Friday, January 23, 2009

THE SPY. THE SPACEMAN. THE GODDESS. THE ROBOT. THE GORILLA.




The Agents of Atlas on-going series kicks of next month as part of the whole “Dark Reign” storyline that has taken over so much of the regular Marvel Universe. As a quick re-cap of the new series, let’s take a peak back at the late 2006 mini-series that first introduced the Agents as a team, although the mini-series itself took its cue from the June 1978 issue of What If? #9, where most of the characters originally appeared together as an out-of-continuity version of the Avengers set in the 1950’s:

Official continuity has now established that the group was formed in 1958 by F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo to rescue President Eisenhower from the villainous Yellow Claw. Agent Woo first recruited Venus (who is one of the legendary Sirens given flesh, and not the Roman Goddess of myth) and Marvel Boy, but tried unsuccessfully to recruit Namora of Atlantis, who declined membership but revealed where to find a broken, but potentially useful robot named M-11 (aka “The Human Robot” ). While Marvel Boy affected repairs on M-11, Woo asked Jann of the Jungle to extend an invitation to Gorilla-Man, who accepted Woo's offer. The group quickly rescued President Eisenhower and remained active for six months until the federal government, deciding that the public was not ready for such a group, disbanded it and classified all information about them.

In the present, Jimmy Woo, by now a high-ranking agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., made an unauthorized raid on a group identified as the Atlas Foundation. Woo infiltrated a secret Atlas location, but his entire team was killed in an ambush. Woo himself was critically burned and he lost his higher brain functions. Gorilla-Man, also a veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, provided the organization with a record of the 1950s team, of which S.H.I.E.L.D. had no knowledge, and then rescued Woo with the aid of M-11 and Marvel Boy, who restored Woo to his 1958 self. Namora, whom the group had believed dead, returned and finally joined the Agents. The team also learned that M-11 was a double agent for the Yellow Claw.

Using M-11’s internal beacon, the heroes found the Yellow Claw, who revealed that he was an almost immortal Mongol Khan who claimed to have orchestrated each of his battles with Jimmy Woo only to establish Woo's worthiness to marry his daughter, Suwan and to succeed him as Khan. The Claw had created Atlas to put Woo once again in the spotlight. Woo accepted his destiny, assumed control of Atlas hoping to turn it into a force for good, and the Yellow Claw, having found his heir, appeared to commit suicide. The Agents of Atlas later worked as a resistance cell against the invasion of Earth by the shape-shifting alien race known as the Skrulls.

Following the Skrull defeat, the Agents of Atlas have decided to oppose Norman Osborn's agenda by taking on the role of "super-villains". Their first act was to attack Fort Knox and steal the federal gold reserve, which Osborn had planned on using to finance a secret weapons system.

{Note: Agents of Atlas writer Jeff Parker explained that original What if? team member 3-D Man was left out "because he wasn't really around in the 1950s".} Maybe Jeff Parker ought to speak to the upper echelon at Marvel about that Sentry dude?

Before the on-going AoA series gets underway, here is a word of caution from yours truly, to the creators of the book, to avoid tossing in too many extra characters as additional team members. Take some time to flesh out the new book, and only THEN – if you must – stick with the whole 1950’s/Atlas dynamic and consider the following few potential heroes as possible new Agents of Atlas:

Sun Girl appeared in three issues of her own series back in 1948, a couple of issues of Marvel Mystery Comics, made a single crossover with Captain America and then became the sidekick of the original Human Torch for four issues through 1949. She is long overdue for a revival.

The original Black Knight (Sir Percy of Scandia) was a popular title for Atlas/Marvel back in the 1950’s. Drawn by the late, great Joe Maneely, the series was set back the age of chivalry, but hey, time travel could certainly solve that easily enough and Sir Percy’s Brazier of Truth still resides in Garrett Castle in the modern day, where his cursed shade has often interacted with his modern day descendant, Dane Whitman (the current Black Knight).

3-D Man first appeared in Marvel Premiere #35 (April 1977), but the characters history was firmly set in the 1950’s, so despite what Jeff Parker thinks, brothers Hal & Chuck Chandler (who together comprise 3-D Man) should’ve-could’ve been an Agent of Atlas and if not him then ….

Delroy Garrett, current calling himself 3-D Man, and formerly known as the Avenger, Triathlon has been tied into the history of the earlier version of 3-D Man and he could make a fine addition to the AoA group.

2 comments:

Chad Carter said...

Oh, I'm totally on board the 3D Man's inclusion. Really, just a little creative pomposity on Jeff Parker's part, not including Hal and Chuck Chandler, if his quote means such. And Sun Girl...I'd keep the figure exactly as you posted above. It's a simple, cool design, and really...there's so few really good women superheroes done well. Parker's Namora became an instant favorite.

Joey Deadcat said...

Probably what Jeff Parker meant to say was that he didn't want to use retcon characters for AoA. However, it still would've been nice to add 3-D Man at some later point.

And not sure I like the Venus retcon...