In Review: The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #6

This Captain Atom needs to return as a monthly!

The cover: Captain Atom raises his fists to power up against the onslaught of Ultramax, who is barreling down on him. This is a really slick cover from Anna Dittmann with the characters looking great: both are powerful with the energy coming out of them fantastic. However, it’s way too dark. The brightest element of this cover is the title, and it’s in silver. Brighter colors would have made this a memorable cover. Overall grade: B-

The story: The first two and half pages of this final issue are a flashback to Max Thrane driving up to an empty car in a desert valley. He enters the vehicle, opens a file on the seat, and the tablet on the dash turns on. What follows is a Mission Impossible opening as he’s given the opportunity to kill a terrorist the U.S. government cannot. The speaker on the tablet is General Wade Eiling. “Your contract — if you decide to accept it — is to use your resources to find Flip Kovic and exterminate him before he can plan any new attacks.” In the present, Captain Atom is confronting Eiling, realizing that it was the general who turned in the professional assassin to the authorities. Eiling says, “Hell yes it was me. That sociopath was a public menace who enjoyed his work far too much.” Writer Cary Bates and co-plotter Greg Weisman have Captain Atom and Ultramax meet one final time because the villain has hit the hero in the heart. There’s an old fashioned exchange which goes as well as one would expect, with the hero and the villain at each other. Rather than a massive, destructive “city in ruins” ending, the hero out thinks his opponent and it’s very clever and extremely natural for him to do so. But this final chapter isn’t really about Captain Atom stopping the villain, it’s about where he’s headed next. This is brought up on Page 5 and returned to on 17 – 19. I didn’t think I would want this in the finale, but it leaves me wanting more from Nathaniel’s adventures, and don’t get me wrong — I do want to see him taking on foes — but I want to know what happens after these pages. It’s an area that other hero books don’t address and Bates and Weisman have placed Nathaniel in an interesting situation by having this character “reborn.” The penultimate page reveals who the leaker is that’s been feeding the hero information about his past, while the final page introduces him to a larger aspect of the DC Universe. I’m sorry, this can’t end. I want more. Overall grade: A

The art: Will Conrad’s art is terrific. His realism takes this book far above other super hero books. The first two and half pages could be out of Mission Impossible, with the computer screen of Eiling looking great; especially when his message ends at the bottom of Page 2. The explosion on 3 is massive, befitting an ending to this flashback. The interiors of Eiling’s cabin are outstanding, with the woodwork exceptional. His work on other settings is also well done, such as on Page 11: take note of how the final four panels are actually overlays onto the first panel, as that setting serves as the borders for those other panels. The work done on Atom and Ultramax is also terrific: again, take a look at 11 and how the antagonist reacts to being shot — that’s just really cool looking. As the energy pours out of the pair of combatants, its crackles and sparks look stunning. Once again, on Page 13, the fourth panel extends so far that it becomes the borders for other panels, with the colors increasing the power of the artwork. When it seem that Captain Atom is going to be overwhelmed by Ultramax, look at the knowing smile he wears at the bottom of 15 — simply outstanding. After the battle has ended, one would expect the hero to be proud at what he’s done, but due to another character being present, he’s being very low key, almost awkward. Look at the posture that Conrad gives him in the third panel on 17: for those who know what’s going on, this is very telling. The last panel on 19 gives away through visuals who the leak has been. I like that the reader has to have been paying attention to the art as well as the story for things to be revealed. The last page has a large panel that holds a lot of promise and it’s the best visual to end this series, because they see him. Conrad is aces. Overall grade: A  

The colors: Also kicking this book above normal hero books are the colors by Ivan Nunes. On the first page a reader can tell that Nunes is going to do an exceptional job with the different colors on the car and the glare on the computer screen. Colors assist the final panel on the second page to show that the transmission has ended. The coloring on Captain Atom on 4 is exceptional. The shine coming off of his multicolored body and his eyes make this a defining image of the hero. The use of colors to create depth in a the characters’ faces is also exceptional, with Eiling, Adam, and the third character in the climax with Ultramax looking awesome. Nunes really gets to show off when the hero and the villain use their abilities, because Conrad has energy going everywhere, and the colors are stellar. Against the backdrop of the desert, they are spectacular. Page 19 has a really good lighting effect done high above Nathaniel. Nunes is a coloring god. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Saida Temofonte is responsible for the book’s scene settings, transmissions, story title, book’s credits, dialogue, yells, sounds, phone text, computer text, and the final four words. There is a tremendous amount of dialogue in this issue and Temofonte places it perfectly, never once stepping on the visuals. She only gets to do sounds on one page, 11, and they look so good, I wish that the battle had more of her work. I’m liking what Temofonte did. Overall grade: A

The final line: This limited series goes out on a high note and I want more. This hero is new, yet retains his past. As entertaining as his action scenes were, his personal life was so engaging I need to know what happens next in that arena. This Captain Atom needs to return as 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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