The “Panic in the Microverse” arc comes to an end. It’s been a trip through a unique and imaginative microscopic world, and provided some nice character development for Ryan Choi, so let’s take a look and see how it wraps up.
Oh, and there will be some spoilers, so read on with caution.
Written by Steve Orlando
Illustrated by Ivan Reis
Colored by Marcelo Maiolo
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“PANIC IN THE MICROVERSE” finale! The Justice League—betrayed! Ray Palmer, the original Atom, said not everyone could be trusted in the microverse, and he meant it! By rescuing Palmer and finding the Ignition Point, has the Justice League doomed all reality? It’s the quantum conclusion the sci-fi epic that began in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1!
The Microverse arc has been a very Atom-centric run, putting the spotlight on Ryan Choi and Ray Palmer. As part of it, the team has explored the depths of a microscopic universe, facing new threats and exploring new worlds, all without having to resort to Honey, I Shrunk The Kids style shrinking antics. Now, as it all concludes, we can see the different pieces Steve Orlando placed on the board start to fall into place.
First of all, the comic looks fantastic. Ivan Reis does a great job bringing life to each of the characters, and really builds up the intensity of the world-ending chaos within the Microverse. There’s some intense action throughout “Justice League of America,” as befitting a boss fight, but some of the strongest work comes in the calmer scenes at the metaphorical eye of the hurricane.
Additionally, Ivan’s work on character expression and shot composition in this issue are some of the best in this “Justice League of America” run. The issue goes into some strongly emotional scenes, as Null tries to destroy literally everything and Ryan is ready to sacrifice himself to save the Microverse, and the full emotion of those scenes comes through not only in the looks on the characters faces, but how they’re framed in each panel.
The colors from Marcelo Maiolo are bright and intense, and add an otherworldly look to the Microverse. They’re particularly strong during any shrinking scenes, enhancing the effects from the Atom belt, and make the scenes vibrant.
For instance, there’s a climactic scene where Ryan shrinks himself and Null down to a size even smaller than microscopic, entering the source of the ignition point. The initial shrinking scene contains strong elements on all grounds – we see the panicked look on Frost’s face as she looks for Ryan, then we see him and Null tumbling as they shrink down through the fascinating realm of sizes smaller than small. There are smaller panels within the overall scene, showing the two characters growing smaller and smaller; as they shrink, so do the panels around them, and the accompanying word bubbles.
The following page makes great use of the empty space, illustrating how they’ve shrunken so far they’re even at the space between atoms. There, the panels are spaced out a bit more, adding to the free-floating feeling of the area. The very center of the page is illuminated by the source of the ignition point, but the light it casts dims nicely at the edges of each page. When we see the characters, we see the rage and frustration on Null’s face, and the sombre acceptance of his sacrifice in Ryan’s. In short, it’s a beautiful scene.
However, I should take a moment to talk about Null himself. As an antagonist he’s… fine. His reveal and betrayal wasn’t too surprising, but his backstory from the previous issue was decent, and I can dig his philosophy and reason for wanting to reset everything to zero. While I like how the color scheme of his outfit mirrors him to the Atoms well enough, the design isn’t entirely memorable overall, in spite of some nice touches in the armored sides and long flowing cape.
Ivan Reis continues to do a fine job with giving each character a distinct voice and solid dialogue. Ryan in particular gets a nice speech about how his sacrifice will save billions who will never know, and Ray Palmer’s dialogue tells us plenty about his character.Continued below
Following a well-written heart-to-heart, Ray officially passes the torch and title of The Atom on to Ryan, complete with a new suit. Except it makes one wonder: was he really traveling around with an Atom suit made to Ryan’s measurements stored away in his belt the entire time? It’s kind of a pity that he’s getting a new suit nearly identical to Ray’s, since Ryan’s previous suit – more armored and spacesuit-esque as it was – seemed more appropriate to the character, and was a more unique look. (Also, does the new suit come with contacts? Because Ryan’s glasses are suddenly gone the moment he gets into it.)
More importantly, the last moments of “Justice League of America” begin to connect into larger events within the DC Universe, or rather, the DC Multiverse. After name-dropping Angor, Batman mentions “The Button,” the story arc that started to connect “Watchmen” to the main DC comics before abruptly ending – this is definitely setting up more major events to come, and it will be nice to see how everything connects.
Overall, the “Panic in the Microverse” arc has been a great one for The Atom, and was an entertaining story that gave the writer and artists alike a chance to really stretch their imaginations and creative abilities. Half the team may have been benched for the arc, but it still allowed for more exploration of individuals, while still giving us some good action and character moments throughout. This issue of “Justice League of America” brought the story arc to a satisfying conclusion, while laying the groundwork for future stories to explore.
Final Verdict: 7.6 – A solid end to a strong story arc, with excellent artwork and good character work. The Microverse will be missed.