In Review: The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #3

The "new" Captain Atom is stronger, more stable, but sporting a new set of colors that may foreshadow trouble.

The cover: Transported to the present last issue, it was inevitable that this moment would occur for the title character: Captain Atom kneels before the grave of his wife, Tahara Sato. Marguerite Sauvage captures the beauty of his dead wife and the pain that the hero is feeling, having been swept away from her last issue unexpectedly. It’s also neat to see a tiny version of Captain Atom flying between his name in the title. Overall grade: A-

The story: It’s now the present and Captain Atom has awoken. Flying from the scene of a wrecking crew who are demolishing the remains of the Continuum, he’s guided by the voice of Dr. Megala to Mesaplex, his new base. On the way, Megala, via a sophisticated drone, reveals that Atom is now in 2017, no one know why he was shot into the past, and there’s been a change to his genetic make up: “Much of your energy-matrix has shifted to the red wavelength spectrum. And I’m seeing even more radical configurations at the sub-atomic level…Indicating you’re now able to maintain molecular cohesion without constantly splitting and reforming your atoms.” To cut to the quick, he no longer will explode. Once at the Mesaplex, Megala tries to explain to Nathaniel how he traveled to the past, but the hero doesn’t care, he wants to find out what’s happened to his wife Tahara. The cover has spoiled her fate, but hasn’t revealed what happens next. This story written by Cary Bates and co-plotted by Greg Weisman has the reader learning things along with Captain Atom, so that that surprises hit the reader as they hit the title character. The drones are an excellent way to have Megala in contact with Atom and their presence seems never ending, which nicely foreshadows the action on Page 9. The “Rise” of the hero begins on 12 and 13 and it’s a very, very smart way to reintroduce the character to the reader and reestablish him in his universe. It makes sense and presents a slew of future problems should the truth ever get out. Atom’s relationship with the government looks to be as slippery as when he premiered in 1987, and that was the only letdown of the issue, because having the military as an unasked for ally has been done too often for me. The final two pages are an excellent cliffhanger that will spark more drama for this character. Overall grade: A-

The art: Will Conrad is a strong artist and his work is strong on this book. The opening two pages have an excellently detailed site that’s slated to be taken down, and Conrad creates this location with plenty of fine details. Conrad is especially adept at creating believable settings. Mesaplex has just enough tech in it to seem futuristic, but there’s enough in the background that’s grounded in reality, making the book seem more possible. The exteriors are particularly beautiful, inspiring one to wish he or she could visit there. The drones of this book also have just the right amount of science fiction in them to be futuristic, but also just enough to put them in the realm of “What if?” A drone’s point of view is shown on Page 4 and it really increased the sci-fi feel of this book. How Dr. Megala is able to move about is also very well done, as such a convenience looks to be possible in several years. The characters’ faces are exceptionally well drawn, especially Megala, Eiling, and Nathaniel. I especially like the three way face-to-face meeting, where their expressions tell the reader much information, even if they’re not talking. There’s a testing session toward the book’s close that showcases what Atom is now capable of and it’s great, but it’s what done at the end of 18 that’s really explosive, with the top of 19 revealing how much control Nathaniel has over his abilities. This book looks good. Overall grade: A

The colors: My main takeaway from this issue was the Captain’s new color scheme. Gone is his familiar silver metallic tone, he’s now a shiny violet, gold, and silver. If one has been a long time reader of Captain Atom, this color scheme is similar to his greatest adversary, Major Force. This might be foreshadowing or nothing at all. Still, when the hero is revealed on the second page, my brain went into overdrive at his colors. Ivan Nunes then gets a fantastic opportunity to highlight these new colors when Atom speeds off on Page 3 and has several shades of blue to represent the clear sky. I liked that Captain Atom maintained the yellow energy around him as he flew. Throughout the book Nunes gives the protagonist an eye catching shine, always having the reader focus on the hero, even if he’s just standing. The explosions at the end of the issue have some spectacular colors as well, showing the new strength level of the hero. Overall grade: A

The letters: The text of this issue comprised scene settings, dialogue, the story’s title (which is loving familiar, yet different enough…), the book’s credits, Megala’s transmissions, text on monitors, sounds, and the text on an electronic device that provides the cliffhanger for the issue. Saida Temofonte does a good job throughout the book, though one particular font is used whenever Atom uses his ability to project energy. It was lost sometimes from the coloring, suggesting that a darker outline should be used whenever it’s employed. Overall grade: B+

The final line: The “new” Captain Atom is stronger, more stable, but sporting a new set of colors that may foreshadow trouble. Solid entertainment for the rebirth of a familiar character. Overall grade: A-

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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