S.T.R.I.P.E. Week has me taking another trip down memory lane today with a look at the Golden Age Atom! He’s not my favorite Justice Society of America member, but as a JSA Fan that’s been waiting forever for a good Al Pratt figure, I’m happy to report this one doesn’t disappoint.
This is the type of review that needs to start off with a story. No I won’t bore you by talking about my youth spent reading amazing JLA/JSA team-up stories in digest form again. I’m going to flash forward to a decade ago when I was a much more avid DC Direct Collector.
DC Direct kicked their JSA off right away with a decent repaint of the Vertigo Sandman (think Mystery Theatre, not the Endless one) in Golden Age colors in 1998. By 2000, they had added GA versions of Hawkman, Dr. Fate, the Spectre, Green Lantern, and the Flash to their JSA roster. Hourman would be out the following year (along with a majority of the later members). If you’re keeping score, that’s 7 of the 8 founding members of the JSA released in the first two years of DC Direct’s offerings. It would then take DC Direct five more years to get to the last founding member, the Golden Age Atom, and when they did… well, I couldn’t even buy it.
To DC Direct’s credit, they did release both of the Atom’s costumes (in a single-carded 2pk, no less), but the figures were… lacking. Even looking at them in that picture, I still have to laugh at how awful they are (it’s odd too because my shelves feature other, much more amazing work from that very same sculptor). Anyway, waiting five years for the last founding member was bad enough, but to get those monstrosities when it finally arrived? My hopes of a little plastic JSA were dashed hard across the rocks.
Five years later (again), JSA Collectors are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, we’re still waiting on Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt, the original Red Tornado, and some others, but Jay Garrick is just a couple months away while DCUC19 delivered us the GA Sandman, Hawkman, and the Atom!
The Atom is a curious addition to the JSA ranks. The other seven members either possessed super powers or were aided by mysticism or technology. The Atom was just a short dude (clocking in at 5′ 1″) that trained hard and learned to pack a wallop.
Al Pratt was introduced in All-American Comics #19 (Green Lantern’s title) by Bill O’ Connell and Ben Flinton. We first meet Al when he’s trying to get a date with Mary James, a girl that appears to be out of his league. The pair is mugged and Al is unable to do anything about it, costing Mary her purse and jewelry and Al any chance of scoring that date. Undaunted, Al found himself a trainer and became a proficient enough boxer/bodybuilder that he could pull off a superhero act. When Mary was kidnapped some months later, Al was ready to protect her, this time in the guise of the Atom (he’s short, see? Atoms are small? Get it?)
Hey, not everyone with ‘Atom’ in their name can be an atomic hero, okay? (I’m still kicking myself for not getting a Captain Atom pic before handing these guys off to Vault).
Anyway, the key thing about the Atom is that he needs to be shorter than the other figures. Mattel did at least put some effort into this particular aspect of the character. It may be good enough for some, but it won’t be for others. It pretty much depends on where you fall on accuracy versus aesthetics. No matter where that is, we can all agree that he’s not small enough even though Mattel did produce some new shortened calves to reduce the figure’s height. The reason I’m not all that upset about it is because he did come out shorter than the other JSAers. And, honestly, I think if he were properly scaled, that’d be a tad over 5″, he’d look downright out of scale. Check out this first pic from the Young Justice Robin review. That’s about how short Al would have to be to be accurate. Some may disagree, but I wouldn’t be happy if he were that short.
Other than the new shortened calves, the Atom features a new middle torso, gauntlets, and a new head sculpt. The Atom’s costume is essentially an old wrestling outfit so the handful of new pieces is sufficient to get the job done. The new head sculpt is appropriately light on features, but the 4H did a great job of capturing some of the Atom’s attitude all the same. The buckles are nicely sculpted right down to the tension in the fabric around them, though that kind of detail starts making me want to ask for a new upper torso with similar sculpted detail, but I digress. The new pieces work great and when combined with the reused cape and the thicker upper torso, Atom is looking pretty badass on my JSA shelf. So I don’t find myself caring that he can ride all the rides at Six Flags all that much. Continue to Page 2…