Atom (comics)

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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (Prat)
All-American Comics #19
(Oct 1940)
Showcase #34 (Oct. 1961)
Suicide Squad #44 (August 1990)
(Atom One Million)
DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000 (August 1999)
DCU: Brave New World (2006)
Created by (Prat)
Ben Flinton
Bill O'Conner
Julius Schwartz (editor and co-plotter)
Gardner Fox (writer)
Gil Kane (artist)
John Ostrander
Gail Simone
Grant Morrison
(Atom One Million)
Grant Morrison
In-story information
Alter ego Al Pratt
- Ray Palmer
- Adam Cray
- Ryan Choi
- Rhonda Pineda
Team affiliations (Prat)
Justice Society of America
All-Star Squadron
Black Lantern Corps
Justice League
Teen Titans
Indigo Tribe
Suicide Squad
Black Lantern Corps
Teen Titans
Justice League
(Atom One Million)
Justice Legion Alpha
Abilities (All-except Pratt and Atom One Million) Ability to shrink and grow his body and other objects to varying degrees (including the subatomic level) while manipulating his weight and mass to his advantage
Maintains strength of normal size in shrunken state, Superhuman strength and speed, Expert hand to hand combatant

The Atom is a name shared by several fictional comic book superheroes from the DC Comics universe.

The original Golden Age Atom, Al Pratt, was created by Ben Flinton and Bill O'Connor and first appeared in All-American Publications' All-American Comics #19 (Oct. 1940). The second Atom was the Silver Age Atom, Ray Palmer, who first appeared in 1961. The third Atom, Adam Cray, was a minor character present in Suicide Squad stories. The fourth Atom, Ryan Choi, debuted in a new Atom series in August 2006. Another Atom from the 853rd Century first appeared as part of Justice Legion Alpha in August 1999.

The Atom has been the star of multiple solo series, and four of the five have appeared as members of various superhero teams, such as the Justice Society of America, the Justice League, the Suicide Squad, and the Justice Legion Alpha.

Fictional character biographies[edit]

Al Pratt[edit]

The original Atom, Al Pratt, first appeared in All-American Comics #19 (Oct. 1940). He initially had no superpowers; instead, he was a diminutive college student and later a physicist who was depicted as a tough guy, a symbol of all the short kids who could still make a difference. Pratt was a founding member of the Justice Society of America, later gaining limited super-strength, and an energy charged 'atomic punch'. He died in the charge against Extant during the Zero Hour.[1]

Ray Palmer[edit]

The Atom introduced during the Silver Age of comic books in Showcase #34 (1961) is physicist and university professor Raymond Palmer, Ph.D. (He was named for real-life science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer, who was himself quite short.) After stumbling onto a mass of white dwarf star matter that had fallen to Earth, he fashioned a lens which allowed him to shrink down to subatomic size. Originally, his size and molecular density abilities derived from the white dwarf star material of his costume, controlled by mechanisms in his belt, and later by controls in the palms of his gloves. Much later, he gained the innate equivalent powers within his own body. After the events of Identity Crisis, Ray shrank himself to microscopic size and disappeared. Finding him became a major theme of the Countdown year-long series and crossover event.[1]

Paul Hoben[edit]

Prior to Ray Palmer's trip to the Amazon Jungle,[further explanation needed] he learns his wife Jean Loring has had an affair with her colleague, Paul Hoben; Palmer and Loring divorce. Later, Palmer offers his blessing to the couple when they marry, and he offers Hoben his size-changing belt so that Hoben can protect Ivy Town after Ray returns to the Morlaidhans. Adam Cray would later steal this belt; Hoben never uses the costume or name of the Atom.

Adam Cray[edit]

Adam Cray, Suicide Squad #46.

Adam Cray, son of the murdered Senator Cray,[further explanation needed] first appeared as the Atom in the pages of Suicide Squad #44 by John Ostrander (August 1990). Cray was initially believed to be Ray Palmer in disguise by members of the team. Cray had been recruited by Palmer (who faked his own death) to apprehend the Micro Squad, a group of villains that had been reduced in size. Palmer intended to use Cray to uncover a shadowy government cabal who were using Palmer to discover the secret identities of other costumed heroes (Palmer's own identity no longer being secret). While Palmer infiltrated the Micro Squad, Cray would attract the attention of the Cabal as the new Atom, so that no one would notice Palmer assuming the identity of a fallen Micro Squad member.

Adam Cray remained with the Suicide Squad briefly, serving as a secret weapon whose existence was unknown to others of the Squad. Cray saves Amanda Waller from a group of assassins. At one point, Cray approaches Deadshot about his role in Senator Cray's murder. Later, Cray is impaled through the chest by Blacksnake, a Micro Squad member who believes him to be Palmer.

After the unanticipated murder of Cray, Palmer reveals himself and defeats Cray's murderer. The ruse ended, Palmer explains himself to the Justice League, who had been searching for him, after hearing rumors of a new Atom.

During the events of Blackest Night, Adam's corpse is reanimated as a member of the Black Lantern Corps alongside several other fallen Suicide Squad members.[2] Following his reanimation, Adam and the other Black Lanterns travel to Belle Reve and attack Bane and Black Alice.[3] Adam is apparently destroyed by the Manhunter's self-destruct mechanism, unleashing an explosion of Green Lantern energy that eradicates the Black Lanterns.[4]

In DC Rebirth, Adam Cray is the son of Senator Cray and Ryan Choi's roommate at Ivy University. Senator Cray also attended Ivy and expected Adam to attend Ivy as well. He first meets Ryan when he walks into their dorm with heavy luggage and kindly introduces himself. Adam teaches Ryan how to play rugby and video games.

Ryan Choi[edit]

Ryan Choi, as described by DC solicitations, is "a young hotshot professor who's filling the extra spot on Ivy University's teaching staff. .. and who inadvertently ends up filling the old Atom's super-heroic shoes".[5] This new Atom is based on a redesign by Grant Morrison. He debuted in the Brave New World one-shot, a preview of projects, and then appeared in the series, The All-New Atom, written by Gail Simone. He is later murdered by Deathstroke and his Titans.

Rhonda Pineda/Atomica[edit]

In The New 52 continuity, a new, female Atom is introduced, Rhonda Pineda, a Hispanic American college student from Ivy Town.[6] She is revealed to be working as a reluctant spy for Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor, gathering intel on the new Justice League recruits. She is noted to be "the most important member of the Justice League of America" by Steve Trevor.[7] At the conclusion of the "Trinity War" storyline, she is revealed to in fact be betraying both teams; she hails from the alternate universe of Earth-3, where she is a member of the Crime Syndicate, operating under the name Atomica. She also reveals that by placing a sliver of Green Kryptonite in Superman's optic nerve, she caused him to accidentally kill Doctor Light, with the added effect of severely weakening and almost killing Superman over time.[8]

Atomica originally worked on Earth-3 with Johnny Quick as a thief and killer. One night after killing two cops, they are cornered on the roof of S.T.A.R. Labs during a storm. Lightning hits a satellite, electrocuting Johnny and granting him speed powers. Rhonda falls inside the building and lands near Ray Palmer's Atomico work, gaining size and density changing powers.[9] During the final battle with the Crime Syndicate, Atomica reduces her size and is killed when Lex Luthor steps on her.[10]

Atom One Million[edit]

An unnamed scientist in the 853rd Century performed experiments in superstring theory that creates a singularity and whose radiation alters his physical make-up. When the singularity threatened to expand and destroy his universe, he enters it in an attempt to save the universe but instead finds himself on an interdimensional bridge to another universe as his own is wiped out, unable to stop it. At the end of the bridge, he finds Superman Prime who came to help but was too late. Stranded, he searches this universe for remnants of the one he lost, in time taking the name the Atom and joining the Justice Legion Alpha when he helped them defeat the Bizarro-Legion. This Atom's powers differ from his predecessors in that he doesn't shrink but breaks up into several smaller duplicates of himself divided amongst his mass. At atomic size, these duplicates can mimic elements such as gold and oxygen.

Other versions[edit]

Frank Miller portrayed Ray Palmer as a major player in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. He was taken prisoner by Lex Luthor and made to live in one of his own petri dishes for a period of months until his rescue by Catgirl. He was then instrumental in the liberation of Kandor.

Tangent Comics[edit]

In the Tangent Comics imprint, The Atom is "Arthur Harrison Thompson", a subject of radiation testing on human beings. The first hero in the Tangent timeline, he inadvertently caused the Cuban missile crisis to escalate into a limited nuclear exchange that obliterated Florida and Cuba in 1962, unknown to his fellow Americans. Thompson was succeeded by his son, who was killed by the Tangent Comics version of the Fatal Five, and a grandson named Adam, who, in Tangent: Superman's Reign, is being held captive by Superman.

It is suggested in the Tangent series that The Atom's name was at least in part chosen because of the abbreviation of his full name "Arthur Harrison Thompson" on his barracks door to simply "A. Thom."

Also in the Tangent series The Atom's presence as America's first superhero during the 1960s has led to a huge cultural impact, and in this world many significant points in pop culture have been effected by his presence; for instance The Beatles choose to be called "The Atomiks", further more TV shows such as The Beverly Hillbillies became "The Superman Hillbillies", The Dick Van Dyke Show became "The Dick Van Hero Show" and Get Smart became "Get Powers".


  • Some other re-imaginings of the Atom include an appearance in League of Justice, a story portraying the Justice League in a The Lord of the Rings-type story where the Atom was recast as a wizard/fortune teller called "Atomus The Palmer".
  • Al Pratt as the Atom was one of the three heroes who chose to work at the side of Senator Thompson in The Golden Age. When Al discovers that Thompson is really the Ultra-Humanite, he joins the other heroes against the villain and Dyna-Man.
  • The Al Pratt Atom appeared in JSA: The Unholy Three as a post-WW2 intelligence agent with transparent atomic flesh and a visible skeleton.
  • JLA: Age of Wonder where Ray Palmer worked with a science consortium whose numbers at one point included Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
  • JLA: Created Equal, after Ray Palmer is killed in the cosmic storm that nearly wipes out the rest of the male population on Earth, a graduate student named Jill Athron is given a research grant to study Palmer's white-dwarf-star-belt. She becomes the Atom and joins the Justice League.
  • Atom evolved from a hawkman that had evolved from Robin in the Just Imagine... comic book.[11]

52 Multiverse[edit]

In the final issue of 52, a new Multiverse is revealed, originally consisting of 52 identical realities. Among the parallel realities shown is one designated "Earth-2". As a result of Mister Mind "eating" aspects of this reality, it takes on visual aspects similar to the pre-Crisis Earth-2, including the Atom among other Justice Society of America characters. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the panel in which they appear, but the Atom is visually similar to the Al Pratt Atom.[12] Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-2.[13]

In Countdown #30, the Challengers from Beyond encountered Earth-15, a world where the sidekicks had taken their mentor's places. On this Earth, the Atom is Jessica Palmer, a genius who graduated from MIT at age eight. The Search for Ray Palmer - Red Son features the Ray Palmer of Earth-30, an American captured by the Superman of a communist Russia. Countdown: Arena also depicts the Ray Palmer of Earth-6, who through unknown circumstances now has the powers and title of the Ray. The Search For Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman briefly features a female version of The Atom.

Collected Editions[edit]

Ray Palmer[edit]

Title Material collected Pages ISBN
The Atom Archives, Vol. 1 Showcase #34-36, The Atom #1-5 208 1-56389-717-2
The Atom Archives, Vol. 2 The Atom #6-13 208 1-4012-0014-1
Sword of the Atom Sword of the Atom #1-4 and Sword of the Atom Special #1-3 232 1-4012-1553-X
DC Comics Presents: The Atom Legends of the DC Universe #28-29 and 40-41 96

Ryan Choi[edit]

Title Material collected Pages ISBN
My Life in Miniature The All-New Atom #1-6, Brave New World #1 160 1-4012-1325-1
Future/Past The All-New Atom #7-11 128 1-4012-1568-8
The Hunt for Ray Palmer The All-New Atom #12-16 128 978-1-4012-1782-2
Small Wonder The All-New Atom #17-18 and 20-25 192 978-1-4012-1996-3

In other media[edit]



  • The Atom also makes an appearance with a slightly different color scheme costume in the live action 1979 TV special "Legends of the Superheroes", specifically "The Roast" episode.
  • The Atom (Ray Palmer) also appeared in the 1997 live action made-for-TV movie pilot Justice League of America played by John Kassir.
  • Atom (Al Pratt) appears in the Smallville episode "Absolute Justice" played by Glenn Hoffman. He is a super hero in the 1970s and a physics professor at Calvin College, who was arrested during a student protest and framed for the crime of fraud by the government in a mission to take down the JSA. However, he was never convicted of any crime. As the law was now aware of his superhero identity, Pratt retired from heroics. As Doctor Fate later stated, "The Atom split".
  • Ray Palmer, portrayed by Brandon Routh, appears as a recurring character in the third season of Arrow, a guest character in The Flash and Vixen and a main character in Legends of Tomorrow. He is a technological genius whose company, Palmer Technologies, moves into Star City and absorbs the collapsing Queen Consolidated. He designs a powerful exosuit for himself, using dwarf star alloy, and starts fighting crime as the Atom; following a suggestion of S.T.A.R. Labs' Cisco Ramon, he gives the suit the ability to miniaturize selected targets, especially its wearer. Ray was eventually chosen by Rip Hunter as one of the members of his time-traveling team, with the mission of stopping Vandal Savage throughout History and preventing him from taking over the world in 2166.


Ryan Choi in The Brave and the Bold.
  • Ray Palmer (voiced by Pat Harrington, Jr.) appeared in his own episodes in The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.
  • Ray Palmer appears with the SuperFriends in The All-New Super Friends Hour and The Super Friends Hour voiced by Wally Burr.
  • The Justice League Unlimited member Micron in Batman Beyond has technology and a futuristic design reminiscent of the Atom.
  • In the Justice League episode "Hereafter", the Atom is mentioned by name when a future Vandal Savage describes how he stole technology from Ray Palmer and destroyed the world.
  • The Atom (Ray Palmer) later appeared in Justice League Unlimited in "Dark Heart" and "The Return" as a nanotechnology expert, voiced by John C. McGinley.
  • The Ryan Choi version of the Atom appears in the series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by James Sie. The Atom helps Batman stop evil sorcerer Felix Faust from opening Pandora's Box in "Evil Under the Sea!". He re-appeared along with Aquaman to save Batman from a virus created by Chemo in "Journey to the Center of the Bat!". Atom has a Crime Syndicate counterpart called Dyna-Mite, also voiced by James Sie. A mind-controlled Ryan Choi appears in "The Siege of Starro! Part One", demonstrating the ability to grow to giant sizes, which he uses to prevent Batman from destroying a signal leading Starro to Earth. He also appears in the teaser for "The Criss Cross Conspiracy!", where he, Batman, and Aquaman battle the Bug-Eyed Bandit. "Sword of the Atom" reveals that Choi retired from heroics to return to science, but gets unwillingly dragged back in by Aquaman in order to find Batman, who disappeared while looking for Ray Palmer. Palmer is revealed to have discovered a microscopic alien race and fallen in love with their princess; after the heroes defeat a would-be usurper, Palmer leaves Earth with the aliens while Choi re-assumes the Atom mantle, his passion for heroics having been re-ignited by the adventure.
  • The Atom is briefly mentioned in the Young Justice episode "Failsafe", with Cat Grant stating that he had been killed alongside Batman, Icon and Aquaman during an alien invasion of Earth. The invasion is later revealed to simply be a training exercise. The Atom is shown among several candidates for Justice League membership in the episode "Agendas" where Batman cites his size-changing abilities as an important asset and he is officially inducted into the group in the episode "Usual Suspects". During Season 2, he is seen as a mentor to Bumblebee and helps the Team as a member of the Justice League. He is voiced by Jason Marsden.
  • The Atom will appear in the upcoming Cartoon Network show, Justice League Action.

Video Games[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Beatty, Scott, Wallace, Dan (2008). "Atom I, II and III". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 30. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. 
  2. ^ Suicide Squad #67 (January 2010)
  3. ^ Secret Six #17 (January 2010)
  4. ^ Secret Six (vol. 3) #18 (February 2010)
  5. ^ "DC Comics". DC Comics. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  6. ^ Justice League #18
  7. ^ Justice League #20 (July 2013)
  8. ^ Justice League #23
  9. ^ Johns, Geoff (w), Reis, Ivan (p), Prado, Joe, Eber Ferreira, Rob Hunter, Andy Lanning (i), Reis, Rod, Tomeu Morey, Tony Avina (col), Napolitano, Nick J. (let). "Forever Numb" Justice League v2, 26 (February 2013), DC Comics
  10. ^ Forever Evil #7
  11. ^ Just Imagine Stan Lee creating Crisis (January 2002)
  12. ^ 52 52: 13/3 (May 2, 2007), DC Comics
  13. ^ Brady, Matt (2007-05-08). "The 52 Exit Interviews: Grant Morrison". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 

External links[edit]