Al Pratt (ALL-AMERICAN COMICS, ALL-STAR COMICS, 1940-1951; ALL-STAR SQUADRON 1981-1985)
Soon after Pratt began his costumed career, he joined forces with several other heroes to stop a Nazi operation. He then saved President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, putting himself in between the President and a deadly attack. He would had died if not for the intervention of the Spectre, angel of vengeance. These heroes became the founders of the Justice Society of America (DC SPECIAL #29, 1970).
When the U.S. entered World War II, FDR’s “Article X” drafted Al and all super heroes into the All-Star Squadron (ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1, 1981). In 1942, the All-Star Squadron encountered the radiation-empowered villain Cyclotron (ALL-STAR SQUADRON #21-22, Annual #2, 1983). Exposure to his energy made Pratt immune to radiation sickness (JSA RETURNS: ADVENTURE COMICS #1, 1999). Another atomic blast further empowered him with superhuman abilities (JSA RETURNS: ALL-STAR COMICS #2, 1999). After this discovery, Al started studying physics and radiation.
In 1951, the JSA disbanded (ADVENTURE COMICS #466, 1979). Al became a physics professor and married Mary James. They became godparents to Cyclotron’s grandson Al Rothstein (who became the hero Nuklon, later called Atom-Smasher). They also had a son, Grant Albert, who became the hero called Damage.
When the Justice Society came out of retirement to help the Justice League of America, Al resumed his Atom identity (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21-22, 1963). He joined them on many adventures until 1994's ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME when the time villain Extant killed him with an energy blast.
Ray Palmer (SHOWCASE #34-36, ATOM #1-38, ATOM & HAWKMAN #39-45, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #14, 1961-1969; SWORD OF THE ATOM #1-4, 1983; IDENTITY CRISIS #1-7, 2004)
As the Atom, Ray Palmer not only fought criminals and super-villains but also embarked on adventures across space and time thanks to his mentor Dr. Alpheus P. Hyatt’s creation, the Time Pool. He quickly established a good relationship with local police and the government, including the CIA (SHOWCASE #36, 1961). His heroic exploits led to his joining the Justice League of America (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #14, 1961). In his personal life, he dated and eventually married attorney Jean Loring (THE ATOM #26, 1966).
Eventually, Jean had an affair with her law partner Paul Hoben. Discovering this, Ray left Ivy Town and journeyed to the Amazon rainforest. There he discovered the Katarthans, a race of six-inch tall humanoid aliens. Becoming their champion, he decided to remain with the Katarthans after finalizing his divorce from Jean (SWORD OF THE ATOM #1-4, 1983).
Later on, a conspiracy of US government agents and employees known as the Cabal decided to capture Ray Palmer so he could reveal the identities and secrets of many super heroes. To force him into the open, they sent a squad of CIA operatives to burn down the Katarthan village. In retaliation, Palmer permanently reduced the operative to six inches in height. The operatives, now called “Micro Squad,” swore revenge.
To take down the Cabal, Ray Palmer allied with Amanda Palmer, director of the Suicide Squad. With her help, he faked his death and infiltrated Micro Squad. She then recruited a man named Adam Cray to be the new Atom for the Suicide Squad. After the Micro Squad murdered him, Ray revealed his presence and took back the Atom identity (SUICIDE SQUAD #61-62, 1992). He then returned to the Justice League for a time (JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #66, 1992).
During 1994's ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME, the time villain Extant struck Palmer with temporal energies, regressing him to a teenager and suffer some memory loss. He served alongside a shot-lived incarnation of the Teen Titans before regaining his proper age and full memory (TEEN TITANS #1-24, 1996-1998).
The murder of Elongated Man’s wife Sue Dibny prompted fear that the loved ones of super heroes were being targeted. Ray Palmer rekindled his romance with Jean Loring, only to discover she was the murderer and had done so to inspire him to return to her. Horrified, Ray disappeared from Earth and wandered the multiverse (IDENTITY CRISIS #1-7, 2004). He later returned to Earth during 2008's FINAL CRISIS and temporarily joined the Indigo Tribe during 2009's BLACKEST NIGHT event.
Ryan Choi (ALL-NEW ATOM #1-25, 2006-2008)
In his original history, Ryan Choi was a young scientist in Hong Kong who corresponded for years with Ray Palmer. When he vanished following IDENTITY CRISIS, Choi went to his lab in Ivy Town. The scientist had left behind a new version of his size-changing equipment, called a “bio-belt,” so Choi could be the new Atom (BRAVE NEW WORLD #1, 2006).
Ryan Choi took a job as a teacher at Ivy University and protected Ivy Town, discovering that the Atom’s technology research and adventures had made it a nexus for strange activity. After fighting a variety of menaces across space and time and realizing he’d internalized the belt’s size-changing abilities, Ryan met Ray Palmer face to face and discovered the man had no idea who he was. The villains Chronos and Lady Chronos had delivered the corresponded and bio-belt for their own agenda (ALL-NEW ATOM #1-25, 2006-2008).
Ryan continued as the Atom with Ray’s blessing, but was later killed by the assassin Deathstroke (TITANS: VILLAINS FOR HIRE #1, 2010). Due to later events, this version of Ryan’s history no long applies.
In 2011, DC history was reimagined in the New 52 universe. In this new version of history, Ray Palmer was a scientific advisor to the agency S.H.A.D.E., using shrink technology to help its agents. Later, he considered becoming a super hero himself (BATMAN/SUPERMAN #25, 2015).
2016's DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 restored some of the history that existed before the New 52. The Rebirth era Ray Palmer has some of the same early history as his original incarnation but never suffered through the events of IDENTITY CRISIS. In the new history, Adam Cray is a roommate of Ryan Choi’s.
After recruiting Ryan Choi as his sidekick, Palmer went to the Microverse to investigate disruptions in space and time. He befriended the adventurer Preon and scientist Aron Aut, giving them both bio-belts, and discovered the source of the chaos, the Ignition Point. Aut betrayed Palmer, hoping to use the Ignition Point to wipe out the Microverse, and possibly all reality (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #16, 2017).
After Palmer vanished, Batman arrived at Newton Base to recruit him for the newly formed Justice League of America. Meeting Ryan Choi, the Dark Knight offered him membership instead (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA REBIRTH #1, 2017).
Ryan became the team’s main engineer and mechanic, updating the Troubalert computer. Ryan then had his first real adventure as a super hero when the JLA fought the Extremists (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1, 2017).
Ryan tried to help teammate Killer Frost find a cure for the condition that drove her to feed on other people for life energy. During this, the two developed romantic feelings for each other (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #7-11, 2017).
Ryan eventually tracked down Ray in the Microverse. He and the JLA then joined forces with Ray and Preon against Aut, now calling himself the Null. Ryan stopped the Ignition Point, nearly dying in the process. Palmer decided to stay in the Microverse, declaring that Ryan had surpassed him and was now the official Atom (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #12-17, 2017).