I read more Marvel comics now than I used to, they’ve just been putting out titles that seem interesting enough to start reading them and then are interesting enough to keep reading them. I’m more willing to give DC titles a chance, but that’s primarily because I know that universe much better so I know the characters and want to see what happens to them.
One of the Marvel titles I’d been reading was Atlas. They’ve had a few books about this group now, all short lived and the most recent just ended. I tend to like books that take forgotten characters or groups and revitalize them. Other than Namora who’d been seen in quite a few titles lately, that’s what they did with this team. They pulled together several forgotten characters, 1950s vintage is impled, made a team out of them, gave them an interesting backstory that I don’t think I’ve ever seen done before and let them loose on 1950s flavored adventures with a modern sensibility. It worked really well.
As I said, I don’t know the history of Marvel all that well so many of them could be made up for this series and given a backstory that makes it seem as if they’re from the 50s and I wouldn’t know. I do know that Namora’s been around a long time, as has the 3D Man. Ah, having now looked up the series on Wikipedia they are indeed old characters from one of Marvel’s predecessor companies: Atlas. They have all been heavily revamped for this incarnation though. They’re fun characters that work well together conceptually in the series.
What I like best about the series thought is the leader of the group, Jimmy Woo, is an old-fashioned secret agent while all the others are super-powered beings. He’s been given leadership of a giant criminal organization that goes back thousands of years and has worldwide operations. Rather than reject the leadership or simply shut it down, he tries to convert it to an organization for good. One of the leaders of this organization is an ancient dragon with motives of his own and as long as he’s achieving some of what he wants, he’s more than happy to leave Jimmy in charge. I like the tensions and political conflicts this sets up, the moral quandries this creates and the situations they have to deal with as they try to bring the entire organization under control, eliminating the worst excesses and shaping the rest to their ends.
The last issue suffers from “Sudden Death Syndrome” where they try to pack a year’s worth of storyline into a single issue. What’s heartening is it means they had a years worth planned out! Maybe they’ll get another shot. The last time I really liked a comic that tried to wrap everything up in a single issue because they were being cancelled was Dynamo Joe. Before they had a chance to start again, their publisher First Comics went under. I do still hope it’ll get another shot someday, but for myriad reasons that I’ll go into later, it really isn’t likely.