Friday, June 22, 2007

Sword of the Atom: 4!!!!

Yeesh, I don't know about you, but after that chunk of synoptic exposition I need a drink. More happens in that box than in a year's subscription to Brian Michael Bendis's Secret War. Of course, in all fairness, that's only five issues.

Rimshot! I told you I'd be here all week, folks.

In issue 4 of Sword of the Atom, the Rebels attack the Teeny Tiny City and succeed only because the evil Skeeve Minister has already primed the palace guards for his own revolt. That's at least a refreshing change from the usual sword epic plot of Hearty Heroes Take the Palace by Killing People Three At A Time While Still Chatting With One Another. Meanwhile, King Moron the Apathetic has finally figured out that the Skeeve Minister is plotting to overthrow him and prepares to announce the treachery to the world.

So, naturally, the rebellion succeeds but the people reconcile with their misunderstood king, the plotter is imprisoned, and the Atom marries the king's daughter and sitteth at his right hand, yes?

No. Guess again.

The King, being an idiot, confronts the Skeeve Minister, who, naturally enough, just stabs the king in the back. Princess Metal-bra shows up just in time to watch Pops bleed to death. Ah, he had it coming; he never even bought her a chair to sit in, for pity's sake.

Dude; why do you let your daughter sit in the I'm The King's Slave-Whore spot? Ick-y.

Then while the Atom and his men are leaping around ridiculously on their saddled frogs, the Skeeve Minister decides to
This is pretty clever plotting, actually. It's already been established that the Wee Folk came to earth on a Teeny Tiny starship, who's power source hasn't been used in forever because they forgot the science behind it many many generations ago. And the power source? Wait for it...

The white dwarf star fragment that Ray was searching for when he fell out of his plane.

Now that, gang, is comic books. And it gets better. After eons of non-maintenance, the dang star drive has a busted framostat and leaks 'white dwarf star radiation' like a sieve. So the badly irradiated, addled, and probably dying Skeeve Minister staggers out into the city brandishing a Toxic Touch of Death (tm), like Prof. Radium. Or Plasmus. Or Clayface. Or Dr. Phosphorus. Or Mano. Or the Red Death. Or Mr. Bones. Or Syonide. Or Shego. Or... well, you get the idea.

"For stealing from Rita Farr's closet I condemn thee to death!"

This leads us to the best (non-Jean Loring) scene of the series, but before we get to it, we'll take a small detour to an earlier scene where the Rebels discover a traitor in their midst who's in cahoots with the Skeeve Minister. So they kindly offer him the Poison Arrow of Self-Hand-Impalement:

Do you think Green Arrow's got one of those, too?

Gee, I don't suppose they could have put that poison in a pill or something.

I'd say this scene scores about a two on the Rolling Head of Pantha Scale; maybe a three, since the arrow comes out the back of his hand and is a fatal wound.

So what happens to the Badly Irradiated Skeeve Minister with the Toxic Touch of Death is at least a three, maybe a four:

Do NOT borrow Roy Harper's Mr. Bubble without asking first.

This scene from 25 years ago is brought to you by the innocent comics of your youth, which, as you keep telling me, would never show graphic violence like the evil comics of today.

With the malfunctioning star drive threatening the city, it helps to have a world-expert in exotic physics on hand to run into the machine and say "This sucker's going to blow!"

Gil Kane! You naughty, naughty man!

But what happens when you put six-inch Ray Palmer with white dwarf star radiation? Six-foot Ray Palmer, of course. The Atom starts to grow back to his normal height, and since the Jungleputians are too stupid even to flee for their lives from the disintegrating star drive, 'giant' Ray begins to kick the city to pieces like an unwanted sand castle in order to drive them away a safe distance, then staggers off just before the big ka-blooey, and collapses by the Amazon river, conked out by the radiation exposure, only to be picked up by some passing boaters who take him to an urban hospital.

Yawn! Let's check in on the real action: Jean Loring.

"Who DARES disturb the Loring? I'll have their guts for garters!"

One of the things that makes Jean Loring's evil so impressive is that she does more of it without even getting out of bed than you or I do in a lifetime.

Jean Loring from Sword of the Atom 1:

Jean Loring from Sword of the Atom 2:

Jean Loring from Sword of the Atom 3:

Jean Loring in Sword of the Atom 4:

Naturally, Ray is impressed by Jean's tenacity.

And overjoyed to be reunited with his beloved wife and return to the comfort of her arms.

