Agents of Atlas

I felt bad that I was never able to get into Agents of Atlas in any of its incarnations. It’s written by Jeff Parker, whose work — The Interman, X-Men: First Class, Mysterius, Underground — I’ve been enjoying for years. And it’s a quirky superhero team, my favorite kind, with unusual characters. But there was something about all the history and structure around it, with the organizations battling each other, that lost me.

Well, that’s changed. And here’s what did it: the backup story in Hercules: Fall of an Avenger. (The lead, by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and Ariel Olivetti, is pretty good, too, with everyone remembering Hercules in their own unique and often funny ways.) It’s about Venus and Namora setting out to find various businesses around the world formerly owned by Hercules. They’re informing his friends, tenants, and employees of his passing, as part of closing his estate.

Ironically, this backup is written by Paul Tobin, not Parker (although they’re studio mates, I believe). But it worked for me because it let me get to know two of the team members without the distraction of the whole team, and they were doing something I found interesting and unusual (instead of the regular “fight some bad guys”). Then there’s the humor of the businesses Hercules chose, all of which are perfect for his larger-than-life role as lover, fighter, drinker — a man-god who lived all of life to the fullest.

So then I tried Avengers vs. Atlas, which was back to the hitting and fighting, but at least I had a hook to better understand some of the team dynamics. I kept getting distracted by how villain Growing Man looked like a Sentinel, although his shtick is the classic “every time you hit him, he gets bigger, so how do you stop him without engaging him directly?” And I liked seeing the original Avengers used due to some time jiggery-pokery.

The backup in #1 is also by Parker, a spotlight on Namora, who is becoming my favorite because she’s fierce and royal and uncaring what anyone else thinks. Then I liked the backup from #3, by Paul Cornell, in which Venus answers reader mail, only the readers are other Marvel characters.

So I think I’ll keep trying the series. It’s the little touches that I enjoy most, like the “story so far” page in issue #3 being broken by the words “Hulk Smash!” Because when he’s around, what else do you need to know? And reading the team members interacting with each other in various combinations is amusing.


4 Responses to “Agents of Atlas”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Wait… they killed Hercules?? Dang!! That was one fun series….

  2. Johanna Says:

    I figured that wasn’t too much of a spoiler, given the issue title, but you know, it’s comics. He’ll be back soon enough.

  3. James Schee Says:

    True, plus during myth, he’s died before!!

  4. Cole Moore Odell Says:

    I’m glad you’re sticking with Atlas for a while. It’s just the kind of book many people on the internet say *should* be published, but not enough people actually manage to buy. I’ve been with it straight through, scarfing up Atlas guest appearances and back-ups the same way I used to track down Ambush Bug comics in the 80s. I’m glad Marvel has given Parker a couple of chances to help the concept find its feet–I’m skeptical that any of it will stick, but if we can get another few one-shots, mini-series and an extra year or so of an Atlas ongoing, rather than outright cancellation last year, it’ll be hard to complain.

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