Atlas #1: “My three-dimensional fade is clean cut”

May 21st, 2010 by | Tags: , , ,

I like a lot of crappy characters. It comes with the territory, I think. Everybody has those weird little crap characters they like. More specifically, though, I’ve got a perverse fascination with crappy black characters, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has read more than ten words of this site before. I mean, I’m just saying that I [slang term], [rap reference], [animated gif of someone shaking their head], y’know?

But there’s something I love about all these characters that were just dashed off back in the day. Moses Magnum has the greatest name in comics, the kind of name you just steal outright if you ever get a chance. Hypno-Hustler has a great name and backup singers. Shades & Comanche are the down-on-their-luck scrubs that litter every story about the hood. I don’t even have to defend my love of these characters, either. There are people out there who want to read about people whose only power is “I shrink.”

One crappy black character I never liked, though, was Triathlon. Delroy Garrett was introduced in Kurt Busiek and George Perez’s Avengers, in a story with Moses Magnum no less, but I never took to him. He was boring. He had some weird Fake Scientologist entanglement, his costume was ehhh, and his powers were lame. Oh, you are as strong as three guys? Congrats, I’m happy for you. Learn to shoot lasers or use a sword.

Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman, though. Those guys looked to be featuring Delroy Garrett in his new role as the 3-D Man in Atlas. I couldn’t even really say that I was skeptical. I think I knew he was going to be in the book going in, but Parker has rarely done me wrong. I liked his Agents of Atlas work both times around. They were pretty clever and deftly written little books, weaving into and out of Marvel history without feeling like a Crisis or a history lesson.

This week’s Atlas #1 is the grand return of the Agents of Atlas. The first series (which had fantastic covers) was an introduction and establishment of a status quo for the Agents. The second series placed them squarely within Marvel’s Dark Reign status quo, kind of like how the second Runaways series tied in a little closer to the greater Marvel Universe.

This third one, though, feels like something different. It also stars Delroy Garrett as a has-been hero. He made some hard decisions during the Skrull invasion, and the aftermath of those decisions is that he has been completely ostracized by his peers. He’s looking around for a new career in Los Angeles with his actress girlfriend when he runs into trouble. Garrett ends up being accused of murdering one of his mentors, on the run from the police, hunted by some mysterious entity, and suffering from vivid nightmares. The nightmares point directly toward Atlas.

The tone of Atlas is something like ’50s paranoia, like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There’s a creeping feeling of mystery and danger that runs through the issue. Everything Delroy trusts is either wrong or broken, and his one lifeline is a comatose old man. He’s one man against the world, with no friends and no allies to speak of.

As befitting the tone of the book, the agents haunt Delroy. They appear in nightmares, news reports, and as silent characters up until the end of the first story. They infest his dreams and while they don’t come across as villains, exactly, it is clear that Atlas isn’t your same old super-team.

This book was excellent. Hardman and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s art was appropriately moody and subdued, Parker’s dialogue and pacing were on point, and (pregnant pause) it made me a fan of the 3-D Man. His new status quo works for me in a way that Triathlon never did. I never thought that would happen, but what can you do? I picked up the first issue on a whim, rather than waiting for the trade like I usually do, and it paid off huge. Huge enough that I’m buying it monthly from here on out. Check out the preview at CBR and go pick it up.

Looks like next week is going to feature another Jeff Parker bullet to the dome, too. Good show.

Similar Posts:

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Reddit Post to StumbleUpon

8 comments to “Atlas #1: “My three-dimensional fade is clean cut””

  1. That Thunderbolts issue looks potentially glorious.

  2. The first rule of my personal Fight Club is You Do Not Dis 3-D Man.

    While the powers are no Superman set of abilities, being three times as strong, three times as a dextrous and three times as fast as any normal man still has a coolness about it. And the original 3-D Man’s archenemy was Skrull Richard Nixon – how can you not love that?

  3. I dig it all the way around -and consideing the team’s What-If?! and Avengers Forever origins, the absence of 3D Man has remained conspicuous for me.

    I also broke my rule and bought the floppy. No regrets.

    Also, … Speaking of guilty pleasures, I like Hawk

  4. As Triatholon he was three times the potential of a human being. So whatever the maximum weight a person can lift he can lift three times that. He could run three times as fast three times as long.

  5. I loved the – I really can’t call it a “backup” story, because it’s letting us see the events that were haunting Delroy in his dream. I have no clue exactly where this book is going, but I’m there each month to buy my ticket and take the ride.

  6. @LaterComments: Losing THAT Walker is a big loss for DnA

  7. Did you have any thoughts on Triathlon/3D-Man’s usage/portrayal in Avengers: Initiative? I don’t know that it was all great stories (Skrull Kill Krew used as serious?), but I think a good job was done with his characterization for the parts I read of it. I never read the issue where he capped… hrm, whathisname, Crusader? I didn’t like that beat, since I thought Crusader could have been something interesting, but I guess the Freedom Ring is just doomed to cause crappy character deaths.

  8. @Ben: I don’t have any real insight into it. I think I liked the stuff I read, but not enough to keep up with. He was just background noise, if that makes sense. Not really remarkable.