I mean, who wouldn't be?

And this, believe it or not, is the end of Sword of the Atom:

Look out, Ray! That purse might contain a miniaturized flamethrower!

So, do you think Jean ...
(a) actually packed that hat and those gloves for a trip to South America's most inaccessible tropicopolis (which = insane)

(b) decided, hey, as long as I'm in town, I think I'll go hat shopping instead of looking for my missing husband (which = evil)?


Brushwood said...

man... you think Ray had an abusive mother? Were all his girlfriends kinda nuts? I think the real reason he went into hiding after Identity Crisis is he felt kinda TURNED ON by Jean killing randomly for him, and shrank to escape the crushing guilt.

Anonymous said...

Wait, that's it? It was just a four-part miniseries that ends with Ray Palmer destroying the city? He doesn't score with Princess Metal-Bra or anything? He discovers an alien civilization, is stripped of the full use of his superpower, becomes imprisoned and forced to fight, joins their rebellion, becomes their de-facto leader, nearly causes (a localized) armageddon then causes (a still localized) armageddon, then reunites with his crazy wife? In four issues?

a) Modern comics suck.
b) Planet Hulk anyone?

Jon Maki said...

There were, of course, some follow-ups to the mini series. I know there was at least a "Sword of the Atom Special." Was there also another mini? I can't recall (and don't feel like looking it up).
In any case, Ray definitely got him some Princess Metal-Bra action somewhere along the line.
I actually remember being pretty surprised by this mini series as a kid for the violent imagery and decidedly adult content. I think that was actually part of the appeal. I also remember that it made me hate Jean Loring, and I was a lot less forgiving of her over the years than Ray was. Turns out I was smarter than Mr. Physics Genius.

Anonymous said...

You know, for a six inch tall yellow-skinned girl whp dresses in metal underwear, Taren is seriously hot. Maybe she could get her own mini-series. I'd buy it.

I've got to admit that I'm a sucker for this whole Edgar Rice Burroughs style sword-and-science lost world romance. (And not a single issue devoted to standing around a table looking at photographs of people you've known for years.)

Siskoid said...

Scipio, you gotta give us the Special. Come on!

Scipio said...

"Taren" is the eyeless boyfriend; Princess Metal-Bra is "Laethwin".

I don't have the Special, or I'd talk about it!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

There are a lot of things to say about the Sword of the Atom recaps, but one idea stands above the rest:

Man, Gil Kane could draw.



SallyP said...

Hey, don't mock the hat and the gloves! Jean may be completely insanely evil, but the woman has STANDARDS!

And by wearing gloves, you don't leave fingerprints. Tiny shoeprints yes, fingerprints, no.

H said...

I thought I feared Jean Loring before this series Scipio.

I didn't know fear. You've opened my eyes. Jean Loring's worse than the devil!

Anonymous said...

I like to think Jean packed the hat but went shopping for the gloves, thereby being both evil and insane.

Because when you're Jean Loring, that's the way you roll.

Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is, this whole thing was just a prequel for that scene in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Christine Smith said...

Yes.... yes.... but.....

What made you happy in your comics this week? I can't believe how much I've come to look forward to finding out!

MaGnUs said...

Is it me, or does Princess Metal-bra look a damn lot like Starfire, only with a domesticated Tamarafro*?

Scipio, I love the Spanish quote at the top of the blog! Where did you get that? Kudos on having it perfectly written... do you happen to speak Spanish, or did you lift that from somewhere else?

* Tamarafro is a copyrighted term coined by Blocked Boy.

Scipio said...

It's a quote from El Blog del Morsa.

Jon Hex said...

Wait, not only was she sleeping on him while married, Jean also shacks up with her lover right after Ray's 'funeral'? And even though she believes he faked his death to mess with her, she still goes all the way to Soth America to see him? To what, spit on him?

Christine Smith said...

Know what? I think Jean's bitch against Sue was basically buyer's remose. Jean chose the one who shrunk, Sue chose the one who could enlongate. That bitch got the man with the better power in the boudoir! She must DIE!

Hey, anyone got a better explanation?

argh.sims said...


You may have the Sword of the Atom specials sooner than you expect...

Maybe a copy of Atom & Hawkman 45 as well.

But only if you promise commentary. :-)

Scipio said...

Christa, many woman have had to content themselves with six-inch husbands.

Risims; I promise.

argh.sims said...

which of the Big Monkey shops should I address a package to if I want you to get it?

Scipio said...

The DC store.