“Strange that these memories are coming up now. . .” laments Ray Palmer. No, Ray, it’s not strange. It’s a new writer controlling your destiny, tweaking and revising. Lemire sets up the “previously” so he can look to the future for Ray Palmer, plucking pieces of the past and enhancing them without locking them down to any specific time. A product of the 1960s and the comic book science encouraged by Julius Schwartz that made the Silver Age what it eventually became for DC, Ray Palmer has endured some reinterpretations that just haven’t stuck. This issue goes back to the source material and tweaks it from there.
Lemire doesn’t do much in this issue other than set up who Ray Palmer is and why we should care about Professor Hyatt. Certainly this is going to frustrate more than a few fans, but Palmer is a character that hasn’t been fully fleshed out since “Infinite Crisis.” He’s served as a plot point, a supporting character, and the impetus for harsh dismissal of Ryan Choi, but who Ray Palmer is hasn’t been defined following the grand comic book reset button push.
The gist of this story is that Atom is trying to figure out why his lab was destroyed, but in doing so he encounters a tidal wave of memories and recollections. You can catch a preview of this issue here on CBR.
Mahmud Asrar’s work is perfectly suited for this book, and John Dell brings a refinement to Asrar’s art that is near seamless. The two blend nicely, giving this book an iconic appearance. Asrar’s knack for jamming in details is enhanced nicely through Dell’s inks and Pantazis’ colors. The trio delivers a stunning pin-up-worthy shot of the Justice League. Pantazis puts a nice fade on some of the flashbacks, giving the pages a much-read feel. Throughout the rest of the book, it’s an explosion of superheroic, grandiose color.
Settling into a groove with the adventures of Ray Palmer, Lemire recently discussed his freshly-minted DC exclusivity with Jeffrey Renaud. The story is going to spring from here and continue on as a backup in “Adventure Comics.” Lemire’s story is only beginning, making this issue less of a one-shot and much more of an introduction.
I found it rather disappointing that the Ivy Town depicted in this issue is not the Ivy Town that evolved through Gail Simone’s run on “The All-New Atom.” The town was developing character of its own and becoming one of the most entertaining collectives of oddities in comics. True, this is early in Lemire’s run, so we may see some of the madcap zaniness yet.
The “Brightest Day” banner flying above the cover logo — and my goodness, what a stunning Gary Frank cover it is! — doesn’t really foretell much of the content of this issue, as the only “Brightest Day” mention is a small editor’s box on the second page.
The Atom’s back, and this issue is a fine introduction to him, but it’s light on action. Good thing the story continues in “Adventure” and not some other Super-title. This is a fine starting point for readers unfamiliar with the Mighty Mite, and it’s approachable for younger readers as well.