As I fell behind in watching Arrow, I was surprised to learn that Brandon Routh who played the Man of Steel in Superman Returns had been cast as RAY PALMER though not as THE ATOM at least no yet. Ray also appears in DC's New 52 comics but not the Tiny Titan, again at least not yet. More than a supporting hero but not-quite an A-lister, the Atom has always been a major part of the DC Universe but what do we really know about him? As usual, I have a few questions:

  • In his first appearance in Showcase #34 (O'61) by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson (edited, of course, by Julius Schwartz), Ray Palmer is described as a "graduate student and fellowship research physicist" of Ivy University but what does that mean? Is he still studying? Is he a teacher? Is he getting paid?
  • Also he states that he has been working on a shrinking process with no success until he finds the white dwarf fragment "three months" prior to his origin. So this was his project for some time. But who financed his equipment? And why did he have no supervision? Did he keep it a secret from the university?
  • After he learnt that he could safely miniaturize himself, he becomes six inches as almost a default size. Could he have become a foot tall? Hobbit-size?
  • One thing about his size was that his costume only became visible when shrunk. Was that a mistake? Would it have been better if we saw a normal-size Atom once in a while, especially with the Justice League?
  • Also his costume makes no sense! At his normal size, it's invisible and intangible so that it appears when he shrank but he would wear it over his regular clothes so there's no way that it could be skin-tight. The Flash had the identical problem. Superman and Batman wore their outfits underneath their clothes!
  • Ray's strength and durability increased as he got smaller. Before he created his size and weight controls, he demonstrated increased strength and leapt down ten feet when he was six inches tall unharmed. Why was this aspect downplayed?
  • His fiancé, lady lawyer, Jean Loring was portrayed as highly intelligent and analytical. Did she know about Ray's experiments? Did she ever wonder why the Atom got involved in so many of her cases? Was she curious about who (or what) he was?
  • Professor Alpheus V. Hyatt (f/a The Atom #3 [N'62]) was retired when he created the Time Pool as a hobby! Again he created small holes in the space/time continuum on a regular basis! Again how could no one know about it? And what else was going on at Ivy University?
  • Of course Superman had both time travel and a shrinking ray!
  • Did Gardner Fox fast-track the Atom into the Justice League? The Mighty Mite joined in Justice League of America #14 (S'62), right after The Atom #2 (S'62). No other hero became a member as quickly from their first appearance after the JLA was formed.
  • I won't bring up the Atom's miniscule rogues' gallery but his arch foe Chronos the Time-Thief must have been fairly popular or the only Atom-enemy that anyone could remember as he was part of several super-villain teams: the Crime Champions, the Injustice Gang of the World, the Anti-Justice League and the Secret Society of Super-Villains. Had the Atom been part of The Challenge of the Super Friends, it would have been very likely that Chronos would have been included in the Legion of Doom. He always used clock-gimmicks but was he ever dangerous? As in real time manipulation? Sometimes he did things that were more than tricky gadgets?
  • It's after the Silver Age but Sword of the Atom: Yea or Nay? They killed off wives and girlfriends but never showed infidelity. They've altered heroes before but never put them in a killing situation. Was it a mistake or should they have left Ray with his tiny princess?

The Atom is a favorite of mine: the Little Hero Who Could. From his Silver Age reprints to his Bronze Age back-up career to his barbarian days, the World's Smallest Super-Hero always rose above his size to stand tall in the DC pantheon.

So let's make some small talk, shall we?

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Actually the Spectre series from Adventure Comics in the mid 70s took place on Earth One because that Spectre met Batman in B&B #117. Of course, Batman and the Flash teamed with the Earth Two version previously in B&B so Roy Thomas explained that while there were TWO Jim Corrigans, there was only ONE Spectre.

The Spectre can move between Earths, so the same Spectre might be active on more than one Earth. What was Thomas's explanation? I couldn't follow you there.

I think the team-ups in the Brave and the Bold are not a trustworthy reference on this subject, since no attention was paid to the existence of Earth-1 and Earth-2 by the editor or writer.

One thing that puzzled me is the inclusion of a Jim Corrigan character in the series Gotham Central. He was portrayed as a bad cop and looked exactly like the Jim Corrigan in the Spectre stories*. Does anyone know what they were thinking with this one?

* He was also in the same stories as Crispus Allen, who later becomes the Spectre himself!

As far as I know, Corrigan in Gotham Central was just a red herring -- and with Jim Corrigan being a common Irish name, and police being a traditionally Irish profession in the U.S., maybe the thinking was there had to be more than one Jim Corrigan wearing blue. But I'm not sure why the writers or the editors wanted to sow that confusion in the first place. It's a good question for Rucka or Brubaker if anyone ever does a retrospective interview with them.

.... maybe the thinking was there had to be more than one Jim Corrigan wearing blue.

