Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Gabriel Hardman, Ramon Rosanas, and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Published by Marvel Comics
If there’s one problem I have with Atlas it’s that I’m always worried it’s going to get canceled (this often seems to be the case with the comics I read). My worry is based upon the average sales numbers for the incarnations of this title and compounded by the types of stories that Jeff Parker is telling. Because while conventional wisdom would suggest keeping to small, self-contained arcs given Atlas often market challenged history, Parker refuses to sell his audience short and instead gives us complex, layered stories that beg to be told for years to come.
This is Parker’s third Atlas series and it feels more like the first series than the rather erratic second series. Agents of Atlas, the second series, suffered from a lack of focus, not to mention repeated attempts to connect to Marvel’s “Dark Reign.” It also suffered from rotating artists.
But just as with the first, limited series, Atlas is focusing squarely on the characters, in this case the apparent new team member, 3-D
Delroy Garrett is investigating the Atlas team and soon finds himself fighting side by side with them. It feels natural for 3-D Man to do so, even though neither he nor the original 3-D Man ever did – at least not that any of them that can remember. Man.
The connection between the team in the 50’s and the team now is central to this story, just as it was in Parker’s first Atlas book. There’s also emphasis placed on the characters, something that was hit and miss up until now.
But perhaps the most important aspect from the original series to be replicated in this series is the formation of a different team: the creative team. The Agents of Atlas limited series featured fantastic art by Leonard Kirk throughout every issue. Now, Parker is joined by Gabriel Hardman, the artist who joined up over the course of the last series, and who has now become synonymous with these characters.
Hardman’s work has a classic feel to it, as if he’d be comfortable drawing books about talking animals, killer robots, aliens, or super spies – all of which make up this team. There’s a certain pop sensibility to his art, a reverence for what has come before mixed with a desire to push storytelling forward. For as tried and true as the archetypes behind Atlas are, Parker is always giving Hardman new and crazy menaces for them to face, usually in the form of divisions of their own company.
The characters that make up the Atlas team are rife with potential, and Jeff Parker seems determined to delve into as much of their stories as he can, full speed ahead. The complexity of this book is one of the things I love most about it; I just hope it’s around long enough to tell all those stories.
(Originally published at www.comicbulletins.com)