The Atom and Hawkman Vol. 1 #45: Ain’t No Love Like Caveman/Alien Gnome Queen Love
Posted October 18, 2009on:
In his DC Nation column this week, Dan DiDio announced the temporary resurrection of eight discontinued DC titles for January, the Blackest Night skip month. I was psyched to read that Geoff Johns would be in charge of writing the Atom and Hawkman #46. Ray Palmer and Jean Loring’s destructive relationship was a huge deal in Identity Crisis – yikes – and it resulted in a ridiculous amount of death. Blackest Night #1 gave us Black Lantern Hawkman; I’m betting that the Atom and Hawkman #46 will deliver Black Lantern Jean (yes, she’s dead, dammit, see Green Lantern #43). Holy crap.
Then it dawned on me, what better time than now to recap the last issue of the original Silver Age run of the Atom and Hawkman? Prepare yourselves, for Ray, Jean, and Carter in October 1969’s “Queen Jean, Why Must We Die?”
The issue kicks off with Jean Loring lawyering it up in defense of an unnamed client (who totally wasn’t at Harry’s Hot-cha Hacienda on the 24th, by the way) when suddenly, all of the jurors and the judge get this creepy smiley face! Jean freaks the fuck out and runs outside where EVERYBODY has the same face. Fortunately, she gets through the hallucinations and gets up to her apartment to relax. Of course, being a Silver Age woman, she’s gotta look in the mirror first and, who’s staring back but Creepy Smiley Face McGee? Spooky!
An hour later, Ray Palmer walks up to the apartment building, stroking his unified alpha field-detector (wink?) when a flying vase almost hits him square in the dome! It turns out that Jean was the one who threw it, trying to take out the building’s bellhop! She’s trying her damnedest to hit him with an ashtray when Ray blindsides her and stops her the Hank Pym way.
After telling the building superintendent that he’s got an ugly looking head, Ray escorts Jean back to her suite, where she fills him in on what’s going on. It turns out that a while back she tried defending a murderer named Lenny Kirtman, failed, and got his ass sent to the electric chair! But before Ray can finish trying to tell her that Lenny was a bastard, he noticed that his unified alpha field doohickey is glowing like crazy, meaning that the room is full of radiation! He kicks Jean out and shrinks his ass down into the totally sweet 1960s shag carpeting. But before he can land, something coats his arm in silver (I guess Silver Age characters LOVED coating other characters in precious metals).
The Atom plays possum until his attacker comes out from behind the carpet fibers. Turns out the guy is a microscopic gnome in a suit of armor with an upside-down fruit bowl on his head! After realizing that he’d seen the armor before (and noticing another weird techno-gizmo), Ray “applies his fist vigorously to the side of the opponents face” (uh, he punches him in the mouth). Ray apparently had enough time to write an opus on how to punch, but I guess just didn’t have any time left over to plan out where his enemy would land. Whoop! The dwarf guy lands next to the other gadget-thing! The gnome grabs the alpha field thingabobber and shoots alpha-beams right at Ray! Ray grows as fast as he can to escape, but is it too late?
Yes. Just as he becomes full sized, he passes out and wakes up to find Jean gone! He freaks out and decides to call up Carter Hall at the museum and ride the phone lines to him. After Ray gets Carter up to speed, he realizes that one of the suits of armor in the museum is identical to the gnome’s. It’s and ALINE suit, and it was discovered in Death Valley! Carter (now in his Hawkman get-up) and the Atom race to Death Valley and decide they need to shrink down to sub-atomic size to save Jean Loring from her microscopic prison! Wait, when was she captured? Whatever.
As soon as the pair arrive in Sub-Atomic Land, they’re attacked by a bunch of gnomes on robot birds. Carter is outmaneuvers them, no problem, but then in comes the last robot bird, carrying Jean Loring! She’s dressed like a Disney princess and talking like a creepy pervert (“Naugh-teee! You’ve been sooooo bad, Hawkman! Queen Jean will punish!”). Anyways, Hawkman and the Atom get shot with lasers and they pass out.
When they wake up (sans Carter’s wings and the Atom’s dignity), one of the alien gnomes decides to tell them their story. Turns out that they really are aliens from the planet Jimberen! They landed on Earth to try to colonize with the cavemen, but their queen instead decided to marry a neanderthal. Soon after, the aliens shrunk to escape a plague that only affected the Jimberen, killing their normal-sized queen. It turns out that Jean is a direct decendant to the long-dead queen and, according to custom, she needed to be driven insane and put in charge. Because Jean Loring is really fit to lead when she’s in a mood, right? The gnome shoots our heroes with another laser, binding an anti-escape harness directly to their flesh’s molecular structure “through your clothes.” Basically, they’re doomed to stew in their own juices forever (gross).
Queen Jean yells for the pair to be put to work and they do so, enduring a whole day of pyramid building and soup eating. The Atom flips out after a while, so he and Carter decide to fake their own deaths by jumping off of a cliff. Jean and the head gnome just kind of go, “Well, that sucked,” and walk off, allowing Carter and Ray to make a break for the machine that controls their anti-escape harnesses. Ray reverses the polarity on the machine, freeing them. And then comes the most abrupt ending to anything ever.
Carter gets his wings back just by asking for them. The Atom grows to back to man-sized. He shoots Carter and Queen Jean with the embiggening laser and everybody is happy. Oh, except Jean Loring is still insane and thinks she’s a queen. Also, we don’t know what the fuck was up with that killer’s face subplot. But, I mean, plots don’t really HAVE to get resolved, right?