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Atom Eve #2

Posted: Monday, March 10, 2008
By: Kelvin Green

Benito Cereno
Nate Bellegarde
Image Comics
Hector Plasm creators Benito Cereno and Nate Bellegarde complete their brief visit to Robert Kirkman's Invincible universe with this final part of their exploration of the origin of Invincible's closest ally and occasional love interest, Atom Eve.

The comic certainly does its job. The young Eve is battered, both emotionally and physically, meets her real family at last, and achieves some sort of victory against the enemies she made just by being born. The creators do a good job of lining all these events up so that we can see how they shape Eve into the character we know from the main title, and looking back on it as I write this, it's interesting to see just how much Cereno packs into the comic. I've seen complaints that two issues was a waste, and that this should have been released as a one-shot, but there's more than enough content to justify the length, and the criticisms seem to arise purely from a reaction to the two-issue miniseries format, which I do admit is a bit odd, but not enough to sink the comic.

Each of Cereno's cast members benefits from a unique voice, whether it's the awkward mix of Eve's excitable teenage blathering and her inherent genius, the Professor's slightly ostentatious and woe-filled speeches, or the emo (sorry) quasi-poetry of Eve's ill-fated mutant brother, "Phase Two". Overall, it's a good strong script full of bits of dialogue that are simply a joy to read; that said, some lines are a bit clumsy, or at least seem that way. Cereno is a good enough writer that he wouldn't accidentally chuck in a bunch of clunky exposition, but it's there on occasion, and I'm not sure why.

Bellegarde's portrayal of Eve, somewhere between gangly youngster and beautiful woman, is full of charm and personality, and this confident approach to characterization is carried through, to a lesser extent, to the rest of the cast. The artist also gets to go a little bit wild this issue, as we're introduced to Eve's shapeshifting siblings, and discover what happened to her mother, complete with a striking visual of her unfortunate fate. Bellegarde's storytelling is strong throughout, in particular a visually complex battle between a bunch of shapeshifters and Eve, a girl who can manipulate physical matter at an atomic level, that takes up much of the first half of the issue; the artist is more than up to the difficult task, delivering a kinetic and exciting fight sequence full of suitably inventive and varied imagery. Background detail is occasionally a bit lacking, but the energetic storytelling mostly covers for that deficiency.

I don't know how much control Kirkman had over the direction of this miniseries, but Cereno and Bellegarde have done more to make me understand and like Atom Eve than Kirkman has managed in almost fifty issues of the parent series. That alone would make this miniseries (Duoseries? Biseries?) a success, but it's also strong superhero storytelling in its own right.



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