The All-New Atom volume 2: Future/Past


By Gail Simone, Mike Norton, Eddy Barrows & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1568-2 (TPB)

Gail Simone (Wonder Woman; Batgirl; Secret Six; Red Sonja) is one of the best scripters of superhero stories in the business. She handles High Concept attention grabbers, gripping fight scenes and compelling pathos with elegant ease, but where she is truly unsurpassed is in the rounded depth of her characterisations. Combined with solid plotting, bravura whimsy and the sharpest, funniest dialogue money can buy, everything she touches becomes a thoroughly delightful “must-read” item.

That was never more ably demonstrated than in her run on the All-New Atom (most volumes of which remain stubbornly out of print and inexplicably unavailable in digital collections). In second volume Future/Past she continued deftly  detailing the trials and tribulations of a new incarnation of one of the Silver Age’s most enduring heroic brands, in the further adventures of neophyte college professor and scientific adventurer Ryan Choi.

After the tragic, horrific events of crossover epic Identity Crisis size-shifting physics professor Ray Palmer disappeared, leaving this world behind him. However, life – and academia – goes on, and his teaching chair at Ivy University was offered to a young prodigy who just happened to be Palmer’s pen-friend and close confidante: privy to his predecessor’s secrets ever since he was a child in Hong Kong.

Ivy Town has seen better days, however, and continues to go downhill. This collection – reprinting from March-July 2007 issues #7-11 of the much-missed comic book – returns to Ivy Town: a place that has seen better days. Everything continues to go downhill, and the college paradise is no longer the sedate place Palmer always made it sound. Neophyte hero Choi continues to expose a city plagued by temporal anomalies, warring tribes and supernatural freaks and to make matters even worse, the new Dean is an unctuous toad (and possibly a criminal), whilst Choi’s fellow science professors are a bizarre and unconventional band of truly brilliant loons…

The teeny-weenie thrills and chills resume here with a 2-parter illustrated by Mike Norton and Andy Owens. ‘The Man who Swallowed Eternity – The Energy of the Universe is Constant’ and concluding chapter ‘The Entropy of the Universe Tends to a Maximum’ reveal how the recurring time-hiccups that pepper Ivy Town go into overdrive, necessitating an unwelcome intervention from the Temporal police known as Linear Men. Choi’s reluctant attempts to solve the problem soon uncover a tragic secret that draws him uncomfortably closer to his missing mentor.

What’s follows is a gratifying change of pace and tone as the young professor returns to Hong Kong to rescue his sometime true love in ‘Jia.’ Limned by Eddy Barrows & Trevor Scott, the saga kicks off with ‘Her Name Meant Beauty’ as we learn some unpleasant truths about Ryan’s childhood…

‘Unwanted Advances’ show Choi that being a superhero can’t compensate for the girl he loves marrying the bully who made his life hell, and it’s even worse when said brute becomes a vengeful ghost trying to kill them both. Mercifully in ‘The Border Between’, ancient wisdom and unwelcome truths assist the hero in overcoming the supernatural odds…

The utterly enchanting (pre-The New 52) career of Ryan Choi was simultaneously funny, charming, stirring and incredibly addictive: moreover, his gently beguiling, so-skilfully orchestrated hero’s journey to the West was riddled with cunningly planted clues and hints which only made sense once the final volume ended – and Simone had the nerve and confidence to treat the entire venture as a fair-play mystery. The fun just never let up…

Even at this late stage, it is worth whatever effort it takes to follow the All-New Atom, matching wits with the writer and having huge amounts of fun along the way. What are you waiting for?
© 2007 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

The Brave and the Bold volume 2: The Book of Destiny


By Mark Waid, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway, Bob Wiacek & Scott Koblish (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1838-6 (hc)   978-1-4012-1861-4 (tpb)

The Book of Destiny is a mystical ledger which charts the history, progress and fate of all Reality and everything in it – except for the four mortals entrusted with its care at the end of The Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck…

