Archive for superheroes

Blackest Night #1

Posted in Blackest Night, Comics, DC, Green Lantern with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20th July, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Black is the new Green.

Black is the new Green.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Artists: Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Alex Sinclair
Alternate Cover Artists: Ethan Van Sciver & Hi-Fi

If you had of told Dan DiDio four years ago that Green Lantern, under Geoff Johns’ guidance, would not only stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Batman and Superman in stature and following, but would also spawn the biggest comic book event of 2009, he probably would have slapped you twice and thrown you to the Crises.  Well, that was then, and this is now, and let me tell you, I was more than excited to be opening the first issue of Blackest Night proper.  In fact, I can’t remember ever being this excited for a comic book event in all my years of reading comics (which I’ll admit, is not very long at all compared to some).  Well, it turns out that all that anticipation is paying off in spades, and that Blackest Night is every bit the bee’s knees it promised to be.

Naturally, Blackest Night #1 picks up where Blackest Night #0 left off, in Gotham Cemetery.  It’s a dark and stormy night, and Black Hand ushers in the Age of Dark and Stormy Nights with a decidedly sick and twisted invocation.  The first thing I noticed about this issue was, damn, it’s great to have Ivan Reis back on a Green Lantern book.  Then of course I noticed the striking visuals, the epic presentation, et cetera, but honestly, there’s so much going on here that I really don’t know where to start.

This book is a great jumping-on point for newcomers, but they’ll also find a lot to digest here; while long-term Green Lantern and DC Comics readers have plenty of Easter eggs to scour through.  Sure, there’s a fair bit of background that the DC faithful will already know, but Johns is clearly highlighting which parts to pay attention to (and believe me, there’s a lot to pay attention to) and fleshing them out to augment the emotional impact of future events.  It’s actually surprising to see which untended plot threads he does highlight – without giving too much away – fans of Keith Giffen’s Justice League will no doubt be intrigued by the developments they see here.  It’s pretty clear by the end of this issue that Blackest Night represents his life’s work, drawing on every major DC storyline he’s had a hand in, from JSA to Hawkman to Infinite Crisis to 52 and everything in between right up to Flash: Rebirth.  Perhaps contrary to his original plans (though not by much), Blackest Night encompasses the entire DC Universe (or is it ‘Multiverse’?).  That is to say that its scope is far greater than just the Green Lantern universe – which is already massive thanks to Johns – and centres upon his two no-doubt-favourite heroes, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (The Flash), as our anchors to this epic tale.

The core of this super-sized issue takes place appropriately on the anniversary of Superman’s death; once a national day of mourning, now a day used to honour fallen superheroes.  Geoff Johns has stated in interviews that this issue mentions all the major players in this storyline, and I believe it – many names are checked by the mourners, which may as well be a roll call for the Black Lantern Corps – some are expected, though many may surprise you.  In point of fact, the first Black Lanterns to reveal themselves surprised the hell out of me, and their first dark deeds shocked me all the more, due in no small part to Ivan Reis’ grisly depiction.

It’s getting very dark in the DC Universe, and I, for one, am loving it.

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Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2 (of 6)

Posted in Comics, DC, Final Crisis with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd June, 2009 by Adam Redsell
She aint much to look at, but shes got it where it counts.

She ain't much to look at, but she's got it where it counts.

Author: Joe Casey
Artists: Andre Coelho & Eduardo Pansica
Inkers: Andre Coelho & Sandro Ribeiro
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: Stanley “Art Germ” Lau
Editors: Ian Sattler, Rex Ogle & Will Moss

I have to admit, after such a stellar debut, I’m more than a little disappointed with the second issue of Dance.  This is largely due to the artwork, which not only suffers from the absence of previous artist ChrisCross, but also from the inconsistency that comes with having two artists on board (Coelho and Pansica).  This is unfortunate, because it lets down what is otherwise a well-written comic by Joe Casey.

