Who is the Atom? If you said Ray Palmer, or Ryan Choi, or "that guy from the Justice League who changes size," or Brandon Routh on Legends of Tomorrow, you certainly wouldn't be wrong.
But there was an Atom who came before all of them. His name was Al Pratt, and while he's not the most well-remembered Golden Age hero, he was an early version of a far-reaching archetype: the unstoppably tough undersized scrapper.
Welcome to Give 'Em Elle, a new weekly column that hopes to bridge the gap between old school comics fandom and the progressive edge of comics culture. In the future, I plan to take questions from readers and answer them in this column. I’ll solicit them on Twitter, where I’m @anotherelle if you want to go ahead and follow me. But since this is the very first edition, I’m on my own. So in the absence of a direct question, I want to talk about something that I hear discussed in comics all the time, and offer an explanation that I’ve never quite heard from anyone else.
Specifically, I want to talk about the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe, and what makes them different. The big difference, in terms of continuity and structure, is that the DC Universe has been rebooted several times, with drastic changes to its history, and the Marvel Universe never really has. To be sure, the Marvel timeline gets messed with now and again (most recently with 2015’s Secret Wars), but it always defaults back to “things happened the way you remember, but nobody’s getting old.”
Q: You mentioned "The Problem" in last week's column. So, what is "The Problem?" --@green2814
A: Last week, I dug in a little into the idea that even though they share prominent creators and have influenced each other back and forth over the course of the last 50 years, the DC and Marvel Universes have some fundamental differences in the way they're structured. One of the things I really wanted to get across in that column was that neither one is really fundamentally better than the other, they're just incompatible in a lot of ways, and I touched on how that results in something I call The Problem. Since that's still pretty fresh in everybody's mind, and since you were nice enough to set the ball right on the tee and hand me the bat, I might as well elaborate on that now. It's actually pretty simple.
To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years.
In the Golden Age of Comics, which ran from roughly the late 1930s until the early 1950s, it was not unusual to see a superhero given either a kid sidekick or a bumbling adult friend, either so the hero had someone to talk to or as comic relief. While a few of these characters—Robin, Bucky, Speedy, Aqualad—have survived in comics readers' consciousness to the modern day, here are some characters whose names alone would make you feel sure you had accidentally hit the “random” button on Urban Dictionary.
A while back, I wrote about a Kickstarter for the Golden Age Bakery, a business in Chapel Hill built around making edible versions of classic Golden Age comics by printing them on cookies. I can think of no better cause...
Like a lot of people, I grew up with Theodor Geisel, alias Dr. Seuss, as a huge part of my childhood. Books like Cat in the Hat and Oh, The Places You'll Go helped me learn how to read, and the Chuck Jones version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas...
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