Justice League of America: The Atom: Rebirth #1 Review

Please note this review contains adult language

Written by: Steve Orlando

Art by: Andy MacDonald & John Rauch

Publisher: DC Comics

Goddamn, it has certainly been a hot minute since I’ve reviewed a Rebirth issue. The last time I sat down to review one of these bad boys, it was a completely different year!

Don’t let the mock enthusiasm of that intro get you excited though, folks, because I sure as hell did not miss reviewing these things. And I somehow missed reading them even less! Right when I thought I was out of the woods, here comes JLA Rebirth: The Atom #1, which continues the unfortunate trend of long, unwieldy titles.

Sadly, it continues many other unfortunate trends as well. Which is a polite way of saying “holy shit why are all these Rebirth one shots so fucking terrible?”

Well, dear readers, I have the answer to that particular question! Allow me present it to you in the form of a multiple choice question. Is JLA Rebirth: The Atom #1 awful because:

  1. It’s overwrought with useless exposition and generally overwritten otherwise
  2. The whole affair feels incredibly rushed and key points are missing
  3. It fails to make any element of the story interesting
  4. All of the above
  5. a & b only
  6. b & c only
  7. a & c only

That’s a lot of possible responses, so I’ll give you some time to think.


Time’s up! Time to compare answers

In the case of this comic, the answer is e: a & b only. Now, it very narrowly avoids the dreaded d: all of the above, because I’m pretty sure Ryan and Ray are fucking in between lab sessions and that particular aspect is kind of interesting, if unexplored.

Honestly, this book almost dodges the curse of being overwritten. There’s not a whole lot of exposition until later on, but the book is overwritten in other ways. The dialogue, for the most part, feels incredibly clunky. There are a few moments that remind me why I continue reading Steve Orlando books (there are six reasons, actually, and they make up a mini series called Undertow).

But this comic’s real problem is that it fast forwards through somewhere between 2 and 4 years in under thirty pages. We don’t really get to know Ray’s character. There’s a point – multiple points – where he talks about overcoming phobias and anxiety, but we never see that. He never actually has to overcome any challenges, the book just expects the reader to accept that he did it and is ready to begin superheroing.

And yeah, maybe a book about a character overcoming mental illness wouldn’t fly with the current audience for comics. So instead, we get another boring as hell superhero bookTM and just have to roll with it. Fucking wonderful. Maybe the industry wouldn’t be so goddamn stagnant if DC let its creators tell unique and interesting stories.

Oh, quick aside about the art: Andy MacDonald and John Rauch do a fine job. It’s a variant on the DC house style, but it looks fine. Some pages look great. A few are a bit off. So yeah, it’s the epitome of “well, it does the job it needs to do and that’s about it.”

But they don’t, and here we are with yet another painful to read Rebirth issue that will more than likely lead into another generic and awful superhero story. Fucking yay. Can’t wait to never read another issue of this book.