May present a choking hazard

May present a choking hazard

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sword of the Atom - Book 4: Look Homeward, Atom

Art: Gil Kane - Story: Jan Strnad

The issue starts off with Ray staring at Morlaidh, thinking that only a few weeks ago he could have stepped on the joint.
After a lil smooch session with his new alien princess, Voss informs them they have a spy in their midst. It would appear that Bikus has been sending "arrow messages" to Deraegis. Bikus spills the beans about Deraegis's plan. How he's been messing with King Caellich's mind, and planning this attack on the kingdom to get his fat head into the hot seat. Bikus knows he's done wrong, and he knows he must be punished.
The punishment? Poisonous arrow through the hand of course. Bikus, like a big boy, willingly puts it through his own hand for that long goodnight.
And so the attack begins! Forces and battle frog horses face off against one another! Caellich's men join in with The Atom's as all are aware of the mad monk's plans.
Meanwhile, an angry King confronts a sniveling little pud in Deraegis, calling him on his plan to overthrow, and informing that him that although he will most certainly go down from these actions... so will Deraegis.
Caellich calls for the guards to take him away for the last time, but his royal roundness will have none of that. He pulls one of those fast moves where he ends up behind the King, knife to back... then in it!
All the while the Sword of the Atom cuts through evil alien guards like a hot prod through a vat of butter. He and the princess make their way to the king... but it's too late. The knife was driven too deep, and the king's time is limited. He and princess Laethwen share a final moment, and that's all she wrote.
Fortunately, that final moment consisted of the king telling them what that crazy, round s.o.b. is up to with the star drive, and that he plans to activate it.
Voss explains to them that the piece of star that the star drive consists was once hoped to be converted into a power plant, but it was far too unstable.
Too late.
Deraegis has activated it and radiation leaks like the melted butter from that hot prod. He exits the facility where the star is housed, looking like something from a Hammer film, eyes glowing red and informing the mass of people, I am your King!" He reaches out and grabs the wrist of an unfortunate observer, the man screaming in pain and falling unconscious.
He's out of control! What can be done!
Of course, put an arrow through his skull. Compliments of voss.

But the star drive is still humming and leaking. Ray goes in to shut it down, but it's too late. Evacuation is the only answer now. Unfortunately, he's absorbed so much radiation, this evacuation is going to play much more like a Toho attack then a superhero at work.With Laethwen refusing to leave her wonderful Atom behind, and various townsfolk running around in a frenzy, Ray knows what he must do:
Stomp and kick the city to smithereens until everyone decides to leave.

There's a buzzing in the Atom's skull, severe pain, then an explosion. Then this panel:I love disoriented Palmer there.
As you can see, Ray stumbles on over to some water and winds up naked and asleep(ah college...).
He wakes in a hospital, and gives his name as "Atom." He's free to go as he's physically fine, and not exactly being cooperative.
Oh yes, one more thing! There's a very pretty woman waiting in the lobby for him. She thinks she might be his husband!
That's your last page. He knows he has a great deal to resolve with Jean, but he promises... VOWS to return and find his alien princess!

That concludes your SOTA mini-series. It's followed by (so far?) 3 special issues, which I'll get to.

When SOTA came out I was still too young, so I missed the opportunity of seeing a character like Ray get flipped and flopped before my very eyes. So when I did get the chance to be able to read all that Ray would go through, it was a helluva ride. Taking a very early member of the Justice League and a golden boy of his own comic series and putting him through this was pretty fascinating to me. Allowing his wife to have an affair and sending him off to the jungle for some sword wielding. I would get The Atom series, find him teamed up with Hawkman, and then the Sword of the Atom series, with issues of JLA and action comics sprinkled throughout.
I didn't have a chance to watch Ray's title get canceled and then bark at the thought of making Jean into what she became, or removing the Atom's mask dome, sticking him in the jungle. It was already done, and just a part of the journey. So I welcomed it. It was a pretty interesting character arc, even at the time, for a wee child like myself. Maybe too interesting!
I had never heard of a superhero having to go through something like that at the time. One with a wife like Jean, so I was immediately swept up in my own Atom mania. That and I knew he ruled.


rob! said...

a fine review of a fine series.

all i can think of when i see that last page is "Ray--don't do it!! Now's your chance at a better life! Jean's a one-way ticket to Crazy Town!!"

Anonymous said...

Great review man, but I gotta' say, superheroes SHOULDN'T have wives like that, and what's more, Jean shouldn't have BECOME a wife like that.

Damian said...

Eh, it was more a re-cap than a review. And the only time a review of mine is any good is when I'm trashing something.

I know you hate what they did to Jean. You and Ray have similar pains...