Atlas Origins #1 Review + Interview

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Posted June 8, 2015 by Kevin Pourmostofi in Comic Books

Atlas is a new comic book series by creator Dave Swartz and I have been given the pleasure to read it and interview Mr. Swartz.

Atlas Origins is the current story arc detailing how Atlas receives his powers and introduces the major characters in the series. We are introduced to Peter Kline, an architect, who discovers that his wife and  child have been killed in a mysterious terrorist attack that completely destroys  four major cities from around the world. He enters a state of complete and utter emotional breakdown. He drinks himself into a near-coma every night, trying to forget, and yet never wanting to forget, his family. On a usual night, he is drinking and has a fate encounter with a mysterious man, leading him on a journey to a a hidden temple in the Atlas Mountain Range of Northern Africa. Here he learns to re-connect with his emotions and thus unlocking the true potential of his inner consciousness. He hones his powers over the course of a year and becomes Atlas – a being with the power to manipulate the fabric of reality. He has to use this power to overcome and destroy Khaos, the embodiment of pain, suffering and all things negative in this world.

atlas2At first glance, Atlas seems like a run-of-the-mill superhero story: a down-and-out man discovers he has the ability to change the world. We’ve seen it done countless times before. However, when you start reading, you soon realize the care and personality that Swartz has injected into his story, and I stress his story, because underneath the surface is a trove of creativity and potential. Everything from the spirituality involved to the dialogue, you can see Swartz’s personality ooze from Atlas Origins #1. This personality is what makes Atlas a breath of fresh air in a time of very often stale, repetitive comic book characters and stories.

What further sets this story apart from the rest is Swartz’s creative use of a “Training Journal”. At the end of each issue Atlas’ training regime as well as his thoughts in general, are revealed to us via the journal that Atlas/Peter keeps during his time training. Through this we gain a greater understanding of Peter’s adjustment to life and his road to becoming Atlas. It is truly a unique idea, and one that is risky as it could be seen as  simply a shortcut, but to me it works so well. It cuts down on the training and allows for Swartz to explore Atlas’ life and his adventure further.

This is very much a characteAtlas3r driven story, and the only problem I really have with this first issue is that I do not particularly care for Peter, and I felt very little connection with him, or with any of the characters we are introduced to, which is odd as the rest of the aspects of the book positively seeps with Swartz’s  personality. I do understand this is the first issue, and I look forward to learning about the Peter, as well as the Atlas, character.

Visually, again it’s very original, and I really do like the art design in Atlas Origins #1. The landscape is great, the faces are defined and I knew what emotion was being conveyed at what times. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the art style of Atlas Origins is one of my favorites in recent times. Seriously, just look at it!

Below you’ll find my interview with creator David Swartz for your pleasure:

We The Nerdy:  Atlas Origins #1 is filled with overarching, almost religious, spiritual imagery. What influenced you in coming up with this  idea?

Dave Swartz: The main inspiration for this story does come from many spiritual themes. Like the character Atlas, I’ve spent the last several years researching and discovering some truly amazing secrets and truths about our world, our universe and reality itself! This exploration into the undiscovered lead me to many thought-provoking ideas and theories about the real story of human-kind and our place in a cosmic cycle of time. Many of these truths are taken from the core teachings of spiritual & religious practices, but also from ancient cultures who made spiritualism the core of their society. For some, religious themes have certain connotations and can be seen as polarizing, but if you focus on the core teachings of most all spiritualism they all aim to answer the most fundamental questions we can ever ask – Who am I? Why am I here? What I found was they all have a very similar answer – We are part of a Source ‘God’ Mind, and we are here to experience the remembering of this truth. That is ultimately what I’m trying to do with this story in particular. To use a familiar and popular method of story telling (comics) to convey a very universal and challenging message – We are of one mind experiencing itself in infinitely amazing ways!

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WTN: Atlas is a superhero, an unconventional one, but a superhero nonetheless. How much inspiration did you take from superheroes such as Superman? 

DS:  I take a great deal of inspiration from Superman and Batman. They were the top two on my list for years and still are. Batman was always more exciting to me because he trained for years to become the superhero. It was something I could compare myself to and wonder “If I had the money and the motivation, could I do that too?” It always made him so much more real, but in his small bubble of Gotham, he really can’t make as big a difference in the world. However, Superman is like a god! The hero that could really make a difference in the entire world, not just one city. This is what I don’t care for much in these mainstream stories and I think DC and Marvel are now starting to catch up with – the new ‘global’ story telling demand. I wanted to create a superhero that could have the power to make a big difference to everyone on the planet, because, well that’s what a god-like hero should be doing right?! It’s not only about stopping super villains anymore, it’s about the REAL evil that drives the global economic and political machine that oppresses REAL people. More and more revelations about what is really going on behind the scenes in our world are happening everyday and I wanted to write a story to represent that for readers who may not be as familiar.

