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Welcome to my mounting box, said the collector to the Atom – The Atom #35

August 17, 2011

There’s a certain joie de vivre in the Atom’s Silver Age adventures, a synergy that comes when his miniature crime-fighting crosses with the customary goofiness of the era. They were made for each other. And all that is only heightened whenever Gil Kane is on the job. There’s a fun quality that shines through his artwork. Perhaps art at some point became drudgery for him. Maybe he woke up mornings, scratched his balls and thought “Jesus, I have to do that shit again today?” Maybe. But looking at his output, I find that hard to believe.

Case in point: “Plight of the Pin-Up Atom,” scripted by Gardner Fox and inked by Sid Greene. I was tempted to yack about the other half of this pint-sized twin bill, which featured the Atom travelling back in time to the France of chevaliers and Louis XIV, but there’s just too much in the first part to revel in. Brace yourselves. And sorry, Mr. Quatorze. Maybe next time.

The primary villain in this one has a lust for acquisition that many reading this might empathize with:

I swear, I think this guy has tried to elbow me out of the way while I’m looking through a longbox…

Smarts masterminds heists for goons in return for them purloining assorted collectibles for him (and I have to admit, his cluttered house looks a lot like the home office). His new kick is old bottles, and one of the best local collections belongs to an older couple. Their precious antiques are soon pilfered, but Smarts isn’t satisfied with this haul. It turns out that the couple also has a marvelous collection of American Primitive artwork. So back the gang goes to steal that.

The old fogies also have a boarder who’s a research assistant for none other than Ray Palmer. When she relays their misfortune to him, that puts the Atom on the case. He goes to the house to investigate the bottle caper and stumbles upon the thieves in the midst of hacking the paintings out of the walls:

Get the flyswatter!

The Atom has some bad luck and is knocked out by a vacuum cleaner set on reverse(!). He gets splatted on one of the paintings, and he’s only discovered later when the artwork is taken back the Smarts’ place. Smarts has the bright idea to maybe steal the Atom’s shrinking device to reduce the space taken up by his many collections (he’s really starting to make some sense to me), but after he adds the little guy to his bug display, our hero makes his move:

He then deals with these scumbags in his own unique way, first with model trains (and puns):

And then a tiny catapult:

If some Three Stooges sound effects were thrown in here, my head just might explode with rapturous ecstasy.

The collections are finally returned to their rightful owners, and Ray Palmer gives us the ol’ Silver Age wink to end the story:

Kane’s 1960s work always shines, whether he’s illustrating one of the larger (green) heroes or one of the smallest. I can’t say that I’ve ever loved the aesthetic quality of his art, but I’m more than willing to go gaga over the way he frames a story and positions the characters in each panel. It’s like a basketball player who’s not the best shooter, but more than makes up for that with deft ball-handling, aggressive rebounding and scrappy defense. Kane makes things more than interesting. He makes them fun.

Kane. Atom. Silver Age. A formidable trio indeed.

One Comment leave one →
  1. m lewis redford permalink
    April 26, 2012 3:00 pm

    Agreed – Kane – positioning

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