Comic Reviews
atom
The All New Atom Review

What did you want to be when you grew up? I myself, like most kids, had dreams and aspirations to unrealistically be a super hero. Growing up in Kowloon, Hong Kong, nose to the books Ryan Choi just wanted to keep his dad from biting his head off and become a scientist like his idol Ray Palmer. Little did he know that old man Palmer was Justice League sanctioned miniature crime fighter The Atom. Set far after the former’s misadventures and escapades, The All New Atom bravely treads new ground, setting itself apart from the average underdog coming of age hero comic.

Can you hear me now - screw it I'm coming over.

What are some of the big name comic book franchises that you can name off the top of your head? Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men – okay gotta stop because I had to think for a second. Sure there are some recognized heroes in both camps, but none that fly off shelves as quickly or have as many side quests as the big guys. With DC’s Crisis and Marvel’s Civil War combining multiple heroes into one multithreaded adventure, smaller characters are given more exposure and larger roles.

The reason I tend to like to deviate from the bigger names is because anyone given the task to reinvent or rejuvenate any lesser known super hero has to really shine and out perform name talent to even get recognition. Superman will always punch down a wall, Batman will always solve the crime (or die), and Spidey will always miss his classes, fail miserably, and somehow get the girl. I picked up a random The All New Atom comic at a whim and was hooked. Turns out that that random comic happened to be the very last issue, so I managed to spoil and confuse myself at the same time (DOH!) Either way I liked it enough to get the entire trade paperback set so that says something.

Smaller than a speeding bullet!

Aforementioned Ryan Choi is not a super hero. Before his arrival to the States he had no idea Ray Palmer was one either. For years growing up he had corresponded with Palmer for advice and mentoring up until his career as a scientist. When the former Atom went missing, he was picked by Ivy University to carry on the good doctor’s work. He inherited his office, his students and his belt. No ordinary belt mind you, but a magic belt that can beat the crap out of anyone who finds their butt near its buckle. Okay no, but it does allow him to control his size, mass and density on the fly. Pretty cool if you have any idea of what implications would be associated with those properties.

There goes the fine China.

It doesn’t take long for Ryan to realize all is not what it seems in Ivy Town. There are pilgrims, ravenous dog packs, strange happenings in the sewers and killings on campus. Ivy campus’ Dean Mayland is convinced that all these strange occurrences are the cause of Ray Palmer’s time and space altering belt. Dragged into a full on war between Science and Magic, Ryan is forced to put on the guise of his mentor and idol to put right that which is wrong in his new adopted home. This is far from a simple task.

At the first page of the first issue we see the entire Justice League killed or captured by an alien species that resides in Ivy Town. This is to take place 100 days in the future from the first issue. Things can only go up from here right? The aliens are a race of beings known as The Waiting that have size altering capabilities much like Ryan himself. Curiously enough, they reside on packs of dogs through out town. Wat.

If that wasn’t strange enough, under the town exists a creature older than time itself. M’NAGALAH! It is the essence that inspired H.P. Lovecraft to write of Cthulu, created all organic material on earth from its excrements and has now chosen Ivy Town as the central point for its resurgence.  Wat.

What did you eat?!

These two forces have one core gripe with each other: they both want Ryan Choi and his abilities to lead the charge for their uprising. In the very first series we witness a massive battle between the forces of Magic and Science that goes down amongst the populated city.

There are very few things that I disliked about this as a comic. You feel for Ryan pretty much immediately. He’s not cocky, although he is a bit of a smart ass at times. The way the story progresses is primarily through internal dialogue. He rarely says what he’s thinking aloud for the other characters to hear, and most of the time that’s a good thing. The writers added a good amount of quotes relevant to the action occurring in the scenes that are a bit more thought provoking than necessary. They really did seem to go the extra mile when filling out this idea.

Holy Heffalumps indeed Billy.

The humor in the story is a little awkward though. It’s hard to stay serious when some of the characters in the world are so strange. You have a large group of characters that seem stable and down to earth, and then there are people that act straight out of the 1700s and 1940s. This is actually explained somewhat at the end, but it really seems a bit much to get past from a reader’s perspective. I’ll say it right now – Ryan fights a 50ft NAKED Giganta. There’s a sense of urgency, a fair amount of humor, and a giant naked woman. There was bound to be a conflict of direction somewhere along there but it panned out pretty evenly in the end.

Die by the foot!

