SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Wonder Woman #33 by James Robinson and Emanuela Lupacchino, on sale now.
This week’s Wonder Woman #33 by James Robinson and Emanuela Lupacchino offered a look back at the past, zeroing in on what Grail had been up to since we last saw her in possession of a young, infant-sized Darkseid. In the flashback, we find Grail and a crib-bound baby Darkseid holed up in a swanky house in the middle of snowy mountains.
Having found a place to lay low, Grail pondered her next course of action. As she wrestled with her ineffectiveness at being a mother, as she began to be overwhelmed with questions about what to do with her father, answers came to find her instead, in the form of an attack.
While Grail had expected to be discovered in her remote location in the snow, a special A.R.G.U.S. team managed to surprise her and catch her off guard, laying siege to the house with their jetpacks, advanced armored suits and weaponry. As it turns out, this special elite team was a new addition to the A.R.G.U.S. roster, called the Atomic Knights. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the team has deep roots in the history of DC Comics.
The Atomic Knights first appeared as medieval armor-wearing heroes of a dystopian future in the pages of Strange Adventures #117 in 1960 by John Broome and Murphy Anderson. Led by the original Atomic Knight Gardner Grayle, they rode on giant mutated dalmatians to defeat the rule of an evil tyrant.
But the modern comics version of the Knights were a team of soldiers put together by Grayle. They first appeared in the Infinite Crisis Aftermath series Battle for Blüdhaven #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Jurgens and have only made very few appearances since. Wearing special suits of armor, their main goal was to defend the citizens of Blüdhaven from the agents of S.H.A.D.E. — the Super-Human Advanced Defense Executive. After finding refuge in the famed Command-D bunker, they would later be seen in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis event riding giant, mutated dogs for steeds. Although valiant in their efforts, joining ranks with Wonder Woman, members of the team would die at the hands of Darkseid’s forces when they stormed the city.
Although they hadn’t been seen since the aftermath of Final Crisis — with no sign of them in the universe-wide reboot that was the New 52 — the Atomic Knights have finally returned to the DC Universe thanks to Rebirth. Once again wearing suits of armor, the Knights are a force for good. The only caveat was that going up against the might of Darkseid’s daughter Grail, both Apokolipsian and Amazon in origin, was clearly a lot more than the team of soldiers could handle. Grail didn’t hesitate to cut every single last one of them down, destroying their jets and slicing them in half. Although they tried their best to recover Darkseid, Grail didn’t leave a single one of them alive.
It was a very brief return to glory for the Atomic Knights. Then again, they never had the longest of appearances. But the fact that Grail states that she would later come to learn of their name, “Atomic Knights,” might be a hint that maybe we haven’t seen the last of them after all. In fact, the original Atomic Knights numbers were quite large, and seeing as how they are now an A.R.G.U.S. team, new recruits can always be found. They just better make sure to stay away from Grail.
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