Writer Tom Peyer and artist Steve Yeowell deliver a really bizarre story filled with unasked questions and incomplete answers in “Convergence: The Atom” #1. The story opens in a Gotham City, beneath an impenetrable dome.
That, right there, is where the story begins to wobble and never really corrects its path before the end of the issue. This Gotham City is shiny and high-tech, more visually congruent with the perception of “Metropolis” than Gotham. A turn of the page gives readers the Atom busting onto the scene — literally — through a wall. Peyer makes it plain to readers that this Atom, Ray Palmer, is not completely together mentally and sews that into the fabric of this story. What he doesn’t make clear, in any way, shape or form, is why Gotham and why Ray Palmer.
Set in the pre-“Flashpoint” and post-“Infinite Crisis” universe, Palmer is trying to track down Deathstroke for killing Ryan Choi, Palmer’s successor as the Atom. It’s been a year that this Gotham City has been under the dome and that story is only now hitting its climax, conveniently, for this issue to give readers a Deathstroke-Atom fight. As that really gets rolling, however, “Convergence” demands a deathmatch, pitting Palmer against Barracuda, a character from the Extremists version of DC Universe. Throw in voices in Palmer’s head and an off-kilter version of his power and the whole issue is filled with concepts that just don’t have enough room to feel organic or even complete.
A character like the Atom seems perfectly matched to have the most extreme settings and backgrounds, effects and filters, but artist Steve Yeowell and inker Andy Owens keep this issue lean and straightforward. Owens adds some rich shadows to Yeowell’s work, but the pair doesn’t really push the visual details far or wide, making the Gotham City location as serviceable as Ivy Town (which would make a TON more sense) or even Toledo, Ohio.
Yeowell’s storytelling is fine enough to move the story along, albeit without dazzling visuals, but one scene in particular becomes quite murky as Atom appears to get stabbed through his hand, but his hand appears perfectly fine in the exact same panel. This incongruity leaves the reader to conceive his or her own version of what happened. Whatever the case, it occurs at an intense story point but doesn’t energize the adventure.
HiFi has some fun with the colors and inserts some patterns for the backgrounds, but the rather mundane story doesn’t allow for excessive amounts of either. Barracuda is green, Atom wears blue and red and they’re fighting in a cave, with not a whole lot of latitude in color or concept. Pat Brosseau’s letters are driven by the event, matching Telos’ vocalizations across “Convergence.” The letterer is more flexible on Palmer’s dialogue with the voice in his head, treating much of the conversation in hushed tones.
“Convergence: The Atom” #1 is hardly a deathmatch issue, nor does it particularly sell Ray Palmer or the Atom very well. Fans of Palmer, Choi or the Atom concept aren’t going to find the next great epic of the Mighty Mite here. With DC pumping out so much product in the next two months around “Convergence,” there are bound to be some gems, stinkers and completely forgettable tales. Nothing in “Convergence: The Atom” #1 is exceptionally memorable, and the final page introduces the most interesting concept. Hopefully, part two brings something more interesting along.