Review: Agents of Atlas #3

by

Or – “Cameos.  The Mark Of Staying Power In The Marvel Universe.”

AA2.jpg

Robert Grayson.  The original Marvel Boy.  Bob probably has the most visible track record of all the Agents, having had his own series back in the day, a high-profile return and seeming death in Fantastic Four some time later, and several other schmucks who have taken his name and run with it.  Originally possessing the Quantum Bands that later fell to Wendell Vaughan, Bob now uses his superior technology and alien-rewired brain for the greater good, whether the world wants the greater good or not.  But is even Bob’s telepathy and sheer weirdness enough to take down the artist formerly known as Bucky?

AA1.jpgPreviously, on Agents of Atlas: James Woo has followed an odd career path, from FBI agent to leader of a band of almost-superheroes SHIELD agent to lord of an international crime conglomerate and heir to the legacy of the Yellow Claw.  Now the head of the Atlas foundation, Master Woo calls upon the brute strength of Namora of Atlantis; the cunning of Ken Hale, Gorilla Man; the mechanical versatility of M-11, The Human Robot; the alien subterfuge of Bob Grayson, the Marvel Boy; and the charisma of Venus: The Agents of Atlas.  Last issue, we simultaneously saw the Agents in the present, making a deal with none other than Norman Osborn, while learning of things that happened to the team half a century ago, involving a ghost pilot buzzing Edwards Air Force Base.  Namora lost her cool when someone threatened the Human Robot, the mysterious Mr. Lao called in Jimmy’s successor (Temugin, son of the Mandrain) to ensure the survival of the Khan bloodline, since Jimmy wouldn’t stop going on missions, and another Spider-Man villain (The Grizzly) got his brains beat in.

This time, we start in 1958, with the agents under fire from Russian agents.  Marvel Boy has had a few drinks too many, in the mistaken belief that his physiology was immune, while Gorilla Man goes on the offensive, hitting them with a table (and without even any help from Brother D-Von.)  Meanwhile, Jimmy Woo meets with his love, Suwan (daughter of the Yellow Claw) and they discover that their attackers may not be Russian after all, but strange visitors from someplace else.  With that odd occurrence under their belt, we jump back to the present, as Venus goes searching for Namora, finding the princess of Atlantis salvaging WWII era shipwrecks to save her beloved ocean.  Venus (who was a Siren, and can thus survive underwater) tries to talke to the avenging daughter, but Namora flips out, shattering a live mine with her bare hands, showing off her rage.  Venus, as always, sees the truth behind her words.  “It was really screwed up that you came back to the world just as she was taken.  Believe me,” says the not-quite-a-goddess,” I understand!”

Namora leaps into the water, leading her new friend to a hidden cavern far beneath the sea, where a stone statue of her lost daughter, Namorita stands.  Namora explains that she created this cavern so that she could think of her lost loved one.  “I could have trained her properly…  I could have stopped that bastard from blowing her up.”  Venus catches her as she  nearly collapses, and hugs Namora as the tears come.  It’s a really skillful moment, and it’s handled so deftly that you feel the character’s pain keenly…  Good work from writer Jeff Parker.  The Agents of 1958 find a rift from their world into another one, thanks to special viewer left behind by the “Russian” agents, while Jimmy and company meet with Norman Osborn, providing him a glimpse at what they claim to be a weapons manufacturing operation.  (I suspect that there’s something else up Jimmy’s sleeve.)  As M-11, Woo, and Gorilla Man leave their rendezvous, they are suddenly attacked from the ground.  “Atlas picked the WRONG country to set up shop,” declares their attacker, and they threesome is amazed to see…  Captain America!

Which is a surprise that might have worked better had he not been on the cover.  Still, it’s a good issue overall, though better in the present than the past.  The moral ambiguity of passing themselves off as villains is fascinating, and Marvel Boy’s telepathic peek in to the minds of Sentry and Green Goblin during their meeting is terrifying, on both counts.  The use of Venus as camp counselor is perfect, and M-11 once again proves itself to be more useful than a hundred Eagle Scouts with Swiss Army knives and the assistance of Phineas, Ferb, all three Brainiac 5′s and R2D2…  though I may be exaggerated.  I was a little disappointed with the pacing of the issue, as the flashbacks seemed to take over much of the book, and having the cover featured character appear only in a cameo on the last page bothered me a bit.  Still, the two art teams deliver some pretty pictures, and the dialogue and character moments make the book sing.  Agents of Atlas #3 still makes the grade, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall, and still ranking among my fave-rave Marvel books, as well as the best of the “Dark Reign” crop of titles. 

3stars.jpg