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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Five Reasons Why "All New Atom" Rocks Your Socks

Some of you might know Gail Simone: she founded the "Women in Refrigerators" website, which documented instances of female superheroes "who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator." Well, it seems that the only way you can become a comics writer (DC only accepts submissions from artists, so we of little motor-control must only dream of working with Batman and Blue Beetle) is by running a successful or "infamous" website, because since starting "Women in Refrigerators,", Gail has written for Marvel's Deadpool, DC's Villains United mini-series, and the Wildstorm series Welcome to Tranquility. But it's really sad to think that if she had never started "Women in Refrigerators," she might not have gotten a chance to work in comics - and we would never have gotten the single best book that DC is producing today: The All-New Atom.

In case you've never read or looked at the Wikipedia entry for All-New Atom, allow me to bring you up to speed:

See, Ray Palmer, the original Atom, disappeared after his wife went crazy and killed Sue Dibny (wife of Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man) by stepping on her brain. Then she got posessed by Eclipso. Ryan Choi, erstwhile pen-pal of Palmer, takes Palmer's place at Ivy Town University, where crazy-ass shit is going down that's apparently related to something that Palmer did, and which has caused the powers of science (represented by a microscopic bug-inspired civilation that lives on Ryan Choi's adopted dog's ass, "The Waiting") to battle the powers of magic (represented by a Lovecraftian-inspired "cancer god"). Choi takes on the mantle of The Atom after finding Ray Palmer's (or is it?) bio-belt, and begins his work protecting Ivy Town from Ray Palmer's alleged screw-ups.

During the 15 issues that have chronicled Ryan Choi's efforts so far, I have objectively and scientifically determined that not only is All-New Atom the best ongoing DC comic right now, but it is also, in fact, the greatest comic book in existence. Here are five reasons why:

5 - Quotations

Quite unlike Dennis O'Neil's "reading lists" from his version of The Question, Gail Simone made learning fun in the first few issues of All-New Atom by interspersing quotes throughout the panels that conveyed how Ryan Choi was really feeling about certain situations. For example,

Why no, it's not bad at all.

4 -That Choi Is A Clever SOB

It's really quite refreshing these days to see a hero get out of a perilous situation using his wits, rather than conveniently placed deus ex machinas. Ryan Choi, up against a sadistic serial killer called Dwarfstar (who's been given his own bio-belt by Choi's secret nemesis, the dean of Ivy University) is down on his knees and appears to be begging for mercy. But that's just not how The Atom rolls:

(click to huge-ify)

Choi chooses to leave Dwarfstar stranded at the subatomic level. Me? I woulda stepped on the little bastard.

3 - Stupid Jet Pack Hitler

From All New Atom #14:

Well, now. That really just speaks for itself.

2- Head

Head is giant floating, er, head from the microscopic collective known as the "Waiting."

And ever since I started reading Gail Simone's All-New Atom, Head has been just about my favorite thing in the whole fucking world. It might be because he's a great character, or it might just be because I have very low standards when it comes to humor. It does not matter which; for it gives me pleasure either way.

Head was a servant of the Waiting who accompanied two of their grunts to Palmer's house in an effort to kill Choi. After being threatened with having a broom shoved up his (its?) nose, Head spilled the beans on the Waiting's plan to launch a sneak attack on the White House. So, in a way, Head got the assist on helping the Atom save the president. Go Head!

It's unclear whether he's a natural being, or simply a product of Waiting technology, but there is one thing that is certain: he is the finest DJ at the microscopic level.

Sometimes, though, he parties a little too hard:

1 - If I could segue for a minute before we get to why you should just put your wallet into an envelope and mail it to Gail Simone, I have a list of my Top Five All-Time Favorite Superheroes up on my Facebook profile. They are:

1 - Jack Knight as Starman
2 - Vic Sage as the Question, but only while Steve Ditko was on it
3 - Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle
4 - Batman
and 5 - Booster Gold

But that whole list has been rendered completely obsolete.

Ladies and gentlemen, my new, all-time favorite superhero: The Big, Giant, Floating, Happy-Days-Lovin' Super-Head.

In All-New Atom #15, Head has to throw down with Panda (seen here as Atom V) to try to stop two rampaging Japanese-movie monsters. When Choi returns from helping Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and Bob the Monitor on their quest to find Ray Palmer, he makes a quick comparison between one of the monsters and baboons and deduces that the creatures aren't fighting each other: they're mating. And, well, as we've seen from Reason to Love All-New Atom #2, Head knows how to set the right mood:

Needless to say, what follows is some sweet, sweet monster-lovin'. How was it, Head?

As image-heavy as this post was, I wouldn't have been troubled at all to post every single appearance of Head. This guy is just that fun to see. Actually, this post began its pathetic life entitled "The Glory of Head: Head's Greatest Hits," but after Alien Techno and Super-Head, every other appearance sees him just giving a variation on his "Death or Submission!" line. Although, when that bit has been adapted to read as "Potsie or Death!" it never stops being awesome.

Sure, there are lots of other reasons why All-New Atom is great - but why would I tell you about those? You can just read it for yourself if you're interested. And if you aren't, I'll just let you know that this is a comic that quotes James Randi. There, glad I could help you decide whether this was the greatest comic of all time or just really really awesome.

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