Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Andy MacDonald and John Rauch
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: January 4, 2017

Ryan Choi is a theoretical physics student at Ivy University who will soon overcome allergies and social anxiety to become the DC Universe’s newest, and smallest, hero!

This one-shot introduces the post-reboot version of Ryan Choi as he starts school at Ivy University, where he gains the attention of professor Ray Palmer. Ryan becomes Ray’s mentee and eventual confidant when he learns that Ray is the Atom, a superhero with a suit that lets him change his size and mass. Ryan becomes Ray’s support and eye-in-the-sky, only for Ray to vanish (in events previously depicted in the DC Universe Rebirth Special), leading Ryan to take on the mantle of the Atom.

This issue serves as a nice, compact introduction to Ryan Choi. We get a glimpse of his character and his backstory, a sense of the sort of adventures the Atom can go on, and the hook for his quest going forward. The story moves quickly and gives the reader everything they need to know to get up to speed on both Ryan Choi and the Atom as a superhero.

It is, however, still a Rebirth special, with all of the baggage that entails. So: it’s helpful if you’ve never encountered the Atom or Ryan Choi before, and should be of interest to the completist, but it’s ultimately inessential. If you read the DC Universe Rebirth Special, you know everything you need to know about the Atom’s mission. Also, as is often the case with Rebirth specials, the pacing gets bogged down by text boxes explaining the action and let-me-narrate-your-life-story-to-you dialogue.

That said, if you know what to expect, it’s one of the better Rebirth specials. It gives a nice exploration of Ryan Choi as a character and really shows off the Ryan Choi-Ray Palmer relationship. It also has a fun montage of Ray Palmer’s adventures that gives a sense of the sort of cool things that the Atom could get up to. The dialogue, while at times a bit on-the-nose, does a good job of drawing out the characters and showing their motivations.

Andy MacDonald’s art works nicely in this story. Faces are simple, but expressive, and the action is clear and dynamic. The art especially shines in the two-page montage of Atom adventures, conveying microscopic stories with a series of single images. John Rauch’s color work is excellent, shifting from yellow-tones in the campus bar to more bold colors in the microscopic world.

Overall, Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth is a better-than-average Rebirth special that accomplishes its main goal of laying the ground work for the Atom’s future adventures in the pages of Justice League of America.

The Verdict: 8.0/10


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