The plot’s pretty interesting, and reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, perhaps to a fault.  Those who have read it will likely recognise one of the major plot points, perhaps with fondness.  The whole satellite headquarters thing didn’t work out so well for the Super Young Team, so they’ve been transferred to a suite in Las Vulgar (which is apparently Vegas in DC-Land).  Their ‘handlers’ try to get a reality TV show off the ground, accompanied by a bit of product placement and a hot-tub, in hopes that Shiny Happy Aquazon might get her Shiny Happy Gear-off.  Aquazon agrees to the product placement – much to the surprise of her teammates – but not the gear-off (much to the disappointment of lovesick Atomic Lantern Boy), and things get stranger from there with a product-launch-gone-wrong.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team get bored and go looking for a fight.  This results in a pretty interesting tea conversation with a supervillain.  It’s good to see that the flavour of their first outing hasn’t been lost altogether.

Cut to Tokyo, where a burnt out and bottle-broken Rising Sun decries Japan’s disrespect for its heroic traditions.  Tokyo has been quarantined, closed to everyone – especially superheroes – and no-one seems to want to say why.  All we know is exactly this: Japan has been in a very bad way since the Final Crisis; the powers-that-be don’t want anyone to know about it; and the Super Young Team is being groomed as a Grade-A distraction from it.  Never has Rising Sun been such an interesting character – not during the first Crisis, not ever – as he has been in this Drunken Also-ran incarnation.  He’s the Voice in the Desert, crying out for Japan to reclaim its honour, and I for one can’t wait to see what lies ahead for this super-prophet.

Superbat’s ‘tweeting’ reveals the conflict they all feel: they want to be heroes, but they want to be teenagers too.  Fame and fortune is nice, but it’s ultimately empty thrills for these eager youngsters (“but we saved the Multiverse!”, they exclaim).  The slick PR people do their darned best to distract them, but their restlessness is almost tangible.  The Super Young Team’s True Enemy brings all new meaning to “friends close, enemies closer”, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

As you can see, there’s a lot of story packed into these 22 pages (and a lot of pointed observations on commercialism, truth decay, and Reality TV); more, I dare say than most of the stuff on comic book shelves.  It’s certainly worth continuing with this one; it’s just such a pity about the art!  If either one of these artists penciled the full story, it would have been better for it.  And with colours as brilliant as the day-glo-rific Dance #1, anything less was doomed to be a disappointment.  Bring back the art team from the first issue, DC, and this could be the best book on the shelves.

Black Lightning: Year One #6 (of 6)

Posted in Black Lightning, Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
If only it was as straightforward as the cover.

If only the rest of it was as straightforward as the cover.

Author: Jen Van Meter
Artist: Cully Hamner
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Colorist: Laura Martin
Editors: Rachel Gluckstern & Joan Hilty

This is the sixth and final chapter of Black Lightning’s origin story, and while this issue and the story as a whole was *good*, I have a major gripe with it that has detracted from my enjoyment of it.  I admire Van Meter’s attempt at parallel storytelling, but damn those narrative caption boxes get annoying by the sixth time around.  If you read the collected volume, do yourself a favour – read the caption boxes first from start to finish, then devote your attention to the rest of the story.  Instead of hitting us up front with all of the exposition in one go, Van Meter has attempted to spread it evenly across each panel.  The problem is, no real thought has been put into their distribution, and it’s impossible to maintain the narrative in your head in between dialogue.  Van Meter expects the reader to keep one foot [brain] in the past and the other foot [brain] in the present during the first two-thirds of this issue.  It just can’t be done.  The backstory interrupts the story at hand and vice versa.  Every single issue of this mini-series has been written in this fashion, and after six hits of it, I still find it a jarring experience and a clunky read.

What I believe Van Meter should have done was either begin with three issues of backstory followed by three issues of story (or even alternating between issues), or come up with an inventive way of putting all the exposition in one place.  Hollis Mason’s “Under the Hood” biography in Watchmen springs to mind.

As soon as the exposition is done with and Black Lightning’s thinking about the events at hand, it’s smooth sailing.  I just wished it was like that all the way through, which is why I recommend readers read the captions exclusively, and ignore them altogether on the second read-through.

Putting these issues aside (and you’re going to have to to enjoy it), the story is, at its core, a good one.  In essence, this is the story of Jefferson Pierce the man returning to Suicide Slum to break the spirit of defeat and despair that has strangled his hometown.  As the school principal, Pierce shows his students that they don’t need to accept mediocrity; that they don’t need to accept defeat.  As Black Lightning, Pierce shows his fellow citizens that they do not need to accept injustice and corruption.  This particular issue sees Black Lightning lead his students and the citizens in a final struggle against the corruption of their local government in league with the criminal organisation known as The One Hundred.  More on that later.

Whether or not you’ll enjoy this story depends on a few things:

  1. Are you interested in social reform?
  2. Do you believe the world of comics needs [conceptually] stronger black superheroes?
  3. Are you a young black person in need of a wholesome role model?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then Black Lightning is the strongest black role model you’re likely to find in superhero comics, and this book (along with Final Crisis: Submit and Final Crisis: Resist) is the best book I’ve read starring the character.

Artistically, Black Lightning: Year One is stylistically confident and cohesive across all six issues.  Cully Hamner’s style is best described as classic American cartooning with a dab of gritty realism.  It’s very well-drawn, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  One could argue for more realism given the gritty subject matter, but I think this style helps incorporate the more supernatural elements of the story.

The final battle, I’d have to admit, is a little anti-climactic.  It felt as though Van Meter had run out of pages and needed to get it over with.  Had the mystery behind The One Hundred been preserved until this final issue, I think the impact could have been a lot stronger (although the revelation itself is strange and probably requires at least two issues to get used to).  That it all boiled down to superhero fisticuffs was also a little disappointing.

In case you couldn’t tell, I really did like this story deep down; there’s just a lot to look past in terms of execution.  If you’re a patient soul (or the next Malcolm X), and the positives I’ve mentioned appeal to your sensibilities, then certainly pick up issues 1 through 6 or the inevitable trade paperback.  If you’re a harsh bastard then save yourself the frustration and avoid.

Review on the Run: Hancock.

Posted in Comics, film, Hancock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

I went in with fairly low expectations, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Hancock. Once you get past the five-minute slapstick opening (CG seagulls – you’ll see what I mean), it’s all smooth sailing. Probably the best performance was given by Jason Bateman, who plays a struggling PR man. He finds new purpose in improving the super-lout’s public image, but he certainly gets more than he bargained for.

There’s a few nods to other superheroes here and there, including Iron Man and The Hulk, mostly because Hancock’s always getting drunk and breaking things. But even if you’re not a comic-book nerd like myself you’ll find plenty to enjoy. CG seagulls aside, my only real gripe with the film is the lack of a real imposing villain. Of course, my points of reference are Lex Luthor and the Joker, so that comparison may not be fair.

Justice Society of America #26

Posted in Comics, JSA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 8th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
From their family to yours!

From their family to yours!

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Geoff Johns’ Justice Society of America is the kind of comic book you can read to your kids by the fireplace.  You could even read it to your grandmother in the retirement home.  That’s no slight on the book, either, just sayin’ – the Justice Society is good, wholesome fun for the whole family.  It’s a bit late to be telling you this now, as number 26 marks Geoff Johns’ final story with the team, but I would definitely recommend picking up his entire run on the series, whether in trade paperback format or back issues if you can find them.

It’s weird, because the Society honestly hasn’t done much in the way of superheroics – mostly they’ve been going to barbeques, helping out at soup kitchens, and on this occasion, throwing a surprise birthday party for Stargirl – during Johns’ tenure.  That he managed to juggle such an unbelieveably large cast for so long (and made it progressively larger to boot) and still give me a sense of each who each character is, really speaks to his strengths as a writer.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t throw a single punch in this issue; it doesn’t matter that a whole page is devoted to Hourman and Damage trying to decide what ice cream they want at the corner store; it doesn’t even matter that this issue and indeed Johns’ run itself culminates in Stargirl’s dentist appointment (in uniform, no less!) – these are genuinely interesting characters that I care about on a human level – due in no small part to Geoff Johns’ expert characterisation.  It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge Dale Eaglesham’s involvement in all this – the man draws perfect facial expressions – and that goes a long way toward making these spandex-clad stalwarts believeable human beings.

The more I think about it, the more amazing it all is.  Probably my favourite character of the series has been the utterly deranged Starman – a chemically imbalanced superhero sent back through time from the 31st Century – who, in this issue scarfs down four tubs of ice cream and buys out a lemonade stand for thousands of dollars!  Sure, it gets a little corny at times with the old-timers spouting platitudes left, right and centre, but the book’s just so damn charming.  I can’t fault it.

Okay, one thing: I’m so damn sick of all these 5-page previews at the back of my DC Comics.  Give me (and the writers) five more pages of story, not five pages of stuff I didn’t ask for and probably won’t buy anyway.  Last week it was Power Girl; this week it’s Animal Man.  The only Animal Man you’ll find me reading is Grant Morrison’s, and the only Power Girl you’ll find me reading is contained within the pages of Geoff Johns’ Justice Society.  That’s it.  That’s the only negative thing I can come up with.  Get this book.  Go back to issue 1 and read the whole damn series.  It’s different.  It’s the book with heart in a sea of meatheads.

It looks like Johns agrees with my initial assessment.  A family audience is assumed in the issue’s final greeting:

‘From our family to yours, thanks for reading!’

No, Geoff, thanks for writing.

“Superman, FINISH HIM!!”

Posted in Comics, DC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 7th May, 2009 by Adam Redsell

I’m sure many of you have experienced or seen the Most Ridiculous Crossover in Recent Years [I won’t say ‘Of All Time’ because you and I both know that won’t be true in a year’s time], Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Being the highly critical person that I am, I thought I’d take this blogging opportunity to pick their picks to pieces. I’ll address the Mortal Kombatants first, because I’m happy with their choices, by and large. EXCEPT

  1. Jax is quite possibly the most ill-conceived Mortal Kombat character ever devised. Not only does he reek of ‘token black guy’, his one and only claim to fame is a couple of bionic arms. As if one wasn’t enough. The man has no personality! Just put Wesley Snipes in and be done with it.
  2. Where’s Goro? Where’s Motaro? Any four-armed freak of a creature will do. Here’s a mathematical equation to illustrate: MK + 1 four-armed-felon = MK + 10 cools, therefore 1 four-armed-felon = 10 cools.


10 cools. It’s science.

Here’s the rest, for those that are interested:

Scorpion
Sub-Zero
Sonya
Shang Tsung
Liu Kang
Raiden
Kitana
Kano
Baraka
Shao Kahn

Now, as a comic book nerd and DC fan, the solemn duty of criticising the crap out of the rest of the character selections has fallen to me. And what a heavy burden it is – but somebody’s gotta do it:

Batman
Batman suits well enough, aside from the ‘no killing clause’ that most DC superheroes subscribe to. From what I’ve seen, though, he looks too ‘blue’. It’s certainly the dominant depiction these days, but I think they should have opted for the ‘black’ Batman – you know, the one who is so damn shadowy you can only see his pointed shape with some eyeballs painted on…

Superman
I know he’s DC’s flagship character and everything, but there’s no justifying Big Blue’s involvement in a Mortal Kombat game. He’s just too squeaky clean for this kind of thing. Perhaps if Brainiac was in the game, or some other colossal cosmic threat, it might give his presence a bit of context [then again, preaching context to a developer that’s putting MK and DC characters in the same game is probably an exercise in futility].

Catwoman
Now, this one makes sense. I can’t help but feel that they slutted her up too much for this, though. How can you fight and do backflips when your boobs are falling out? I suppose nobody cares so long as they do fall out.


