Comic Book Review: The All New Atom #6

The Atom is a curious title. Each time the new issue comes out I think how I collect too many titles and I should probably drop the Atom. Then I read the new issue of the Atom and damn if I don’t enjoy it. The Atom is definitely getting better with each issue. Much of that is due to Eddy Barrows supplying much stronger art than what John Byrne did for the early issues. I’m sure that Atom #6 will be a fun read. 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 begins with the Ivy Police department caught between the war of the forces of magic and the forces of science. Dwarfstar appears on the scene and kills a couple of police officers.

We shift to a tired and worn out Atom flying back to Ivy on his bangstick. Atom thinks about how cool it was that he just saved the President. The Atom arrives in Ivy and sees that full scale war has broken out between the forces of Science and the forces of Magic. Atom radios his fellow Professors for advice on what to do next. Dr. Dinawa tells Atom that the city is the grip of two snakes. That he has to cut off the heads of both snakes in order to end this war.

Atom starts brawling with the Waiting soldiers. Dwarfstar then arrives on the scene. And with that we have a showdown between the two micro sized powerhouses. Dwarfstar proceeds to whip Atom like a rented mule. Dwarfstar stabs Atom in his arm. The Atom then realizes that he can’t win this fight and retreats on his bangstick.

The Atom flies off on his bangstick and thinks how he just can’t do this. The Atom then hallucinates his mother flying next to him. His mom tells him that his heart to too big to allow all those innocent people to do. That he will go and do what is right.

Newly inspired, the Atom flies off to talk to M’Nagalah. The Atom gets M’Nagalah to agree that if the Atom can get the other side to leave Ivy then M’Nagalah would honor a truce in this war between the two sides.

We then cut to two dogs being controlled by the Waiting about to attack the Atom. Suddenly, the stray dog that the Atom adopted attacks the two dogs being controlled by the Waiting. The Atom grabs his dog and makes a run for it only to be hit by Dwarfstar who appeared out of nowhere.

The Atom and Dwarfstar begin brawling. The Atom keeps shrinking down smaller and smaller and Dwarfstar keeps doing the same. The Atom then falls to his knees and pretends that he is surrendering to Dwarfstar. However, suddenly, the Atom begins to grow again. Dwarfstar goes to grow, too and realizes that the Atom pulled off his belt while he was pretending to surrender. We see the Atom growing larger and larger and holding Dwarfstar’s belt. The Atom apologizes for trapping Dwarfstar in subatomic space for eternity. (Wow. Pretty harsh!)

The Atom then proceeds to continue fighting with the Waiting. The Atom figures that since the Waiting’s technology is all based on insects and in particular ants. The Atom knows that if an ant is damaged then it sends out an alarm pheromone. That pheromone causes other ants to kick into a fighting frenzy and even attack each other. So, the Atom creates some massive damage on one of the Waiting’s vessels and the flood of the alarm pheromone causes the other Waiting vessels to fall into chaos and attack each other. The Atom tells the Waiting that the war is over. Neither side wins, but neither side loses. That the Atom knows how to beat them and that the Waiting should retreat. And with that the Waiting retreats and M’Nagalah honors the truce and the war is over.

We cut to the next day with Ryan on his way to teach his class. He is nervous because his students don’t respect him or listen to him. Ryan enters his classroom and immediately gets heckled by his students. Suddenly, Ryan’s father appears in the classroom and smacks a ruler on a desk and goes all old school hard core disciplinarian teacher on the students. Ryan’s father basically tells them to shut up and be respectful and listen to the brilliant Professor’s fascinating lecture. Ryan’s father sits down and Ryan proceeds to start his lecture. Ryan thinks to himself that he has the greatest father.

We shift to later that day. Ryan’s father has packed up and is getting into a taxi to go back home. Ryan’s father tells Ryan that he isn’t too sure that Ivy needs a superhero, but he is certain that those students need a teacher. Ryan then pays the cab driver who takes the money and says “A bell no spry matter.” The cab then takes off.

Ryan goes back in his house and tries to figure out the cab driver’s anagram. Ryan figures out that it says “Not Ray Palmer’s Belt.” Ryan is stunned. End of issue.

The Good: Atom #6 was another solid read. Simone has really impressed me with her work on this title. She has steadily improved with each issue. After the first two issues, I was convinced that this title was going to suck and that I would be giving it the axe in a couple of more issues. However, Simone managed to build some momentum and really get cooking on this title and the past several issues have been rather enjoyable.

The one thing that Simone has really accomplished on the Atom is that it is simply a fun read. That’s right. Fun. This title isn’t dark, serious, grim or gritty. This title isn’t brainy, lofty or philosophical. Nope, this title is just good old fashioned fun. And that is something that you don’t see that often anymore in comics. It is quite refreshing.

