Little Man Left Behind

One of the interesting directions for me in the new 52 of DC is the focus it has placed on science.  It has tended to focus on topics which would be a lot closer to real science as opposed to the standard empowering radiation origin so common among many heroes.  Even the radiation based heroes are getting decent treatment with the new Firestorm and Captain Atom.  One of the pre-eminent scientists of the DC Universe has mostly been left behind though, the Atom.  Ray Palmer (the Atom) is a character whose publication history goes in cycles, but he has maintained no significant following since the early 1980s.  Granted with DC focusing on more realistic science it makes sense that his shrinking belt be left by the wayside.  It is one of the most unscientific scientific inventions in comics, as instead of going for the mystical unexplainable science of cosmic rays or mutation, it instead chose to incorporate things like what dwarf star matter.  Still Ray is showing up, but more as a technician and the inventor of the base of operations, a miniaturized fortress known as the Ant Farm.  Instead of getting the science treatment Ray is getting the fantasy genre, though it is based partially in science.  Another way in which Ray is lacking is in companion.  Most of the science based characters have a relatively smart female counterpart which has already been introduced.  The Firestorms have Tonya Lu, Captain Atom has Ranita, O.M.A.C. has Jody Robbins, Mister Terrific has Aleeka, but Ray has Father Time, a previously male villain turned good that has inhabited the body of a pre-pubescent girl.  Granted Ray’s female counterparts in the past have been either psychotic (Jean Loring) or otherworldly (Laethwen) but this is a pretty big departure.  Overall I would say that Ray is one character that DC could do more to rehabilitate. There is a lot of potential there, especially in the right hands. 

14 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by HolyAvenger

Looks like Ray got the short end of the stick in the New 52.

Posted by Kairan1979

Ray Palmer got his moment of awesomeness in the issue 7.

Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

He should've been the Atom instead of Rhonda. Green Arrow, Hawkman, Black Canary were allowed to be superheroes and not him...it just sucks.

Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

Does any one know what has happened to Ray since Frankenstein was cancelled?

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Edited by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: DC must have some plan for him.

Hopefully. I wonder what's going to happen now that Rhonda Pineda is revealed to be part of the Crime Syndicate? That must mean she has an Atom counterpart of Earth Prime, but who would that Atom be?

And in regards to the bio-belt, I don't think that's the problem but instead the white dwarf star stuff. I agree that the Atom really needs a more scientific overhaul. Maybe something with nanotechnology (Bug Eyed Bandit and Sting already use such technology so it wouldn't be something out of the blue). One thing that comes to mind is the New 52 Flash series, which I really loved because Buccelato and Manapaul really tried to use psuedo-science to explain various elements of the Flash mythos, and that's why I wished they were working on an Atom ongoing instead of doing Detective Comics.

Edited by RazzaTazz

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: Conversely to the scientific approach, no one has ever really taken the "out of body" approach used by John Carter. It could work as a way to get around the science.

Moderator
Edited by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

@razzatazz said:

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: Conversely to the scientific approach, no one has ever really taken the "out of body" approach used by John Carter. It could work as a way to get around the science.

But would that really work for a character like the Atom?

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: I don't know, going to a more fantasy route could be a way to overcome it is all.

Going a more fantasy route is something that I could see working with someone like Hawkman, but the Atom has always been rooted in science fiction and I think works best when he's there.

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Edited by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: Right, but a hard science approach of shrinking is hard to conceive of.

Nanotechnology is a great option. Outside of that I can't really think of much though.

Posted by RazzaTazz
Moderator
Posted by MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg

@martianmanhunterisbetterthancy: Nanotech is all things created on that scale. In tht case he could only control something made small ...

Well you could have the bio-belt be made out of nanotech in which Ray was experimenting with and then have some sort of comic book explanation in which there was a force generated by the belt that shrunk Ray down. Soon he decided to add a dial on the belt so that he was able to manipulate the force and this allowed him to shrink and grow back to normal size under his command. Something like that.

This also has me interested in what Marvel plans to do for the Ant-man movie because the character also has a similar problem.