The death-defying Challengers of the Unknown – cool pilot Ace Morgan, indomitable strongman Rocky Davis, intellectual aquanaut Prof. Haley and daredevil acrobat Red Ryan – live on borrowed time and were bequeathed the terrifying tome by Destiny of the Endless since their lives are not included within its horrifying pages…

After the staggering spectacle of the previous Brave and the Bold story-arc, here Mark Waid, George Pérez and inkers Bob Wiacek & Scott Koblish are joined by co-penciller Jerry Ordway for a stunning sequel featuring most of the DC universe…

This compilation collects issues #7-12 of the high-energy, all-star revival of the venerable DC title and plays novel games with the traditional team-up format when a mysterious mage begins manipulating heroes and villains in a diabolical alchemical scheme to transform the cosmos forever…

Beginning with ‘Scalpels and Chainsaws’ wherein Wonder Woman and the ever-abrasive Power Girl rub each other the wrong way (oh please, what are you, ten!?) whilst tackling an undead invasion, the case takes a strange turn and the Princess of Power accidentally discovers the Caped Kryptonian has been brainwashed into trying to murder her cousin Superman…

Their ill-tempered investigations lead to the fabled Lost Library of Alexandria and a disastrous confrontation with the deranged Dr. Alchemy, but he too is only a pre-programmed pawn – of a sinister presence called Megistus – who needs Power Girl to use the mystical artefact known as the Philosopher’s Stone to turn the Fortress of Solitude into pure Red Kryptonite…

Thanks to Wonder Woman’s battle savvy, the plot is frustrated and the stone thrown into the sun… just as Megistus intended…

All this has been read in the mystic chronicle by the Challengers and their fifth member Dr. June Robbins – whose merely mortal existence and eventual doom are tragically recorded in the Book. They rush off to investigate the universe-rending menace even as ‘Wally’s Choice’ brings the Flash and his rapidly aging children Jai and Iris West into unwelcome contact with manipulative genius Niles Caulder and his valiant Doom Patrol. “The Chief” claims he can cure the twins’ hyper-velocity malady, but Caulder never does anything for selfless reasons…

With no other hope, Wally and wife Linda acquiescence to the mad doctor’s scheme which relies on using elemental hero Rex Mason to stabilise their kids’ critical conditions. It might even have worked, had not Metamorpho been mystically abducted mid-process – consequently transforming the children into bizarre amalgams of Negative Man and Robot Man…

Worst of all, Flash was almost forced to choose which child to save and which should die…

Thinking faster than ever, the Scarlet Speedster beat the odds and pulled off a miracle, but in a distant place the pages of the Book were suddenly possessed and attacked the Challengers…

‘Changing Times’ featured a triptych of short team-up tales which played out as the Men that History Forgot battled a monster made of Destiny’s pages, beginning as the robotic Metal Men joined forces with young Robby Reed who could become a legion of champions whenever he needed to Dial H for Hero.

Sadly not even genius Will Magnus could have predicted the unfortunate result when crushingly shy robot Tin stuck his shiny digit in the arcane Dial…

Next, during WWII the combative Boy Commandos were joined by the Blackhawks in battling animated mummies intent on purloining the immensely powerful Orb of Ra from a lost pyramid, after which perpetually reincarnating warrior Hawkman joined substitute Atom Ryan Choi in defending Palaeolithic star-charts from the marauding Warlock of Ys, none of them aware that they were all doing the work of the malignly omnipresent Megistus…

The fourth chapter paralleled the Challengers’ incredible victory over the parchment peril with a brace of tales which saw the Man of Steel travel to ancient Britain to join heroic squire Brian of Kent (secretly the oppression-crushing Silent Knight) in bombastic battle against a deadly dragon, whilst the Teen Titans’ second ever case found Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash in Atlantis for the marriage of Aquaman and Mera.

Unfortunately Megistus’ drone Oceanus crashed the party, intent on turning Aqualad into an enslaved route map to the future…

And inCalifornia, the Challengers attempted to save Green Lantern’s Power Battery from being stolen only to find it in the possession of an ensorcelled Metamorpho…

As the Element Man easily overwhelmed Destiny’s Deputies, Jerry Ordway assumed the penciller’s role for issues #5-6.

‘Superman and Ultraman’ saw the natural enemies initially clash and then collaborate at the behest of an alternate universe’s Mr. Mixyezpitelik, who revealed the appalling scope and nature of Megistus’ supernal transformational ambitions, leading to a gathering of the heroic clans and a blistering Battle Royale in the roaring heart of the Sun…

With the fate of reality at stake and featuring a veritable army of guest stars ‘The Brave and the Bold’ wrapped up the saga with a terrible, tragic sacrifice from the noblest hero of all, whilst subtly setting the scene for the upcoming Final Crisis…

With fascinating designs and pencil art from Ordway to tantalise the art lovers, this second captivating collection superbly embodies all the bravura flash and dazzle thrills superhero comics so perfectly excel at. This is a gripping fanciful epic with many engaging strands that perfectly coalesce into a frantic and fabulous free-for-all overflowing with all the style, enthusiasm and sheer exuberant joy you’d expect from the industry’s top costumed drama talents.

The Brave and the Bold: The Book of Destiny is another great story with great art, ideal for kids of all ages to read and re-read over and over again.
© 2007, 2008 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

The All-New Atom: Small Wonder


By Gail Simone, Rick Remender, Pat Oliffe, Mike Norton & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1996-3

The adventures of the all-new Tiny Titan came to an abrupt halt with this final collection of mind-bending, time-busting yarns, collecting issues #17, 18 and 20-25 whilst inexplicably omitting #19 (a rather tasty subterranean thriller fill-in from Keith Champagne & Jerry Ordway). Whether the switch from stellar and wistfully whimsical scripter Gail Simone to darker, more hard-edged Rick Remender indicated the series was failing or perhaps caused its eventually demise is a matter of speculation – but it was probably neither…

After the events of Identity Crisis and 52, size-changing Professor Ray Palmer vanished, leaving his world behind him. But life goes on, and his post 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 Palmer’s super-hero identity as well – under some rather suspicious circumstances. He battled super-villains, monsters and seemingly random chronal catastrophes that were making Ivy Town a viper’s nest of bizarre occurrences.

Gail Simone opens the book with the two-parter ‘The Atom and the Amazon’ illustrated by Mike Norton, Andy Smith, Trevor Scott and Keith Champagne, a bravura combination of action, adventure and sublime surreal comedy wherein expanding villainess Giganta sexually harasses the young professor into a date whilst the mysterious forces and agencies infesting Ivy Town all jockey for position before the impending crisis to come.

Things come to a head when Federal Department of Metahuman Affairs agent Diana Prince steps in and asks Choi to wear a wire on his assignation…

When a creep with a detachable brain provokes a confrontation Wonder Woman steps in and events spiral out of control until Ryan uses a brilliant seldom-seen ploy to calm things down. Sadly the peace is temporary as the brain-thing incites the entire city to attack the heroes. Nevertheless Atom saves the day and is rewarded by the most outrageous offer he has ever heard…

Simone ended her run with ‘A Few Small Affairs’ as the sinister mastermind  behind so many of Choi’s problems traps the diminishing hero in the perfect prison: a paradisiacal hallucination whilst in reality demons, monsters and aliens rampage through the city…

To see how he stops that mess you’ll need to get this book, but that’s not the end of the fun as the epic ‘Inside Out’ by Remender, Pat Olliffe & John Stanisci pits the new Atom against truly horrendous odds and insurmountable problems. In ‘The Positive Aspects of Negative Thinking’ Choi discovers that his explorations of the micro-cosmos have infected him with a virus and unleashed a monstrous carnivore on the city, whilst ‘How to Disappear Completely’ leaves him shocked and reeling when the beast devours his best friend Panda.

