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Comic Book / The Coming of Atlas

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The Coming of Atlas by James Robinson and Renato Guedes is a 2008 Superman storyline published in Superman (Volume 1) 677-680. Together with Superman: Brainiac, it worked as a prelude to the New Krypton mega-event.

Superman is enjoying his downtime when a man named Atlas suddenly shows up in Metropolis and starts tearing the city up. After quickly disposing of the unfortunate members of the Science Police who tried to stop him, Atlas loudly demands a duel with Superman.

Superman engages Atlas as soon as he notices the chaos, but he finds himself losing ground. Atlas is a powerful, vicious warrior... and something is messing up with his powers.

And while both super-beings fight, the same person who set up their battle is watching them from the shadows and studying the Man of Steel closely, in hopes of finding a way to destroy him.

This comic-book provides examples of the next tropes:

  • Action Pet: Krypto is the only member of the Superman Family capable of holding Atlas at bay after everyone else has been defeated.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: While Superman and Green Lantern are playing Freesbie with Krypto, the Metropolis Science Police is fighting a multi-horned, multi-clawed, four-eyed, vaguely humanoid, skyscraper-sized yellow monster.
  • Bad Boss: It is revealed that a clause in LexCorp's contracts results in any employee who does or tries to help Superman in any way -even unintentionally or unwillingly- being fired on the spot; and if you happen to be on company property, this counts as trespassing and if you don't leave immediately you will be shot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Superman is being beaten up by Atlas, Supergirl, Steel and finally Krypto the Superdog join in the fray to help him.
  • Break Them by Talking: Atlas attempts to deliver such a lecture to Krypto, after having delivered an almighty smackdown to Superman and caused him to temporarily withdraw, leaving Krypto the only one left to make a stand. Unfortunately for Atlas it does not work, for the same reason that it probably would not work if you tried to verbally undermine a dog's sense of self-confidence with a lecture in real life.
  • The Bus Came Back: Previously, Atlas' only appearance was in 1st Issue Special #1 published in 1975.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Lois gets grumpy when Clark wants them to attend Zatanna's show, even though her husband bluntly states he has zero interest in his fellow Leaguer.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Atlas has just defeated the Super Family when Krypto joins the battle. Ultimately, Krypto is also defeated, but after a long fight which gave Superman time enough to recover and come up with a plan to beat Atlas.
  • Declaration of Protection: Subverted, since nobody can understand his growls; but when Atlas attacks Metropolis, Krypto fights him off, declaring his owner's beloved city is under his protection.
    Krypto: Man loves place. I protect place for man. Krypto good boy.
  • Determinator: Krypto can be beaten but never stopped. Atlas is unable to take him out will because Krypto gets back up again to fight on every single time he gets knocked into the ground. Not even blasting him with debilitating types of sunlight slows him down.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Superman comes up with a plan to beat Atlas; unfortunately, his plan forces him to abandon the battlefield momentarily. He asks Krypto to hold the line until he is back, and Krypto nods in agreement. However, Atlas sees Superman flying off and assumes he has abandoned his pet.
  • Evil Is Petty: If you are a LexCorp employee and you happen to help Superman, no matter the reason or the circumstances, not only you will be fired on the spot, but also your ex-boss will do everything he can to ruin your job prospects afterwards.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Atlas is an obscure Jack Kirby character conceived as a Conan the Barbarian-like fantasy barbarian who was not exactly squeaky clean, but was opposing a despotic warlord. In this story, it is revealed he became another power-hungry conqueror after killing his nemesis and taking over his kingdom.
    Chagra: Atlas was, once, though. My hero. The hero to many. The hero to all. [...] He was bold then, brave, pure of heart and spirit. I joined him in his quest to avenge his tribe's slaughter at the hands of Hyssa, ruler of the Kingdom of the Lizard. He— We found Hyssa. We— He killed him. And his rotting skull still adorns a vane upon the roof of Atlas' summer house by the water. Atlas took Hyssa's city and defends it when he must... But the good has left him. People fear him as much as they love him.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Atlas is thrown out of his own quasi-mythical time and into the present day, where he is found by Sam Lane's soldiers. Atlas is quite shocked by modern technology, but he is assisted in catching up rapidly by Lane's scientists.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: In the start, a weirder-than-usual humongous monster is rampaging through Metropolis. Unknown name, unknown species, unknown origin, no apparent motivations, and it disappears from the story as soon as it is curbstomped by Atlas.
  • Heroic Dog: Atlas is about to declare victory after defeating Superman, Supergirl and Steel in rapid succession when Krypto pounces on him. And Atlas is unable to shake Krypto off until Superman is fully recovered and ready for the final round.
    Krypto: (thinking) Man— This one hurt man— Krypto loves man— Krypto hurt this one. Man loves place. I protect place for man. Krypto good boy.
