From A Library: Agents of Atlas

Agents of Atlas #1–6 by Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk

The spy, the spaceman, the goddess, the robot, the gorilla. Aren’t comics cool? FBI agent Jimmy Woo, Bob ‘Marvel Boy’ Grayson, the goddess Venus, M-11 the human robot, Ken Hale the Gorilla Man, brought together in 1958 to save President Eisenhower from the Chinese villain Yellow Claw. Cut to the present day, Woo is working for SHIELD, investigating the Atlas Foundation. Ken works for SHIELD’s Irregular Ops section, and rescues a comatose Woo from SHIIELD with the aid of M-11 and Marvel Boy (and his spaceship). They proceed to bring Jimmy back to life using Marvel Boy’s alien machinery but it is the younger version of him (based on the last time he physically contacted Grayson) with no memories of the past 50 years. And so the team needs to be reformed to investigate the Atlas foundation again …

Behind the haunting and funky covers by Tomm Coker, the clean soft lines of Kirk’s extremely pleasing artwork combine with the loving and funny writing of Parker. Some example dialogue between Derek Khanata, Wakandan SHIELD agent, and his boss Dum Dum Dugan: Derek – I slipped up and let a double agent infiltrate our Mojave vase … and I’m being promoted. Dugan – Welcome to America.

Woo gets the team together, which allows us to learn their origins, and collect Namora so that they can fight the Atlas Foundation assets, with the Yellow Claw appearing along the way. The final issue is the reveal (which is really cool, so I won’t spoil anything) but it turns things around by not being a big fight (of which we have had plenty throughout the rest of the story): it’s a conversation about the lineage of Genghis Khan and the Atlas Foundation. This is very different from the normal Marvel comic; as Ken says, ‘This is not how I managed all this going down.’ We even learn the origin of M-11.

This is an utterly charming book, completely out of place with current Marvel and using old Marvel history in such a fabulous way. Added to this, the hardback is a thing of beauty – the back-up material includes sketches and profiles (from a CBR news item) and the first appearances of the characters from old Marvel comics (and it is very old-school Marvel comics). Also, there is the ‘What If’ story of the 1950s Avengers (Venus, M-11, Marvel Boy, Jimmy Woo, Gorilla Man and 3-D Man – glad they didn’t use 3-D Man in this update, because he is a bit naff). Even though I’m not a great fan of the old stuff, it is still nice to see; it completes the nostalgia history of the group and shows the love that has gone into this package. Top marks all around.

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