The All-New Atom: The Hunt for Ray Palmer

By Gail Simone, Mike Norton, Dan Green & Trevor Scott (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1782-2

After the events of Identity Crisis and 52, size-changing physicist Professor Ray Palmer disappeared, leaving his world behind him. But life goes on, and his teaching chair at Ivy University was offered to a young prodigy from Hong Kong who just happened to be Palmer’s pen-friend and confidante: privy to his predecessor’s secrets ever since he was a child.

This neophyte, Ryan Choi, soon inherited his predecessor’s super-hero career as well – under some rather suspicious circumstances – battling super-villains, monsters and seemingly random chronal catastrophes that are making Ivy Town a viper’s nest of bizarre occurrences.

With this third volume (collecting issues #12-16 of the much missed All-New Atom comic-book) the so-likable legacy hero joins an eccentric team of heroes to track down his missing mentor in a story-arc that coincides with the events of the mega-crossover ‘Countdown to Final Crisis.’

Written by the always enjoyable Gail Simone and illustrated by Mike Norton, Dan Green and Trevor Scott, the saga begins with ‘Never Too Small to Hit the Big Time’ as shrinking homicidal maniac Dwarfstar returns, swiftly followed by a gallery of Palmer’s oddly unique Rogue’s Gallery. Temporal anomalies are devastating the city and Choi’s only chance to sort it all is the creepily coincidental alliance offered by the legendary time-thief Chronos…

‘Second Genesis’ finds Choi and that Tempus Fugitive lost in the South American jungles encountering the tiny alien barbarians Palmer once lived with (see Sword of the Atom) before the new Tiny Titan links up with Donna Troy, Jason Todd and the Monitor (protagonists of the aforementioned Countdown to Final Crisis) joining forces in a search of the entire multiverse. First stop in ‘Heavens to Bitsy’ takes them from the super-scientific civilisation located on the bottom of Choi’s pet dog (no not his underside, the bit by the tail…) and from there to the paradise where all dead superheroes go – featuring cameos from a host of departed DC stars…

Nothing is as it seems though, and by the time they reach neutral ground and a rendezvous with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner it’s clear that something is sabotaging them. ‘Loss Leader’ sees Choi impossibly yanked from his quest and returned to Earth to save Ivy Town from the effects of the accelerating time-storm one: of the funniest and grossest hero exploits ever recorded – or as Choi puts it “Ewwww…

The book ends on a hilarious action-packed high note with ‘Forward! Into the Past!’ as more hints on the mastermind behind all the Atom’s troubles are revealed when Ivy Town takes a reality-warping, mind-bending trip back into the Summer of Love. Ghosts, aliens, monsters, naff villains and Hippies, plus a guest-shot for the clearly inadequate guardians of the Time Stream, the Linear Men: this fun-filled frantic frolic is a joyous return to clever, light-hearted adventure.

These tales are everything a jaded superhero fan needs to clear the palate and revive flagging interests. Get them all!

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