Crimespree on Comics: Jo Schmidt – Best Comics You’ve Never Heard of: Agents of Atlas

Best Comics You’ve Never Heard of: Agents of Atlas

Marvel’s “What if…” series explores alternate realities. From simple ideas like “What if Spider-Man had joined the Fantastic Four?” to the absurd like “What if Sgt. Fury fought WWII in Space?” A couple times an idea has proven so popular that it’s been given its own book or mini-series. Spider-Girl was launched into its own line and is one of the biggest cult characters in comic’s history. But only one idea launched a series set totally in the Marvel Universe proper, “What if the Avengers fought evil during the 1950’s?”

Captain America was frozen in the 40’s towards the end of the war. He was thawed in the 60’s when the silver age of heroes emerged. Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men and of course, the Avengers. That left an entire decade without any notable heroes. This caused the introduction of the 50’s Avengers; a group of existing Marvel characters that hadn’t been used for almost thirty years. Venus, Gorilla Man, M-11: the Human Robot, and Marvel Boy banded together in the forgotten decade. One writer remembered them. And thirty years after that issue of “What if…” Jeff Parker launched “Agents of Atlas.”

Many of the characters from “Agents of Atlas” were dead. From dying of old age or just being killed, as so many comic book characters are. Parker had an idea to relaunch them, in 2009. But first he’d have to bring them back. In the first series of their return he meticulously picks from where they were last seen and revives them. And they are powerhouses. Instead of the campy 50’s versions they get updated. Wonderfully so. Marvel boy was an innocent young alien just here to learn about culture. In the new series, he’s become more alien than ever. He’s done away with emotion and is suck between which culture he wants to embrace most. Venus seems almost unchanged. A beautiful songstress believed to be the goddess of love herself. We learn she isn’t anything what she thought. Jimmy Woo, an aging former spy, close to death, how can he be of any help? Parker finds a way. This team is needed. An old foe has returned. One that hasn’t been seen for sixty years. The Yellow Claw has been plotting and waiting to make a strike and only the Agents of Atlas know how to defeat it. They fought them before they’ll do it again.

The reinvigoration of “lost” characters really brought the book to new levels. It was nominated for awards and did so well it spawned an ongoing series. The characters are around, but sadly, without representation currently. “Agents of Atlas” is one of those cult hits that will stick with you. It might not come to the forefront of your mind but when it’s brought up, you want it back. Check out the entire run, Parker put a lot into the Agents and surely has much more up his sleeve once it’s brought back again.

Jo Schmidt