Comic Book Review: The All New Atom #4

The Atom has slowly gotten better with each issue. However, it still hasn’t earned its place onto The Revolution’s permanent pull list. And it is also running out of time with only three more issues to earn a spot onto the permanent pull list. Atom #4 sports a new artist which is just fine by me. Byrne’s artwork on these first several issues didn’t do much for me. All right, let’s see if this title can finally earn a spot on my permanent pull list. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciler: Eddy Barrows
Inker: Trevor Scott

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue starts with the Atom trapped inside the plastic sphere inside of Giganta’s mouth. The Atom shows off a new power: Bio-luminescence. The Atom can generate light from his belt. Giganta then swallows the Atom and he makes his way down her esophagus and into her stomach.

We cut to Dwarfstar holding a knife to Panda’s throat. Dwarfstar tells Panda that there is a war on the horizon and that Panda better make sure that the Atom on “our side, the good guys.”

We cut back to the Atom inside of Giganta’s stomach. The sphere that the Atom is trapped in has no openings or seals. The Atom believes that it must be permeable at some level. Therefore, the Atom starts to shrink to a subatomic size.

We cut to the Praetor and his alien forces deciding that if they can’t have the Atom then they will have to destroy both Giganta and the Atom. They can’t risk the Cancer God having the Atom on the Cancer God’s side.

We shift back to a despondent Atom. No matter how small he gets, there is no way out of the sphere. We then see the Praetor’s forces engage Giganta in battle. The Atom then realizes that he still has his weight and mass that he can use to escape from inside of Giganta. The Atom starts running and jumping inside the sphere making it shoot around Giganta’s stomach like a pinball. This causes Giganta to barf right into the alien forces she was battling. The sphere with the Atom inside of it comes flying out with the barf. A stray laser shot from one of the alien soldiers hits the sphere and cracks it open. The Atom is finally free.

The Atom then proceeds to kick butt on the alien soldiers. Suddenly, an exotic sports car rolls up and it is Dean Maryland behind the wheel! Dean Maryland tells the Atom to jump into the car.

We shift to the Lighter Than Air Society. The old professors have been busy creating various weapons for the Atom based on the alien technology that the Atom found. The latest creation is a bangstick. It is a teleportation device powered by the stars.

We shift back to Dean Maryland’s palatial estate. Dean Maryland tells the Atom that he knows he is actually Ryan Choi. Dean Maryland tells Ryan how Ivy has transformed. It has mutated. Each neighborhood has its own special psychosis. One believes they live in the Old West of the 1850’s, another are still attempting to burn witches and another where the people only speak in a series of barks and whines.

Dean Maryland then reveals that Ray Palmer caused all of this to happen. Ray didn’t do it intentionally, but Ivy is now a nexus for the bizarre and nonsensical and these forces have made Ivy a battlefield. Ryan says that he will use his powers as the Atom to protect Ivy. Dean Maryland tells Ryan that being the Atom cost Ray to loves of his life: Laethwen and Jean Loring. Laethwen and her people were killed and Jean became a murderer. Dean Maryland tells Ryan that he would rather see him alive than die as a hero. Suddenly, Ryan’s father walks into the room. Ryan’s father tells Ryan to pack his things. That he is here to take Ryan home. We then see Dwarfstar outside the house watching this entire scene through a window. End of issue.

The Good: Atom #4 was a pretty solid read. Simone is getting better and better with each issue. I was critical about DC’s move to replace Ray Palmer as the Atom. I was also less than impressed with Simone’s work on the first couple of issues. Having said that, Simone has improved with each issue and Atom #4 was the best issue so far.

Atom #4 had a better flow to it than the previous issues. The first three issues seemed disjointed and oddly paced. Atom #4 was a big improvement in this area. Atom #4 had better transitions between scenes and the pacing was just right.

Simone’s real strength is her sense of humor which makes the Atom a fun read. A great example of this was the scene where the Atom made Giganta barf in order to escape from her stomach. Seeing a fifty foot tall naked woman projectile barf on a bunch of alien soldiers was certainly never a scene I expected to see in a comic book! I loved it! The Atom is a fun title and is a nice change of pace from the majority of the comic books that I read.

Ryan is slowly but surely starting to develop a personality outside of a main character in a shonen manga. I definitely thought his new power to create light was pretty neat. I’m hoping that Simone has so more surprises in store for us concerning Ryan’s powers. I like that Simone is using the Lighter Than Air Society as a weapons factory for the Atom. This is a great vehicle for Simone to arm the Atom with some wild and interesting weapons. Gadgets and hi-tech weapons are always a blast and I’m looking forward to the Atom putting these various weapons to use.

Dwarfstar is an excellent arch nemesis for Ryan. I dig his psychotic nature. His naturally dark and twisted personality is a great foil for Ryan’s bright and enthusiastic personality. I’m looking forward to seeing the clash of these two characters.

I like what Simone is doing with Ivy. I like that it is a nexus for the strange and bizarre. And I am intrigued how the bizarre happenings at Ivy are due to Ray Palmer’s actions. I cannot wait to see how Simone fleshes out this plotline. Ivy is definitely going to be an excellent plot tool for Simone to create plenty of odd and offbeat stories.

I like that Simone is still keeping Ray Palmer involved in this current storyline. It makes me hope that we haven’t seen the last of Ray Palmer. I know that DC will probably never return him to the role of the Atom, but I can still hope.

I liked Eddy Barrows’ art more than John Byrne’s work on the Atom. I enjoyed Byrne’s work in the past; however, I thought his work on this title was very ordinary. Byrne’s version of Ryan looked 16 at best. Barrows draws a much more dynamic and clean looking issue.

The Bad: The short scene between Dwarfstar and Panda was just odd and unnecessary. There was no point or reason for this scene. Dwarfstar just held a knife to Panda’s throat and then rambled on nonsensically and then left. It was just a needless scene. I guess that Simone wanted to have a dramatic ending to Atom #3 and placed Dwarfstar in Panda’s room with a knife to his throat. Then, in Atom #4, Simone painted herself into a corner and didn’t know what to do with that scene.

I thought the final scene was poorly constructed. Dean Maryland arriving out of nowhere during the fight scene driving an exotic sports car was strange and a bit too convenient. Then the Dean telling Ryan that he brought Ryan’s father in to take him home was odd. What? Is Ryan six years old? Sorry, Ryan, sleepover is done for you! You need to go home! That was just strange and awkward. That entire final scene from the moment that Dean Maryland appeared to the end was just very weekly written.

Overall: The Atom #4 was a good read. This title is definitely getting better with each issue and I think that this title just may work its way onto The Revolution’s permanent pull list. If you like fun titles that are a lighter in tone than your average comic book then you will certainly enjoy the Atom.

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