Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: BlueBeetle, CaptainAtom, DCNew52, FreddieWilliamsIII, JTKrul
The day before JT Krul’s Captain Atom came out I found Ted Kord’s first appearance as the Blue Beetle in that famous Charlton Cap Atom issue in an Atlanta comic book store. I tweeted about it as it was the coolest thing that happened to me all day. Pre-DCnew52, Atom was a character who I enjoyed reading about as part of an ensemble line up, so I was pretty curious as to how he would stand out in a book of his own.
WARNING: contains spoilers.
Recently I’ve been quite turned off by characters who are hard as nails, lacking in emotion, and generally just a bit two dimensional. From the cover of issue #1 you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’ve got another Doc Manhattan in here, when in fact Krul will be treating us to a very complex and different individual with no shortage of relationships or problems, and neither without reason or for their own sake.
We begin down in the grime encrusted alley ways of San Francisco, joining a hobo and his rat amongst the debris. Whilst this is pretty grotty, my eye was immediately drawn to countdown timer in the top left. It’s bright blue and seems pretty precise. Wonder what its counting down to? Its also accompanied with our hero’s inner monologue on the motivation/ success of humans. Getting deep eh? And not a single KAPOW so far.
Wow! Two page splash showing off the big man in all his glory! You might think a radioactive blue man might seem less real in a crowd, like a good natured jape, or a dressed up chum out for laughs? Well, you’d be wrong! Here it’s Captain Atom who is real. He might be blue and muscly and flying through the sky but he is more real, more composed, stronger and cooler than anyone in the crowd, the buildings and the giant robot beastie he is going to fight. The whole thing serves to internalise Captain Atom and reverse the idea of his being the freak – the character to be heavily stylised and looked upon as an oddity. Here, he carries the same weight and believability of any other scientific phenomena or wonder drug. He can make a mucked up reality seem stable again. He is our anti-psychotic anti-depressive pill and he is going to make our lives work again.
The art in this two page monster effort really tells us this book is going to be a tale of two conflicting halves. Simplified, the ordeal of hanging on to the human side of life versus the cold, analytical and yet powerful life as Captain Atom. The aforementioned struggle continues to be illustrated via the battle between Atom and this nondescript mecha-villain. It also gives us a small glimpse of a problem which is to plague Atom, is he losing control of his powers?
It is his desire to receive help with this problem that leads us on to an introduction to what we can assume are his ‘important’ relationships – Ranita, who is a doctoral candidate working with Dr. Megala. The doctor is the man Atom goes to with his problem, he obviously respects him, although I’m not exactly sure where they work/ what they do other than it involving nuclear physics and particle analysis accelerator things, I doubt Captain Atom is either, as he reminds the Doc he was a pilot and not a scientist.
Laterally, we are somewhat lazily set up with the cliffhanger for the next episode – whilst in the research facility speaking with the decomposing looking Dr Megala, Ranita tells them about a Volcano about to erupt over NYC and perilously close to a nuclear reactor. As he tried to sort out the problems he experiences terrible problems with his powers and we end up with an is he alive or is he dead scenario. As this is the first issue, I’m going to go ahead and assume here that he will get through this. In this midst of this massive action scene we have a quick interlude back to the alley’s of San Fran to find out that the Rat has turned into some sort of big rat demon. This is so far out of keeping with the rest of the book I feel torn between curious as wishing it wasn’t there. Weird huh?
Overall I think we have the beginnings of a good Captain Atom character and story, provided Krul can keep the monologue’s to a minimum and allow Atom’s personality to shine through his interactions with other characters, rather than by being written out in speech bubbles. The quality of art is good, with some neat tricks thrown in to help the story. A lot of promise here, will be picking up issue #2 to see where this goes.
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