Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh Captain, My Captain

Oh Captain, My Captain
Review of Captain Atom #1
By: Andrew Hines

     The man of the atom is back and bigger than ever!  Imagine Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame if he still held any compassion for humanity. That's what Nathaniel Adam brings to the table as Captain Atom, especially given that he was the original inspiration for the Superman of Alan Moore's iconic graphic novel.  A government agent, who was once an Air Force pilot. In the old DC universe, Nathaniel Christopher Adam was accused of a crime he didn't commit and given two options: execution or a strange military experiment, after which he would receive a presidential pardon. Obviously he took the latter choice and became a hero, more clandestine and underrated than Superman, but with the same sense of duty.

     Writer JT Krul teases us with a few brief mentions of the backstory, while diving straight into action and a healthy dose of scientific conversation.  Great pacing and clear dialogue set the tone early on for a good read. Starting off during a "battle" with an unnamed and short-lived villain, we see at once a very human character and man of action. We see Captain Atom's  thoughts on the human condition as contrasted with the rest of the animal kingdom. For a man who thinks of himself in rather simple terms, we see from he start, a rather deep individual. Thankfully that doesn't last too long and we're back to watching the hero of the story kick ass and take names. This isn't merely an action-packed story, it also sets the stage for a life-and-death situation for our tireless hero. We discover, as does Captain Atom, that using his awe-inspiring powers may actually kill him.

     There are two fantastic artists on this issue, the interior pencils of Freddie Williams II and the cover art of Stanley "Artgerm" Lau.  Williams' interior art has a sort of noir-ish feel to it, with it's contrasting and sort of dull-yet-lively colors.  These contrasts are most notable when Captain Atom flies around the city.  The dull landscape of the city is made even more so when paired with the bright glow of Captain Atom's blue sheen and red symbol.  Then there's the cover art.  Stanley Lau, whose covers have astounded me for the last year or so on his various jobs, may have outdone himself with the work I've seen on this issue and the next three covers as well. If you don't believe me, check out the link to his gallery at the end of the article.

     Despite going into this with reservations, I was blown away by the time and effort that was clearly put into this issue.  From the inner ramblings of an underrated hero to the climactic ending, both the writing and the artwork were well above average.  The cover art definitely worked in the issue's favor.  Everyone from the comic geeks to the science instructors should read this one.  In my book, it gets a 9.4 out of 10.

As promised, here is the link to the artists galeries:
Stanley Lau (covers):
Freddie Williams II (interior art):

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