It’s time to give the Dynastic Centerpiece treatment, in which we surround DC heroes with a ‘dynasty’ of characters to improve their iconic status, to the Atom, who, as you may have heard, has had a spot of trouble lately.
To those of us born in the previous century, the themes around the concept of the Atom are pretty clear: Science. Tinyness (and its opposite). Blowing Stuff Up.
Dynastic Centerpiece: Ray Palmer, atomic physicist. Duh.
Junior Counterpart: Al Rothstein (Atom-Smasher). Change his name to Leviathan or it will sound very weird. Al certainly could use some mentoring, wouldn’t you say? Beside, Ray lived in his ear for a while, so they know each other.
Sidekick: Grant Emerson (Damage). As the son of the original Atom, he’s a must. DC’s not doing anything with him and a kid with that kind of power needs an adult superhero around.
Elder Statesman: Because the original Atom’s not around, we’ll fill in with Daniel Dunbar (Dyna-Mite). Last seen hanging with Old Justice, he’s got a power-punch (like the original Atom), he’s a science-hero (like the current Atom), and he blows stuff up (like Damage). Besides, DC needs to make amends for replacing his brain with Hitler’s in the “Golden Age” Elseworlds. Emily Post frowns on replacing people’s brains with Hitler’s.
Black Sheep: Josh Xan (Mongrel). Angry guy with an angry name. At large since the Bloodlines crossover debacle, he’s worked repeatedly with Hawkman (like the Atom), zaps stuff with his hands (like the power-punchy guys, only it’s “darkforce” from “negative mental thoughts” because he’s ANGRY), and used to work for a shadowy government agency, which is always a useful plot device. He brings both sex appeal AND comic relief because he wears every single signal of rebelhood in the DCU (ponytail, earring, torn jeans, black tee, motorcycle gloves, Lobo-like belt buckle, and ratty trenchcoat). And did I mention that he’s angry?
Female Counterpart. The mysterious Doll Girl (sadly, Elasti-Girl is spoken for). Unlike the rest of this gang, she’d actually have a workable secret identity, so they could do some stealth work.
Civilian Companions. Several natural choices. Colleague Prof. Alpheus Hyatt (the Time Pool Guy). Paul Hoben, Jean’s former partner, who, in a pinch, knows how to use the size-belt. Norm Brawler, the Atom’s biographer. Supergoober and technogeek Snapper Carr, who could rent a room in Ray’s house.
Romantic Interest: No, not Eclipso. Enrichetta Negrini, Ray’s former lab assistant from Italy. She should be a fellow instructor by now.
Contexualizing City: Academic Ivy Town and its metropolis, toney Calvin City.
Authority Figure: Chief Baxter is the historical choice, but a science-type is needed, too. Maybe Kitty Faulkner at STARLabs?
Funny Fat Friends: Nobel-prize winning physicist and Kid Flash’s grandfather, Ira West. He’s not really fat, but he’s absent-minded and that’s funnier.
Animal Companion: A trained bee? Just kidding. Besides, any animal companion would eventually eat Doll Girl. It would, however, amuse me if Ray had an ant farm.
Obligatory Guest Stars:
The Human Bomb, still alive and ticking since 1942. Picture him and Damage stumbling around while Atom and Doll Girl are trying to do espionage; priceless.
Elasti-Girl. Admit it. Like me, you desperately want to see Al Rothstein get pimp-slapped by a 50-foot B-movie actress wearing kicky purple go-go boots and gloves.
Mr. Terrific. He have Ray have already worked together, and Ray doesn't make him play nurse like Dr. Mid-Nite does.
Hawkman. Ray's best friend. He's also a bodybuilder in a mask and a leather harness. Visit any time, Carter.
Aquaman. If somebody filed a patent on your DNA and Ray Palmer were your friend, don’t you think you’d call him?
Green Arrow. Who do you think helps him build those stupid trick arrows?
Elongated Man. Hmmm…on second thought, that would be rather awkward.
The Atomic Dynasty! Now's there's a group whose adventures I'd tune in for. It's the most fun you can have, without an ant-hill sized kingdom of yellow-skinned warrior folk!