloodlines
Ultimate JLA @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Monday, January 24, 2011

Justice #9 (February, 2007)

Previously in Justice...

In a dream, Hawkman and Hawkgirl fell blazing from the sky... "The Atom survives the day, I think."

From the Justice League Satellite, Red Tornado monitored the Earth.

Suddenly, Red Tornado rose up from his seat and wrapped his own fingers around his neck... In Ivy Town, Ray Palmer watched the dire news.

Carter and Shiera dodged potentially lethal fire... Ray Palmer was shot, his last phone call to Jean...

Comatose, Ray Palmer survived his wound and was transported to the hospital.

The Mighty Mite didn't recognize Giganta as he dive-bombed her eye, sending the Wonder Woman villainess through a wall and down the side of the building.

Doc Magnus, having rebuilt Red Tornado, contacted Wonder Woman in her invisible jet with the android's report.

The Atom had been studying the artificial worms found by his present friends Hawkman and Hawkgirl at the Fortress of Solitude.

Red Tornado was part of a group sent to capture Gorilla Grodd, but their efforts failed due to the intervention of Sinestro.

At the Fortress of Solitude, Ray Palmer offered another pint-sized report. "I'm thinking that by selectively expanding the molecules of aspects of both the Thanagarian armor and the Atlantean air-breathing apparatus, I should be able to create a means of protecting the members of the League not covered by [Doctor] Magnus' idea." The Atom was referring to a battle-ready containment suit which would prevent mind-controlling worms from entering the Justice League's bodies as they prepared their counter-offensive. Those not safeguarded by Palmer's adaptations would "wear" the liquefied Metal Men over their own forms. As for the Mighty Mite, Atom opted for an old school space suit, jet pack, and laser rifle. Transformers-- roll out!

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:
"Chapter Nine" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Atomic acCount for April, 2011

Covers by ED BENES
In issue #5 of this twice-monthly epic, Brainiac’s attack on the JLA Watchtower is met with fierce resistance — but the tide turns when he reveals his true goal! And in the bleak, blasted future, Lex Luthor reveals his own plan for killing Brainiac . . . but at what cost to his “allies”?
And in issue #6, Luthor and his ragged team of future survivors take the fight to Brainiac in a final, desperate attempt to stop his invasion of Earth — but will it be enough? Back in the present day, a catastrophe takes place that will forever change the face of the DCU!
Issue #5 on sale APRIL 6
Issue #6 on sale APRIL 20
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US, RATED T
When Mike S. Miller was drawing JLA shortly before he was seemingly blacklisted for a) publicly criticizing homosexuality b) had issues related to a comic company he formed or c) something else entirely, and had a longish but civil email debate with him about that first one. We ultimately agreed to disagree, and I remained a fan of his work, so I'm really glad to see him on this title. In fact, despite my misgivings about the project, there is a lot of talent attached to this book I dig, and the Atom just may serve as the tipping point that gets me to try the first trade collection.

Cover #23 by GARY FRANK
Cover #24 by DAVID FINCH
1:10 Variant Covers by IVAN REIS
It’s the beginning of the end as we head toward the epic conclusion to BRIGHTEST DAY! The mystery of the heroes’ return and the secrets of the white forest are revealed! Plus, Captain Boomerang draws closer to completing his mission! And at last, it’s Firestorm vs. Deadman!
And in the extra-sized issue #24, a new age for the DC Universe begins! A long shadow is cast across the world in a a finale that will have everyone talking! Twelve heroes and villains were resurrected, but that doesn’t mean it will remain that way as the new champion of Earth is chosen!
Retailers please note: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
#23 on sale APRIL 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US, RATED T
#24 on sale APRIL 20 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US, RATED T
Firestorm vs. Deadman. That should translate to continuing Atom cameos, but I can't get excited about anything here. Maybe when the spin-off start rolling out?

