Black Adam: The Justice Society Files – Atom Smasher #1 – Cavan Scott, Bryan Q. Miller, Writers; Travis Mercer, Marco Santucci, Artists; John Kalisz, Michael Atiyeh, Colorists
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Aside from Hawkman and Doctor Fate, the members of the Justice Society who we’re meeting in the Black Adam movie are fairly obscure, so these one-shots have the job of introducing them to a general audience for the first time. The Cyclone one was a pretty basic teen superhero story that was enjoyable but kind of uninspired, and the Atom Smasher one generally follows suit. Al Rothstein, the nephew of original Atom Al Pratt, is a size-changing superhero wannabe who has made his own costume and plans to go out on patrol for the first time—and bust up a major arms deal involving Intergang. Sure, he has no combat training, but he has his grumpy Uncle Al in his ear giving him advice—and that should be enough, right?
This segment of the story is very action-heavy, as Al gives away his location almost immediately and winds up in a pitched battle between rival gangs. The comic has amped up his powers quite a bit, giving him near-invulnerability when he’s powered up and letting him grow to near-Kaiju levels. But with twenty pages or so of him in a warehouse fighting gangsters, there isn’t all that much meat here. What does work is that this is basically a trial-by-fire for Al, forcing him to confront that he’s not quite ready to be a superhero and that there are costs to barging in without being prepared. Of course, that’s what the JSA is for, and he’s well on his way to joining by the end of the issue. Like Cyclone, a fun story but there’s no great hook yet.
Unlike the main story, the backup continues from issue to issue. After meeting Adrianna Tomaz over the last few issues and watching as her activism and investigation get her in trouble with Intergang, this issue we meet her slightly shady brother and likable, bright teenage nephew. It’s pretty clear that the brother is destined for a bad end just from a few words out of his mouth, but this may be the start of another journey for the boy. These backups work well together and pack a lot of tension into only a few pages, although I think they might work better in larger chunks.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.