Review: Atlas #5

Published on October 1st, 2010

It’s a sad, sad day.  A little bit of sunshine has left us, leaving our world just a little grayer.  No, I’m not talking about famine or disease, drought or genocide, I’m talking about the cancellation of Atlas. Yes, Atlas #5 shall be the final issue of the amazing series by Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman.  Apparently, although it features some of the most interesting and new story ideas put into comic book format in years, the sales didn’t justify keeping the book going.

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In case you don’t know, which is likely because apparently nobody bought the book, Atlas is about a special team assembled in the 1950’s by the FBI.  The team was lead by then FBI agent Jimmy Woo and consisted of Marvel Boy, a human raised on Uranus with psychic powers; Venus, a former siren whose song grants her control over people; M-11, a reformed killer robot; and Ken Hale, the Gorilla-Man.  The team eventually disbanded but when a modern day threat known as The Atlas Foundation appeared, think Hydra, lead by Jimmy Woo’s old enemy Yellow Claw, the team gets back together along with Namora, the Sub-Mariner’s cousin.  Eventually, the now rejuvenated Woo becomes the head of Atlas and he and his team decide to use this former evil organization for good.

This all took place in previous Agents of Atlas series’, but “Atlas” has been a bit of a new direction.  With the addition of 3-D Man, the team has been dealing with inter dimensional beings who have been trying to overthrow or dimension.  According to “Atlas,” there are three different dimensions all containing separate and unique Earths.  These beings are capable of possessing humans from either of the other two Earths thanks to special crystals that exists only on their Earth.

I couldn’t be anymore heartbroken that this series is ending.  I reluctantly picked up Atlas #1 due to the insistence of fellow Comic Impacteer  Sheldon, and fell in love with it.  I then went out and spent more money than I could afford at the time on the three trades of the previous Agents of Atlas stories.  It is such an incredible idea with such great characters.  What’s really fantastic about it is that Parker didn’t create a single character in the lineup.  Each one is an old 40’s or 50’s Marvel character.  They were all introduced individually in separate books before the superhero boom of the 1960’s and then mostly forgotten afterwards.  Parker showed us not only what happened to these characters since they fell out of the spotlight, but created the history about them being assembled by Woo and the FBI in the 50’s.

Atlas #5 felt a bit rushed but it’s understandable since Parker and Hardman were only recently told the series would be ending.  There are a couple pages that are only text which are a quick way for them to sum up their original plan for the rest of this story arc so it could be wrapped up in issue 5.  It’s also very well done; two of the text pages take place when three of the characters are in a void space between dimensions.  It makes sense for there to be no illustrations since the characters don’t have a physical form at that time and don’t have the capability of sensory stimulation.  They can only communicate by telepathy thanks to Bob, The Uranian (former Marvel Boy).

This issue features some very good art by Bettie Breitweiser and Ramos Rosanas but the ultimate Atlas artist will always be the final artist in this issue, Gabriel Hardman.  His style is gritty and a bit mysterious which is the perfect tone for this book which deals a lot with the unexplained, sci fi element of the Marvel Universe.

As previously stated, a bit of my soul died when I learned that Atlas was already at its end.  Hopefully Parker and Hardman will find a way to bring them back at some point in the future.  Until then, read their stuff in the pages of Hulk!

Ian
Ian@ComicImpact.com