The BLACKEST NIGHT continues in mini-bust form!
Each month in 2011, DC Direct releases a mini-bust featuring a character from the hugely popular DC Comics’ epic BLACKEST NIGHT.
Indigo-1 continues the HEROES OF THE DC UNIVERSE: BLACKEST NIGHT bust line! The sculpture features Indigo-1 atop a special base that displays the spectrum of lantern symbols.
The bust is hand-painted, cold-cast in porcelain, measures approximately 5.75” high x 5” wide x 5” deep and is packaged in a 4-color box.
Limited Edition.
On sale September 14, 2011 * Bust * $70 US
How long is the statute of limitations on featuring Indigo Tribe crap since blog left that outfit?

From the pages of BLACKEST NIGHT!
Mysterious yet influential, the members of the indigo tribe use their power staffs to spread compassion amid the darkness of the Blackest Night.
For nine consecutive months in 2011, DC Direct releases a 1:4 scale light-up Power Battery and light-up Ring Prop Replica Set featuring a color from the spectrum of the hugely popular DC Comics’ epic BLACKEST NIGHT.
The Indigo Lantern 1:4 Scale Power Battery and the Indigo Power Ring sit in a translucent display and are removable from the stand. Both light up, featuring manual on/off switches.
The Power Battery measures approximately 2.875” high (minus handle) x 1.75” wide x 2.375” deep and is made of PVC/ABS. The Power Ring fits most sizes and lights up when worn. The translucent acrylic display measures approximately 1.5” high x 2” wide
x 3.25” deep. The set is packaged on a 4-color blister.
On sale September 14, 2011 * Mini Prop Replica Set * $35 US

Atom Smasher
The Justice Society of America spinoff group barely survived their first mission alone! Luckily, their no-nonsense stance on justice carried them through, and now they’re investigating a bizarre drug cartel consisting of genetically altered jungle animals that’ll lead the All-Stars into a confrontation with actual gods and goddesses. Collected from issues #7-13!
On sale MAY 18 • 160 pg, FC, $17.99 US
Sorry to you Al Rothstein fans who haven't been served by this column in the past. Then again, with the (appropriately?) minuscule traffic this blog gets, and the presumably tiny minority of comic readers who care about the former Nuklon, what are the odds?

Captain Atom
Written by JUDD WINICK
Issue #23 art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
Issue #24 art by AARON LOPRESTI
1:10 Variant cover by KEVIN MAGUIRE
DC’s bi-weekly JUSTICE LEAGUE reaches its shocking conclusion!
In issue #23, WONDER WOMAN and the JLI find themselves face-to-face with the ultimate weapon Maxwell Lord has been planning since the beginning of GENERATION LOST. The world seems to be revolting against the human race. Can our heroes defeat Lord’s machinations?
And in the extra-sized issue #24, the final battle is here! But who will be the victor?
Retailers please note: These issues will ship with two covers. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
#23 on sale APRIL 13 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US, RATED T
#24 on sale APRIL 27 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US, RATED T
Who's sorry to see this one ending? The consensus ranges from "alright" to "meh," from what I gather.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

DC Sampler #2 (September, 1984)

Click to Expand Full Image

Drawn by Chuck Patton with inks by Tom Mandrake, this piece was part of a free comic DC used to circulate once a year to hype their entire line. I loved these things growing up, as they really did feel like a window into another universe; always featuring exclusive art, synopsis, and other information on comics I didn't or couldn't read. For instance, I didn't get my hands on an issue of the "Detroit Era" Justice League until the mid-90s, and it looks like the artist hadn't gotten ahold of any Sword of the Atom reference, since he drew the classic Silver Age Atom there on Green Lantern's shoulder. Come to think of it, hadn't Hal Jordan been swapped out for John Stewart, or was that another year on? Regardless, it was nice of Ray to see the new team off, even if you just know he would have ridiculed and rejected them like he did Justice League International. Yeah, well, that type of attitude eventually led to his fantastic gig leading the Jurgens Teen Titans, so...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Atom Temporary Tattoos

I may not be the biggest fan of Ryan Choi*, but I'm glad his fans got to enjoy him in the animated arena. The hybridization of his and Ray's costumes translated well. He's so much better than Ray, it's not like he needed to borrow his style to go with the exact same name and power set. C'mon though, Ray Palmer didn't ask for Al Pratt's girdle, y'know, but whatever. It might have been about the jock itch, because Al never struck me as especially hygienic. Nothing beats crimefighting with cowhide against your bare ass, amIright? Anyway, I'm pretty sure the generation of fans raised on the cartoon will rise up and kill Ray Palmer for good is 2023, so you've got that to look forward to, assuming there's even still a comic industry by that point. It'll probably all be flash animation by then, or something.