Consumed with a need to make amends Choi is utterly unaware that arch-enemies Chronos and Dwarfstar are preparing to attack, and is horrified to learn that the micro-monster has since disintegrated dozens of citizens. Meanwhile his infection is causing him to uncontrollably shrink in violently painful spasms…

Donning a high-tech containment suit Choi battles on in ‘Strange New World’ becoming lost in the microverse but joyfully discovering that the townsfolk “consumed” by the monster were in fact reduced to sub-atomic proportions and trapped in an extremely hostile new universe. His elation is tempered however when he realises that time passes much faster there and if the horrors inhabiting the place don’t eat them first, they could all die of old age before he can rescue them…

‘Forecast Fascist Future’ guest-stars Booster Gold and focuses on Chronos and his partner in time-crime, a mysterious lady from Choi’s past. All the myriad threads of the series converge and Ray Palmer returns to save the day, revealing some shocking truths to – and about – his successor in ‘Time’, the gripping conclusion to a bold epic and conclusive proof that the Tiny Titans should have been given more time to continue their adventures…

Alas they didn’t and the series passed away, but at least lovers of fun, fantastic fantasy Fights ‘n’ Tights fiction have this tome and its three companion volumes to enjoy, and who knows, maybe the All-New action will resume one day?

© 2008 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Showcase Presents The Atom volume 2


By Gardner Fox, Gil Kane & various (DC Comics)
ISBN13: 978-1-4012-1848-5

Super-Editor Julius Schwartz ushered in the Silver Age of American Comics with his Showcase successes Flash, Adam Strange and Green Lantern, directly leading to the Justice League of America which in turn inspired Fantastic Four and the whole Marvel Empire and …

However his fourth attempt to revitalize a “Golden Age Great” stalled when Hawkman (debuting in Brave and the Bold #34, February-March 1961) failed to find an immediate audience. Undeterred, he back-pedalled and persevered with the Winged Wonder, whilst moving forward with his next revival. Showcase #34 (September-October 1961) retooled the pint-sized strongman of the 1940’s Justice Society of America into a fascinating science-fiction champion and eternal underdog.

Ray Palmer was a young physicist working on the compression of matter: a teaching Professor at Ivy Town University. He was wooing career girl Jean Loring, who wanted to make her name as a trial lawyer before settling down as Mrs. Palmer (yep that’s what the 1960s were like for the fillies; years of striving and achievement followed by glorious, fulfilling days cooking meatloaf and changing nappies…)

One evening Ray found an ultra-dense fragment of White Dwarf Star Matter, leading his research into a new direction. By converting some of the degenerate matter into a lens he could shrink objects, but frustratingly they always exploded when he attempted to restore them to their original state. As fiercely competitive as his intended bride, Ray kept his progress secret until he could perfect the process. Meanwhile the couple took a group of youngsters on a science hike to Giant Caverns, where a cave-in trapped the entire party.

As they all lay trapped and dying Ray secretly activated his reducing lens to shrink himself, using the diamond engagement ring he was carrying to carve a tiny fissure in the rock wall into an escape hole. Fully expecting to detonate any second, he was astounded to discover that some peculiar combination of circumstances allowed to him to return to his normal six foot height with no ill effects. With his charges safe he returned to his lab to find that the process only worked on his own body; all other subjects still catastrophically detonated.

Somewhat disheartened he pondered his situation – and his new-found abilities. Naturally, he became a superhero, fighting crime, injustice and monsters, but Ray also determined to clandestinely help Jean become successful as quickly as possible using his suit made from White Dwarf material, which could alter not only his height but also his weight and mass…

This second volume collects the Atom #18-38, the remainder of Palmer’s solo stories (with issue #39 the title merged with another struggling Schwartz title to become The Atom and Hawkman an early casualty of declining interest in superhero comics at the end of the 1960s) and explodes into action with the first of two short tales scripted as always by Gardner Fox, penciled by Gil Kane and inked by Sid Greene.

‘The Hole-in-the-Wall Lawman!’ (lead feature in Atom #18, April-May 1965) found the Tiny Titan tracking a safe-cracker who had inadvertently stolen a miniaturised thermonuclear bomb whereas ‘The Atomic Flea!’ saw the hero lose his memory while fighting thugs, wrongly deducing that he must be part of the flea circus where he regained consciousness…

Clever whimsy, scientific wonders, eye-popping action, perspective tricks and simply stunning long-shots, mid-shots and close-ups with glorious, balletic, full-body action poses are hallmarks of this fondly regarded, dynamic series, but #19 brought a whole new edge and dynamic to the Atom when he became the second part of a bold experiment in continuity. ‘World of the Magic Atom!’ was a full-length epic featuring a sexy sorceress in a world where science held no sway.

