Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Read: The Atom #7

Issue: The Atom #7 (Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Hawkman v.1)
Title: "The Case Of The Cosmic Camera!"
Published Date: Jun/Jul 1963
Generation: Silver Age Katar
Retcon Status: Changed Generations

Summary: Hawkman begins to notice that the migration patterns of various birds has suddenly changed.  He is able to detect a strange radiation which is causing this odd behavior, and he and Hawkgirl decide to track it back to its source.  The unusual radiation is also detected by Professor Ray Palmer, who regales his girlfriend Jean Loring with the science behind bird migratory patterns.  But such pursuits must wait, as he is needed in his alter ego of the Tiny Titay known as The Atom!  Atom is called in to help catch a group of thieves who use hot air balloons to escape silently in the night.  Hawkman runs into the Atom as he is preparing to stop the crooks and the two decide to join forces.  They are able to group the thieves, who are arrested by the Ivy City police.

Hawkman then finds the source of the radiation: a strange device called the Cosmitron, which resembles an ordinary camera.  The Cosmitron is able to absorb seismic energy, and then produce pictures which are seismically charged; any damage done to a picture taken by the Cosmitron will effect the subject as well!  Ancient beings known as the Thalens are enacting a plan to use the Cosmitron to conquer the Earth.  Unable to get past their defenses, Hawkman calls upon his new ally to slip past the Thalens and steal the Cosmitron.  The device out of the Thalens' hands, the two heroes out-punch their foes, and Atom renders the device inoperable.  Later, a chance meeting between Professor Palmer and Ms. Loring with visiting Midway City Museum Curator Carter Hall and his wife Shiera leave both heroes with an odd sense of familiarity, but they decide it's just coincidence.

Review: The first team-up of Hawkman and the Atom!  That alone makes this story worth reading.  It's also worth noting that we sort of get a team-up of Jean Loring and Shiera Hall as well, for you fans of the ladies.  While this is a feature length story, it reads more like two seperate adventures teaming the two heroes up.  Beyond that, this is also the first time we see Hawkman as depicted by Gil Kane, and it's a good look.  Clearly this is an Atom story guest starring Hawkman, as we get a look at how much of a hardcore nerd Ray Palmer really is.  I mean, you can pretty much see Jean yawning as she feigns interest in the detailed explanation he gives her about bird migratory patterns.  But, that's The Atom for you.  Neither the thieves nor the Thalens make for much of a threat, and the Cosmitron is pretty bizarre even by the standards of the era, but a lot of the story revolves around the team-up, which was immensely satisfying to me. I like seeing Hawkman and The Atom team-up!  A fun and historically significant issue, the latter of which is rare for either of these heroes given their "second tier" status.

Image: The Atom #7, 1963, Gil Kane.


Anonymous said...

Ahh yes...the cosmic camera story. Ha, this is, as you say, a significant issue Luke, but it certainly is a zany one as well. The basic concept is good, solid, sci-fi fare, but that cosmitron is about as ridiculous as it could be. Still, it is really cool to see the first team up between two of my favorite characters! You know...I think that if Jean Loring had spent more time hanging out with Shiera, things might have turned out better for everyone. Hawkgirl would have to be a good influence!

Luke said...

For the life of me I can't figure out why Jean is even with Ray, going by this issue. She's clearly not impressed with his smarts, and it's not like he is making big bucks as a college professor in the early to mid 60s.

Haha, yeah, Shirea could have taught Jean that you can be a good wife and still explore your violent, destructive urges in a healthy manner! I still hold that Jean Loring is not possessed by Eclipso but that Eclipso is possessed by Jean Loring.

Definitely a goofy story, as you say. Had this been a solo Hawkman adventure (or solo Atom, for that matter), it would definite qualify as a lesser tale. But the team-up help me overlook some of the inanities.

Anonymous said...

Heh, yeah. Jean wasn't always written the best back then, and what has been done with her since then has only compounded the error to no end! Identity Crises makes me so mad I could throw a Buick...if I could lift one. Anyway, the idea of a the strong, capable woman was a good one considering the times, but she too often came off as controlling and just plain mean. I think it would actually be really neat to see the friendship that would develop between Jean Loring and Shiera in a tabula rasa restart.

Luke said...

"I think it would actually be really neat to see the friendship that would develop between Jean Loring and Shiera in a tabula rasa restart."

That gave the mental image of the two couples eating dinner in a fancy restaurant, when Carter, Shiera, and Ray all get a summons from the Justice League and have to make their excuses to leave, and Jean is just left sitting at the table, fuming.

Is that mean? Yeah, it probably is!

Anonymous said...

Hey, if Iris can deal with it, so can Jean.