Little Man On Campus
Our issue opens by trying to put all Asian stereotypes out of your mind because when Ryan Choi shows up at Ivy University for this first day of college, his parents aren't yelling at him "Why aren't you a Doctor yet?" and instead are trying to talk him out of his decision because their parents forced them to be scientists when all they really wanted to do was be artists. That's not Ryan though and he's spent his whole life wanting to go to Ivy University because that's where Ray Palmer teaches and he's Ryan's academic rock star. It doesn't take long for Ryan to be noticed by his idol either because....... Well, mostly because Ray has some decent observation skills and notices that with every question he asks his class Ryan mouths the correct answer without actually raising his hand. Me, I just would have thought that he was coasting without saying anything, but I can't see for shit so it doesn't really matter what I think.
After a year of working in tandem with Doctor Palmer, Ryan is asked into his office for his first year review and we get the first real inkling of his future potential, when Ray asks him why he wants to study science and after a bit of prodding for the real answer, Ryan answers that it's because the smallest things can be even more important than the big things. With that answer that seems to be the perfect one to someone who happens to be The Atom, Ray shows Ryan who he really is and the two begin their partnership in exploring the smaller things because to them, they're more important than the big ones.
After a year of being Ray's eyes and ears during his exploration of all things small and also doing the whole ordinary superhero thing, we see Ryan also come into this own in social situations and overall, just get what looks like a boost in confidence. That all seems to be tied to Ray Palmer though because after a week of not talking to his partner, Ryan seems to be in a slump and it's when he goes to find Ray that we jump into the events we saw in the DC Rebirth Special, where Ray has disappeared into the Microverse and now it's up to Ryan to become The Atom and save his friend...... and with that, hopefully get some answers about what terrible thing Ray found that will blow this whole Rebirth thing wide open.
That's it for this issue of JLA: The Atom Rebirth and while some people may want to know all there is to know about Ryan Choi before jumping into JLA in February, I don't think that this issue will make you understand the character that much more. Yeah, he's worked through some of his social anxiety, but I'm sure that will resurface when he's met with a team of heroes that he has to work with and ultimately, I think you could really just jump into JLA with the knowledge that we got from the DC Rebirth Special. Ryan has to become The Atom to save his mentor. This look into his college years doesn't really do much to make you think that he's the hero type or really give you confidence that he may be good at it. While the art style isn't something that I normally gravitate towards, I do have to say that I didn't mind it here for some reason I actually thought it worked for the story that Steve Orlando was telling. Speaking of story, while I've already said that I don't think this was all together necessary, it was still well written and I didn't mind reading it. So yeah, it's really up to you the reader to figure out if a story about a boy in college, who meets his hero.......... who actually turns out to be a hero is something that you're willing to shell out an extra $2.99 for with your current pull list because it doesn't seem like the information we get here is all that important since we already got the important stuff in the DC Rebirth Special.
Bits and Pieces:
While the story and art in this book are well done, the overall feeling of this issue that I came away with is that it didn't feel necessary. Yeah, people might not know who Ryan Choi is, but the information we got about him in the DC Rebirth Special seems to be enough to get you going for when this character appears in the JLA book in February. With that though, it's not a bad issue, it just didn't do much for me personally.