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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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Captain Midnight #0 [Review]

captainmidnight000frontWritten by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Victor Ibanez and Pere Perez
Colors by: Ego
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by: Raymond Swanland
Back Cover by: Steve Rude
Designer: David Nestelle
Editor: Jim Gibbons
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Captain Midnight #0 has a lot of things going for it.

First (and primarily, for me) it is only $2.99, but it’s a “full size” issue. Looks like a full issue, feels like a full issue, reads like a full issue.

Secondly, it has a really nice-looking cover that grabbed my attention in spite of myself. Often, the cover is not going to grab me–I’m solely looking for the TITLEs (which is how I often wind up with an UNwanted variant edition: I simply see a title logo and issue number, and it’s not til I’m home about to read that I realize it’s NOT the image I wanted.) Additionally, there’s ANOTHER full-cover image on the BACK of the issue: instead of being a whole separate EDITION to have too purchase to have, this cool image is included with the “standard” cover, but I still get to look at it, in-print, ON the issue I bought!

Thirdly, this is a #0, but not proclaimed on the cover to be “of ____” and so it more effectively stands alone–it’s not specifically saying that it’s the first issue of a mini-series. It may be a prologue, a foundation-stone, a beginning that sets up a mini-series or ongoing series, but in and of itself it’s just a single, one-shot stand-alone issue.

And this is all without even getting to the contents of the issue itself.

captainmidnight000backThis issue made it to the bottom of my (admittedly small 4-issue stack) of new issues for the week. Yet–much as I enjoy TMNT stuff from IDW these days–this wound up being my favorite issue of the week. I’d bought it on a whim–see paragraphs above–but had found myself with second thoughts, ready to write it off as a stupid extra purchase in an otherwise “small week.”

We open with a World War II-ear plane suddenly appearing…and present-day military is not at all thrilled at this out-of-the-blue Bermuda Triangle invader. They’re even less thrilled when the pilot does more than parachute out of the plane–he’s dressed in a unique uniform–with “wings”–allowing him extreme maneuverability beyond any expectation.

Complicating things further, their new “guest” refuses to give up information about what he is doing–his mission–claiming that to be “top secret” information. He is recognized as looking like a hero who disappeared during WWII, but most of those involved can’t believe him to be the same man, the “legend” or “fairy tale” they’ve heard about for years. A past associate of the man is brought into things, which opens the door to other revelations.

I’m not familiar with the artist for this issue–not consciously, anyway–and truthfully, I hardly even NOTICED the art as I read…which in this case means it did its job extremely well. It simply gets the story across, I’m not left wondering what’s going on or wasting extra time trying to piece together the action from what I see in any given panel. The art IS the visual of the story, it flows smoothly, and I have no problems with it whatsoever.

The story itself is engaging, well beyond any best-expectations I had for the issue. Though I mentioned earlier this made it to the bottom of my stack, that was words unread, visuals unseen but for the cover. When I started reading the issue, I immediately “assumed” this was going to be yet another WWII-era story somehow, and one way or the other resigned myself to something I wouldn’t particularly enjoy. Yet, I quickly found myself, page after page, hoping the next page was not a cliffhanger, not the end of the issue. And when I did reach the end of the issue, little as I even now know of the characters, even cliché as the situation is (think: Captain America via different ‘delivery’ to the Present), I’m interested.

Though this is largely prologue-type material, quasi-origin-issue and such, and doesn’t answer a whole lot or really have a particular ending (keeping it from being a fully self-contained issue), it’s well worth checking out; if it’s going to hook you, it will…else, it’s still something “new” “tried” for one issue at 25% less on the cover price of the umpteen double-shipping Marvel books.

Combined with the relative “bargain” pricing of $2.99 and being such an enjoying read without me feeling suckered, I have every intention of picking up #1 next month, regardless of whether Captain Midnight is “only” a mini-series or an actual ongoing series.

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