Friday, September 26, 2008

Spotlight on the Atom from the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (67)

"Through the magic alchemy of nature's most awesome sources of energy, Ray Palmer, atomic physicist, becomes the Atom: A power-packed mighty mite whose brilliant mind and great strength serve law and order against crime and injustice! Tiny titan, scourge of evildoers! The Atom!"

The Show: The Atom made his first animated appearance in three seven-minute episodes that aired as part of the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure in 1967. He also guest starred in the Justice League of America segments of the same show.

Each episode followed the Atom as he fights crime, usually mad scientists, and saves the world using his super shrinking powers. However, this is about as complicated as his character gets. This is pure Saturday morning cartoon writing of the 60s so don't expect to really get into the mind of the Atom.

Absent from the show is anything from the comic books, including his at-the-time-girlfriend, Jean Loring, his hometown, Ivy Town, and any mention of the mass of white dwarf star matter that gives him his power.

The Origin: The Atom's origin is not told in this series. The narrator simply states that he gets his powers from nature, which is not really true as science plays a pretty big role.

In the comics, Ray Palmer creates a lens using matter from a white dwarf star that is capable of shrinking anything to any size he desires. However, whatever is shrunk becomes unstable and explodes. It isn't until Palmer finds himself in a dire situation that he uses the lens on himself and discovers that he can shrink himself without harm.

The Powers: The Atom is able to shink to any size he wishes as well as restore himself to his original size. While small the Atom can jump as high as a normal sized person and has super strength relative to that of an ant.

Palmer is also an expert physicist which also comes in helpful in many ways.

The Costume: The design of the Atom's costume is fairly true to his comic book costume of the time with a few changes made for ease of animation. His entire torso is blue rather than the split blue and red, his ears are inside his cowl rather than exposed, and the atom symbol on his forehead is removed.

The Voice: Pat Harrington. Jr. provided the voice for the Atom and added a special touch to the character by using a high pitch while voicing the Atom while using his regular voice for Palmer.

Harrington is best known for his role as Inspector Clouseau from DePatie-Freleng's animated series, The Inspector and his role as Dwayne F. Schneider from the sitcom One Day at a Time.

The Episodes:

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Eagle-Man said...
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Eagle-Man said...

While the Atom's ability to shrink came from exposure to White Dwarf Star radiation, it is believed that Ray Palmer had some sort of metagene that allowed him to change size, since every other object he shrank became unstable and exploded. He also has some control over his weight/density. When he makes himself lighter, he can jump farther. When he makes himself heavier, he can hit harder. Used in combination, the Atom can be quite effective.

The Atom of the comics became fairly interesting a while after the 60s. In 1978, Palmer discovered a race of 6" people in the Amazon known as the Katarthans, with whom he lived for a while after his divorce from Jean Loring. He also discovered that if he shrunk down small enough, that he could enter a subatomic universe, much like Marvel's microverse, whence comes the Psycho-Man (I'm not sure who did this first, Palmer or Reed Richards), called the Nanoverse, or Palmerverse.

The Atom has more of a focus on scientific adventure, mystery and exploration than super-heroics, much like the Fantastic Four or Challengers of the Unknown. he tends to fight viruses and amoebas, travel to other universes or inside bodies, and even ward off alien attacks, all in the name of science, and always seems to get into trouble along the way. He even had some swashbuckling adventures in "Sword of the Atom" when he lived with the Katarthans.

As was mentioned, the Atom is an expert in physics, but also knows quite a bit about other sciencs, including biology, and is often recruited by the JLA to perform micro surgeries and the like.

Also, the Atom disappears after the events of Identity Crisis, leading a motley assortment of characters to look for him across the multiverse in Countdown's "The Search for Ray Palmer."

During Ray's absence, another professor in Ivy Town, Ryan Choi, discovers Ray's Atom belt and takes up the mantle himself, and defending Ivy Town from some truly bizarre stuff. Little does he know he's being manipulated.