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Characters / The Atom

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The Eponymous Hero

    Al Pratt 

Albert "Al" Pratt

The original Atom from the Golden Age, Al was a dwarfish man with boxing talents, curtsy of Joe Morgan who also trained Wildcat and Guardian. He eventually became a founding member the Justice Society of America and went on to join the All-Star Squadron.

  • Badass Normal: Originally he was a bare-handed crime fighter with unbelievable strength.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: At first he gained resistance to radiation due to a dying villain, later he gained full atomic physical abilities when he was caught in the fallout of an explosion.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: When he was brought back for the Silver Age, Al Pratt could travel between universes by way of an "atomic vibrator." Mounted on his belt, no less.
  • Height Angst: Pratt was only five feet and one inch tall, constantly being taunted for his size. Even after a boxing coach helps him become stronger, Pratt continues to get teased at his college over his size.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: As stated above, Al was originally a Badass Normal who often felt that, in the presence of such heavyweights as Green Lantern or the Flash, he wasn't worth much of anything. Even when comparing himself to other Badass Normals, he could still find something to envy, such as Mr. Terrific being able to run faster than him, or Wildcat being a better fighter. The man had an inferiority complex. However, after soaking up some radiation from the Supervillain Cyclotron in 1941, he finally gained Super-Strength from this event years later, in 1945. He was naturally quite thrilled upon this revelation, and yet, he was never quite satisfied...
  • I Love Nuclear Power: He absorbed energy from a nuclear-powered supervillain, which somehow allowed him to survive an atomic bomb blast, after which he gained his powers.
  • Legacy Character: He's spawned several, but his Silver Age namesake, Ray "the Atom" Palmer, was the only one with no connection to him. They did become friends, though.
  • Retcon: The story about gaining super-strength from Cyclotron came about in the '80s to explain why he inexplicably had it in his Silver Age appearances when he was non-powered in The Golden Age of Comic Books.
  • Super Strength: The Atom focuses his radioactive energy into his fists adding destructive force to his punches.

    Ray Palmer 

Raymond "Ray" Palmer

The shrinking hero originating during The Silver Age of Comic Books.

  • Badass Bookworm: A university professor and researcher who is also a superhero and member of the Justice League.
  • Bash Brothers: With Hawkman.
  • Determinator: Ray Palmer works on problems with single-minded pursuit.
  • Dressed in Layers: Palmer's costume inverts the trope: he wears his costume over his usual clothes, but it is stretched so thin around him that it is invisible. It only becomes visible when Palmer shrinks significantly.
  • Fights Like a Normal: Even without his shrinking technology, Ray still knows judo and is an effective fighter.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: He did invent the Bio-Belt after all.
  • Handwave: One arc of Grant Morrison's JLA has Ray explain to Kyle Rayner that the reason they can see things like photons when shrunken is because human senses adapt into something that allows them to still perceive their environment without going insane. The same effect is how they're still breathing even though it's no longer oxygen they're inhaling. He says not to think about it too hard.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Shrinking and changing your weight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ray Palmer and Hawkman (both Katar Hol and the retconned version of Carter Hall) are often portrayed this way. They even shared Ray's comic for a while in the late 1960s.
  • In Name Only: Atom's reimagining in the Silver Age. He went from a short and Badass Normal boxer to a physicist who could shrink by using the power of white dwarf star.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Ray invented a belt and suit that allow him to shrink to a microscopic size.
  • Memetic Mutation: "I'm Ray Palmer: Welcome to pain!".
  • Moral Event Horizon: Many people believe that Ray went way too far in Cry For Justice, where he tortures both Killer Moth and Clayface III for information, by shrinking tiny and stomping on their brains. Especially since that's how exactly his best friend's wife was killed in Identity Crisis. Most people (writers included) tend to ignore this bit of continuity entirely.
  • Retired Badass: He's gone back and forth, but seems to retire more often than other Silver Age JLA-ers.
  • Science Hero
  • Sizeshifter: Smaller than normal only.
  • The Smart Guy: He's the go-to guy for technobabble in The DCU.

    Adam Cray 

Adam Cray

Originally a short lived villainous legacy character who served on Task Force X.

  • Cosmic Retcon: He was revived in Rebirth as a seemingly powerless roommate of Ryan Choi.
  • Killed Off for Real: He was killed by Blacksnake, and wouldn't return until Rebirth rebooted the universe.
  • Legacy Character: A less heroic legacy Atom to Ray.

    Ryan Choi 

Ryan Lun Choi

The second shrinking hero to use the name.

