Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Read: Power Of The Atom #4

Issue: Power Of The Atom #4
Title: "What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life?"
Published Date: Nov 1988
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Changed Generations

Summary: Ray Palmer is taking a break in his old boyhood swimming hole when he is found by his old friends Hawkman and Hawkwoman (accidentally pulling off Katar's Honor Wings in the process).  Ray catches them up on the saga that his life has become, from being trapped in the Amazon, to losing his princess and kingdom, to being transmitted back to civilization via satellite, to his current status as paparazzi favorite, leading to his abandoning of Ivy Town -- and getting an offer of working for the CIA.  The Hawks are also taking something of a break, and offer to show Ray around New Orleans to help take his mind off of things.

No sooner do Katar and Shayera take Ray back to their apartment then they discover that they have been robbed!  All that was taken was a trunk containing replicas of historical weapons -- but also their spare anti-gravity belts!  Tracking the radiation emitted by the Nth metal in the belts, our heroes track the thieves to the coast of Mississippi.  They make short work of the thugs, and Hawkman and Hawkwoman find their belts, but find themselves unable to move!  The mastermind behind the theft then makes himself known: Ira Quimby, AKA I.Q.!  I.Q. used the anit-gravity belts to create a gravity well, trapping the Hawks.  Hawkwoman throws a boloas at the criminal genius only to discover that he is a hologram!  

The Atom, who has gone unnoticed, examines the holo-projector and rides the wireless transmission back to I.Q.'s hideout.  I.Q. lashes out with his technologically advanced weapons, but Atom is able to dodge and counter-attack.  I.Q. uses a blast cannon, seemingly vaporizing the Atom, and then drops incendiary devices to cover his tracks -- but he runs right into the Hawks!  Atom pops back up to explain that he shrank small enough to slip through the floor to avoid I.Q.'s attack, and that the blast took out the power source of the gravity well, freeing his captives.  With I.Q. taken away by the police, Ray decides that he shouldn't take the job with the CIA, and asks Katar and Shayera if they know any good Cajun restaurants.

As the cover blurb indicates, there is a second story inside (DC Bonus Book #8), also featuring the Atom but not the Hawks.

Review: I found this issue by random at a small show around the Super Bowl, and decided with doing the Atom And Hawkman cover yesterday that this was a good a time as any to read it.  This issue has a slightly silly, somewhat goofy Silver Age tone to it.  I have to wonder what the point of Atom ripping off Hawkman's Honor Wings was, since by the time the two of them met in the Silver Age Katar had the Honor Wings -- unless scribe Roger Stern had an idea of a plot thread for the Hawks to follow up?  In any event, he turns in a fun team-up which showcases both the star and his guests very nicely.  Stern also turns in a nice summary of the events of Sword of the Atom and the first few issues of POTA, which as a new reader (of sorts) was a nice touch.  And any time I.Q. shows up I have to smile, and he is put to very good use here as Hawkman's resident "Gadgeteer" foe (with thanks to Scipio).  Dwayne Turner's pencils are low key, fairly typical for an early Post-Crisis DC title.  It's a fairly workman-like job: nothing fancy, servicable but not exceptional.  A worthwhile read for fans of the Tiny Titan as well as a solid guest spot for the Winged Wonders.

This story is also noteworthy for being set during that weird "Post-Crisis/Pre-Hawkworld" era, where no one was quite sure what to do with the Hawks.  They get treated here as their Silver Age selves, referring to the Shadow War and the changes on Thanagar, so it's unclear just which Hawkman and Hawkwoman this is supposed to be now.  I guess Carter and Shiera?  It's also amusing to see the Hawks in New Orleans, a stone's throw away from St. Roch, huh?

Image: Power Of The Atom #4, 1988, Dwayne Turner.


Doug said...

This was pre-Invasion, so the Hawks were very much Katar and Shayera. They had yet to be retconned.

This series was enjoyable, but I think it struggled so severely for the point you make of the art - it was servicable.

Luke said...

Oh yeah. It's Katar and Shayera alright. What I meant (but did not make a good point of expressing) was who these Hawks are supposed to be now, in this story, after the retcon. I can't see this as Fel Andar, so I imagine it must be Carter and Shiera, in the guise that they became the "Silver Age" Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman who were in the Justice League.

Cripes, but setting Hawkworld five years in the past would have solved a lot of problems.

I'll say this about POTA -- the story was almost enough to interest me in seeking out more of it, but the art pretty much countered that.

Diabolu Frank said...

Luke, I'm a fan of the Ray Palmer Atom. I think I still have this issue around somewhere, but I never cared for this Atom series. I much preferred the Jan Strnad stuff that preceded it and the Peyer/Dillon one-shot that followed.

To the best of my knowledge, "Carter Hall Jr." and his wife "Sharon Hall" are still in retroactive continuity as having had this adventure with the Atom. More to the point, Thanagarian spy Fel Andar and his babymama Sharon Parker.