Captain Atom: Armageddon is a fantastic story, and speaks well for the Wildstorm titles overall. As with some previous DC/Wildstorm crossovers, this had the potential to be just a long heroes-fight-and-then-team-up story; instead, it's gripping, thoughtful, and remarkably true to Captain Atom's character, at least. As the Wildstorm universe crashes around it, Armaggedon takes a moment to ask what you trust more--technology, or your senses--and it's a fascinating question that pervades throughout.
I appreciated how faithful writer Will Pfeifer was both to Captain Atom and to the Wildstorm characters. Atom's origin plays a large role in the story, with his "sitting on top of a bomb" carried through the series as a metaphor for the lack of control Atom has over his life. Even Atom's failed marriage to Plastique gets a mention (though not, unfortunately, Extreme Justice). Majestic and the Wildcats are explained more to new readers than the Authority (perhaps given the Authority's overall popularity), but as an Ellis/Millar Authority fan, seeing them pop out of Doors again was a thrill.
What I liked in Armageddon was how ethically diverse Pfeifer showed the Wildstorm universe to be--from the everyman perspective of Grifter and the Wildcats to the ruling power of the Authority, with Majestic trying to find a moral ground in the center. There's a danger here, as with DC/Marvel team-ups, to portray the DC Universe as "happy" and the Wildstorm universe as "dark"--there's some of that here, but Pfeifer also shows how the heroes of the Wildstorm universe attempt to strive under difficult circumstances. The Engineer's mixed feelings about being instructed to kill Captain Atom, and especially Majestic and Jack Hawksmoor's ruminations about the end of the universe, show "shades" to the Wildstorm universe that may not always be so apparent when reading individual titles.
One of the main differences between the DC and Wildstorm universes, Pfeifer posits, is the Wildstorm characters' reliance on technology instead of know-how. Everyone consults a computer here, and most of them turn out wrong; when Atom implores the Engineer to trust her heart over her technology, she goes with the technology. There are larger world-bending questions here--How do we know what we know? How can we be sure we really know anything at all?--and I applaud Pfeifer for tackling them. Armageddon becomes more than a simple crossover--with romance, mystery, and moral ponderings, it's a weighty and satisfying read.
[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Captain Atom: Armageddon remains consistantly enjoyable throughout, trumping The All New Atom!]
More Captain Atom goodness coming up with Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven. Stick around!