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WTN: What plans do you have for the future of Atlas? What plans do you have for the series?

DS: I have some BIG plans for the series! The first story arch is 6 issue long and is subtitled the ORIGINS series. It chronicles the beginnings of Atlas and his first encounter with his arch nemesis, Khaos. After that series concludes, I want to do something very risky and almost unheard of! The second 6 issue story arch will tell the origin story of the villain Khoas, set back in the 1600’s, and will NOT feature ATLAS at all! It’s an original pirate story that will be subtitles the CORRUPTIONS series and is reminiscent of “The Count of Monte Cristo” in many ways. It’s a risky move, but It’s important for me to develop these characters throughout time and space. One of the ideas proposed in the book is that time and space do not actually exists but rather everything happens within one moment in time, akin to stories like ‘the Fountain’. From there we go back to the end of the ORIGINS series to catch back up with Atlas and the changes he’s making around the world. I have plans for many more 6 issue stories that will introduce a new villain in each story, building a new set of rouge villains with each new story.atlas5

WTN: Obviously Atlas is a very original character, one unlike anything I’ve come across. Would you ever consider working with an existing or established universe or character?

DS: Thank you so much for the compliment! Yes I’m always open to any creative endeavor with other artists and story tellers. I have a few other stories in development at the moment that I hope to get going with other artists in the near future, but I would always love the chance to work on telling new stories with established characters.

WTN:  Do you have any tips or advice for people wanting to break into the comic industry? 

DS: I would say if you are a writer, make sure you know your characters and try to develop them as much, and as real as you can. Figure out how they were raised, what experiences they had in their lives that shaped the character they are in your story. It will help, not only with story development, but with proper dialogue. Nothing is worse than a great story with crappy dialogue! For artists I would suggest trying to find something unique about what you do that will separate you from what readers are expecting. Sometimes it can work against you, but ultimately it can make you more memorable. For creators or creative teams, marketing is your friend! You can have a really great product, but if no one knows about it or if you’re not excited about selling it then why would anyone want to buy it? You need to translate your passion for creating your work into marketing your work!

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WTN: Why Kickstarter as opposed to other crowdfunding sources e.g Patreon? Also, crowdfunding is a source of controversy. Do you think it is good for the comic industry?

DS: I chose Kickstarter because of the size of their community and I believe in their original mission – to connect creators with the funding they need. I understand that they’ve been pulled into some controversy recently with certain companies and creators abusing it, but it’s not exactly an epidemic just yet. When I first heard of Kickstarter I felt it was a revolution in the way popular culture can get made around the world. The biggest obstacle creators have is funding and when you think about it we all lose when great work goes unnoticed. So why not give the power to the people and let them make the best ideas a reality. That is what Kickstarter is truly meant for and it’s what I truly believe in!

WTN: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers? 

DS: The one thing I want to make sure is featured is the Atlas Training Journal. It’s what really separates this story from others and is the point in my elevator pitch that i find captures the readers attention. In the first issue I only touch on the year long training that Peter goes through to become Atlas. The whole experience is only briefly explained in just one montage page. This training story is just too big and too important so what I am doing is including 6 page excerpt from this journal at the back of each issue of the ORIGINS & CORRUPTIONS books. All the secrets and mysteries of our universe that I mentioned before are what drives the experiences in the journal and everything is told through Peter’s eyes, so you get to see how the characters goes from a cynical, stubborn nonbeliever into a empowered, open-minded being of great power! It’s really a second story waiting for you at the end of each issue!

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WTN: Thank You for your time!

One Sentence Conclusion: In a time of dark, gritty and morally abstract superheroes, Atlas is truly an exciting, original concept, and is one of the most exciting up-and-coming projects in the industry.

You can find Atlas’ Kickstarter here

 


About the Author

Kevin Pourmostofi

A Canadian Film Buff, Kevin is in love with the works of Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard and Charlie Chaplin, amongst many others. He can usually be found reading books on the cinema or watching films. Oh yeah, he plays some video games and reads some comics too. He can be found on PSN or Twitter at Momoguy123.