There are a lot of stories in
The Naked City the domed cities of Convergence. This is Ray Palmer’s… Your Major Spoilers review of Convergence: The Atom #1 awaits!
Previously in Convergence: The Atom: Ray Palmer suffered great tragedy during Identity Crisis, as his estranged wife Jean Loring murdered Sue Dibny to get him back, and later died/turned evil/something herself, causing Ray to go underground. His place as The Atom was taken by Ryan Choi, a talented young hotshot scientist, who was frankly pretty good at the job. During the Brightest Day event, Ryan was viciously murdered by Deathstroke The Terminator at the behest of another villain called Dwarfstar. This story takes place soon thereafter, with the revelation that Ray Palmer, like so many others, was in Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City at the time it was stolen from the time stream by Brainiac…
A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT STATUS QUO
Other Convergence minis started with the characters in their original locations, but this one immediately starts in the “present”, with Ray Palmer continuing to do his Atom shtick in the streets of Gotham, as one of the few heroes who still have powers. The ability in question is pretty limited, though, allowing him to enlarge one of his hands to massive size and use it for lifting/crushing type maneuvers. Worse still, his activities have earned him a reputation as crazy, thanks to his unpredictable behavior and powers…
…and also the fact that he audibly talks to voices only he can hear. I’m actually saddened to see the state of Ray Palmer, and his interview with a local newswoman paints him as a lunatic, and also gets the attention of Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson, who is living undercover in Gotham as well. (Seems that there were an awful lot of heroes in Gotham City at the same time, weren’t there?) Slade suits up in his uniform and confronts Atom, ready to kill him, at the precise second that Telos announces his tournament of heroes, and teleports The Atom away to fight in his mad game. The appearance of The Atom as a slender, non-heroic type was interesting at first, but when Slade appears, he shares the physique, and the art in their almost-confrontation is weirdly stiff.
I was uncomfortable with the treatment of mental illness in Convergence: Harley Quinn, finding it a bit questionable how her psychological situation was treated as part of the stakes, and how she had to once again become comic-book crazy in order to be the hero, but this issue has a worse case of it. People are opening hostile and condescending to Ray Palmer throughout the issue, and the one person who tries to talk him into getting help is immediately brushed aside in favor of the fighty-fighty. Atom’s battle is with Barracuda of Angor, a cross-dimensional Captain Ersatz of Namor, the Sub-Mariner, and Ray Palmer only gets the upper hand when he embraces his “madness”, declares himself a lunatic, and begins fighting angrily with a foe who seems to outclass him, once again making mental illness a questionable plot point. Thankfully, the issue ends with a bright spot of hope, as he wonders aloud if the voice is actually real, and quickly discovers that it’s the voice of Ryan Choi, who has arrived just in time to help with the fight, presumably thanks to the removal of the power-sapping barriers. Once again, the art is limited, with Choi sharing the exactly same physique as Ray Palmer, and the battle sequence featuring Barracuda (whose design is weirdly amorphous and inconsistent) are once again oddly-stiff. Weirdly, Ray Palmer’s mask/helmet just up and disappears between panels for some reason, another example of confusing/inconsistent storytelling by the art team…
THE BOTTOM LINE: A HOPEFUL ENDING
I’m excited to see Ryan Choi back, but it’s a muted excitement thanks to being repeatedly disappointed (DC did announce that he would be joining the Justice League some months ago, which never came to pass) by the treatment of so many of the legacy characters in the New 52. Convergence: The Atom #1 is puzzling, as it doesn’t give me the nostalgia of seeing the old Ray Palmer I know and it doesn’t really present him as a cool character for new audiences, with art the never gets past “kind of okay” and is occasionally very distracting the story the creators want to tell, earning an underwhelming 2 out of 5 stars overall. I’m inclined to pick up next issue based on the return of Ryan Choi, but I suspect he’ll disappear again once the miniseries is complete next month.