Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 2, 2020
Cover date: August 2020
“Atomic” – Part 1
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Penciller: Clayton Henry
Inker: Clayton Henry
Cover: Clayton Henry
Variant Cover: Mick Mayhew
Reviewed by: Keith Samra
We open with two GCPD officers investigating a body washed up on Gotham Harbor,
We then cut to the Batmobile as it ferociously makes its way to the heart of the city, where an out of control Atomic Skull pleads for help. He seems particularly happy to see Batman when he arrives, however he annihilates the pursuing armed officers, as an attempt to save Batman from them. Batman then attacks the AS briefly before he disappears. More armed officers arrive and act as if they are possessed, as they prepare to take down the AS. Batman stops them, as he has figured out that they are not real police, and given that AS had turned over a new leaf, and was aiding law enforcement as of late in Metropolis, he gave him the benefit of the doubt. AS tells Batman to flee, that he came to warn him regarding “his” plans to come after Batman and use him to hurt Superman. Before Batman can get an answer to who “he” is, the AS detonates, taking a large chunk of the city block with him.
Across the other side of the world, in the city of Paris, Superman flies down to meet his wife Lois for dinner, with surrounding paparazzi snapping photos of them. Superman manages to hear the explosion in Gotham, and Lois tells him to “go”, as he flies off. Once there, he manages to help some of the injured and clear some debris. One of the EMT tells Superman that Batman was there, and no one knows what happened to him, Superman using his x-ray vision manages to spot him under some thick layers of rubble. After digging him out, Batman fills him in on the situation. Superman tells Batman they need to uncover who AS was running from, and Batman states they need to start with the body.
We close with the two GCPD officers who were looking into the washed up body, as they look into a cave nearby, and discover that the body must have come from there. They are suddenly attacked by the being responsible for the whole mess, as he kills one of them and cages the other. The being in question is non-other than the Ultra-Humanite, and he explains that losing the AS was unfortunate to his plans, but now Batman and Superman must team up to find him, and his Atomic Army.
To be continued…
Story – 5: Well it really is fantastic to have new comics to review once again, due to the Covid19 pandemic that held things up for a while, good to have one of my favourite books back.
As usual, Williamson does a remarkable job of telling a story, and in this issue, being the first of a new storyline, he does a fantastic job of laying the groundwork for which the rest of the tale will be built on.
I liked that the issue is bookended with the two GCPD officers investigating a body, whilst the rest of the issue is basically divided into two sections, the event and its aftermath. Sure Superman only turns up to clean up and digs Batman out, but it shows a perspective in the story, as to how the world would see him fly in and take care of what needs to be done. In this case, he arrived after a catastrophe and did his best to help where he was needed. Also an amazing piece of writing is AS’s last words to Batman, asking him to thank Maggie Sawyer for giving him a second chance.
I loved the way Williamson addresses the recent event of Superman revealing his identity to the world in his story. I don’t know if Williamson is a fan of this particular story trope by Bendis, but he doesn’t let it affect his story in the least. It’s not a focal point, all we really get is some paparazzi and a washed up front page of the Daily Planet, with some clever editing, it can be eliminated should they need t for the trade.
The only two aspects that really bugged me about this issue were, firstly Batman surviving a ground zero detonation by the AS, then again Batman has survived worse I suppose, so it’s easily looked passed. And secondly, Superman being able to hear things half way across the world, seems that his powers can be amplified to serve the story, but it’s just a small nit-pick to an otherwise great issue.
Lastly, I can’t remember when the last time was that I read a story with the Ultra-Humanite as the main antagonist, so it was a joy that Williamson was able to pull him out of the vast unused villains closet and dust him off for this story. Once again, this book is the best Superman and I would even argue Batman book on the shelves at the moment, and I can’t seem to get enough of it.
Art – 4: I was so glad when I read that Clayton henry was on the art duties for this issue/arc. I have always enjoyed his work, dating all the way back to when I first discovered his art on the short lived “Nine Rings of the Wu Tang” title back in the early 2000’s. Since then I have seen him pop up at marvel a few times, and he also worked on the Legion title a little while back.
This was a nicely illustrated issue by Henry, as he did his own inking as well. I loved his Superman, especially the first time we see him in the issue, as he flies over Paris. That coupled with the wonderful coloring, gave a nice warm feeling to his man of steel rendition. I loved the expressions he gave him throughout the issue, such lively animated facials.
Henry’s Batman was no slouch either, he managed to keep Batman in a perpetual state of motion, as only Batman does, when dealing with super criminals as only he can. Though his Batman is largely unscathed during the explosion, he manages to capture the classic feel of the dark knight.
Henry’s Atomic Skull initially looked like a purple Ghost Rider in an Iron-Man suit, but he made it work. To a comic novice that only has a passing recognition of the characters, one could easily get confused, but it’s a great way to make them pick up the book to check it out.
Love the colors by Sanchez. He is a favourite colorist of mine, mainly because he seems to always breathe life into the art and give it a depth, that some don’t quite manage to do.
Cover Art – 4: The cover is good, it definitely catches the eye, that’s for sure. It also features everything that’s expected in the issue, however, there just seems something off about it. Maybe it’s the unusual perspective in which the Atomic Skull is angled, it just throws off the composition. Regardless it does the job.
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