The top-hatted, fish-netted, comely young sorceress appeared in a number of Julie Schwartz-edited titles hunting her long-missing father Zatarra: a magician-hero in the Mandrake mould who had fought evil in the pages of Action Comics for over a decade beginning with the very first issue. In true Silver Age “refit” style Fox conjured up a young and equally gifted daughter, and popularised her by guest-teaming her with a selection of superheroes he was currently scripting (if you’re counting, her quest began in Hawkman #4 and after this chapter moved on to Green Lantern #42, and the Elongated Man back-up strip in Detective Comics #355 as well as a very slick piece of back writing to include the high-profile Caped Crusader via Detective #336 – ‘Batman’s Bewitched Nightmare’, before concluding after the GL segment in Justice League of America #51).

Issue #20’s ‘Challenge of the Computer Crooks!’ found the Tiny Titan again battling ingenious robbers attempting to use one of those new-fangled electronic brains to improve their heists whilst in ‘Night of the Little People!’ impersonating a leprechaun to sway a reluctant witness to testify in court. A recurrent theme in the Tiny Titan’s career was Cold War Espionage. The American/Soviet arms-and-ideas race figured heavily in the life of physicist Ray Palmer and in the collegiate circle of Ivy Town where even Jean’s father was a scientist carefully watched by both CIA and KGB.

Issue #21’s ‘Combat Under Glass!’ pitted the Man of Many Sizes against soviet spies and an enraged housecat, whilst ‘The Adventure of the Canceled Birthday’ was another enchanting “Time-Pool” tale wherein the Atom traveled to England in 1752, meeting Henry Fielding, helping to establish the Bow Street Runners, as well as solving the mystery of 11 days that dropped off the British calendar (for the answer to this mysterious true event look up the Julian Calendar on line – although buying this book would be far more entertaining and rewarding…)

Ray Palmer’s mentor and colleague Professor Alpheus Hyatt created a six-inch wide energy field that opened portals to other eras. Hyatt thought it an intriguing but useless scientific oddity, occasionally extracting perplexing items from it by blindly dropping a fishing line through. Little did he know his erstwhile student was secretly using it to experience rousing adventures in other times and locations. This charming, thrilling and unbelievably educational maguffin generated many of the Atom’s best and most well-loved exploits.

‘Bat Knights of Darkness!’ introduced the Elvarans, a subterranean race of six inch feudal warriors who had lived in Giant Caverns since prehistoric times. When these savage bat-riding berserkers fell under the mental sway of cheap thug Eddie Gordon, all of Ivy Town was threatened. This visual tour de force is a captivating early example of Gil Kane’s swashbuckling fantasy epics and a real treat for anybody who loved Blackmark, Star Hawks or even the 1983 classic Sword of the Atom.

Issue #23 opened with a smart science-fiction teaser as the Mighty Mite played a peculiar joke on the police in ‘The Riddle of the Far-Out Robbery!’ but it was back to blockbusting basics when he stopped the ‘Thief with the Tricky Toy!’ and more so in #24 when he saved the entire planet from plant Master Jason Woodrue in the feature-length thriller ‘The Atom-Destruction of Earth!’

The Camp/Superhero craze triggered by the Batman TV show was infecting many comic-books at this time, and a lighter, punnier tone was creeping into a lot of otherwise sound series. ‘The Man in the Ion Mask!’ is far more entertaining than the woeful title might suggest; a solid heist-caper featuring another crook with a fancy gadget, and even the espionage romp ‘The Spy Who Went Out for the Gold!’ is a smart, pacy rollercoaster ride of thrills and spills, but there’s really not much I can say to defend the ludicrous yarn introducing costumed nut the Bug-Eyed Bandit.

