The Atom Poster #1 Showcase #34 (1961) Gil Kane


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Having had success reviving the Golden Age heroes Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman with new, science-fictionish trappings, DC took a slightly different tack with the Atom. It took a non-superpowered, vertically challenged, masked crime fighter from the 1940s and totally reimagined him for the atomic present, retaining only the name of the character. The Silver Age Atom, who makes his debut in this 1961 issue of Showcase, was the bite-sized alter ego of Ray Palmer, a brilliant physicist who devises a means to shrink himself down to microscopic stature at will. The so-called Mighty Mite fights crime and fends off alien menaces, like this issue’s rival “tiny titan” Kulan Dar, a teleporting spaceman kept in thrall by a small-time criminal with a mysterious Dominator device. Helping to shepherd the Atom revival to publication was twenty-seven-year-old DC reader Jerry Bails, the so-called “father of comic book fandom” and an early and insistent champion of the character. Though he never quite cracked the A-list of DC super heroes, the Atom proved popular enough to merit his own ongoing title, beginning in the spring of 1962. “In my opinion, all of these ‘scientific’ details will only intrigue the present generation of ‘scientific-minded’ readers.”- Jerry Bails, in a letter to DC editors urging a revival of the Atom. The Atom is a name shared by several fictional comic book superheroes from the DC Comics universe. The second Atom was the Silver Age Atom, Ray Palmer, who first appeared in 1961. The Atom introduced during the Silver Age of comic books in Showcase #34 (1961) is physicist and university professor Dr. Raymond Palmer, Ph.D. (He was named for real-life science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer, who was himself quite short.) After stumbling onto a mass of white dwarf star matter that had fallen to Earth, he fashioned a lens which allowed him to shrink down to subatomic size. Originally, his size and molecular density abilities derived from the white dwarf star material of his costume, controlled by mechanisms in his belt, and later by controls in the palms of his gloves. Much later, he gained the innate equivalent powers within his own body. After the events of Identity Crisis, Ray shrank himself to microscopic size and disappeared. Finding him became a major theme of the Countdown year long series and crossover event. Gil Kane (April 6, 1926 – January 31, 2000), born Eli Katz, was a comic book artist whose career spanned the 1940s to 1990s and every major comics company and character. Kane co-created the modern-day versions of the superheroes Green Lantern and the Atom for DC Comics, and co-created Iron Fist with Roy Thomas for Marvel Comics. He was involved in such major storylines as that of The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98, which, at the behest of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, bucked the then-prevalent Comics Code Authority to depict drug abuse, and ultimately spurred an update of the Code. Kane additionally pioneered an early graphic novel prototype, His Name is…Savage, in 1968, and a seminal graphic novel, Blackmark, in 1971. In 1997, he was inducted into both the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.