Thursday, February 12, 2009

Agents of Atlas

Agents of Atlas TP
Jeff Parker & Leonard Kirk
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Agents of Atlas #1
Jeff Parker & Carlo Pagulayan
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***Includes Spoilers***
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I've heard such good things about Jeff Parker's original Agents of Atlas mini-series that I've wanted to check it out for some time. I also was a fan of Jeff Parker's Interman from years back from Octopus Books. What nudged me over the edge to stop putting things off was not only the new ongoing Agents of Atlas series, but the Atlas chapter in the recent Dark Reign: New Nation, which featured small stories from several books launching alongside Marvel's Dark Reign crossover. And while the new Agents of Atlas series is dipping into events of the new Marvel Universe, it still remains the distinctive book Jeff Parker established with the original mini-series.
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I like how Jeff Parker plucked this obscure "Avengers" team from the 1940's-1950's surrounding an incident with President (at the time) Eisenhower and breathed new life into them over fifty years later (and let's face it, 3-D Man was not going to cut it - his absence is for the best). I also like how the story played out in the original mini-series collected in one volume with back-up stories featuring the characters' original appearances in Marvel Comics and their original team-up. A mystery calls for the team to come together to perhaps face off against an old foe: The Yellow Claw. So Gorilla Man and M-11, the Human Robot, save Jimmy Woo from a SHIELD facility, and with the help of Marvel Boy, attempt to figure out what happened to Woo on a secret mission, meanwhile collecting the rest of their teammates over the next few issues, including Venus and Namora. Next the team investigates the mysterious Atlas Foundation and has several run-ins with their old foe before an unexpected, but interesting conclusion. I love all of the characters involved, their tragic pasts and interactions with one another, and it's all illustrated very beautifully by Leonard Kirk.
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The new Agents of Atlas series that debuted this month features the same characters as in the first mini-series, this time in charge of the Atlas Foundation, kind of like how Angel and his gang were in charge of Wolfram & Hart during the final season of Angel. They're kind of faking being the bad guys, and thus, make a deal with Norman Osborne to share resources, but hope to change things from within. It's a cool premise for a new series, distinct from other Marvel titles. And while the art by Pagulayan feels perhaps a little stiff, it is pretty to look at.
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From my initial impressions of Agents of Atlas via the chapter in Dark Reign: New Nation, I kind of expected my favorite character to be Namora, tough and regal and no-nonsense. But I was surprised to find while reading the original series and this debut issue that Venus has captivated me. She has a really neat, tragic background and while her powers are very passive and may get a little stale after a while, she's a fun character, as demonstrated by her walking into Norman Osborne's office as she did.
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I don't think it really matters if one starts at the beginning with the mini-series, or jumps on board with the new #1, this team resurrected at the hands of Jeff Parker is just plain fun and holds plenty of surprises.

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