By Stefania Rudd. For such a tiny hero, there’s an awful lot of story in Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1. It spans the first 3 years of Lun (Ryan) Choi’s life in the United States, from his move-in day at a posh New England school, to his partnership with Professor Ray Palmer (aka The Atom), to him ultimately assuming his mentor’s iconic superhero identity. Steve Orlando, Andy MacDonald, and John Rauch do a lovely job of weaving an inspirational and relatable origin story into this ridiculously fun one-shot.
Like most college freshmen Ryan does his best to start off on the right foot, but with so many allergies, phobias, and general insecurities he finds it difficult to fit in with the rest of the student body. What’s more, he’s also incredibly intelligent, off-putting for some but precisely why a certain professor he admires ends up allowing him to be a part of his research.
Ray and Ryan work as equals, and their working relationship ends up transforming into one of complete trust, so much that Ray lets Ryan operate within his superheroic Atom world as an adviser, guide, and confidante. Orlando conveys this camaraderie through the scientists’ dialogue, which shows us how these two challenge one another with the utmost respect and warmth.
Andy MacDonald and John Rauch’s artwork is vibrant and fun, but it’s also nicely detailed, establishing a substantive world around Ryan and Ray wherever they end up — whether they find themselves in a college laboratory, outside basking in the sunshine, or marauding around in more infinitesimal settings, the environments are always tangible, providing enough space for The Atom’s teeny-tiny derring-do.
Rauch’s hues are bold and bright for the action sequences, only to become soft and somewhat muted during the day-to-day stuff. The warmth of his effects, whether it’s from the glowing of a computer screen or a slight sepia overtone during a flashback, give The Atom Rebirth a cozy feel.
Presented as an engaging, energetic book about complex, intelligent people, Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1 establishes The Atom as a functioning superhero embedded within DC’s Rebirth paradigm. It’s a joy to discover how this hero fits in this world just before he hops over to a certain marquee team book. Finding out what motivates him makes the experience that much sweeter.
Written by Steve Orlando.
Art by Andy MacDonald.
Colors by John Rauch.
Lettering by Clayton Cowles.
7.5 out of 10