Welcome back to Strange Times & Places! By the time you read this, The CW’s long-awaited (by me, if by no one else) Crisis on Infinite Earths will be going into it’s third night. In honor of The Atom (played by Brandon Routh) meeting Kingdom Come Superman (played by Brandon Routh) we’re looking at a differnt Atom standing in for Superman: Tangent Comics’ Atom #1!
How’s It Different?
The world of Tangent Comics is a Royale With Cheese wherein Dan Jurgens, the architect of the whole concept, started from the character’s name and reinvented them entirely. It also took considerable liberties with real world history, most notably having the Cuban Missile Crisis end in the destruction of much of the Southeast United States (to the point that New Atlantis, one of the major settings of this universe, is the rebuilt ocean-fronted version of landlocked Atlanta, GA).
What’s The Story?
Three years after the murder of the second Atom at the hands of the Fatal Five, his son has taken up the family mantle to bring them to justice! His battle with his father’s killers will lead him to the dark secrets that his family’s fame and fortune are based on, secrets that would potentially destroy the public’s faith in superheroes!
Best of Differences
- The Atom becomes the family legacy of the Thompsons when young army grunt Arthur Thompson (A. Thompson, geddit?) volunteers for an experiment wherein he was subjected to the fallout from a nuclear explosion. Rather than kill him, it mutated him into a hairless gray humanoid with compound eyes…and the ability to manipulate the molecular density of both himself and the world around him. His son and grandson inherit these powers.
- The Shadow Thief is the arch-enemy and murderer of the second Atom (because he couldn’t find the original), but he has great reason for hating the Thompson Family: His father was the M.P. in charge of supervising A. Thompson in the 60s (the secondary radiation exposure mutated his kid) and The Atom’s heroic career started with him murdering his way out of protective custody. It doesn’t make The Shadow Thief less of a murderous bastard, but it does give him sympathetic motives.
- The Superman-esque nature of The Atom legacy is built on a lie – not only did the original murder an innocent man to go on his first adventure, his attempts to intervene in the Cuban Missile Crisis actually CAUSED the nukes to start flying. America’s most beloved hero is the reason there is no Florida anymore. Heavy stuff for his grandson, who found all this out in his 20s, to deal with.