Marvel's strangest collection of oddballs are back with a new #1 and the return of 3-D Man! Hot stuff.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by Jeff Parker
Artwork by Gabriel Hardman, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Ramon Rosanas
It's the Agents you love, in an ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! Someone has come to ATLAS looking for answers to some very strange questions, and on his trail is a danger of a new level. Marvel's Rat Pack are back to solve the mystery behind THE 3-D MAN. The star team of Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman return to take Jimmy Woo's agents to the weirdest and most fantastic heights yet!"
The Agents Of Atlas may be shuffling around from mini-series to mini-series these days, but you can always count on their stories to be entertainingly off-beat, and to feature something you'd never expect. And this issue certainly isn't what you'd expect, it's barely about the Agents at all!
Instead, this issue focusses on 3-D Man, a character who is kinda/sorta associated with the Agents, in the original 'What if there were Avengers in the 1950s?', 3-D Man was part of the team alongside Gorilla Man, Jimmy Woo and all the others. But since he wasn't actually a 1950s Atlas hero (he was created in 1977), when Jeff Parker brought that stuff into the actual Marvel Universe, he didn't use 3-D Man, and he never worked with the Agents.
Or did he?
You see in this issue, Delroy Garret, the current 3-D Man (and former Triathlon) is having flashbacks to the original 3-D Man teaming up with the Agents in the 50s. Curiouser, and curiouser.
I liked how this issue really paid attention to the 3-D Man and his rather complicated history. It makes what's on the surface a rather goofy character (with a horrendously gaudy costume) into someone I'm actually interested in. I'm probably one of the few people who liked Triathlon when he debuted in Kurt Busiek's Avengers run, and I enjoyed seeing what he's up to know, and there are some interesting tidbits here, such as his somewhat Pariah status after the events of Secret Invasion (he killed Crusader, a Skrull who was on our side).
3-D Man's newcomer status is also helpful for new readers, as he is discovering the Agents Of Atlas at the same time they are, and that makes these crazy characters that much more intriguing. You're not straight back in to all the inter-Atlas intrigue and character details, Parker is easing us in with a new character, it's not what you expect from a new #1, but it works.
Luckily the Agents Of Atlas do appear in a back-up story this issue, a story set back in the '50s, which sees them face some Zombies. It's light and breezy fun (well, as breezy as Zombies can be) and looks like it's running in parallel with the modern-day events. A nice little bonus, and if past form is being followed, it could play a vital role in future events.
Artwork in this issue comes from Gabriel Hardman and Ramon Rosanas. Hardman has been on Agents since their first ongoing, and he's really grown into the book. His work reminds me of Michael Lark, it's that damn good. I also like how he subtly adjusts his style for the flashback 1950s sequences. Ramon Rosanas is the artist for the back-up, and while it's not quite as good as Hardman, it's still decent, at times reminding me of Mike Allred.
This is another funk, kooky instalment of Atlas, it's the only book on the market which can take silly concepts like Gorilla Man and 3-D Man and make it work, but without losing what makes them such fun. This issue is a good one for newcomers too, as it focuses on a newcomer to the book too, you don't need to know anything about Master Plan or Mister Lao or Temugin or The Great Wall here, you can just have fun.