Feeble felon Bertram Larvan built a robotic mini-beast to rob for him and despite some wonderful artwork from Kane and Greene ‘The Eye-Popping Perils of the Insect Bandit!’ in #26 remains an uncharacteristic blot on Gardner Fox’s generally pristine copy-book.  The art quality grew in leaps and bounds during this period, as seen in the romantic tryst-come-slugfest described in crime-thriller ‘Beauty and the Beast-Gang!’ accompanied by spectacular historical high-jinks as Atom used the Time Pool to visit the Montgolfier Brothers in 1783 Paris, saving Benjamin Franklin’s life and becoming a ‘Stowaway on a Hot-Air Balloon!’

It was non-stop costumed criminal action when Chronos returned in #28’s ‘Time-Standstill Thefts!’ with a side-order of scientific mystery when ordinary citizens began to change size in ‘The 100,000 “Atoms” of Ivy Town!’, and the sheer drama intensified when the Mighty Mite teamed up with the Earth-2 Atom for a cataclysmic clash against one of the worst villains of DC’s Golden Age in ‘The Thinker’s Earth-Shaking Robberies!’

Nasty thug Eddie Gordon returned in #30, which wouldn’t really have been a problem except he had once more gained control of the diminutive flying berserkers in ‘Daze of the Bat-Knights!’ whilst old comrade Hawkman guest-starred #31’s ‘Good Man, Bad Man, Turnabout Thief!’ to battle a phantom menace hidden within the brain of an innocent man, and issue #32 saw a most astounding episode in the Tiny Titan’s career as he became the giant invader of a sub-molecular universe in the enthralling fantasy thriller ‘The Up and Down Dooms of the Atom!’

Bert Larvan inexplicably won a second appearance in ‘Amazing Arsenal of the Atom-Assassin!’ and it must be said, comes off as a far worthier opponent the second time around, whilst the outlandish comedy-thriller ‘Little Man… You’ve Had a Big-Gang Day!’ produced the daftest assemblage of themed villains in DC history – each has a gimmick based on the word “big”. Led by Big Head, Big Bertha is strong, Big Wig uses weaponized toupees – and wait till you see what Big Cheese can do… Despite all that, this lunacy is actually hugely enjoyable Big Fun!

Issue #35 led with a sterling crime-caper ‘Plight of the Pin-Up Atom’ and closed with the gripping ‘Col. Blood Steals the Crown Jewels!’ following the Mighty Mite into another Time Pool adventure in 1671 London. The Earth-2 Atom returned for one of the very best team-up tales of the Silver Age in ‘Duel Between the Dual Atoms’ as a radiation menace played hob with victim’s ages on both worlds simultaneously, before the artistic team signed off in mind-blowing style by adding a new ally to the Atom’s crime-fighting arsenal in ‘Meet Major Mynah!’ in #37.

A trip to war-torn Cambodia saw the diminutive hero adopt a wounded Mynah bird who, with a few repairs and alterations from Winged Wonder Hawkman, transformed the faithful talking bird into both alternative transport and strafing back-up for the Tiny Titan.

This volume concludes with a classy and extremely scary transition tale from writer Frank Robbins and artists Mike Sekowsky and George Roussos. ‘Sinister Stopover… Earth!’ is an eerie alien invasion mystery perfectly in keeping with the grimmer sensibility gradually taking over the bright shiny world of comics at the time and still one of the spookiest tales of the Atom’s captivating run.

With the next issue the changing tastes and times forced The Atom and Hawkman series to merge (see Showcase Presents: Hawkman volume 2), but even then the move only bought an extra year or so. Superheroes were once more in decline and different genres were on the rise. The Atom was never a major name or colossal success, but a reading these witty, compelling tales by Gardner Fox, where Gil Kane first mastered the fluid human dynamism that made him a legend, you’d be hard-pressed to understand why. This is sheer superhero perfection. Why not try a little Atomic Action… just a tiny bit?

© 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 2008 DC Comics.  All Rights Reserved.

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!

© 2007, 2008 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.