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The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #1 [Review]


fall_and_rise_of_captain_atom_0001Blowback

Writer: Cary Bates
Co-Plotter: Greg Weisman
Artist: Will Conrad
Colorist: Ivan Nunes
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Cover: Jason Badower
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Group Editor: Jim Chadwick
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: March 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

Several months ago, I read a random Captain Atom Annual from the late 1980s. It was the first Captain Atom comic I remembered reading in years (though I believe I forgot entirely about the character’s appearances midway into the New 52, as well as the character even having a series in the early New 52 days!) It was shortly after reviewing that Annual that I learned there would be a new mini-series by the writers of that time–Bates and Weisman. Of course, I assumed it would be yet another $3.99-an-issue mini, given a number of DC‘s other recent ones.

Color me surprised when I realized firstly the issue was coming out already (somehow I’d thought it was to come in February), realized I forgot to include it for DCBS as it’s not part of the bundles I’ve been getting, and all the more that it’s ONLY $2.99 an issue! This does NOT carry the Rebirth branding…but I take it from its content–and particularly its PRICE–that it is indeed squarely within current Rebirth stuff.

This issue is relatively simple: we start out with the good Captain in a containment facility, in a chair much like the one I recall him being in back in the 1980s’ #1 issue I read whenever it was that I read that (perhaps as far back as 2002 or 2003!), talking with his handlers about stuff that’d recently happened…which left me a bit lost for a moment. Did something happen with the character in a major way that I didn’t know about in the New 52 stuff? Did I miss something recently amidst all the stuff I’m behind on actually reading?

But then the story flashes back to some hours earlier, placing this into that old clichéd format…though ultimately I appreciate what it was going for, while I disliked it as I was reading.

Captain Atom’s sick, and it’s causing issues with his very energy matrix, expelling energy randomly–"venting"–and endangering those around him…perhaps the entire planet, just by his existing in this condition. While making his way back to base, he happens across a cruise ship in trouble, and refuses to turn his back on it…but the energy-expenditure of helping leaves him in far worse condition. His energy output brings members of the Justice League to investigate, though ultimately they’re not quite able to do as hoped, and there’s much destruction that they have to play damage-control with, while Captain Atom blames himself for what happened. Ultimately, we see that the issue’s perhaps the start of a new status quo, and I’m put a bit in mind of Savage Dragon, and quite curious where things go from here.

I don’t care much for the clichéd story format of starting on the climax, then flashing back X amount of time and "building" back to and then surpassing the climax. But I cannot deny its effectiveness–it elicited reaction from me as I read, and as I’ve thought about it since, I realize that it accentuates the fact that this is a SINGLE ISSUE. It made this single issue function as one, as an opening episode, rather than our perhaps getting this ENTIRE ISSUE as the height of the story, to pick up in #s 2-4 as flashback, #5 to get back to this, and then a final issue denouement.

Though this is a mini-series, this issue behaves as if it is an ongoing series, and behaves very well as a single issue and not JUST some first chapter of a single whole that must be read in one go to fully "get."

Even having forgotten recent years’ stuff with the character, I followed this issue just fine. My familiarity (such as it is) with the character allowed me to appreciate names mentioned as well as the visuals (such as the cover being fairly reminiscent of 1987’s first issue!) This character has about 30 years of history in the "modern" DC universe, and however many years prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths…but I think someone not all that familiar could certainly enjoy this in and of itself. Much as with a new movie, the lack of intricate continuity knowledge might even be better for enjoying this simply as a story in itself, without piecing it within long-form continuity.

I love the fact that Bates and Weisman are back on this; having them steering this story, re-establishing the character presumably for going forward after they set the standard with the character in the late 1980s seems quite fitting, to me. As such, I definitely look forward to reading this as single issues…getting the story AS it unfolds.

However…unless DC pulls something rather shocking–say, of extending this to an "ongoing" status–it is a 6-issue mini-series and I’d be even more surprised if it does NOT get a collected edition (or "graphic novel") that could be read all at once as a single, complete(-ish, as comics go) story.

If you’re a fan of the character from years back, and not a fan of the character, say, from Countdown on through to the present, this would be the point to jump back in, and ignore the last decade or so of Captain Atom stuff. And if you’re new to the character, this is a solid starting point, or re-directing (a la all of the Rebirth one-shots) the character from whatever’s been known of him during the New 52.

I enjoyed this issue personally, but see that it should be a solid singular story that as a full story I’ll very likely strongly recommend…but despite my praise, it’s not something so singularly fantastic in this single issue as to compel any/all potential readers to rush for this single issue.

I look forward to #2!

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