Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 25, 2020
Cover date: October 2020
“Atomic” – Conclusion
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Clayton Henry
Inker: Clayton Henry
Cover: David Marquez
Variant Cover: Jae Lee
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We open with two guys attempting to loot the bomb site of Gothams Financial District. Batman in his new atomic form stops them, and leaves them for the authorities, all the while being controlled by the Ultra-Humanite.
Superman comes upon them in the UH’s hideout, and demands UH to change Batman back. UH attacks Superman, using Batman, forcing Superman to kill him, otherwise he’d have detonated Batman like he did with the Atomic Skull, destroying another part of the city.
Superman uses his heat vision, and blasts Batman in the chest, and the UH gloats that he made Superman kill his friend and crime fighting partner. Turns out that Superman took out the control chip that UH had implanted in Batman, that would make him detonate, and Batman strikes from behind and takes down the UH.
Later our heroes discover that the UH was remotely controlling his body, as he did with the drones, and that he had stored his brain close by. Superman takes the brain to Star Labs, returns all the reanimated bodies of the dead to their families, and gives the Atomic Skull a hero’s funeral. He then stops in at the Batcave, where Batman operates on his self, to remove the detonator. The two talk, and agree that they must work more closely together, and not just on crime cases. Batman reveals that someone had initially abducted the Atomic Skull, and they need to find out who it was.
We close with the Atomic Skull, remerging from his grave, saying “I need a drink”.
Story – 5: As I’d stated last month, it’s always a pleasure to read an issue of this book, and I had been looking forward to reading the conclusion of this arc. I couldn’t help but feel that this issue and the two that preceded it, really felt like episodes of a show, an aspect which I actually enjoyed. This title could easily be adapted into an animated series for sure, but I got the old school Superman and Batman the animated series vibes from it, which is another reason I love Williamson’s writing, as he is able to remind you why you love these characters so much, by bringing a nostalgic feel to the characters and the story he is telling.
Batman becoming a human bomb and Superman having no choice but to stop him in a lethal manner really is an intriguing idea as is, and the execution was masterfully carried out. Let’s face it, there was no way that Batman was going to be in any real peril, but Williamson still managed to tell a compelling enough story with this premise.
I really liked the reveal of the UH’s gorilla body, also being a drone, and that Batman with a simple deduction was able to put an end to what would have been a mundane final battle. His brain been preserved, and held at Star Labs, really leaves open, future storytelling opportunities, adding to that the fact that Atomic Skull’s radiation is healing the brain tissue, from the trauma that it has suffered from all the many transplants that it had been through. I hope that we do get to see another iteration of the UH at some point, and have the character evolve into his next phase.
All this to say, that this was a wonderful way to return Atomic Skull back to his villain roots, having him sacrifice himself as a hero. Eventually in the grand scheme of things, he would be better suited as an adversary, but Williamson gave him the noble end he deserved. I like that the case of who kidnapped him in the first place is still unsolved.
Lastly I want to touch on the dialogue from the UH, regarding Batman’s mind being unexpectedly stronger than he thought was a nice touch, and that it was revealed that he has admiration and respect for Superman. Good way to keep Batman looking strong, however I did find it cheesy having Superman confess that he should have consulted him before he revealed his identity to the world. Our fellow staff writer and podcasting extraordinaire Michael Bailey has said this sentiment enough times, which many of us are in100% agreement of, is the fact that Superman doesn’t need Batman to make him more appealing.
All in all a great conclusion, and an even better teaser, knowing the next issue/arc will feature Brainiac, as always, looking forward to the next issue.
Art – 5: I’ve really enjoyed Clayton Henry’s art the last three issues, his take on the characters was very different, and refreshing. I know that some people don’t like his proportions or his rendition of Superman, but I thought it was good to see a less serious/gritty/common style, and have a more animated/manga look for a few issues. This is the best thing about the revolving artists per arc; we get a fresh look every few issues.
Henry puts in so much expression into the faces, it just makes for great visuals. The two “hero” shots of Superman, where he first makes his entrance, and then when he flies into the UH, after supposedly killing Batman, I feel did the character more than enough justice, and made for great visuals.
The UH had a great updated look, and I loved the fact that we saw so many different emotions from him, from maniacal laughter to anger, sinister smirk and finally the look of defeat. It’s this sort of thing that I judge the artists capacity with storytelling on, hence why I loved Henry’s art. Can’t wait to see what comes next with Brainiac.
Still loving the colors by Alejandro Sanchez, he is a favourite colorist of mine currently at DC, as he gives the art depth and vibrancy.
Cover Art – 4: Happy to see David Marquez art again, and I like the shirtless Batman, but not the greatest of covers. It just has a rushed/unfinished feel to it, which is a shame, as I love Marquez art.
Variant Cover Art – 3: This is a typical Jae Lee cover. Very moody, lots of shadows, almost Burton-esque, it doesn’t really tie into the issue at all, and is quite boring in my opinion.
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