Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pulp Hero(es): AGENTS OF ATLAS!

3D Man sez: "Oooh, no. You're not going to get me on that kick. Yeah, somebody decided to dig up the 1950s Avengers team, which had yours truly the 3D Man prominent front and center, rename it AGENTS OF ATLAS and send all those fine folks on a grand adventure and found success without me. I mean, does it get any more insulting?"

Don't worry, sir. One of these days I'm going to fix that by writing a good solid 3D Man comic everyone will love. I promise.

3D Man: "We got a deal. Because I'm not lettin' Them get away with that."


Despite this egregious oversight, and I'm not even beginning to be smug with that statement, the AGENTS OF ATLAS mini-series by Jeff Parker and artist Leonard Kirk is a rock solid hunk of fun Pulp with a real sense of humor and massive dynamic battle scenes. It also sports the greatest single panel ever produced...prepare yourself...

That's right, folks, that is a talking gorilla being hoisted by a super-robot while firing machine guns with his hands and feet.

You'd think the above panel would be untoppable, and a bad thing to essentially start your new series with. And you'd be right, it is untoppable, but it sets the tone for the whole series. No, the series couldn't top gorilla/robot totem strafing action, but it comes close a whole bunch of times.

All the characters are from the "Golden Age" period of Marvel Comics, when it was known as Timely Comics. Jimmy Woo is an Asian secret agent working for SHIELD, Marvel's high-tech CIA; as presented in an imaginary story in the 1970s, Woo assembled a group of "Avengers" during the 1950s. This group was designed to battle a menace no ordinary authority could handle. They were a one-and-done deal and soon forgotten, except for the occasional appearance in comics post-1970s.

The characters were staples of Marvel's 1940s-50s, but none of them had been seen in a long long time before Roy Thomas and Alan Kupperberg ressurrected them thus:

There's a power in the archetypes here, an odd charm that I would have missed completely as a kid. This is one of those concepts that works so much better with readers who have a sense of the ideology behind the characters: a real goddess who is the living embodiment of sensual pleasure, an Earth boy raised on the planet Uranus, a super-strong Namor-level Atlantean princess, a 1950s-style Gort-like robot, and a mercenary cursed to be an intelligent gorilla forever. And that's discounting the 3D Man, who were two brothers fused together in a freak accident, with one living inside his brother's eyeglasses. If that doesn't get you excited, lightning sure won't.

Recently there's been talk of a new ongoing series of AGENTS OF ATLAS. I don't know what the shelf life is on the concept, and "team books" are a dime a dozen, but I'm all over this thing when it happens, especially if Parker and Kirk are involved.

But whatever happens, I know AoA will forever be flawed.

I love you most of all, 3D Man!

3D Man: "Whatever."

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