  • Hoist Hero over Head: In one cover, Atlas holds Superman's body over his head with one hand.
  • Hold the Line: When Atlas has beaten the Super Family down, Krypto stops his rampage and holds him back for as long as Superman needs to come up with a workable strategy.
  • Hologram: Lana trying to use Lexcorp's resources to help Superman triggers a Lex Luthor hologram which informs her she is fired, effective immediately.
  • Insult Backfire: When Superman angrily calls Atlas a "jackal", his adversary shrugs and says he does not know what a "jackal" is.
    Atlas: Pity. I would have—
    Superman: You'd WHAT? Jackal!!
    Atlas: If I knew what a jackal was I'd probably be more offended.
  • Kind Hearted Cat Lover: Supergirl is playing with a pride of thoroughly confused lions when she hears her cousin is in trouble.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The story ends up with the reveal that Sam Lane was the one who found Atlas and sent him after Superman.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Downplayed. Lois Lane had endlessly complained about Krypto: he is destructive, is not house trained, he does not belong with them, he does not even belong on Earth... whereas Clark protested his dog is a good boy. Then she sees Krypto getting hurt while protecting her husband from a Doomsday-like villain, and regrets having treated Clark's poor pet dog so harshly.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Invoked. While she is watching Superman being savagely beaten down by Atlas, Lois fears that her husband will die, and her last conversation with him will be a stupid argument over breakfast.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    • Atlas has just pounced Superman into the ground, and Krypto is not a happy puppy:
      Krypto: This one hurt man. Krypto loves man. Krypto hurt this one.
    • Superman, when Atlas has beaten Krypto.
      Superman: ATLAS! Hands off my dog!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Atlas crashes into Metropolis, he demands Superman is brought before him:
    Atlas: Yes. I have ventured. All. For. One. Thing. Superman!
  • Read the Fine Print: Lana tries to use LexCorp's resources to help Superman, and then she is informed that she has violated a term of his contract: any employee who attempts to help Superman, no matter the circumstances, will be automatically fired. When she asks where that in her contract is, she is told she did not read the very, very fine print.
    Lana Lang: Excuse me, Lex, but where is that in my contract?
    Lex Luthor Hologram: Ah, Lana. I'm disappointed. You're just like all the others after all. You didn't read the fine print. Very, VERY fine print.
  • Redshirt Army: In the beginning, several members of the Science Police are futilely trying to stop a giant monster from rampaging through Metropolis. Then, Atlas shows up, kills the monster single-handedly, and proceeds to utterly decimate the whole M.S.P. squad.
  • Relative Button: Superman only gets truly mad when Atlas threatens both his cousin Kara and Krypto.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Lana Lang uses LexCorp's flying drones to monitor the battle between the Science Police and a giant monster, and later the fight between Superman and Atlas.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • As talking to Superman, Green Lantern states super-heroes always run out of luck. Superman argues he might have broken the curse, since his family is still around. Hal Jordan wonders whether his old friend is being naive... or maybe he is right, because what can go wrong? Shortly later, Atlas attacks Metropolis and almost kills Superman.
    • After beating the Superman Family, Atlas states he is disappointed with the lack of heroes capable of challenging him. Then he hears an animalistic, angry growl. Krypto has just arrived, and he is mad.
      Atlas: I have to say I'm disappointed. I was expecting more Valor. I hoped to meet a true hero—
      Hearing a growling, he turns around
      Krypto (thinking) Man— This one hurt man— Krypto loves man— Krypto hurt this one. Man loves place. I protect place for man. Krypto good boy.
  • That Came Out Wrong: In a flashback, Clark is explaining to Lois Lane that he wants them to attend Zatanna's show because she knows all kind of amazing tricks which she has performed for her teammates on the JLA table.
    Clark Kent: She has a clause in her contract, no magical powers, it's all magician's craft. And she's good. Barry, when he was alive, he told me even he couldn't see how she did some of the tricks. And this wasn't even on stage, this was in the Satellite on the JLA table. Close up.
    Lois Lane: Why does that sound dirtier than you intended it to?
    Clark Kent: (annoyed) Rao... I have no idea, Lois, why does it?
  • This Is My Human: Krypto wants to maul Atlas for hurting its man.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: When Superman is on the verge of defeat, Supergirl offers to help. Superman insists he must do battle alone, and he asks Supergirl to avenge him if he fails. However, Superman has no problem when Krypto shows up and saves the day just a few moments later.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Subverted. Sam Lane goads Atlas into fighting Superman to study the Kryptonian's hero's capabilities. However, Atlas makes clear he knows Lane is using him with the intent of destroying him as soon as he has outlived his usefulness, but he is playing along for the time being.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Atlas is going to kill Superman before starting his takeover of Metropolis when Krypto shows up. Krypto's thoughts make clear he is not letting Atlas go anywhere past him.