As a super hero, Ryan Choi does have some really neat powers not withstanding that he was the son of an Olympic gymnast and trained in martial arts since he was young. Since he can control his density, he can shrink to the size of an action figure without losing any of his power. He can increase his weight at that size to upwards of 600lbs and deliver a massive headache if not death to anyone that gets in his way. Something the original Atom didn’t have is his Boomstick. He uses it to fly around and it also blasts bad guys with great prejudice. He managed to snag it from some alien technology The Waiting use and put a hurtin’ on them. Only side effect to hid power is if he shrinks too far his eyes and other senses become completely useless as the spectral range of the eyes goes caput. Light can’t bounce off stuff at such a small size. Also if he changes his size too quickly his skin begins to expand and implode, morphing him into something straight out of Akira. The upside of this is if he grows to maximum size from infinitesimal stature he can blast apart a room. Well, dunno how good that is actually, he’d have to clean it up…

When a backhand just isn't enough.

As far as super villains go he doesn’t have too standard the fare. His arch nemesis Dwarf Star is a murdering psychopath that writes a poem for each person he kills. He was a poetry major so it fits. I guess I’d want to kill people too if I had to endure four years of that. Dwarf Star has the exact same powers as Ryan except for the fact that he’s a stone killer and has more strength behind each blow. Ray Palmer’s arch nemesis Chronos makes a few appearances in the series but his true motives are unclear.

Reading this comic you can tell that the writers had a lot planned out, especially towards the end. Unfortunately the series wasn’t allowed to continue due to poor sales and got Firefly’d. I thought that reading the previous comics would make the very last one make more sense but this just wasn’t the case. It was a great run and a fun ride, but it ended abruptly when it could’ve kept momentum. Nobody’s fault really, it’s just the bane of smaller comics it would seem. If they don’t make a movie out of it no one will know what it is.

Epic ending, but it didn't make sense.

All in all the ending was rather unsatisfactory. Nothing had changed and things are shown to be worse than ever for Ryan. There is a silver lining in that he learns the truth about everything he has been lead to believe for his entire life. It turns out to be a rather rude awakening for anyone. You get the feeling that he is even more determined than ever, but we know that he won’t be having anymore adventures. Still, even knowing this I’m still recommending it. His teaming up with Wonder Woman is worth reading the series alone. Funny stuff, and as a character he’s got the most heart of anyone in the DC Universe. I said it. Seeing Ryan going back to his home town as The Atom gets you pumped, and even more so when he gets down to business. You don’t really make that connection to other super heroes.

Less of a super hero, more a butt kicking scientist, The All New Atom manages to deliver something for everyone. I read like three comics a year, so it says something that I’d read through the entire series in a week. The series is pretty cheap now, about $30 for four trade paperbacks so I recommend picking it up if you’re ever in the mood to explore what’s between the real and the surreal.

Goodbye Ryan Choi, these bad guys will miss you.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I myself, like most kids, had dreams and aspirations to unrealistically be a super hero. Growing up in Kowloon, Hong Kong, nose to the books Ryan Choi just wanted to keep his dad from biting his head off and become a scientist like his idol Ray Palmer. Little did he know that old man Palmer was Justice League sanctioned miniature crime fighter The Atom. Set far after the former’s misadventures and escapades, The All New Atom bravely treads new ground setting it apart from the average underdog coming of age hero comic.

What are some of the big name comic book franchises that you can name off the top of your head? Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men – okay gotta stop because I had to think for a second. Sure there are some recognized heroes in both camps, but none that fly off shelves as quickly or have as many side quests as the big guys. With DC’s Crisis and Marvel’s Civil War combining multiple heroes into one multithreaded adventure, smaller characters are given more exposure and larger roles.

The reason I tend to like to deviate from the bigger names is because anyone given the task to reinvent or rejuvenate any lesser known super hero has to really shine and out perform name talent to even get recognition. Superman will always punch down a wall, Batman will always solve the crime (or die), and Spidey will always miss his classes, fail miserably, and somehow get the girl. I picked up a random The All New Atom comic at a whim and was hooked. Turns out that that random comic happened to be the very last issue, so I managed to spoil and confuse myself at the same time (DOH!) Either way I liked it enough to get the entire trade paperback set so that says something.

Aforementioned Ryan Choi is not a super hero. Before his arrival to the States he had no idea Ray Palmer was one either. For years growing up he had corresponded with Palmer for advice and mentoring up until his career as a scientist. When the former Atom went missing, he was picked by Ivy University to carry on the good doctor’s work. He inherited his office, his students and his belt. No ordinary belt mind you, but a magic belt that can beat the crap out of anyone who finds their butt near its buckle. Okay no, but it does allow him to control his size, mass and density on the fly. Pretty cool if you have any idea of what implications would be associated with those properties.

It doesn’t take long for Ryan to realize all is not what it seems in Ivy Town. There are pilgrims, ravenous dog packs, strange happenings in the sewers and killings on campus. Ivy campus’ Dean Mayland is convinced that all these strange occurrences are the cause of Ray Palmer’s time and space altering belt. Dragged into a full on war between Science and Magic, Ryan is forced to put on the guise of his mentor and idol to put right that which is wrong in his new adopted home. This is far from a simple task.

