Review: Justice League: The Atom Rebirth #1

Written by By Alisha Weinberger

What’s red and blue all over? And temporarily  has the density of a white dwarf star? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Ant-Man.

Where has The Atom been?

When the DC Rebirth Special was released back in May, readers got various glimpses across the DCU post New 52. One was a brief look into the life of Professor Ray Palmer. And by glimpse, it was two pages of Palmer’s bespectacled TA searching for him only to discover The Atom has been trapped in a Microverse and that he may have to cancel class indefinitely. After months of waiting, The Atom Rebirth is pretty much ends on these same pages but at least we get a neat montage.

We’ve seen heroes like The Atom before. A science driven guy who can shrink and grow on an atomic level. He’s not exactly a hero that needs retelling. So it comes with a bit of relief when the focus of the issue isn’t Palmer, but Lun “Ryan” Choi. Lun (or Ryan as his chosen “American” name) is a foreign exchange student from Hong Kong who takes up the challenge of being The Atom’s assistant and protégé. Ryan is everything you expect from the typical “nerdy student” trope. He’s got asthma, he fidgets, wears glasses, but is brilliant.

There are many tropes in this issue, but The Atom’s return doesn’t waste time on things we should already know or come to expect. There are no panels showcasing Ryan’s struggle to assimilate or being bullied, in fact quite the opposite. There’s no heavy exposition or origins story. The entire issue is a quick setup for the events to come.

This is not entirely disappointing, even though the issue ends with the same pages we saw months ago. It’s refreshing to see a new sidekick enter The DCU that isn’t a basket case Gothamite. And although the book comprises of mostly montages, the action sequences are fun. There’s a creative fight involving Palmer and a mantis shrimp that could have been longer.

This is not to suggest the issue is skippable as it does explain who Ryan Choi is, but readers shouldn’t rush to buy it. The art is fun, cartoonish and the story is a quick read, albeit with some dialogue that tries to be serious but falls flat due to the quick pacing of the book. Readers should probably wait for the next issue to buy this one to build up steam. As of right now, the story arc is starting at a very subatomic pace.

Rating: 8/10

Alisha Weinberger is a comic book, video game, and animation enthusiast and critic. Along with comic reviews, she also maintains The Pop Break twitter feed. Alisha thoroughly enjoys the warm embrace of coffee, says "dawg" and "dope" ad nauseam, and shares a reluctant resemblance to Tina Belcher.