Today on Heroclix Sunday we do a little something for the little hero with a big brain, Ray "The Atom" Palmer.
|I only WISH I could look this gay.|
Oops; wrong guy; that's one the large hero with the little brain and nobody's favorite hero, Captain Atom, seen here crapping out the world's largest lithium atom (which apparently has an extra capacious K shell!).
I mean this guy:
|The one in the costume, not the hot naked one in the bottle.|
Ray Palmer, who, although very much NOT the first shrinking hero or even the first 'The Atom", is definitely the most famous one.
|Doll Man is the first shrinking hero and pre-dates Ray by over 20 years.|
|That's the first "The Atom", an extremely short Golden Age hero whose only power was his lack of a self-preservation instinct.|
Ray was (is?) an academic, a physics professor and trained gymnast; he's terribly smart and weighs exactly 180 pounds.
|We know this because it's mentioned in every. single. story.|
Ray's whole schtick is (un)shrinking and that doesn't translate well into Heroclix. Figures of Ray often have or can use the Tiny Symbol.
|It's an atom, in his honor.|
The Tiny Symbol does give a figure some advantages; it can be carried around by larger figures and gets +1 Defense against ranged attacks. But that's it; it's kind of crappy. It's shared by shrinking heroes, small animals, and baby groot.
While other powers shrinking heroes have try to capture the usual advantages of size-changing -- stealth, the element of surprise, focused and unavoidable attacks--it doesn't capture at all the idea the two shrinking characters can battle on a complete different level that other characters can't access, walloping at each in a train set or a petri dish.
So I made a map for Ray that does.
|It kind of matches his costume.|
The right side is at our normal human scale. The bottom part with red wood floors is the hallway and waiting room to the Nanophysics Department where Ray works. The middle part with blue carpet is the lounge/study where colleagues meet and relax. The top part with grey tile is the lab where experiments are conducted.
The left size, with the atom symbols, is a much smaller (1/64) scale. It represents a 'zoom in' on any one appropriate square from the other side of the map. A shrinking character can move from a square on the right side of the map to the corresponding part of the left side (leaving a marker on the spot they 'traveled from' to show where they are in the bigger picture). Another shrinking character can go where that marker is and transfer over to the left side to following the first one. There they can do battle ... or just use the left side as a way to travel to a new place on the right, unmolested by opponents who can no longer perceive them.
You can't make such areas in every map and there aren't that many shrinking characters to take advantage of them anyway. But I thought Ray deserves a map of his own where he can do so and what better place than his own lab?
In the spirit of Starzl and the fact that I was literally just looking at my notes on the topic when this post popped up in my RSS feed, Al Pratt was technically not the first Atom. I can't find a precise date on when he took the name, but by no later than 1926, short-enough-to-pose-as-a-child wrestler and strongman Joe Greenstein's stage name was "The Mighty Atom," and almost certainly inspired the All-American character. I've wondered for a while, if that was also the case in-universe, given that All-American seemed to like the idea of people being inspired to become heroes by seeing other heroes, like Wildcat being a fan of Green Lantern stories in comics.
But yeah, even comic book writers don't even seem to always realize that shrinking characters have an "extra dimension" to their world, which is why Chronos only really makes narrative sense as Ray's arch-enemy.
As for Captain Atom, he's sort of like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity. The original couple of stories make Allen Adam out to be a reasonable Silver Age character who, at a company that wasn't printing comics using machinery made for cereal boxes and picking random issue numbers to launch each series in hopes of fooling the Post Office, could've probably been successful. But starting with the "soft reboot" that includes the fashion crime costume at the top of the post, each copy of a copy gets a little fuzzier.
That is truly in the spirit of Starzl! Oddly enough I have seen that very horseshoe in the museum mentioned in the article. I agreed that that is definitely the inspiration for Al Pratt; nowadays you'd get sued for so obvious a copy.
Ray Palmer also had a time pool that allowed him to go through time, right? Maybe his lab deserves all sorts of random doodads that have assorted effects on characters, such as, a character who steps into the time pool disappears for a random period of time and then reappears.
That neutron star chip is somewhere in the lab too; maybe characters below a certain strength level get stuck near it.
I'm intrigued. Have you introduced any objects into the miniaturized terrain? Spools, needles, centipedes, trap door spiders, to function as hazards or tools?
"Ray Palmer also had a time pool that allowed him to go through time, right? " His colleague, Prof.Alpheus Hyatt had one yes.
As for objects, they are part of the game already. I could make pogs for tiny ones, like paper clips.
Regarding Doll Man, in the immediate aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, golden age history, Doll Man was the first superhuman adventurer to publicly debut. In case anyone finds that the slightest bit interesting. :-)
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