Comic Book Review: The All New Atom #5

The Revolution has been pleasantly surprised at how much better The Atom has gotten with each issue. I am certainly enjoying the Atom much more now that Eddy Barrows has taken over the art duties from John Byrne. Hopefully, Simone can keep this title moving in a positive direction with the Atom #4. Let’s find out.

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: We start with micro-sized alien group called the Waiting. We see a class of students being instructed about the Earthmen are their enemies. That the Earthmen are making allies with the forces of magic and chaos. But, that the Waiting have science on their side. And that the Dog has given them food and protection as well as mobility and strength. But, above all the dog as given them their home. We then see that this alien colony is actually located in the fur of the stray dog that Ryan adopted.

Ryan’s father informing him that he is coming back home to China. Ryan asks his father to come outside and talk to him in private. Once they leave, Dwarfstar enters the room. (Uh-oh, the Dean may be his next victim.) Dean Mayland then chews out Dwarfstar for showing up with Ryan in his house. That Dwarfstar could have blown the whole thing. (Swerve! The Dean is Dwarfstar’s boss!)

We shift to outside the house where Ryan is talking with his father. They continue their conversation back at Ryan’s house. Ryan explains to his father the entire events of the past four issues concerning the war between science and magic. Ryan then puts on the Atom costume and demonstrates his powers to his father. Ryan then tells his father that he can’t give up on this, yet. Ryan’s father tells him that he has until the next morning to convince him. Suddenly, Panda enters the house with all the various gadgets that his fellow scientists have created. Panda shows off a couple of the gadgets and then tells Ryan about Dwarfstar threatening to kill him. Ryan interrupts Panda and introduces him to his father.

We cut to a laboratory on the other side of Ivy. Dean Mayland is paying a visit to Richard Renslovski who was formerly known as a very unsuccessful super villain names Ricky Robot. He got defeated by Elongated Man several times. Ricky drinks a glass of water. The Dean tells Ricky that the war between science and magic is arriving and that Ricky needs to pick a side. Ricky says he doesn’t want to be involved. The Dean says that he can’t have people saying “no” to him, so he is going to make an example of Ricky. The Dean tells Ricky that he just drank the assassin that the Dean sent to kill him. Suddenly, Ricky explodes as we see Dwarfstar grow to full size out of Ricky’s mid section.

We shift back to Ryan’s house, where two soldiers and a large floating head from the Waiting are at his door. Panda answers the door and calls for Ryan’s help. Unfortunately, Ryan is busy fighting some magical creature that attacked him in his bathroom. Ryan then rushes downstairs and takes out the two alien soldiers.

The floating head tells Ryan that he is too dangerous to be allowed to live. That the war between magic and science is already taking place. We then see the Waiting’s forces along with various science based super villains clashing with various magic based super villains. Also the Waiting have launched a sneak attack on the White House. Ryan then hops on his new bangstick and rockets off to Washington, D.C. to stop the attack on the President. End of issue.

The Good: Atom #5 was a good read. Simone has managed to put together back to back solid issues. I think that we are finally seeing what Simone is capable to putting out on this title. Atom #5 was nicely paced. It kept the story moving without feeling too rushed. The transitions between the various scenes were improved. They still aren’t great, but they are much better than the jarring transitions of the earlier issues that gave the issues a disjointed flow.

Simone’s biggest talent is her sense of humor. Simone brings an enjoyable humorous touch to this title that makes it a “fun” read. Simone keeps the entire story brighter and lighter with her constant tongue in cheek humor. There are so many scenes in this issue that made me chuckle. It is this light hearted feel that gives the Atom the fun adventurous feel of a shonen manga.

Simone wasted no time dropping a huge bomb on the reader by revealing that Dwarfstar’s boss is none other than Dean Mayland! What a great twist. You had a feeling that something was up with the Dean with the way he conveniently showed up at the scene of last issues battle and rescued Atom. Then the extreme measures the Dean took to get Ryan to give up being the Atom including flying his father all the way from China just didn’t make sense. Now, it all fits together. I like the choice of Dean Mayland as the evil mastermind behind Dwarfstar.

I’m starting to get a better feel for where Simone is going with this title and the world that she is trying to create Ivy. And I like what I’m seeing. Ivy is a unique and quirky background for this story. There are practically endless sources of plotlines at Simone’s disposal in the town of Ivy. I think it is a wise idea to build up Ivy’s importance and position in the DCU just like the position and importance of the other big named DCU cities like Gotham, Metropolis and Keystone City. This move just further fleshes out and develops the DCU into an even more complex and interesting universe.

Gadgets are always cool, so needless to say, I dig all the neat weapons that Panda and the other science professors have created. These new toys for Atom should provide for plenty of interesting action scenes. Plus, these new hi-tech weapons provide the Atom with a serious power upgrade. He is no longer just a guy who shrinks.

I dig Dwarfstar. Yeah, his personality is very typical. He is your standard issue psycho villain. However, it is neat seeing a psychotic version of the Atom use his powers in ways that the Atom would never dream to do so. For example, the way that Dwarfstar killed Ricky was sick. I loved it.

Eddy Barrows is a solid artist. Barrows makes the Atom a much more enjoyable read than John Byrne did. Barrows is a little inconsistent from panel to panel. Some look great while others are average. However, on a whole, Barrows delivers a nice looking comic book.

The Bad: The ending of this issue wasn’t as good as the ending to the past several issues. Simone has been able to deliver big hooks to the endings of most her issues on the Atom. However, this ending was just your generic hero zipping off to save the world style ending.

Simone’s dialogue in this issue is only average. It seems stiff at some points and a little generic at other points. And related to the average dialogue is the lack of depth of the personalities of the various characters. Even though I am enjoying the Atom, my enjoyment is limited by the depth of the characters on this title. None of the characters in the Atom could be confused with well developed and complex characters. Everyone seems a bit one-dimensional. They are all a bit shallow. Panda is the generic nice guy. Ryan’s father is the stereotypical dad. Dwarfstar is just your average psycho villain. And Ryan is just a standard optimistic good guy.

I’ve come to realize that Ryan is what he is and Simone isn’t going to give us any additional depth to his personality. Simone has clearly designed Ryan to be that likeable positive shonen manga style hero that younger readers can easily root for. Ryan isn’t going to be a textured character. And that is ok, but this ensures that the Atom will never be a title that rises above the level of a “fun” dependable title. It won’t take that next step to be a title that is special. I think that the Atom will continue crank out issues that get a 6 or 7 ranking for the story.

And even though I am enjoying this new Atom, do I think this title is any better or more enjoyable because DC didn’t use Ray Palmer? Absolutely not. If anything, this title would be better if DC did use Ray Palmer. I find Ray to be a much more compelling and complex character than Ryan. I feel like Ryan is the kid’s version of the Atom while Ray is the adult’s version of the Atom.

Overall: Atom #5 was another solid read. The art and writing are both above average. The magic of this new Atom is that it is a fun title. Simone has created a story with plenty of action, adventure and humor. If you like your titles to be lighter hearted than many of the grim and gritty titles currently on the market, then I’d suggest you give the Atom a try.