Speaks volumes.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern’s powers are a little too fantastic for a gritty, oatmeal-textured fighting game like Mortal Kombat. The ring constructs just aren’t hands-on enough for this type of thing, though we know the hot-headed Hal Jordan isn’t averse to throwing a punch or three when the situation calls for it. Again, without context, he runs the risk of Fish-out-of-water Syndrome.

The Joker
I’m starting to think that they should have done a Mortal Kombat vs. Batman game instead. Another great choice – I just hope they go with a Ledger/Grant Morrison-style interpretation of the character, smiling from ear to ear.

Shazam
Captain Marvel is even more out of place in a Mortal Kombat game than Superman. He’s a young boy that transforms into a magical superhero with a magic word for crying out loud! If Supes is squeaky clean, then Shazam is polished, buffed and lacquered.

[Having said that, I would’ve taken this if it meant the presence of Black Adam, but sadly it doesn’t.]


Say cheese!

The Flash
How does super-speed work in a fighting game? Handling Sonic in SSBB was hard enough – imagine controlling the Scarlet Speedster, who’s faster than the speed of light. Technically, he should be able to round up the entire cast in a few seconds, but that doesn’t make for good gaming now, does it? This may not be reality, but a comic or videogame needs to follow its own logic. Between the super-speed and the gaudy costume, the Flash just doesn’t fit here.


Wonder Woman: Warrior Princess.

Wonder Woman
Diana Prince, on the other hand, fits surprisingly well as the Amazonian Warrior Princess. If they emphasise her battle armour and weapon skills, Boon & Co. might just pull it off.


Deathstroke
I have to admit, I didn’t see this one coming at all. While Deathstroke is seemingly obscure compared to the likes of Lex and the Joker, his presence in a Mortal Kombat game makes a lot more sense. Deadly assassin? Check. Physical deformity? Check. Cool get-up? Check. A freakin’ samurai sword? Check, check and check.
Protip: Deathstroke once had his own series in 1991 called Deathstroke the Terminator. He was referred to exclusively as the Terminator for a good four years until Arnie hit the scene. Now he’s just called ‘Deathstroke’.

Lex Luthor
Love Lex as I do, I fail to see where he fits in the fighting game space. He’s essentially a bald scientist/tycoon in a suit, and while he’s not bad with the fisticuffs, he’s no match for the Scorpions, the Raidens, or even his most familiar foe in a fist-fight.

I suppose the purple-green Apokoliptian battle-suit will be making an appearance, then...

I suppose the purple-green Apokoliptian battle-suit will be making an appearance, then...

Darkseid
Well, one out of eight ain’t bad, is it? There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already said, but Darkseid currently stands as the most important villain in the DC Universe, and brings the necessary level of cosmic to give Supes and Hal some much-needed context…Brainiac would’ve been nice, though.

Compare that to some of my picks, and you have a chalk-and-cheese situation that dwarfs even the ridiculousness of Soulcalibur IV:

Darkseid
Manhunter
Copperhead
Mongul
Bane
Ra’s Al Ghul
Solomon Grundy
Black Adam

Notable (and disappointing) omissions include the likes of Mongul, Bane, Ra’s, Grundy, and especially Black Adam.

Hopefully DC Universe Online actually turns out to be a good game and balances out the universe.

The All-New Atom: Future/Past TPB

Posted in All-New Atom, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 3rd May, 2009 by Adam Redsell
Don't be fooled - it's bigger than it looks!

Don't be fooled - it's bigger than it looks!

Collecting Issues #7-11
Author: Gail Simone
Artists: Mike Norton & Eddy Barrows

Were it not heavily discounted for Free Comic Book Day, and had Gail Simone’s name not appeared on the cover, I probably would have glossed over the “All-New” Atom.  I nearly missed it altogether, because it was so tiny, and nestled next to an oversized hardcover.  (Which is ironic – get it?  Because the Atom’s so small that you wouldn’t notice him!  Sorry about that, but it really is a small trade paperback, and someone had to say it.)