With red-on-red hair and a white streak in it?

I think I was hoping someone on the board had seen something from Rucka or Brubaker on the subject.

To end my threadjack, I looked but couldn't find Rucka or Brubaker commenting on the Corrigan question. I did find this extended interview with Rucka on his Batman work. The third installment talks about Gotham Central:

http://comicsalliance.com/greg-rucka-batman-interview-career-retros...

http://comicsalliance.com/paid-for-in-blood-greg-rucka-reflects-on-...

http://comicsalliance.com/batman-greg-rucka-gotham-central-intervie...

Mr. Age said: The Atom won two Mopees, one for having his molecules ironed flat and one for being stuck in Europe, so he flew a toy flying saucer up into the atmosphere, let the Earth turn beneath him, and then came straight back down now in America. A white dwarf-star costume is nothing in that world.

I of course remember the iron bit, but the flying saucer! That is not just Mopee-winning that's totally mindbending on so many levels! Maybe that's why I can't remember it anymore. :)

When did he do that?

Andy

Did Gardner Fox fast-track the Atom into the Justice League? The Mighty Mite joined in Justice League of America #14 (S'62), right after The Atom #2 (S'62). No other hero became a member as quickly from their first appearance after the JLA was formed.

I think idea of "fast tracking' is a bit of a misnomer here - the appropriate answer to this was The Atom was clearly meant to be in the JLA from the get go. That being said, I wouldn't say he was "fast tracked" ie given a priority, for two reasons: 1) GL was arguably way more fast tracked than The Atom was - he didn't even get his own magazine till after the JLA first appeared. B&B 28, their first appearance was cover dated Feb/March 1960 while GL had barely completed his third Showcase appearance cover dated Jan/Feb 1960. His first issue was cover dated July/Aug 1960 which arrived a month after the JLA's 3rd B&B - cover dated June/July 1960! Everybody else, even if  they - like MM and Aquaman -  were only backups, were around way before that incarnation of GL.

2) The Atom was admitted to the JLA in #14 cover dated Sept 1962. The Atom's first Showcase appearance was Sept/Oct 61 a whole year of little-kid-time which is pretty significant - added to that the fact that by the time he was inducted he had already logged in 3 Showcase appearances and 2 issues of his own magazine . Being a little kid at the time this did not seem inordinately fast or arbitrary to me.

Plus - and I think pretty importantly, we have to remember that Julie was at the time under constant pressure and barrage from Jerry and Roy to bring back various members of the JSA, and arguably both Atom and Hawkman, and most likely The Specter were in some way a response, so regardless of how much we kids were aware of it at the time (and I think I  was to a degree) - one could pretty well assume that membership was, at least in theory, pretty well in the cards from his inception. And last but not least, let us not forget that his first Showcase appearance contained a text page all about the JSA. So by the time he showed up in the JLA, the writing was pretty much on the wall.

Andy

I of course remember the iron bit, but the flying saucer! That is not just Mopee-winning that's totally mindbending on so many levels! Maybe that's why I can't remember it anymore. :)

It took place in ATOM #10, although it didn't make the cover. My column doesn't appear to be online anywhere any more, and I'm not near my archive to quote it. But the DC Wiki database describes that particular plot point this way (BF by me):

"The Atom travels to Austria where he tries to stop the spies from collecting a toy flying saucer which has the only working supply of Cavorite device. The Atom easily defeats the spies and recaptures the toy and flies it back to America."

That simple recap makes it sound a mite implausible, but scientist Ray managed to make it even more um, remarkable.

BTW, seeing that cover again reminded me that The Atom won yet one more Mopee award, for being one of the few heroes where villains' first step in destroying him was to make him keep his powers. That way, they could kill him with a Venus fly trap, a sink filled with water, a grumpy kitty cat, etc.

There was very little expense required in creating an Atom death trap. This cover had one of the most extensive, in that it required the purchase of a hand grenade, which can't have been *too* easy. And putting those tiny little clamps on it took really precise engineering. They should've just filled a sink and dropped him in.

-- MSA 

Who would make a hand grenade with tiny restraints on them except in Ivy Town or Never Land?

Mr. Silver Age said:

My column doesn't appear to be online anywhere any more...

It's still out there, and accessible:

http://www.cbgxtra.com/category/columnists/craig-shutt-ask-mr-silve...

Mr. Silver Age said:

"The Atom travels to Austria where he tries to stop the spies from collecting a toy flying saucer which has the only working supply of Cavorite device. The Atom easily defeats the spies and recaptures the toy and flies it back to America."

I haven't read this recently, but Cavorite was the substance in H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon. It was an antigravity substance. One might be able to make a case that if gravity was negated completely one could watch the Earth rotate without being affected by it. Being an SF writer, maybe this is what Fox had in mind.

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