I have to give Jeff Parker credit. The idea of gathering up a group of mostly forgotten 1950s characters and giving them a modern day book? It seems like professional and sales suicide. “Agents of Atlas” managed to somehow buck the odds, though, graduating into an ongoing monthly comic once their mini-series was done. Now that I’ve read all three issues of the new series, I clearly need to check out what I missed with the mini-series, because this is fun.
The latest issue of “Agents of Atlas,” like the previous one, mixes a flashback in with a present-day narrative. The past story, drawn by Gabriel Hardman, is a good enough story with invaders from another dimension and mysterious red triangles. Hardman’s art is a smart choice for this story; his art and Elizabeth Dismang’s colors somehow make this story feel old-fashioned yet modern at the same time, if that’s even possible. Parker has fun with this jaunt back to 1958, a mixture of heroics and humor. Gorilla-Man gets all the good lines as per usual, and there’s something for all of the characters to do even as the story progresses.
What clinches the issue for me, though, is the present-day story. Re-reading the issue, it’s hard to believe that Parker not only had room for the 1958 story, but also a progression on the story with the Agents tricking Norman Osborn into thinking that Atlas is run by villains, as well as a side-story about Namora finally getting a chance to grieve over the loss of her daughter Namorita in “Civil War.” It’s an important character point for Parker to hit, and I found myself all the more impressed that the issue never felt like it stopped to deal with this, and flowed smooth and effortlessly. Clayton Henry’s art for this story is nice, although coupled with Jana Schirmer’s colors it reminds me like old Salvador Larocca art. That’s not a bad thing, but after seeing Henry’s crisper art in “The Incredible Hercules” I can’t help but hope that he goes back to his earlier style before too long.
I also have to give Parker a lot of credit for being one of the only writers at the moment who have made me care at all about “Dark Reign.” Parker’s having fun with the setup for this line-wide event, and the Agents’ attempts to learn more about Osborn’s real plans actually feels intriguing and exciting. Best of all, when Parker tackles the idea of what the Sentry’s psyche must look like to a telepath, well… Let’s just say that if the various Avengers books need a new writer any time soon, Marvel should seriously consider Parker for that position.
“Agents of Atlas” #3 is a surprisingly good book, proving once again that there are no such thing as bad characters. It’s all in how you handle them, and Parker’s made these cast-off characters from the 1950s vastly entertaining. I’ll definitely keep reading so long as he keeps writing them.