In Review: The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #4

Drama and action with great visuals. This is a Captain Atom to follow!

The cover: this is an incredibly cool cover modeled after Leonardo DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man. Accompanied by the circular and oval atoms rotating around him, several hands are shown emerging from the hero. Or, if one were to look at this negatively, Captain Atom is supposed to represent the many armed Hindu god Shiva, who is both the creator and the destroyer. However one looks upon this cover by Carlos D’Anda, it is undeniably cool with the colors radiating off it. I love this! Overall grade: A+

The story: Much is established in this issue to set up future problems for the title character. “Shock and Awe” by Cary Bates and co-plotter Greg Weisman opens with Captain Atom being interviewed on a talk show, via a remote, to introduce him to the world of 2017. He gives his origin to the viewers, how he was a scientist caught in a blast by the original Captain Atom. His body was transformed and he was propelled five years into the future. The previous Captain Atom, who died, is considered a threat by the public, due to his inability to control his abilities. Knowing he would be asked about this, the new Captain Atom produces a suitcase nuke, containing plutonium 239. He detonates it and absorbs the blast, showing the viewers that he is in full control of his powers. The problem is, it’s all a lie: he’s the same hero that everyone thinks is dead. This is a cover story by a secret government organization to re-invent Captain Atom to America, so they will trust him. He can now control his abilities. I like this wrinkle in this Rebirth Captain’s origin from Bates and Weisman. I also like how he’s desperately trying to find out a mysterious figure who visits his wife’s grave. He’s hired an investigator to find out, and there’s information coming, but not how he expected. If this wasn’t enough story for this issue, a new character, Max Thrane, is introduced and he’s looking to be Cap’s arch enemy. There’s so much going on this issue, but nothing seems rushed or hurried. This is packed issue with every action occurring smoothly and naturally. Now I’m ready to see the fallout! Overall grade: A

The art: Will Conrad is the artist for this issue and he continues his winning streak. The story seemingly puts him at an incredibly hardship, since the interview for television is being conducted by remote. But Conrad expertly illustrates these scenes. The first two panels of Page 1 look exactly like any news broadcast. The fictional origin story has all the hallmarks of a classic hero’s origin, with it reminding me of the Flash’s story. The change in setting on 4 is really good, with the explosion on 5 great. Pages 6 – 10 have a lot of plot, focusing on the stranger Atom is investigating. Conrad’s characters look amazing, with Eiling and the female detective exceptional, especially that close up on 8. I also enjoyed the first panel on that page, revealing a possible story thread for future tales. The visuals for Thrane are the highlight of the issue. The state he’s in when first viewed by Atom is crackling with energy. Once conscious, he makes quick work of the hero, and I’m eagerly looking forward to Conrad showing the two going toe to toe for an entire issue. The final two pages are the creepiest of the book, with the penultimate page starting calmly, but ending with something that doesn’t seem too far from the current state of electronic privacy. The last page shows some familiar characters acting so despicably it changes everything one has believed of them. Even without the text, a reader can understand what’s being done and why it’s so morally wrong. Overall grade: A

The colors: With the many changes in settings and so many characters, Ivan Nunes has a much to do in this issue. Look at the outstanding coloring of the studio in the first panel, with the work on the reporter’s suit strong. Captain Atom’s new color scheme continues to resemble that of his classic antagonist Major Force, which continues to have me on edge. The flashback panels are colored in browns, yellows, and tans to age the tale for the reader. The mushroom cloud that Atom unleashes has got several neat shades of rose and brown to give it some slick depth. The coloring of characters’ skin is superior on every page, with their flesh reflecting the light source correctly every time. The energy containing Max is creepy and his color scheme has him standing apart from Atom easily. There’s a thermal image on the final page that’s wonderfully bright. And that adjective can be used for Nunes’s work on this book: wonderful. Overall grade: A

The letters: Saida Temofonte creates dialogue, the story’s title, the book’s credits, electronic transmissions, narration for the flashback, dates to represent the passage of time, sounds, and scene settings. The font used for the flashback looks exceptional; it’s rare to see letterers allowed to use a unique font for narration, and I was ecstatic to see it. The story’s title also had a very unique look which made it stand out against the television studio setting. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is a Captain Atom to follow! Drama and action with great visuals. I would love to see this be a monthly! 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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