Power of the Atom #5 (December, 1988)
“Comings and Goings”
Writer – Roger Stern
Penciller – Dwayne Turner
Inker – K.G. Wilson
Colorist – Nansi Hoolihan
Letterer – Bill Oakley
Assistant Editor – Renee Witterstaetter
Editor – Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $1.00
Since my comics library is still in shambles post-move, let’s skip ahead a bit in the Power of the Atom run and see what we’ve got.
We open with Ray sitting atop a phone in C.I.A. Agent (?) Everett Bailey’s office. Man, I skipped ahead a few issues hoping this C.I.A. stuff would have passed by now. Anyhoo, the next few pages consist of Bailey attempting to get the Atom on board… and Ray declining. This entire scene builds to one final panel… where, after the Atom scrams, Bailey makes a comment implying that he might’ve had something to do with Operation Fireball… which, was that mess in Brazil.
We shift scenes to an opulent home in San Clemente, California… and we’re in for another page of talking heads. One of the fellas here (we’ll find out exactly who he is in a bit), receives word that the Atom turned down Bailey’s offer… and he’s pleased.
Next stop, the Justice League International’s New York Embassy, where Ray direct-dials right into Oberon’s lap. After an awkward introduction, Ray is given the quick and dirty about what’s been going on with this “new League”. In a cute bit, Ray asks what’s the deal with Captain Atom taking his name. Their chat is interrupted by the entrance of an excited Maxwell Lord…
… who assumes Ray is there to join the League! Of course, the Atom, being the independent fella he is, declines. Max tries to sweeten the deal, but no dice. Ray heads outside, and finds himself having a half-dozen microphones jammed in his face.
Ray shrinks and flees the scene… however, those fellas in San Clemente catch the entire thing on television. The more nefarious of the two tries on his new glove. Remember, we’ll find out exactly who this is in a bit… and boy-howdy, will it be underwhelming!
We shift to a diner in Manhattan where Ray is trying to get a bite to eat while keeping his identity on the down-low. I should probably mention, thanks to the book that was written about his life (we saw that in the trunk in issue #1), his dual identity has been revealed. He kinda regrets that, but… ya know, he was planning on living among the Katarthans for the remainder of his days, so what’d he care at the time, right? While reading the paper, he sees a piece on Ralph and Sue Dibny… and decides to check with him to see how he deals with having a public identity. And so, a few direct-dials later… and we’re in Florida.
Ray and Ralph head down to the docks to meet up with Sue. We learn that the Dibnys are on the trail of some… bird smugglers. Ray asks Ralph how he deals with his public persona… and learns that he actually quite likes it. Being a show-off… and having a pretty loud personality, he doesn’t exactly shy away from publicity. Fair enough… but, probably not the answer Ray was looking for.
The trio boat out to a cargo ship, and the Atom and Elongated Man hop on board. While admiring the smuggled birds, a bad guy enters… gun drawn. The heroes make quick work of him… and the rest of the baddies.
With the day saved, Ray and the Dibnys stop at a cafe… where the latter two are asked for their autograph. Ray is pleased… but a bit disappointed, that the kid doesn’t ask for his. Ralph tells him he can’t have it both ways…
We wrap up back in San Clemente, where our nebulous baddie reads about the bird-smuggling dealie in the Society pages of the Los Angeles Standard. He recognizes Ray alongside the Dibnys… then, suits up. Hoo-boy, lookit this… he was Chronos–The Master of Time, the whole… time!
Here’s an issue that I feel peaked with the cover. By looking at that, you’d almost think the story was going to be fun! Instead it’s a few pretty boring conversations, and a lackluster, one-sided and overlong fight scene on board a ship. Plus, the C.I.A. subplot is still ongoing… eesh.
I couldn’t imagine reading this book from month to month and maintaining any sort of excitement for it. It just feels like nothing much happens. The Chronos reveal at the end here was underwhelming… to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was meant to take it seriously. Though, I did get a bit of a giggle when he dumped his “cartoony” joke costume in favor for an even worse one! I don’t think I was supposed to receive the scene that way though… oh well.
The scene at the JLI Embassy was probably the highlight here. It was pretty neat having Ray learn a bit about the “new” League, just to contrast it with the one he was a part of. It didn’t veer into the deep-end of bwah-hah-ha… but it didn’t have to.
The art here felt a bit uneven… some of the faces were a bit on the homely side. The first time we saw Ralph I had to assume he was doing some sort of facial contortion… because, woof. The cover is great though!
Overall… I’d say unless you’re an Atom or Justice League International competist, you can safely skip this one and not miss a whole heckuva lot.
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