A bit of background: it’s called the “All-New” Atom, because the previous Atom – Ray Palmer – shrunk himself and disappeared when he found out his wife murdered the Elongated Man’s wife in Identity Crisis.  *I think.*  I don’t really remember, to be honest.  Maybe I should read that one again.  Anyway, the “All-New” Atom is Ryan Choi, an expatriate university lecturer from Hong Kong.  He’s lecturing at Ivy University, where Palmer was once a professor, so presumably this is how Ryan came into possession of the subatomic belt.  (See, it was the only All-New Atom on the shelves, so I assumed Future/Past was the first and last in the series.  After checking the inside cover, it appears that the All-New Atom lasted for *at least* 11 issues, and that this was the second collection of them.)

Gail Simone uses Choi’s expatriate status to great effect, playing on the character’s vocab-in-progress.  It was particularly humorous watching his attempts at superhero trash-talk, which steadily improved over the course of the book.  Dialogue is probably Gail Simone’s greatest asset, and she creates many opportunities to showcase it comedically.  The book kicks off with a troupe of cowboys (as in actual cowboys warped from the cowboy time period) crashing through Ryan’s front wall.  As an Australian, I can confirm that her spelling of their Deep Southern accent is spot-on, and is exactly how a non-American would hear it.  Ryan also has a pet disembodied alien head, whose speech (“can I get you anything, Head?”/ “Orange soda or death!”) is hilariously reminiscent of mis-translated Japanese Role-Playing Games (“All your base are belong to us”, “I am Error”, etc.).  There’s also a brief appearance from the taxi-driver that speaks in anagrams.  So it’s good to see that Simone has given our hero a strong supporting cast of weirdos and misfits.

The stories of time-travel and demon bullies are fantastical, but amidst it all Ryan Choi remains strangely believable.  He’s the school nerd we can get behind (or at least he was), like Clark Kent or Peter Parker, but he’s also a Chinese physicist struggling to come to terms with the very American superhero dichotomy of bravado, and never-say-die attitude.  And he doesn’t have much in the way of superpowers, either.  Simone comes up with some interesting applications of the Belt’s powers, but it’s hard to say what exactly its powers are.  I *think* it can manipulate the size and mass of the wearer’s particles, but sometimes it feels like Simone’s making up the rules as she goes along.  In some ways, I would have liked a bit more science fiction injected into these stories, but I’ve always found it’s wisely avoided if you don’t know what you’re talking about.  Maybe this is the case with Simone.  She does seem to know her Chinese superstition, though, which was good for a few twists and turns when Ryan returned to Hong Kong.  Speaking of which, these curious caption boxes keep popping up in strange places containing Chinese proverbs and quotes from JFK, and I have to say, I don’t get it.  The quotes don’t seem to have anything to do with what’s going on at the time, and I can only assume that these quotes are popping up in Ryan’s head (due to his Chinese heritage?).  Normally with an asterisk and a caption box, you’d expect to read a goofy message from Stan Lee plugging another comic book, so I guess it’s not all bad.

I suppose I should talk about the stories briefly.  The first story is called “The Man Who Swallowed Eternity” with a more cartoony feel from artist Mike Norton.  The Atom time-travels with literally half a professor through time to find his other half!  Yeah, it’s crazy, but it’s action-packed and fun-filled.  The second story is still crazy, but more serious in subject matter.  In “Jia”, Ryan’s high school flame (Jia) begs him to return and protect her from the school bully, now her abusive husband.  Except she forgot to mention he was dead.  Nice one, Jia.  Barrow’s pencil work is detailed, dynamic, and infused with horror elements that were perfect for the story.

You never would have guessed it, but Gail Simone – being a woman and all – has a gift for three-dimensional female characters.  Jia is seductive like most comic book vixens, but she’s also a complicated creature, and infuriatingly so!  Let’s just say that the ending is intriguing and leave it at that.

All in all, Gail Simone’s All-New Atom is a charming romp across space and time; definitely more about the journey than the destination.  Knowing that the Atom’s journey ends at issue 25 (and Gail’s at #19) helps to put things in perspective.  All you can really do is sit back and enjoy the ride.