Atom

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CHARACTER

Atom

The living embodiment of "Size doesn't matter," the Atom unleashes all the power of his namesake against evil.                                     

Introduction

Aliases: Al Pratt, Ray Palmer, Adam Cray, Lun “Ryan” Choi
First Appearance: (Pratt) ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #19, 1940; (Palmer) SHOWCASE #34, 1961; (Cray) SUICIDE SQUAD #44, 1990; (Choi) BRAVE NEW WORLD #1, 2006

 

 

 

In the 1940s, many people were driven to become heroes and crime-fighters. After years of dealing with bullies, Al Pratt trained to become a fighter and protected others from bullies by donning the mask and cape of the Atom. After retiring from his heroic life, he embarked on a career in physics.

 

Ray Palmer, research scientist, created a “white dwarf lens” that gave him control over his own mass and size. As the Atom, he fought many villains and strange menaces across time and space, not only alone but also as a member of the Justice League. For a brief time, Ray Palmer went undercover and a man named Adam Cray stood in as the Atom.

 

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Lun “Ryan” Choi studied under Ray Palmer at Ivy University. After a year, Ryan was told a life-changing secret: Ray Palmer was the superhero known as the Atom. For the next couple of years, Ryan aided the Atom’s activities. When Palmer vanished one day, he left behind a spare size-changing belt with its own dwarf star lens for Ryan to use. As the new Atom, Ryan fights to protect people just as his mentor did and serves as a member of the Justice League of America.

 

 

Origin

atom-origin-AllAmericanComics_10-p2-v1.jpg After growing up in America during the Depression Era, Al Pratt attended Calvin College. A young man of 98 lbs. and 5’1” in height, Al was often targeted by bullies. To learn how to fight back, and also impress a fellow student named Mary James, Al trained under ex-boxer Joe Morgan. He discovered he was a natural athlete and fighter, and was able to defend himself easily after several months of training. But Al then considered how many others were bullied and victimized in his city. Reading about costumed crime-fighters in the news, the college student followed suit and became the Atom, a joke about his size that he now wore with pride (ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #19, 1940).

 

Ray Palmer was a research scientist in Ivy Town when a meteorite landed nearby. While others dismissed the meteorite as a worthless rock, Palmer examined it more closely and discovered trace residue of a white dwarf star. Extracting this, he created what he called a “white dwarf lens” (SHOWCASE #34, 1961). The lens allowed him to shrink any object, though this resulted in the object exploding after a few minutes. Creating a “compression matrix” suit, he was able to shrink and alter his mass without suffering or exploding (BRIGHTEST DAY: THE ATOM SPECIAL #1, 2010). When strange villains began attacking Ivy Town and nearby areas, Palmer donned a costume equipped with his compression matrix and protected people as the Atom.

 

When his father Senator Cray was murdered, Adam Cray wanted justice. While Ray Palmer went undercover to investigate a secret cabal responsible, Cray became the new Atom for a time.

 

Lun Choi grew up in Hong Kong. A near-sighted introvert with asthma, several allergies and a few phobias, Lun was lucky to grow up with very supportive parents, both doctors, who told him he could succeed in whatever he wished to pursue. As his teenage years came to a close, Lun enrolled at Ivy University, adopting the new American name Ryan. Professor Palmer took an interest in Ryan almost immediately, recognizing the young man’s intelligence and hiring him as his teaching assistant. Together, they created new patents and published papers that won them both awards and recognition. Palmer then revealed that he was secretly the Atom and recruited Ryan to aid him in his adventures.

 

Ryan spent a year acting as tech and tactical support for the Atom, communicating with him from Palmer’s private lab “Newton Base.” But one day, Palmer vanished while journeying through the subatomic realm called the Microverse. But foreseeing he might not return, Palmer left behind an extra size-changing bio-belt so that Ryan could become the new Atom (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE ATOM REBIRTH #1, 2017).

 

 

Powers and Abilities

atom-powers-JLA_07_11-v1.jpg Al Pratt began his career as a human without powers. He relied on Olympic class strength and agility, as well as an expert level of fighting ability, particularly in boxing. Later, he developed immunity towards radiation as well as superhuman strength and agility. Pratt could also further increase his strength in short bursts, delivering an “atomic punch.” Due to an encounter with Ian Karkull, his aging rate was slowed down and his overall health and vitality were increased.

 

Ray Palmer’s Atom belt (later called a “bio-belt”) was the source of his powers and served the same purpose for Adam Cray and Ryan Choi. With this belt, the wearer can shrink down to microscopic and even subatomic levels while retaining their normal size mass and strength, resulting in superhuman strength. Using the belt to shift mass into another dimension can make the wearer’s body light enough to glide through the air. At subatomic size, the Atom can ride phone signals and photons to travel long distances.

 

The Atom’s shrinking’s technology alters the mind and body, allowing him to still “breathe,” function and “see” even though photons can’t enter his eyes and oxygen can’t enter his body at subatomic levels. In Ryan Choi’s original stories before 2016's DC Rebirth, he needed a device called a “singularity field generator” to achieve this, but later accomplished this naturally.

 

In his earliest adventures, Ray designed his Atom costume to form when he shrank past a certain point and disperse when he grew back to full height. When he first joined the Justice League of America, Ryan Choi wore environmental armor. He now wears a sleeker Atom suit of Ray Palmer’s design.

 

Ray Palmer’s original belt required the Atom suit to regulate its power. If it were used to shrink other people not wearing similar suits, they would explode within minutes unless restored to full size first. Palmer’s later bio-belts don’t have this problem when shrinking people or objects.

 

When he was temporarily regressed to a teenager, Ray Palmer could increase his size well beyond his normal height, becoming a giant with increased strength.

 

In Ryan Choi’s original stories, he used a particle drive device called a “bangstick” to propel through subatomic environments.

 

 

Essential Storylines and History

Al Pratt (ALL-AMERICAN COMICS, ALL-STAR COMICS, 1940-1951; ALL-STAR SQUADRON 1981-1985)

atom-essential1-alpratt-ASSQUAD_01_cv-v1.jpg 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)

atom-essential2-raypalmer-Showcase_34_cvr-v1.jpg 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)

atom-essential3-ryanchoi-ANATM_01(COVER)-v1.jpg 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.

 

 

 

New 52

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).

 

 

 

DC Rebirth 

atom-essential4-dcrebirth-JLAREB_ATOM_Cv1_ds-1-v1.jpg 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).

 

 

Team Affiliations

  • • Justice League of America
  • • Suicide Squad
  • • Teen Titans
  • • Indigo Tribe

Appearances in Other Media

Television

Main Character

 

Live Action:

  • • Legends of Tomorrow

 

Guest Appearances/Cameos

 

Live Action:

  • • Arrow
  • • The Flash
  • • Legends of the Superheroes

 

Animation:

  • • The Superman/Aquaman Adventure Hour
  • • Super Friends
  • • Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • • Justice League Unlimited
  • • Justice League Action
  • • Vixen
  • • Young Justice

 

 

Film

Guest Appearances/Cameos

 

Animation:

  • • Justice League: Gods and Monsters
  • • Justice League: The New Frontier

 

 

Video Games

  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Injustice 2
  • LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham