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The Atom

Alias: Ray Palmer

Titans Member
Joined:
Teen Titans (second series) #1 [1996]

Atom Quick Bio: Discovering a fragment of a white dwarf star, scientist Ray Palmer developed technology to grow and shrink as the Atom. When the adult hero was temporarily de-aged to 17 years old by the time villain Extant, he reluctantly joined – and became the leader of – the newest group of Teen Titans.

Teen Titans File Photo:


Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

Hero History


Origin of Atom

Discovering a fragment of a white dwarf star, physics graduate student Ray Palmer soon learned that, with a little manipulation, he could use the fragment to alter his own size and mass. Thus, the diminutive hero known as the Atom was born.

Shortly after he gained his powers, Palmer joined the Justice League of America, where he served with distinction over the course of many years. He also met and married Jean Loring, and revealed his alter ego to her.

Soon, Atom’s super-heroic alter-ego took a toll on his marriage. Jean drifted into an affair out of loneliness. At this time, Atom discovered a subatomic world in the Amazon. He divorced his wife Jean and lived in this subatomic world for a time. Soon enough, Ray missed his old world and returned to it.

Upon his return, Atom assisted the Suicide Squad on a number of missions. Following his Suicide Squad stint, Atom rejoined the ranks of the Justice League, fighting alongside the likes of Superman, the Ray, and the Martian Manhunter.

During the Zero Hour conflict, Palmer was de-aged to a teen by the villain, Extant. He was now a thirty-something man trapped in the body of a 17 year old. And his old life was like a murky week old dream.

Atom meets Isaiah Crockett – as his powers emerge
in TEEN TITANS #3 [1996].

Teen Titans

Palmer returned to Ivy University (where he worked as a Physics professor) to undo this and return to his true age. There, he met Isaiah Crockett. Just as Isaiah’s heat-based powers manifested, he and the Atom were mysteriously teleported away.

Awakening on the alien ship of the dreaded H’San Natall, Atom met other super-powered teenagers in the same situation. Together, they rescued another meta-human teenaged girl who was raised in a virtual-reality simulator program. The group of teenagers escaped the aliens and returned to earth, where they found safe haven with the wealthy Loren Jupiter and his enigmatic associate, Omen.

During the adventure, the teens learned that they were half-alien, and their mothers were impregnated by the H’San Natall years ago. All born on June 21st, the kids were part of a sleeper agent program by the H’San Natall to defeat the super-powered beings already on Earth. The group stayed together, and with the funding of Loren Jupiter, became the newest incarnation of the Teen Titans. The heat-generating Isaiah Crockett became Joto; Toni Monetti’s silver plasma powers earned her the codename, Argent; With enhanced speed and strength, Cody Driscoll took the nickname, Risk; And the alien girl who could absorb and project light adopted the name, Prysm. Atom decided to remain on the team to learn how to readjust to his life as a teenager, since he was de-aged by Extant during the Zero Hour Crisis.

ABOVE: The new Teen Titans gather in TEEN TITANS #3 [1996].
BELOW:
Ray Palmer clashes with Loren Jupiter in TEEN TITANS #7 [1997].

The Atom operated as field leader during his time with the Teen Titans, but often lamented the fact that the old Atom was Justice League material, and the Titans were a ‘step down’ for him. Eventually, Atom started to rapidly age due to shifts in chronal energy. Waverider interceded and pulled a piece of Ray Palmer’s DNA from him during the Zero Hour fight to use as a cure for his current aging problem.

As Atom is returned to his rightful age, each of the Teen Titans decided to go their separate ways and the team disbanded.

Powers & Abilities


Can alter size at will, and can alter body mass to deliver sizeable blows at a diminutive size.

Ray Palmer is restored to his true age,
as the team disbands in TEEN TITANS #24 [1998].

 

Essential Reading


Showcase #34 [1961]: Cave-in! Within hours, physicist Ray Palmer, his girlfriend Jean Loring, and their school-age group of explorers will run out of air! Their only hope lies in Palmer himself – or, rather, in the secret shrinking ray he’d crafted from a chunk of white dwarf star! Stealing away, the physicist trains the shrinking lens on himself – and, in seconds, he dwindles down to six-inch size, the cavern prison looming large above him! At his new height, however, he takes advantage of footholds too small for normal use and creates an exit through which all can escape! Later, incorporating his secret lens into a tiny costume tailored from white dwarf material, Palmer decides to use its microelectronic controls to become the Atom – the World’s Smallest Super-Hero! First appearance of the Atom.

Teen Titans #1-3 [1996]: Teen Titans form. First Atom as a Teen Titan.
Teen Titans #21-24 [1998] The final TITANS storyline by writer/artist Dan Jurgens. Atom restored to true age in issue #24.

 

Dan Jurgens’ Teen Titans


Less than a year after the cancellation of the New Titans with #130 [1996], DC Comics decided to re-launch the Teen Titans concept. Dan Jurgens spear-headed the new concept and characters, with George Pérez providing inks. Jurgens’ Titans team was a group of teenagers united by a common origin: the sinister H’San Natall alien race produced alien/human half-breeds. The Teen Titans group included H’San Natall seedlings Argent, Risk, Joto and Prysm. The team was led by Atom, who had been de-aged to a teenager during the Zero Hour event.

Writer/Artist Dan Jurgens set out to create a diverse cast: “I tend to approach a group title differently from a solo character. What I think of first are the personalities and their family and social backgrounds. I knew I wanted an interesting blend of personalities. I start by pulling various elements together, adding characterizations, then powers and talents. First, I create an individual personality, then fit that into the concept of a team comic book for an interesting mix. There are a thousand comics out there right now that have young people with powers. You can pick them up by the dozen each week. I want us to be a little different by having more character-oriented stories; I want to create characters here that the readers are really going to become interested in.”

Although an all-new concept with all-new characters, Jurgens still provided ties to past Titans teams. The Teen Titans were funded by Loren Jupiter, who had funded the original Teen Titans for a time; allies included Omen (who was revealed to be former Titan, Lilith) and Neil Richards (former Teen Titans villain, the Mad Mod); a storyline in issues #12-15 featured a reunion of the original team.

The team seemingly broke up following events of #16. Following that issue, a number of one shots provided a spotlight for individual members. These double shots (February 1998) featured: Argent/Robin, Supergirl/Prysm, Atom/Impulse and Risk/Superboy. Issue #17 featured a membership drive, and new members Fringe and Captain Marvel Jr. joined the team. Former Titan Arsenal also joined the supporting cast.

These changes failed to invigorate the title. It seemed readers didn’t accept these new characters as “Titans” and the book, while not a failure, failed to reinvent the franchise. The title was canceled with issue #24.

Short List of Notable Appearances
Teen Titans #1-24
Teen Titans Annual #1
Titans Beat Promotional Flyer
Robin & Argent Double Shot
Superboy & Risk Double Shot
Supergirl & Prysm Double Shot
Impulse & Atom Double Shot
New Year’s Evil: Dark Nemesis #1

 

Dan Jurgens’ Take on Teen Titans Members


from Wizard #60 [1996]

RISK: “Cody Driscoll is loose, flamboyant and bored stiff by school and other aspects of everyday life. And he’s hyper, in the truest sense of the word. His abilities are increased over those of the average person by a multiple of five: five times the speed, five times the strength and five times the ability to get into trouble. I could see him emerging as the real star of the book, and he’s certainly a character who is very different from the Atom, which should prove interesting.”

SLAG: “lsaiah Crockett has heat-based powers. He can do incredible things with waves of heat and, when he’s touching it, he can even melt steel or concrete with his bare hands In many ways, he is the most stable and normal member of the group, because the last thing I to write was yet another sullen black youth from the ghetto. lsiah is very solid middle-class, with a very healthy family relationship.”

ARGENT: “Toni Monetti comes from a very wealthy family, one where material things have been more important than love and understanding. She seems bright and happy and perky, but she is really very lonely and isolated. Her power is the ability to create and fire plasma energy bolts that become instantly tangible.”

PRYSM: “Audrey Spears comes from the most bizarre family situation of all, in that she did not grow up on earth, but was raised by aliens in a controlled atmosphere, something like living in a ‘Brady Bunch’ or other sitcom world. She can capture and reflect light, fire light beams and travel at light speed. By emptying her body of light, she can become nearly invisible. She is potentially the most powerful of all the Titans.”

ATOM: And then there’s the Atom, a Silver Age DC character who went from thirty-something to teenager in Zero Hour two years ago. The shrinking hero will be team leader-, and Jurgens is looking forward to him being in the Titans, “The Atom has always been fairly conservative both socially and politically, and now he’s a kid again. He appears to be I7, even though he’s really in his mid-30s, and has been married and divorced,” says Jurgens, “How is he going to handle that?” Jurgens believes the Atom (a.k.a. Ray Palmer) is a pleasant throwback to the heroes of yesterday. “He becomes a DC Silver- Age character that’s preserved in a way, and need not become a dark, brooding character like many Silver Age characters have become. Hal Jordan has gone nuts, Aquaman is a hermit that lives under the sea, Hawkman is.. well, you figure it out.”


Sources for this entry: DC Secret Files, Teen Titans [1996] letters page bio entries supplemented by titanstower.com


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