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Atoman–Superhero Comics Discussion #1

…because I have nothing better to post and the class I wrote this in was fucking awesome so I’m sharing.

Today, we’re discussing superhero comics because why the hell not. We’ll begin with Atoman by Jerry Robinson, a sad, sad attempt at writing a superhero story line, in my opinion. This discussion is about the construction (graphics/panel placement) and story line creation of the comic at the time in which it was created and why. I was limited in word count at the time, so don’t hate.


And while looking for the above image, I may have discovered that this comic is still around. Someone, please tell me it isn’t so. *looks again* Maybe I’m wrong. *shrugs* At any rate, let us begin….


Atoman pg 3Page 3 of Atoman by Jerry Robinson, which is the opening, is entirely too busy and atrocious for my taste with the multitude of Atomic Bomb headlines covering the top, and pieces of the story all around the center of the page. It seems as though they’re attempting to tell the entire story on one page, and it’s just too much. My eyes don’t know where to stop.

Atoman pg 5Once the actual story begins on page 4, the timing of Atoman is too fast-paced. The coloring is completely off and tends to run outside the lines, which tells me this comic book was done in a hurry. Perhaps it was made in one of the assembly-like lines, where it was produced cheaply, quickly, and quantity was the goal. I wouldn’t doubt the artistry is copy-cat style because all of it pretty much is, stemming from the early pulp magazine days, but the images in Atoman are fairly bland and the panels don’t really stand out. Another reason to consider it “assembly line” pulp fiction.

Atoman pg 7Since it’s around the time of the atom bomb, they even throw in a panel showing Einstein, but in the beginning, practically each panel showed a different person, unlike Superman in Action Comics #1, which displayed Superman in nearly every panel, start to finish. The next two pages are completely prologue, explaining in two simplistic pages the years put in to “conquer atomic power.” An interesting contrast in the dialogue on page 7 in the panel below is how they’re discussing, after using atomic power “destructively against the hate-filled fascist enemies of mankind,” they decide they “must turn to peaceful construction” in the use of atomic power to help the entire world. This is the perfect example of how fast-paced and not-thought-out this story is.

Some of the panels show dialogue that is a dead giveaway to the next panel, like the first panel on page 8, and just are not necessary. We jump from “evil minds are plotting right now” to oh hey, look at that, evil minds are plotting in the next panel. Mr. Twist (I’m guessing the name comes from the attempted twist in the plot?) is plotting to steal the secret to atomic power. He uses a henchman to get it for him, of course. How did Mr. Twist know Dale would be in the vault all day studying the secret to atomic power? There are huge pieces of the story missing. HUGE!

Mr. Twist’s face in nearly every panel is shaded to the point that it’s almost black. I think it’s an attempt to make him look more evil or hide his identity. Meanwhile, Zelda and Barry Dale have hardly any shading on their faces throughout. At times, Zelda’s face seemed to disappear, there was so little detail. Botox?

I think that Robinson took a fairly easy story that could be produced quickly using something from reality to help the reader relate to the story, and he maybe even did so over a weekend. It’s a sad tale, in my opinion, and should be a lesson in what NOT to do when creating a comic book.

What’s your opinion? And remember, swearing is fine, as long as it isn’t directed at anyone insultingly. Seriously. Don’t make me ban you.