Finally, I’ve caught up with this series! This issue came out just last week. The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom is currently my favorite DC title out right now. I’ve enjoyed the beginning of DC Comics Rebirth series, but think the quality has fallen off somewhat. My favorite titles include Batman, Nightwing, Green Lanterns, and Titans. That’s the thing about comics though. I don’t like every story out there right now in the comic book world, but the majority of them are written well. This business is subjective as subjective can get. Yes, I understand that quality of writing and storytelling is important, but if you don’t like the Flash, you don’t care if people are calling his recent run the best thing since Watchmen. Not to mention that the majority of people let their bias influence them when judging comics anyway. If you like Flash, that bias may cloud your judgement when it comes to comparing it to an exceptionally well written title like Superman. That’s okay. Nothing wrong with liking what you like. Our comic book community, and humans in general, love to ridicule people for what they like. Different things have different meaning to people. Bias is okay in comics. There’s a difference between bias and delusion though. You can like Thor: The Dark World all you want, but to say it’s a better quality of film than The Dark Knight is asinine. I know there are flaws in Captain Atom’s “cool” factor as a character, but personally, I just don’t care. I’ve never cared about characters I like that others may not, but in a way, I guess I have. This new age of communication and technology brings us all together in ways that were unimaginable even 15 years ago. It’s human to feel insecure about what you like if you constantly see other people bashing it. Personally, that goes back to school for me. Before it was considered a thing, people teased me for my love of comics and nerd culture. The older you get, the more accepting people get, but it still hurts as a teen. I didn’t care enough to stop liking it, but I did care enough to try out for basketball even though I suck. We don’t like it being done to us because we like something different, so why do it to each other? It’s easy to get angry at people. And there’s no better place to express said anger than on the internet. You see where I’m going with this? So love what you love and if anyone hates it, I like to refer to a common saying. Keep it pushing. Everyone is different. Not everyone is going to like what you like. No need to degrade others because of insecurity. Just know that everyone goes through it. Now, about this amazing Captain Atom run. Issue four is probably my least favorite. That’s because of the approach Nathaniel takes to confront the government. I completely understand his idea, and I respect it, but there was no way his approach was going to work. Why couldn’t he see that? Nathaniel Adam is no idiot. He’s far from it. This issue puts him in a weird position that could have been avoided if stuck to his guns in the first place. I’ve started off every review so far with a recap of previous issues. I’m not going to do that with this one (mainly because I’m lazy and I want you to read the other reviews first. They’ll be linked below) I’m going to talk in general about the story, but I do encourage you to check out the other reviews. And some other articles and reviews on my site, but you know, that’s up to you.
Issue 1 Review: https://heroreviewsandnews.com/2017/04/06/the-fall-and-rise-of-captain-atom-1-review/
Issue 2 Review: https://heroreviewsandnews.com/2017/04/06/the-fall-and-rise-of-captain-atom-2-review/
Issue 3 Review: https://heroreviewsandnews.com/2017/04/09/the-fall-and-rise-of-captain-atom-3-review/
SHOCK AND AWE
First thing is first, I want to talk about the beauty of this cover. I like to paint in my free time and one day, I hope to draw comics along with writing them. I’m a sucker for bright reds and oranges. One of my favorite titles right now is Mark Waid and Mike Del Mundo’s Avengers. I’m not the biggest fan of the team and the story isn’t a masterpiece, but the art is what draws me in. I almost NEVER criticize artists because I understand how hard that job is. And I almost am never blown away by artists because so many of them have similar styles. But Del Mundo’s style is something that really catches the eye. His use of red is amazing and it’s one of the main reasons I keep buying that book. This cover shows the new Captain Atom surrounded by a bright yellow and orange light. The red on the edges contrasts beautifully with the other colors and his skin makes him pop. A cover doesn’t make a comic, but the right one can draw people to at least pick it up.
I mentioned it in the opening of this review, but Captain Atom has chosen to go a different route with the government. He tried to kill himself in the first issue but was sent back in time instead. The time stream threw him back into the present with a new appearance and updated powers. Atom tried to kill himself because an accident with his powers killed three people in a town in Kansas. He’s a pariah in the superhero community. Now, that he’s back, General Eiling, a military official, wants to use him as a show hero. Appear to be anti-government, but really be working for the government’s interests. That sounds horrible, right? Well, Captain Atom thought so as well and declined initially. But an anonymous picture of a boy who’s his son has clearly changed his mind. The issue starts off with a “story” about how this new Captain Atom came to be.
I know the cover is my header, but here it is again, because this cover is special to me. Remember, if you don’t like it, that’s on you, I just question your taste in art.