The "logo" is in the same font for all the characters in this tattoo set, but the figure tat was kind of small to take up that much space, so I stuck them together. They're basically Colorforms for human flesh, so I guess you could have Ryan Choi surf on a logo anywhere on your body you like. Anywhere. He could also carry the logo that is your sin upon his back, or he could poop his own logo. It's really only limited by your creativity/depravity.

The Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon a Geek is always coming up with Ryan Choi stuff like this for the blog, which leads me to believe I'm the Deathstroke to his Dwarfstar in regards to poo-pooing his matchbox legacy. Shag shows a good deal more tolerance toward Jason Rusch in his comprehensive overview of Firestorm & Company on these Temporary Tattoos. Shag also afforded me the opportunity to dress-down Despero, for which I'm opportunistically exploitative "eternally grateful." I also finally knocked out a post on B:TBATB Sandylion Sticker Bits, if you've been dying to live out the fantasy of the Atom firing a really tiny Green Arrow off his (non-euphemistic) Bangstick for a change. That, or maybe play Table Soccer with the little bastards. I think Ray would be classy and just buy them all doll chairs for his Card Table of Justice.

*He's Asian, so he gets small! Shouldn't he also speak in Confuciusisms and practice martial arts?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Monarch Trading Card #63

Art by Scott Hampton

Shot into the quantum field as part of a top secret experiment, Nathaniel Adam developed space/time warping powers and acquired the armor of Monarch. Now, the new Monarch plans to gain enough international popularity to become world dictator. His plan wickedly ingenious... but I could still give him a few pointers.

Let me see if I can break this down: The villain of the Armageddon 2001 annual event of 1991 was supposed to be a super-hero who betrayed and killed all his fellows to rule the world as Dr. Doom Monarch. The big reveal was to be that Captain Atom was Monarch, but plans changed so that it was Hank "Hawk" Hall instead. This made absolutely no sense, but Captain Atom fought Monarch until both slipped into comic book limbo. Then Hank Hall became Extant, which made only slightly more sense, and a new Monarch was introduced who was supposed to be the real conniving Nathaniel Adam to Captain Atom's altruistic quantum duplicate. That Monarch was forgotten about, and then Captain Atom returned from the Wildstorm Universe to have his skin breached by a Watcher Monitor and the Atomic Knights place the wounded Captain Atom in a new containing suit like Monarch's. Then Monarch turned paranoid and evil and raised a multiversal army he honed in a gladiator arena before trying to destroy the Watchers Monitors and their multiverse, except for one central world that he would rule for reasons undercooked. That Monarch was defeated and forgotten about, so let's pretend that Monarch was the quantum duplicate Nathaniel Adam who hopefully wasn't the original, and that Captain Atom's continuity isn't a gaping hole of suck, okay?

Relishing New Year's Evil this week? Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following blogs:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment The Baron Trading Card #80

Art by Tony Harris

A former Nazi war criminal, the long-lived Baron runs a vast covert network, engaging in illicit activities around the world. The Baron is incredibly powerful, and has displayed a huge tolerance for pain. There are some who even claim that he is no longer human. I know his secret... but I'm not talking.

I have always been into Baron Blitzkrieg. There aren't two finer words that could be combined in the English language for naming a super-villain, so they had to reach out to der Vaterland for that extra element of evil. Here's two more glorious tastes that taste great together: Nazi Superman. It's so deliriously comic-booky it gives me a sugar high just thinking about it. Blitzkrieg's also had some awesome costume designs with atypical but acceptable color schemes, like the yellow suit with a red iron eagle and cross as the chest symbol, with arm length orange gloves/thigh highs incorporating swastikas. Baron Blitzkrieg was so bad, he made Red Skull look like a moderate. They even threw in some magenta every now and again, because all those high ranking Nazis were kinky like that.

