J.T. Krul, Freddie Williams II and Jose Villarrubia’s “Captain Atom” #0 wraps up the three creators’ 13-issue “Captain Atom” series by backtracking to tell the title character’s origin. Unfortunately, there’s almost nothing here that wasn’t already told to us in “Captain Atom” #1-12.
Krul’s “Captain Atom” had already shown us a lot of glimpses of the transformation of the character, so seeing Nathaniel Adam volunteering for the project that rewrote his entire being lacks any sort of punch. It probably doesn’t help that pre-Atom, Nathaniel Adam is a rather boring person. We never get any sense of a strong personality (or a personality at all); considering that he spends a lot of “Captain Atom” #1-12 worrying that he’s losing his humanity, the fact that we see none of it on display in “Captain Atom” #0 feels unintentionally funny.
As for the rewriting of Captain Atom himself, the character’s interpretation was forever altered after the publication of “Watchmen” and “Captain Atom” #0 liberally cribs from that playbook, even down to his slow rebuilding of his body over time. This doesn’t feel like anything new; the previous twelve issues were all over the map but they’d at least felt a bit more original.
On the other hand, Williams and Villarrubia turn in one final issue of inspired insanity. I love the icy blue hues that Villarrubia uses to illustrate Williams unraveling lines; it feels like a strange cross between Frank Miller’s current style and Rick Leonardi’s superhero work. It’s big and expressive, but often full of lots of little lines and details carefully etched onto the page. Even if you aren’t reading the words, it’s a neat book to look at; all the little shadows and loops on things like Doctor Megala’s wheelchair or the eye-popping colors and swirls of Megala’s M Theory demonstration are enough to justify the price of admission here.
It’s too bad after last month’s issue that “Captain Atom” #0 is wrapping up the series with such a whimper. The series was all over the place but it was at least going somewhere, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if this issue had acted as an epilogue as well as prologue, perhaps with some sort of ouroboros effect that would have fit in well with what Krul had written. Still, the book looks great, if nothing else, but I think stopping one issue earlier would have been a slightly more dramatic final note.