At the first page of the first issue we see the entire Justice League killed or captured by an alien species that resides in Ivy Town. This is to take place 100 days in the future from the first issue. Things can only go up from here right? The aliens are a race of beings known as The Waiting that have size altering capabilities much like Ryan himself. Curiously enough, they reside on packs of dogs through out town. Wat.

If that wasn’t strange enough, under the town exists a creature older than time itself. M’NAGALAH! It is the essence that inspired H.P. Lovecraft to write of Cthulu, created all organic material on earth from its excrements and has now chosen Ivy Town as the central point for its resurgence. Wat.

These two forces have one core gripe with each other: they both want Ryan Choi and his abilities to lead the charge for their uprising. In the very first series we witness a massive battle between the forces of Magic and Science that goes down amongst the populated city.

There are very few things that I disliked about this as a comic. You feel for Ryan pretty much immediately. He’s not cocky, although he is a smart ass at times. The way the story progresses is primarily through internal dialogue. He rarely says what he’s thinking aloud for the other characters to hear, and most of the time that’s a good thing. The writers added a good amount of quotes relevant to the action occurring in the scenes that are a bit more thought provoking than necessary. They really did seem to go the extra mile when filling out this idea.

The humor in the story is a little awkward though. It’s hard to stay serious when some of the characters in the world are so strange. You have a large group of characters that seem stable and down to earth, and then there are people that act straight out of the 1700s and 1940s. This is actually explained somewhat at the end, but it really seems a bit much to get past from a reader’s perspective. I’ll say it right now – Ryan fights a 50ft NAKED Giganta. There’s a sense of urgency, a fair amount of humor, and a giant naked woman. There was bound to be a conflict of direction somewhere along there but it panned out pretty evenly in the end.

As a super hero, Ryan Choi does have some really neat powers not withstanding that he was the son of an Olympic gymnast and trained in martial arts since he was young. Since he can control his density, he can shrink to the size of an action figure without losing any of his power. He can increase his weight at that size to upwards of 600lbs and deliver a massive headache if not death to anyone that gets in his way. Something the original Atom didn’t have is his Boomstick. He uses it to fly around and it also blasts bad guys with great prejudice. He managed to snag it from some alien technology The Waiting use and put a hurtin’ on them. Only side effect to hid power is if he shrinks too far his eyes and other senses become completely useless as the spectral range of the eyes goes caput. Light can’t bounce off stuff at such a small size. Also if he changes his size too quickly his skin begins to expand and implode, morphing him into something straight out of Akira. The upside of this is if he grows to maximum size from infinitesimal stature he can blast apart a room. Well, dunno how good that is actually, he’d have to clean it up…

As far as super villains go he doesn’t have too standard the fare. His arch nemesis Dwarf Star is a murdering psychopath that writes a poem for each person he kills. He was a poetry major so it fits. I guess I’d want to kill people too if I had to endure four years of that. Dwarf Star has the exact same powers as Ryan except for the fact that he’s a stone killer and has more strength behind each blow. Ray Palmer’s arch nemesis Chronos makes a few appearances in the series but his true motives are unclear.

Reading this comic you can tell that the writers had a lot planned out, especially towards the end. Unfortunately the series wasn’t allowed to continue due to poor sales and got Firefly’d. I thought that reading the previous comics would make the very last one make more sense but this just wasn’t the case. It was a great run and a fun ride, but it ended abruptly when it could’ve kept momentum. Nobody’s fault really, it’s just the bane of smaller comics it would seem. If they don’t make a movie out of it no one will know what it is.

All in all the ending was rather unsatisfactory. Nothing had changed and things are shown to be worse than ever for Ryan. There is a silver lining in that he learns the truth about everything he has been lead to believe for his entire life. It turns out to be a rather rude awakening for anyone. You get the feeling that he is even more determined than ever, but we know that he won’t be having anymore adventures. Still, even knowing this I’m still recommending it. His teaming up with Wonder Woman is worth reading the series alone. Funny stuff, and as a character he’s got the most heart of anyone in the DC Universe. I said it. Seeing Ryan going back to his home town as The Atom gets you pumped, and even more so when he gets down to business. You don’t really make that connection to other super heroes.

Less of a super hero, more a butt kicking scientist, The All New Atom manages to deliver something for everyone. I read like three comics a year, so it says something that I’d read through the entire series in a week. The series is pretty cheap now, about $30 for four trade paperbacks so I recommend picking it up if you’re ever in the mood to explore what’s between the real and the surreal.

0 comments