First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.14: Power of the Atom #7

Bass and Siskoid cover Power of the Atom #7, in which Ray Palmer acts as a one-man army fighting to liberate prisoners in an Khund work camp.

Listen to Episode 14 below (the usual filthy filthy language warnings may apply), or subscribe to First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast on iTunes!

Relevant images and further credits at: First Strike ep.14 Supplemental

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8 responses to “First Strike: The Invasion! Podcast Ep.14: Power of the Atom #7

  1. I really wanted to like Power of the Atom. DC promoted the hell out of it, comparing it to Man of Steel, Batman: Year One and Perez’s Wonder Woman reboot, but it fell way short of those, despite some solid work by Roger Stern, who has always been one of my favorite comic writers. I think the somewhat sloppy, early art of Dwayne Turner was a big chunk of the problem. I dropped out of the series before issue #7 came along. I ended up really loving Graham Nolan on Detective Comics, so now I wish I’d stuck it out.

    Interesting points on the Silver Age “dryness” of the DC characters. There is also a homogenized sameness to them. In any Silver Age JLA issue you can swipe the dialog with the characters and it still works. I always viewed Ray Palmer as Russell Johnson’s Professor from Gilligan’s Island. A likeable character, but I don’t think I’d want to follow him in solo stories. Ironic that Alex Ross famously “cast” Johnson as Reed Richards in Marvels, considering Ray became more and more Reed-like as post-Silver Age creators strove to find a personality for him. Hal become either a cocky jet jockey or a wandering loser, Carter/Katar became a grumpy, quick-tempered relic, and Ray became the withdrawn scientist. Barry, at least until his Rebirth, became the one Silver Age character who just stayed his old “dull” self. That WAS his character, being a lovable square.

    Great show as always fellas!


    1. We agree on something, Franklin! I bought into the hype, but was never in love with this series. I think I jumped ship around 13 or 14.

      And the Siskoid is right. The Atom and (holy shit, has she) Jean Loring have never been given their due.

      I think it was in his commentary for TWoK that Nick Meyer spoke about how the relationship between the Holy Trinity of Trek (Kirk, Spock and McCoy) wasn’t really quite where we think it was in TOS. Hindsight assigned a meaning to scenes and actions that just wasn’t there. It got there, sure, but time colored the audience’s reading of the past. Much like when a family member or friend dies suddenly and we look for clues to their fatal condition. I think we’ve done this with Jean. She was as well written (or as badly) as any hero love interest. That is until she stepped out on Ray. He should have stayed in the jungle.

  2. Excellent episode Bass and Siskoid. I had just recently read the entire Power of the Atom series. The 18 issues had a good narrative through it whereby Ray was trying to fit back into society after the death of the Katarthans, but was feeling pressure to join up with the CIA or the Justice League and also dealing with the ramifications of having his secret identity revealed in a biography issued before he went to the Kathartans. His appearance in the Suicide Squad actually dealt with the aftermath of his Power of the Atom series and occurred before he reverted back to being a teen in Zero Hour. There was also a nice special issued after that with lovely art by the late Steve Dillon where he fought Chronos. I believe after Identity Crisis, he next turned up in the Countdown series, where he had found his way into one of the alternate earths and took over the Ray Palmer’s life when he died.

    I think Ray works better as part of a team. I have the two Showcase volumes and the stories there are pretty bland, with very few memorable villains, apart from Chronos. In the JLA series, especially after Denny O’Neill took over, he picked up a more humourous tone and comes across better as part of an ensemble cast. I enjoyed your discussion about Ray and where he fits in the DCU.

    1. The excitement deficiencies of Power of the Atom led to my curating it out of my collection in the 90’s. Every time I re-read Suicide Squad I was irritated to the continuation and resolution of the CIA plot from POTA. I have since curated it back into my collection. My name is Paul Hix and I am a comic completionist.

  3. I have never considered myself a fan of the Atom. I don’t seek out his material. And maybe that is my loss.

    Most of my Atom experience is in the Dick Dillin era of the JLA and the team-up books. I have to agree that the Jean Loring relationship is a difficult one which seemed doomed from the start. Ray hid his being the Atom from her until the day before their wedding. He feared the information might make Jean have a ‘nervous breakdown’. Later in the Super-Team Family book, there was a ‘Search for Jean Loring’ story where she had a mental breakdown on a planet whose environment could be effected by thought. And then … of course … Identity Crisis. the whole thing is chilling.

    I have picked up a couple of the Sword of the Atom series from the cheap bins. The last one, which led into this series, is a horrifying story of a plague which wipes out the people Ray is living with. That one is definitely worth seeking out for the chilling art by Pat Broderick.

    Great episode as always. This issue sounded like a blast. I’ll definitely seek it out.

  4. Wonderful, solid outing, as usual.

    I read random issues of PoA back at the time, just getting back to comics in the post-Crisis DCU and trying to make sense of it. And it felt dated compared to what was happening in in other books such as, say Flash or, of course, JLI.
    Still, Atom was a natural for the crossover given the shirking powers of the Imskians, something that gets a little lost with him fighting the Khunds.

    Off topic, when you guys started speaking about the French language reprints two things happened: first, I was immediately reminded of the Novaro Spanish reprints I grew up with (ditto for the bad lettering and the crammed words because Spanish is “longer”, which sometimes they fixed by doing away with half of the dialogue, something I notice now reading the English language originals). The other thing is that after you started doing the French pronunciation of the translated comic titles and “Tan Tan” (love that) I started to notice your French accents, which now I can’t un-hear. Cute.

  5. Thanks for cobbling together a promo for my long-shelved Power of the Atom podcast. I usually at least get an itch to work on moribund shows when someone promotes them out of the blue, but I don’t see myself dusting that one off again until 2018 at the earliest. I agree with criticisms of the flavorlessness of Silver Age comics, especially DC ones, especially with Gardner Fox scripts, and especially those on The Atom. If period DC was “dry,” that book was like sucking on a dessicant. Anticipating future discomfort as the strip dove deep into science textbook “thrills,” I started alternating indexing on the podcast with the comparatively fanciful Silver Age Captain Atom strips by the uptight conservative Joe Gill and the radical Objectivist Steve Ditko. Now that Jay & Vance regularly cover those on Throwback Thursday episodes of The Silver & Gold Podcast, the POTAcast would just be me and Ray and Professor Hyatt’s goddamned time pool with megabitch Jean Loring on the side. Surely I’d have a better chance of getting my rocks off elsewhere in the DC Universe?

    I’ve read maybe five issues (but effectively a quarter of the run) of Power of the Atom, a boastful title for an underwhelming book. I named my blog after it because I had access to an uncolored version of the logo and thought just “The Atom” was too ill-defined and “Sword of the Atom” to narrow in scope. My Atom fandom rests largely on “Sword” and the ’90s special by Tom Peyer and the late Steve Dillon. Not much I can add here that I didn’t cover co-hosting the Atom’s Secret Origins Podcast episode with Ryan Daly, but I think the character had everything going for him except writing, which has consistently tanked Ray Palmer hard. Even with the across the board quality on Ryan Choi’s The All-New Atom, readers stayed away, so maybe there just isn’t that much demand for shrinking heroes regardless of talent. Oh, and since you asked, they didn’t cancel The Atom and Hawkman because it was too awesome to exist, but because by 1968 there were too many better options to spend a dime and two pennies on.

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