The All-New Atom #1


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The All-New Atom #1


  • Words: Gail Simone
  • Art: John Byrne
  • Inks: Trevor Scott
  • Colors: Alex Bleyaert
  • Story Title: My Life in Miniature Part One: Indivisible
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Jul 5, 2006

Scientist Ryan Choi has just been given Ray Palmer’s job at Ivy University, Ray’s Atom gear, and a lot of trouble Choi doesn’t know about. Yet.

It is rarely, if ever, easy for a writer to establish a new character based on an old, beloved one. Writer Gail Simone and artist John Byrne tackle the task here, with a little push-off from fellow writer, Grant Morrison.

When a scientist and teacher at Ivy University meets a strange and grisly end (proving that sometimes dogs are not man’s best friend), young Ryan Choi finds himself hired to fill the position. Choi, was somewhat mentored by former Atom, Ray Palmer and Ray has left some clues to a "gift" left behind for Choi. Ryan’s first adventure with the Atom gear is eventful and amusingly less than superheroic. So now Ryan has the tools and a few friends to help him study the new horizons opened up. This is good because Ivy Town is about to prove itself a very strange place to live and it will need a superhero... even if Ryan has to learn on the job.

The title page of this comic announces, "Based on ideas and concepts developed by Grant Morrison" and one can certainly see some traces of his trademark high-concepts here. It is Gail Simone, however, who must take the ball and run with it and she does so with humor and her own dash of quirkiness.

The main character of Ryan Choi manages to be offbeat, eager, and slightly innocent in a way that is charming rather than annoying. In a smart move, Simone also surrounds the main character with a full and funny supporting cast of fellow scientists. In this day and age of decompressed storytelling many writers can take four to six issues to introduce a new character and his/her supporting cast. Simone moves at breakneck speed here, filling in the cast and nearly getting the main character into costume in a single issue! This is a refreshing change of pace and one that actually feels welcome.

Simone also revels in the Atom’s basic power. She returns a sense of wonder and excitement to the concept of a hero who shrinks. She transforms the ordinary world to one filled with adventure and challenges when you’re the size of a bug. Reading this issue really felt like watching some of those "shrunken people" science fiction movies of the 1950’s – the good ones.

This is also where artist John Byrne really works well. His eye for detail and backgrounds does a good job of showing the world from shrunken Ryan’s point of view. Yes, Byrne is a controversial figure in comic book circles, but his art here is good, solid work. Inker Trevor Scott helps out as well by enhancing the lines and shadows with a light, judicious touch.

All of this is not to say the issue is without problems, though. Some of the dialogue reads forced, as if Simone were pushing just a little too hard to make her point. Also, the random, tangential quotes from famous people are fun (particularly when the "quotes" come from fictional characters) but the trick gets overused a bit.

Overall, The All-New Atom shows every sign of being a fun, off-kilter series with a lot of humor and charm. There are still a few places where the reader can see the gears grinding but hopefully that will all smooth out soon.

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