Simone is getting better with the dialogue on this title. In the first couple of issues, I thought the dialogue was a bit shallow. However, Simone is starting to get much more enjoyable dialogue with each issue. Simone certainly has a nice sense of humor that shows through in the dialogue. There are several scenes that get the reader chuckling and smiling.

Simone is also improving the chemistry between the characters. At first, there was practically no chemistry between Ryan and his fellow professors. Now, however, we are finally getting a good flavor of the personalities for the different professors and how they interact with Ryan. The scene with Ryan and his father in the classroom and later at his house was perfect.

Simone has also improved the flow of her stories. In the earlier issues, the transitions between scenes were terribly clumsy and it seemed like each issue would randomly hop all over the place. I thought Atom #6 had a nice flow and a much more improved pace.

Simone certainly supplied the reader with plenty of action in Atom #6. This was certainly not a slow issue. I loved the fight scenes between Dwarfstar and the Atom. They were great. Dwarfstar is a great villain. I love him. He is just pure evil. There is nothing gray about him. Nothing conflicted. He is just a completely insane psychopath. See, you can have a villain be clearly evil with no shades of gray without making him a Nazi themed villain. Shocking, I know. It just takes a little time and effort. Simone should be applauded for giving the Atom such a deliciously nasty and evil arch nemesis in Dwarfstar.

I also liked how Ryan defeated Dwarfstar. Yeah, I have a small quibble with this that I will deal with later, but I liked that Ryan did something so harsh as to trap Dwarfstar at subatomic size. Ryan is such a good guy character that he comes across as a bit soft and weak. I would never thought that Ryan would be capable of pulling off such a harsh act. I was surprised. But, it worked and I really do believe that, despite Dwarfstar being a total psycho, Ryan is genuinely sorry for what he had to do to Dwarfstar.

Ryan’s character is also improving with each issue. He is becoming less of a one-dimensional shonen manga style protagonist. The scene with Dwarfstar helped in giving Ryan a little more depth and texture. Ryan is still a bit overly positive. However, I think it goes back to Simone creating a fun title rather than a gritty one. The Atom has a wonderful Silver Age feel to it and part of that is because the protagonist is truly a positive and nice good guy. You don’t see that too often with comic book protagonists in this current era.

And Simone keeps up her trend of delivering excellent endings that hook the reader into wanting to get the next issue. Once again, we have the mysterious cab driver delivering an anagram to Ryan. This one is “Not Ray Palmer’s Belt.” Very interesting. We do know that the Dean created the belt for Dwarfstar. And it appears that he also created the one for Ryan to find at his house. And just who is this mysterious cab driver? Could he be Ray Palmer? Who knows? What I do know is that Simone is carefully crafting an interesting little mystery.

Oh yeah, the bangstick is cool. More gadgets, Simone!

Eddy Barrows continues to supply quality artwork for this title. Barrows is certainly very talented and is capable of turning out some great looking panels. Barrows is still a little inconsistent with some panels looking a little average compared to others. However, Barrows cranks out an overall issue that is great looking. Plus, Barrows draws a great Atom. I also enjoy how Barrows lays out the fight scenes.

The Bad: I thought that Simone dropped the ball with the ending to this war between Magic and Science. The ending in this issue was just too quick, too easy and a bit too convenient. That M’Nagalah would just call off his forces if the Waiting decided to not take control of the nexus in Ivy didn’t seem consistent with what we saw in previous issues. Clearly, both sides want to control the nexus. If the Waiting retreated, why wouldn’t M’Nagalah then triumphantly take control of the nexus that is clearly important to him? Getting both sides to just go away was too simply. Plus, the idea that both sides would be amenable to a nobody loses/nobody wins resolution to the war just didn’t seem very satisfying of an ending.

And it all happened too fast. In the span of a single issue that spent most of the time dealing with the Atom fighting Dwarfstar. It only took the Atom 7 pages in this issue to resolve a war that Simone has spent five issues to build up to its climax. It really came across like Simone had painted herself into a corner with this war plotline and didn’t know how to resolve it properly.

Also, the little quotes from various scientists needs to stop. It was interesting in the first issue, but that is about it. It is just too cute of a literary trick to keep using each and every single issue. Plus, it breaks up the flow of the story with all these asterisks to random quotes inserted through the issue.

Overall: Atom #6 was another fun read. Simone is hitting her stride on this title and starting to crank out some enjoyable issues. Barrows is a wonderful addition to this title and his artwork really makes the Atom a stronger read. If you enjoy Silver Age style comic books then I think that you would certain enjoy the Atom. Give it a try.