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Sunday, July 15, 2012 

The Atom and Hawkman #45: this is what Identity Crisis drew from?

I found a post on High Five Comics about the last issue in the Silver Age Atom (and Hawkman's) series, whose story until now I'd only had basic knowledge about. And after reading the synopsis given about the story, it sounds like a real rush job, and honestly, this doesn't sound like the best idea involving pseudo-science either:
When they wake up (sans Carter’s wings and the Atom’s dignity), one of the alien gnomes decides to tell them their story. Turns out that they really are aliens from the planet Jimberen! They landed on Earth to try to colonize with the cavemen, but their queen instead decided to marry a neanderthal. Soon after, the aliens shrunk to escape a plague that only affected the Jimberen, killing their normal-sized queen. It turns out that Jean is a direct decendant to the long-dead queen and, according to custom, she needed to be driven insane and put in charge. Because Jean Loring is really fit to lead when she’s in a mood, right?
If you think that whole storyline there, an early effort of Denny O'Neil's, sounds ridiculous, it does, and it sure isn't one of the best ideas he ever came up with in his writing career. And for heaven's sake, neanderthals WERE cavemen! This story was concluded a few months later in Justice League of America #81, and at least researching this does show that, contrary to any claim DiDio's horrific staff and apologists could've made that Jean was just merely insane, it wasn't her fault she suffered from that and didn't become nuts through natural causes; it was a gang of alien screwballs who used absurd technology to render her that way before she was finally cured later in the Justice League. That this ended unresolved immediately suggests that they did want to conclude it sooner, but flagging sales and the imminent cancellation must've caused a change in plans that forced them to shoehorn the story conclusion into the Justice League instead.

I think what really offends me about Identity Crisis is how DiDio and company used bad stories as their pseudo-inspiration, and the old story itself, if anything, was definitely a product of hastiness, seeing how there's some other loose ends that weren't dealt with later. After reading this, if the given synopsis is correct, honestly, I think it was for the best if they phased it out of continuity after Crisis on Infinite Earths; it's not something I'd be up to referencing if I could acquire ownership of DC's publishing arm and wanted to restore some coherency for the DCU. In fairness, back in the day the Atom-Hawkman story was published, it's not like the people in charge then, O'Neil included, actually wanted to hurt the hero's girlfriend out of pointless hatred.

Nevertheless, it strikes me as one of the weaker efforts of the Silver Age, and it's shameful that DiDio and company would exploit it all for sensationalistic character assassination, and not even have the courage to tell anybody where they got the idea from, probably because they know that anybody who knew immediately where they drew from could come away feeling mighty insulted at how they used a bad story as a basis for more bad storytelling.

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I doubt it, mostly because I find it hard to believe DiDio has ever read a Silver Age comic.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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