"The Golden History"
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artists: Leonard Kirk(p), Kris Justice(i), Michelle Madsen(c)
Marvel Adventureverse stalwart Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk, who provided the only reason to continue reading the Geoff Johns JSA debacles, grace Agents of Atlas with simply fun writing and superb artwork. Parker though goes beyond a merely good story. He accepts that he writes fantasy, and he doesn't let realism overcome his story.
Gorilla Man, 3-D Man, Human Robot, Venus, Namora, Jann of the Jungle, Marvel Boy and Jimmy Woo all banded together to rescue President Eisenhower from the Yellow Claw in a memorable issue of What If? written by Don Glut and rendered by Alan Kupperberg. Agents of Atlas opens with a bouncy slightly tweaked recap and then segues to modern day where we learn Gorilla Man, not being human, still lives and has since his fifties career served with SHIELD.
In the current day, we learn from SHIELD staple Dum-Dum Dugan that Jimmy Woo left the FBI and transferred to SHIELD. They eventually gave the aging agent a desk job. Jimmy most recently learned of a conspiracy involving a group known as the Atlas Foundation. Against orders, Woo put together a dirty dozen and went to investigate. As Kirk's artwork vividly details, the mission went snafu, and Jimmy ended up in the direst of straits.
You may ask why Jimmy did not re-assemble the Avengers. Parker provides an answer to that in the Eagle Directive. This prevented Jimmy from contacting any of his Avengers. You may recall in the original What If? that Ike ordered Woo and his team to disband because they were too strange for the super-white, crew-cut fifties. The Eagle Directive isn't really too far-fetched of a plot device to keep Ike's wishes sacrosanct. The FBI and the CIA of the real world never have gotten along and continue to be territorial. It's easy to imagine a special rule that prevented various divisions in the same organization to even contact each other.
With Jimmy in seriously bad shape, SHIELD has no choice but to question Gorilla Man, and when he asks to see Jimmy this proves to be a class-A blunder. Gorilla Man is no mere commando agent but a very cunning individual. He would have to be if he lasted sixty odd years in the espionage game. He contacts an old ally who promptly tears down the wall and unveils a plan to rescue Jimmy from well-meaning doctors who wish to pull his plugs.
Besides action, Parker infuses the book with a lot of humor. The reaction Dum-Dum has when he discovers what ammo Gorilla Man packs is laugh out loud funny, and new character Kkanata expresses a hilarious reaction when he witnesses Marvel Boy's return.
Kirk takes your breath away when the Calvary makes their move. It wasn't an easy task either because the type of moment is one that should feel passť. Instead, his art creates an awe-inspiring visual that conveys what the characters feel upon seeing the unbelievable.
By the end of the book, you know that you're in the hands of a new maestro. My hope is that Agents of Atlas will one day have a crossover with Birds of Prey so Bob's technology can fix Babs Gordon's spine.
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