In comics today, a good way to give background on a story is to use news broadcasts. In comics like Captain America: Sam Wilson, you’ll see figures similar to Sean Hannity talk about the current political scene that Sam is causing. News reports are an easy way for writers to let readers know how people in their universe feel about what’s currently going on. The same thing happened recently in the newest X-Men comic as well. This time, the news reporter is interviewing Captain Atom, who is Nathaniel Adam, the original, but now he’s going by a different alias. To the public, this Captain Atom gained his powers because of the first Atom’s incident. The reporter asks why he would want to name himself after a menace? Nathaniel answers with a story. During the story, we learn that he’s assumed the identity of an engineer who worked at the Continuum, the facility Atom was tested at. He tells the story about overseeing building the suppression dome responsible for containing Captain Atom. The dome couldn’t support his quantum meltdown, and gave him, the engineer, powers. Nathaniel continues the farce by saying after his accident, he realized the Continuum had been shut down and everything and everyone connected to it had been erased. He realized the Continuum had been a front for secret government projects and he vowed to fight against corruption from that day. The reason he goes by the name Captain Atom is to honor the first one’s memory. The main reason he states is because the first Atom was a misunderstood, tragic character. Captain Atom tells the reporter that the first Atom didn’t deserve the hate he received. Now, he can be the hero the first Captain Atom was meant to be. Next, he gives a demonstration of his powers by absorbing a nuclear bomb. Overall, people were receptive to the new Captain Atom and General Eiling’s plan worked.
We then see Eiling and Megala having a conversation. Megala is impressed at the backstory Eiling was able to come up with. Eiling then questions why Atom agreed to be a fake hero just when he told him to go to hell a week ago. Megala doesn’t care. He has a chance to study and experiment on Nathaniel some more, and Eiling has a pawn to do his bidding. I’ll keep seeing it, not a fan of this approach by Atom because the cons seem too plentiful. But, he’s in a compromising position because he sees this as a “keep your enemies” close scenario. The issue transitions to Nathaniel as he meets with a detective. This is the main reason he’s keeping the government close. He wants to find his son. Clever that the place was called Charlton investigations. Captain Atom was acquired by DC in 1986 from Charlton Comics. Anyways, he speaks with the detective and it’s revealed that someone has gone to great lengths to erase even the slightest existence of the boy. They talk about Takara and the detective tells Nathaniel she believes the husband may be of some interest. There’s nothing on the husband, who’s obviously Nathaniel, and she suspects he was a bad father and husband. Nathaniel was neither of those, but the guilt can be seen on his face when she says this. The detective says, “Takara deserved better.” He replies by saying, “I was thinking the same thing.” That hurts.
The next part of this issue is the best. Yes, Captain Atom has his hands full getting Eiling and Megala out of his hair and finding a new identity. But, he is a superhero and a superhero needs a good villain. Whether this villain is good or not, and whether he’ll be a main stay in DC Comics, will be answered in the future. But for now, I love this scene because Captain Atom has a major villain now. He’s called away from the detective agency by Eiling for a special mission that’s related to him. The mission takes him to a max security prison. One of the workers explains that one of the first Captain Atom’s quantum bursts hit the portion of their prison where an inmate was sentenced to death. He was mere moments away from being electrocuted to death. The chair was on and then, the blast hit. The quantum energy combined with the electricity formed a bubble that the inmate, Max Thrane, is trapped in. The bubble is preventing the electricity from killing him. The way this is drawn is phenomenal. Will Conrad has had some amazing moments during this run and the look of Thane’s bubble and skin is one of them. The prison has called Atom so he can try to free Thrane from the bubble. Seems simple enough. Atom attempts to absorb the energy, but Thrane was waiting for his opportunity. He absorbs Captain Atom’s energy and is freed from the bubble. He now has dark, blue skin and appears to have quantum powers as well. Captain Atom tells Thrane that he can’t let him leave until he does more tests. Thrane wasn’t having it. He overpowers Captain Atom and escapes the prison. This scene could have (and honestly should have) had an extended fight scene, but I love the fact Captain Atom has a worthy opponent now.
Eiling and Megala have a quick conversation about the incident. They continue to talk about Captain Atom like he’s a pawn and try to formulate a plan to insure they come out on top in the Max Thrane situation. Back at home, Nathaniel is in human form and on the phone with the detective. They find out that the boy’s last name was changed because he moved in with Takara’s half-sister after Takara’s death. The scene flashes to the boy and we learn his name is Genji. The issue ends with him sleeping. There’s a snow globe on his desk. The globe flies into the air. It’s a drone of some kind. The last page shows Doctor Megala watching from his chair. His assistants say that their scans have been complete. Megala says the Eiling wants them to add a new phase to the weekly test regimen. Then, the issue ends.
Wow, I couldn’t believe this ending. Of course, I figured Megala and Eiling knew about the boy, and they were the ones who erased his existence, but they’ve taken it a step too far. Megala’s obsession with quantum power and Eiling’s obsession with controlling superheroes has led to this. Testing a young boy while he sleeps. No doubt they’re trying to see if he’ll exhibit the same traits as his father, but that’s what’s disturbing about all of this. They’ve completely cut his father out. While I don’t like Captain Atom’s approach in this book, he’s using his brain instead of letting anger be his guide. He could easily threaten Megala and Eiling. Make them tell him everything about the secrets they’ve kept. But he wants to do things on his own terms. Still, going along with the plan created a new villain for him. Great for us, the readers, but it only adds to the difficulty of being a hero. I wouldn’t be surprised if Eiling and Megala set that up in the first place somehow. Only two issues left in this series. I hope everything wraps up nicely. Next issue, we might see Captain Atom be put through the wringer before finally trumping the government in the sixth issue. Whatever the outcome, if writer Cary Bates continues to deliver this quality with this story, it will easily remain my favorite story in DC Comics today.