BHOC: SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #14

After my new experimentation with the Fantastic Four and Marvel Comics, things got back to normal with my next purchase: the final installment of the “Atom’s Quest” saga that had been running in SUPER-TEAM FAMILY. In this final part, the Atom finally got to take headliner billing (albeit behind Wonder Woman, an acceptable compromise) rather than appearing as a “plus” on the masthead–since this whole thing was really his story, it only seemed fair. And my other favorites, the Secret Society of Super-Villains would also be putting in an appearance. (But not the Creeper, despite his smiling yellow face being shown on the cover.)

I have to say, left to my own devices, I don’t know that I would normally have bought a comic book starring Wonder Woman and the Atom. It was only because this was the latest part in an ongoing serial that I was already invested in that I took the plunge (And the SSoSV helped–I was likely one of the few for whom it did.)  And that serial seemed like a real saga to me at this point, having ranged over four double-sized issues (as well as having aspects of it extend into the SECRET SOCIETY’s ongoing book.) 

So when we left off, the Atom’s fiance Jean Loring had not only been charged by the strange energies of a living world, causing her to teleport from place to place, but she had also been driven to a nervous breakdown by the experience. The Atom had been in pursuit of his wayward love from the start, enlisting the aid of a bevy of other super heroes along the way. When last we left off, though, the Secret Society of Super-Villains had made off with Jean, intending to use her strange new powers for their own nefarious ends.

The Atom heads for New York City to enlist Wonder Woman’s help, finding er locked in battle with some alien robots that landed by the United Nations and demanded the Earth’s natural resources for themselves. Diana obviously had a problem with this, and displayed her displeasure with Amazonian zeal. Elsewhere, Funky Flashman roused Star Sapphire who had been blasted unconscious by Gorilla Grodd. Flashman was hoping to team up with Sapphire to exploit Jean’s powers–but he’s too late. Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, an envoy of Grodd’s, enters the Sinister Citadel and strikes his own bargain with Sapphire, and the pair take off with Loring, leaving poor old Funky behind once again.

The Atom and Wonder Woman head to Paradise Island, where they can use the Amazons’ Crystal of Knowledge to locate Jean and her captors. Which they do–The Floronic Man and Star Sapphire have joined up with Grodd, and now the trio, with Jean in tow, stage an assault on Grodd’s home, Gorilla City. In order to spare his citizens from further harm, Gorilla leader Solivar surrenders to the Society, and Grodd puts the next stage of his plan into motion. Grodd’s built a machine to harness Jean’s psychic energies, and he intends to use them to blackmail the Earth.

Wonder Woman and the Atom send out a Justice League emergency signal, but get no response from their fellow Leaguers. Undaunted, they head towards Gorilla City, only to run into Star Sapphire and the Floronic Man. Sapphire causes Wonder Woman’s robotic plane to go into a tailspin and crash to the ground. Meanwhile, Grodd broadcasts his demands all across the globe. To prove his power, Grodd sets off a wave of catastrophes around the world: an earthquake in Times Square in New York, tornadoes in Paris, tidal waves in Cairo, a plague of locusts in Moscow and a blizzard in Peking. He demands that control of the world be turned over to him.

To put them out of the way, Star Sapphire has chained Wonder Woman’s bracelets together, eliminating her Amazonian strength and powers, and increased the Atom’s body density by five times, rendering him virtually immobile. Unbeaten, though, Ray Palmer removes his Atom costume, whose White Dwarf construction is what regulates his size transformations. Once he painfully gets the outfit off, his body returns to is regular size and weight. He’s able to escape his cell, locate Wonder Woman, and similarly break her bonds. But she’s still been blinded by Star Sapphire’s attack, and now the Atom is powerless as well.

The governments of the Earth haven’t been idle either. Backtracking Grodd’s signal, they fire a cruise missile at Gorilla City, but the Floronic Man is able to intercept it before it blows the place up. An infuriated Grodd has had it–he doesn’t care about ruling the world any longer, he just wants to watch if burn. As Grodd maxes out the hardware that’s projecting Jean’s powers around the globe over a series of satellites, Wonder Woman and the Atom break in and go on the attack–the Atom has retrieved his size-changing equipment, and he’s guiding the sightless Wonder Woman through the battle.

This issue also included the very first ad for the DC Super-Stars Society that I had seen. This was a fan club that DC ran for a couple of years, albeit one I never formally joined. I did send away for the information on the Flash and Justice League chapters, however–but I could never justify the expense of the necessary membership dues to myself. Too many other comics to buy, especially now that i was beginning to explore Marvel as well.

Grabbing Star Sapphire’s star sapphire, the Atom uses it to restore Diana’s vision. Then, as the power builds up, he shrinks down and enters the machine focusing Jean’s uncontrollable powers and destroys it. And the feedback fortunately eliminates those powers and restores Jean to sanity in the finest deus ex machina manner of the period. Grodd is once again imprisoned in Gorilla City under Solivar’s watchful eye, and the reunited Ray Palmer and Jean Loring make plans to finally marry. And so ends the story of the Atom’s Quest.

 …but not before plugging the next storyline that would be appearing in SUPER-TEAM FAMILY, this one pairing up my favorite super hero the Flash with the intergalactic New Gods. I wasn’t all that familiar with the New Gods (or interested, really) at this point, but I knew something of them from earlier issues of SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS. Still, another Flash epic was always welcome in my book, and I’d keep an eye out for it in the weeks ahead.

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