I’ve loved Atlas from the very beginning, and I’m sad to see it go. Unfortunately, this issue didn’t quite live up to the series’ highs. It felt rushed, with long text pages and confusing plot exposition that I’m sure were the result of the book’s untimely cancellation. Despite my confusion, however, I loved the character moments in this book, particularly the team’s realization that all of them are people caught between two worlds, unable to be wholly one thing or another, and that Atlas is, consequently, the only place they truly feel at home. The art was also stunning, with gorgeous work from Ramon Rosanas, Gabriel Hardman, and Jeff Parker himself (though his pages were oddly pixelated), all colored by the amazing Bettie Breitweiser. I’ll miss Atlas, and I truly hope these characters find a future in the Marvel Universe, even if they don’t have a book of their own.
I’m sorry to see this series go, and even sorrier for the last issue to feel so rushed. At least when Jeff Parker’s Exiles was abruptly ended, he got a giant-sized issue to wrap things up. Here, the need to cram extra story into a final issue has the author resorting to text pages to get everything in. The narrative is inevitably a bit of a mess, but honestly this isn’t a jump-on point for new readers, and I don’t think anyone ever read Atlas for the coherency of the plot. The only way to evaluate this comic is how well it wraps up the stories of these characters for devoted fans. In the end, it works as well as it can, finding the balance between resolution and promise for the future that is the only way any series in a shared universe can really ‘end.’ The book looks great, too (another Atlas tradition) including only a few pages from Gabriel Hardman — who had presumably already moved on to Hulk — and some from Parker himself.
Atlas has easily been my favorite title coming out from Marvel over the last 5 years or so and now it’s over. Sadly, this is the first issue I’ve been disappointed with. Picking up with the team traveling between universes trying to determine who is invading our earth and why, they discover that our world has been ruinously affecting another that we didn’t even know about (which, when I think about it, is strikingly similar to the over-arcing plot of Fringe). The issue just feels far too rushed, seeking to tie up this plot while giving each character an important lesson to learn about themselves, it feels like Parker had a laundry list of plot points he had to hit and he barely gives them time to breathe. Gabriel Hardman’s art is great as ever, but it’s preceded by a lackluster opening by Ramon Rosanas and a text piece that stops the story dead. I’ll miss you, Atlas; come back soon, you’re better than this.
While I would prefer we didn’t say goodbye to this team at all, this is a good sendoff. Jeff Parker even draws a few pages, gives us a few pages of plain text and offers up a potent ‘fuck yeah’ moment with the help of a certain human robot. Atlas, at its core, has always been about exploring the middle path between the obvious four-color options, and this most recent of its finales carries that torch admirably. Unfortunately, the issue feels a bit overpacked, which lightens the impact a bit.