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    Review: Captain Atom #1

    By | September 23rd, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by J.T. Krul
    Illustrated by Freddie Williams II

    Charged by nuclear energy, possessing vast molecular powers, Captain Atom has the potential to be a literal god among men — a hero without limits. But the question is: Will he lose himself in the process?

    Don’t miss the start of a legend from writer J.T. Krul (GREEN ARROW, TEEN TITANS) and artist Freddie Williams II (JSA ALL-STARS).

    After having a stellar role as part of the New Krypton arc and a key part of the popular Justice League: Generation Lost series during Brightest Day, Captain Atom now has his own series! I wasn’t exactly clamoring for the book, but alright. So how did it do?

    Check the cut, homie! Note: there are lots of spoilers in the review.

    You know, this review was spectacularly hard to write. Not because it was good, or even because it was bad. It just was. There’s no way to feel passionate about this book on my end, so I just can’t recommend the book or tell you to burn it. It’s so middle of the road; it’s like that one episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun where the gang tries to be perfectly average. Everything is beige. Everything is medium. Everything just is.

    And that is exactly how this book reads. JT Krul (who has already left the other book he was on, Green Arrow) doesn’t seem to do much better at establishing a hook to get people to stick with this title. The first page takes place in my neck of the woods (that’s San Francisco, for you people “not in the know”) where a homeless man is sleeping and a rat comes by and steals some of his food, eyes glowing the same color blue as Cap Atom. The very next page, Captain Atom is fighting Generic Mecha Suit #7 (who presumably got lost on the way to Fear Itself) and Captain Atom has trouble with his powers; he can transmute elements on an elemental level now (which is something that I think Firestorm can already do?) but at the cost that it might kill him (wasn’t this an issue with Firestorm as well?).

    Now, you might be thinking that this rat was affected by the fight between Captain Atom and Generic Mecha Suit #7, but that’s the thing — it wasn’t. I read the book a few times before I started writing the review, and it took three read-throughs before I realized that Cap was in Chicago, half a nation away. Which brings up the question: WHY does this rat matter? If there’s no discernable connection between Nathan Adam (Captain Atom’s real name, as far as I know) and a random vermin in the city by the bay, why am I reading about it? Why should I care? And all the time, Adam is talking about evolution and how we humans are extremely self-centered about it; we take pride in our opposable thumbs, for instance. But really, this entire monologue doesn’t make a lick of sense, especially since later in the issue, Adam takes on a volcano that sprang up out of nowhere in New York City (because his new powers make him either a) more powerful than nature or b) Tommy Lee Jones, and volcanoes just pop up in metropolitan areas at will) and it’s too much for him.

    Oh, and the rat turns into a giant monster that’s two tentacles short of being in a dirty anime. Again, for no reason.

    The character work isn’t any better. We’re introduced to a supporting cast at a CERN-like facility located somewhere in the middle of Kansas, but of the two we’ve met so far, neither are particularly engaging or unique. One is an overworked but good humored lab assistant who works for the DC equivalent of Stephen Hawking — and let me tell you, he’s a dick. There’s no real reason for him to be a dick, other than to be a combination between the aforementioned Stephen Hawking and Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Even plot wise, this book reads like a disjointed mess, with an unnecessary “clock” in the corner of the book periodically and scene jumping between places that, like I said, have no place together.

    Continued below

    Now, I wanted to like Krul. I never read his Green Arrow and I shied away from Rise of Arsenal (because it WAS terrible), but I generally enjoyed his work on Teen Titans. It was fun, and it has some (what I believed to be) good character work. But I think I can credit all the positives of that to one Nicola Scott, who provided the art and took Krul’s mediocre writing to a level of awesomeness he had never been before.

    Unfortunately in the case of this book’s artist, Freddie Williams II just isn’t good enough to elevate the writing from the mess it is. It is far from terrible, but it’s also far from great. It’s just there. Sometimes it’s colorful and might be good, but then it’s a dark mess than looks like Deodato drawing with his non-dominant hand. There’s so much shading that doesn’t add anything to the book, but rather actually kind of detracts from it and gives it a crusty feeling when a character like Adam should have lots of bright colors around him (or at least a well-lit laboratory).

    If you couldn’t tell by now, this book just doesn’t cut the mustard. There were so many good books that have gone by the wayside in order to put this book out, and I’d rather have Power Girl or Secret Six instead of this. Avoid.

    Final Verdict: 2.0 – Burn

    Gilbert Short

    Gilbert Short. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. When he's not reading comic books so you don't have to, he's likely listening to mediocre music or watching excellent television. Passionate about Giants baseball and 49ers football. When he was a kid he wanted to be The Ultimate Warrior. He still kind of does. His favorite character is Superman and he will argue with you about it if you try to convince him otherwise. He also happens to be the head of Social Media Relations, which means you should totally give him a follow onTwitter.