Baron Blitzkrieg started out as a Wonder Woman villain, but thanks to Roy Thomas, got around to punching most every World War II era super-hero at some point. As the '90s were wont to do, Baron Blitzkrieg was deemed to gaudy and dated, and got an update. Surprisingly, "The Baron" just got cooler, establishing that Blitzkrieg was still getting his von Strucker on with a secret criminal organization. The Baron switched to a brown uniform shirt, gray pants, and flared knee-high leathers, so you know he was still up for a ride. The Baron was twisted up in Damage's origins, and brought him a mentor figure in the form of Iron Munro.

Despite claiming a love of Damage, Geoff Johns killed of Baron Blitzkrieg in Infinite Crisis, and Damage himself in Blackest Night. The world is a poorer place for the loss... unless you're Jewish, gypsy, gay, mentally or physically handicapped, a member of the All-Star Squadron and are otherwise non-Teutonic.

Relishing New Year's Evil this week? Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following blogs:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1995 Skybox DC Villains: The Dark Judgment Major Force Trading Card #8

Recruited for a secret government project, former Air Force Sgt. Clifford Zmeck -- court-martialed and under life sentence for murder -- was thrown into the quantum field and transformed into the superpowered Major Force. In or out of prison, he remains a most deadly killer.

Villains who serve as dark analogues for the heroes they fight was nothing new in 1988, but I find it amusing that Major Force predated the debut of Venom by just a couple of months. In terms of physique, demeanor, and even haircut, Eddie Brock and Cliff Zmeck had a lot in common. Yet, I like Major Force, and often use Venom as an example of how to make a cynical, pandering, unimaginative bad guy. I suppose my personal biases come into play there. Card art by Thom Ang.

I'm not the only blogger relishing New Year's Evil this week. Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2009 Plastique TampaCon Sketch by Pat Broderick

Click for Original

Allow me to level with you a moment, dear reader. I'm running a series of posts related to painted DC Villains art from 1995-1996 across multiple blogs as filler material during the post holiday lull, while trying to stockpile meatier posts for later. The Atom has a fairly terrible rogues gallery, and Captain Atom's isn't much better, so I just can't keep up the pace at this blog that I've set elsewhere. For perspective, I ran through most of the art I would have used for my Martian Manhunter blog last year, and still managed to scrounge up enough leftovers for him to participate more fully than here. I repeat, there are more Martian Manhunter villains than for every Atom combined (spanning two companies.) It a sorry state of affairs, my friend.

I was desperate enough to try running searches for Atom villains at Comic Art Fans, and after the lousy returns on Chronos and Major Force, Plastique was something of a Hail Mary pass. Now, I liked Plastique from the first time I saw her in an early issue of Captain Atom, and the two were even married in some version of continuity I doubt is still being honored. Plastique was one of Pat Broderick's better character designs, and I like his sketch of her here. I just wanted to come clean about how we got to the point where there's a Plastique sketchbook entry, and to let you know there'll be more painterly stuff in a few days.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1996 Rogues Gallery #1: Chronos by John Van Fleet

In 1995, Skybox produced a card set consisting of paintings of super-villains.
In 1996, DC released a pin-up book consisting of paintings of super-villains.
One of these things is very much like the other.

Chronos started out as a timepiece-themed thief in about the gaudiest costume imaginable. By 1996, Chronos had one arm left, an almost all black costume, and was using his control over temporal energy to age members of the Legion of Super-Heroes at will. In a few more years, an anti-hero would be jumping around time under the Chronos banner in his own series, and a few more years later, Chronos would be a Chinese woman. What a long strange trip...

I'm not the only blogger relishing New Year's Evil this week. Find more malicious pin-up fun at the following: