Agents Of Atlas #1 Review

by Charles Martin on August 07, 2019

Agents Of Atlas #1 Review
"The Portal City of Pan" Part 1
: Greg Pak
Artist: Nico Leon
Colourist: Federico Blee

"Behind the Veil"
Jeff Parker
Penciller: Carlo Pagulayan
Inker: Jason Paz
Colourist: Dono Sánchez-Almara

Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics

After the outstanding first scene, where the new Agents of Atlas round up a leftover Muspelheim fire dragon, the credits come with a map that points out a key problem for this team: they live on opposite sides of the Earth, literally.

Good thing their first adventure involves the creation of a teleport network linking Asian communities all over the globe! The world-spanning network goes by the name "Pan," and it's the handiwork of Mike Nguyen, CEO of the Big Nguyen Company. (Ugh, golf clap for the dreadful pun.)

Amadeus Cho is suspicious, scenting a scam. Silk is more optimistic. For a bright moment, as new neighbours from Seoul and Tokyo come together to try out their language skills on each other, her optimism seems to be winning.

And then the dragons attack.

The main story is backed by a B strip that expands the scope (yes, even further than a transcontinental teleport network) by showing the old-school Agents of Atlas dealing with some dragon problems of their own.

The gigantic plot these stories sketch out is the most engaging and accessible part of the issue. There are wheels within wheels to worry about: Nguyen's network doubtless has its drawbacks, the dragons' opposition is definitely part of a bigger scheme, and burbling on the back burner is the troubling thought that Jimmy Woo might be succumbing to draconic influence himself thanks to his partnership with Mr. Lao.

The new AoA team remains a bit more of an unknown quantity. Amadeus "Brawn" Cho is the boss, and a tight POV focus on him has both strengths and weaknesses. It makes this issue easier to get into. But it also undercuts the newer characters a little; you don't get a good sense of what they're about, individually or collectively.

The most promising sign is the appealing, natural interaction between Brawn and Silk. It shows a general capacity to flesh out these team members and make their relationships interesting. Hopefully, future issues will devote similar attention to the newer Agents.

A guest-star turn for the current Giant-Man, Raz Malhotra, is a nice bonus!

On the visual front, this issue presents some interesting contrasts, not just between the separate art teams for the separate strips. Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Dono Sánchez-Almara do a terrific job of making the old Agents' latest adventure as lurid and pulpy as it should be. The team with the talking gorilla is not the one that needs artistic subtlety.

Nico Leon and Federico Blee do a complex job with the new Agents. The colours throughout are neon-bright, but Mr. Blee uses a broad enough palette to preserve some nice differences in mood between the wide-spread settings of Pan.

The pure superhero action in the initial scene comes across as a little spare. The action is clear and moving, but a lot of the panels rely on speedline backgrounds. Once the Pan network is introduced, though, it becomes clear that there's a "conservation of detail" thing going on.

Mr. Leon takes a punishingly complicated artistic assignment - "lots of different cities melting together with big crowds throughout" - and simply knocks it out of the park. 

A wide range of artistic and storytelling talent come together in this introductory issue to paint a thrilling portrait of the sky-high stakes facing the Agents of Atlas. The plot by itself is enough to captivate, and there are hints that it'll be backed with solid character work in issues to come. This is a rollercoaster that's worth climbing aboard.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Raz Malhotra is clearly still a Giant-Man-in-training because he doesn't make full use of his opportunities to make horrible size-based jokes.