Looking at Gary Frank’s (pretty good) cover for the (adorably) paradoxically titled Giant-Size Atom, you’d think this was just some throwaway comic about Atom and Hawkman fighting S.H.I.E.L.D. agents dressed as Spider-Man. What you don’t know is that they’re actually incredibly tiny.
Which makes this cover a supremely missed opportunity when you could imagine a much better conceived one where you have a worm’s eye-view of the Atom kicking Spider-S.H.I.E.L.D.s while above you have a ginormous Hawkman about to smash the whole scene with his signature mace — not exactly representative of what’s in the issue, but it’d make for a striking, cover that would have made me buy two copies of Giant-Size Atom: one to replace the first one, which would have been soaked from tears of joy.
With Giant-Size Atom — which collects the rest the abortive Adventure Comics co-feature story in one package, but without the previous chapters — Jeff Lemire has written a solid superhero comic with the emotional core one would expect from a story penned by the creator of Essex County. Lemire cleverly uses the ability to shrink as an multi-purpose ability: you can use shrinking to save people, travel, as convenient storage for a big honkin’ sword and even as a weapon. This comic truly has everything.
Except consistent art. Three pencillers and four inkers split the art duties, with Pete Pantazis’ colors to hold it all together. So, as an unfortunate result, the interior art is inconsistent as it fluctuates in expressiveness and crosshatchyness and one artist decides to draw Hawkman with chest hair while one doesn’t. To make it even more hilarious, the chest hair appears as soon as Hawkman is out of harm’s away, as if his pectoral carpet ebbs and flows with his superpowers. And I’m not writing this as a nitpicker, fanboy or chest hair fetishist — only as a proponent of consistency within the pages of one (relatively) self-contained comic book. Honestly, it smacks of a rush job done to get the whole thing done and released on time.
Mostly, though, I wish this one-shot collected the entire story as opposed to just dumping the remaining chapters. The opening page does a decent job of explaining the situation to readers who weren’t following the initial Adventure Comics, but it feels somewhat incomplete without the previous chapters and the Brightest Day: Atom one-shot that kicked it off. Best to wait for the inevitable trade that collects the whole thing in one neat little package.