Sunday, 10 February 2008

Who'd Like A Cocktail? #15

I know I missed last week's post but I had friends visiting and as much as I like comics, catching up over a few beers kinda takes precedence.

Anyhow, this week's Cocktail was relatively easy to pick - Justice Society Of America #12 was excellent as always, The Boys #15 made me laugh out loud, the Manhunter: Unleashed trade paperback showed just why that title needed to be saved from cancellation, Countdown To Final Crisis moved into its last three months with #12 and The Trials Of Shazam has (thankfully) almost finished with #11. With all that, though, it was once again The Atom that came out on top, this time with #20, Gail Simone's last issue as writer.

As I've said before (specifically Cocktail numbers one, nine and twelve), Simone's writing on this series has made me smile with almost every single issue and to see her move on and wrap everything up is both a joy and a little sad.

Trapped by his nemesis, Dean Mayland, The Atom is at the . . . er . . . mercy of the alien plant called a Black Mercy. Feeding off its victims, the Mercy induces a catatonic state where the victim lives out their dreams and fantasies before they die. When first introduced in the Superman story For The Man Who Has Everything, the Mercy had Superman live out a fantasy of being back on Krypton where he struggled to help his father save their world.

The Atom, as any self respecting young man in the DCU would, imagines himself the beloved of his ex-girlfriend Jia, Wonder Woman and Giganta. I'm only surprised that Power Girl wasn't among the happy homemakers as well . . .

Another difference between Superman and the Atom while under the Mercy's influence is that Ryan is fully aware that he's living a dream and doesn't really care. The small snippets of dialogue that he mutters while under its influence - "What? Even my dad respects me now? Unexpected!" - are fleeting but again show Simone's lighthearted touch even when her main character is in peril.

While still dreaming, the mastermind of Ryan's troubles (and the source of the weirdness in Ivy Town) reveals himself: an embittered Chronos who, despite having sold his soul for greater powers of time, was still defeated by Ryan's predecessor, Ray Palmer.

It is he that has been the guiding hand behind Dean Mayland's attacks upon the Atom and now he wants to see Ryan dead and Ivy Town destroyed, just so that they'll be on Palmer's conscience.

As is to be expected, help arrives from Ryan's friends, specifically Panda and The Head. With their help, the Mercy's removed from Ryan's chest and - after Mayland reveals his true form as a being with a Cthulhu-type head - the Atom's able to defeat both him and the giant, rampaging monsters that threaten Ivy Town.

While this one paragraph summary can't do the battle justice, the line "And that's how I rode an ancient sewer-dwelling cancer god as he devoured my favourite giant Kaiju rubber suit monster come to life." sums up everything you need to know about the battle for Ivy Town.

I'll miss Gail Simone's writing on this title - it's been uniformly splendid (with the exception of The Ruffian's faux British dialogue) - and it'll be a shame not to have it any more.

Unless I start picking up Wonder Woman . . .

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