  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Choi is the first Atom to be a person of color.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Ryan and his friends took martial arts training as kids, although Ryan was not particularly good at it and didn't particularly care. As a teenager, after he is bullied by Alvin and his friends, he returns to it and becomes quite good at it.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Ryan is Cantonese and quite nerdy, especially as a kid. He idolized the inventor of the rocket over his friends' martial arts heroes, was bullied constantly into doing homework for Alvin and his friends, and corresponded with Ray Palmer and possibly other scientists in place of having many genuine friends his age.
  • Asian Drivers: Ryan never learned how to drive before coming to America in the Pre-Flashpoint continuity.
  • Badass Bookworm:
  • Chick Magnet: Upon arriving in Ivy Town, he is promptly hit on by both a student and his coworker, Dr. Zuel.
    Ryan (internal monologue): I swear I'm not doing this on purpose! I've somehow mistakenly landed in Sex Town, U.S.A.!
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Ryan's shrinking abilities are not innate and are instead part of his suit's abilities.
  • Dating Catwoman: An odd case, as while Ryan Choi is dating a supervillain, he's not dating one of his villains.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Shrinking and control of his mass are suprisingly effective villain fighting tools.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: His primary love interest is Fiery Redhead Giganta.
    Ryan (internal monologue): Everyone deserves a second chance! Especially redheads!
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Ryan uses a belt and suit that allow him to shrink to a microscopic size.
  • Missing Mom: Pre-Flashpoint, Ryan's mother died shortly before he became the Atom; post-Flashpoint, she's still alive.
  • Mission Control: Ryan's role for Ray in the Rebirth one-shot before taking up the mantle himself.
  • Naturalized Name: Rebirth has 'Lun' as Choi's original name and 'Ryan' as his naturalized one.
  • Nerd Glasses: Rebirth-era Ryan wears chunky black plastic glasses to help with his nearsightedness.
  • Ret-Canon: Ryan's Rebirth Atom suit being Powered Armor is imported from Legends of Tomorrow, where Ray's ATOM suit is Powered Armor.
  • Secret Keeper: In Rebirth continuity, Ryan was the first person Ray told about being the Atom.
  • Square-Cube Law: Explained away by the "miraculous" effects of white-dwarf star matter. It's implied in Choi's series that his predecessor's frequent violation of this law of physics is why Ivytown went a bit... kooky.
  • Swallowed Whole: Let's say that his first date with Giganta didn't go so well. To be fair, she was being controlled by a cancer god at the time.
  • Telephone Teleport: The Atom could shrink himself down to a size where he could travel along phone lines, propelled by soundwaves. He would leave a metronome ticking at his end of the phone to provide propulsion. However, he found out the hard way that phoning using satellite hookups results in a very rough ride for him. By Rebirth, Choi had started surfing on WiFi signals.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Choi had a relationship with Giganta.
  • Token Minority: Choi was seen as this at first by some. The fact that they killed him off as soon as his series ended doesn't help. That said, they did bring him back subsequently, in cartoons and comics.
  • Villainous Crush: Giganta had a crush on him in the Pre-Flashpoint continuity. He reciprocates it.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Dean Mayland of Ivy University claims that the Atom (both Ray and Ryan incarnations) is one, and that they spread this to the town. Ryan seems to have accepted it.
    Ryan: I now think of normality as a village other people visit.


Love Intrests

    Mary James-Pratt

Al Pratt's college girlfriend and eventual wife. She and Al had a son named Grant together who was adopted by the Emerson family and eventually became the costumed hero Damage.

    Jean Loring

Ray Palmer's ex-wife. Jean is best known for accidently killing Sue Dibny in a derranged attempt to force heroes to get closer to their loved ones, and hiring Captain Boomerang to kill Tim Drake's father as part of her plan to frame Boomerang for the death.

  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: During Identity Crisis artist Rags Morales based Jean's appearance on Lesley Ann Warren.
  • Yandere: Jean tries to give Sue a stroke in order to manufacture a threat against superheroes loved ones to force Ray to come back to her. When she kills Sue instead she doubles down, fakes an attack on herself and hires Captain Boomerang to kill Jack Drake.

    Doris Zeul

Ryan Choi's girlfriend.


The Rogues Gallery

    Bug-Eyed Bandit
Bertram Larvan

  • Adaptational Badass: He's given size-shifting powers in Batman: The Brave and The Bold, making him slightly less of a joke.
  • Joke Character: He's been this for decades, both within the DC universe and in the real world.
  • Legacy Character: Bertram's unnamed son took up the identity a few times prior to the New 52.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Not really a Nemesis, but his main outfit is purple and wears green-tinted goggles.

David Clinton

  • Arch-Enemy: The closest thing to a nemesis the Atom has.
  • Deal with the Devil: He sold his soul to Neron for time-related Metahuman powers in the 1990s, which ended when he got sucked into time itself.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: His original costume is this trope personified.
  • Legacy Character: Walker Gabriel became the new Chronos — and a hero, to boot — for a short time before the original returned.
  • Rogues Gallery Transplant: He fought Blue Beetle during the late eighties before returning to the Atom.

Terry Curtis

  • Heroic Sacrifice: He performed a HeelFaceTurn against the Ultra-Humanite and sacrificed himself via blowing himself up, taking out the Ultra-Humanite in the process.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: It was his radiation that gave the original Atom superpowers.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: His time as Cyclotron may have been short, but without him both Atom-Smasher and Al Pratt would have never got their powers.

Sylbert Rundine

  • Evil Counterpart: Dwarfstar is a shrinking villain who acted as Ryan Choi's archenemy and had the same source to his power.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Played with. Coming from a more heroic character, his quips would probably be Actually Pretty Funny. Coming from him though...
  • Serial Killer: With a gimmick of writing a poem for each and every one of his victims (though some have to share). Main targets get more elaborate and thought-through ones, while incidental or targets-of-opportunity get a quick improvised piece.
  • Sizeshifter: He's got his own belt.
  • Smug Snake: He has a very high opinion of himself, and no one else.


    Lady Chronos
Jia (last name unknown)

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