Wednesday Comments – Remember Ryan Choi The Atom

So, a lot has been written about the death of Ryan Choi and I’m going to continue the trend by using it as the subject for this week’s column.

I was a fan of Ryan Choi’s solo title. I loved Gail Simone’s run on the first 20 issues. It was a fun ride full of far out concepts, solid characterization and just plain old good storytelling. The All-New Atom was one of those books that reminded me that comics could be fun and didn’t have to be laden with clichés.

Naturally it ended with issue #25 after a particularly dreadful final arc with a creative team brought in just to end things. And not only did Rick Remender wrap things up, but he also retconned some of the things that made Simone’s run special, particularly the relationship between Ryan Choi and Ray Palmer.

It was really an abortion of a final arc. It was right up there with Paul Levitz’s final arc on JSA, Geoff Johns closing arc on JLA, McDuffle’s issues of Firestorm and Burnett’s final issue of The Flash. Actually it’s sort of appalling how many of DC’s titles end on a horrible note with fill-in creative teams.

Anyway, I’m a Ryan Choi fan and I didn’t really have a problem with the Titans: Villains for Hire Special.

I can’t explain why I didn’t really have a problem with the issue. Unlike the All-New Atom, the special was rather cliché filled, at least in terms of recent DCU history. You’ve got a character that no one ever really took seriously who embarks on a last stand last stand against huge odds and ends up getting killed to a) show that a villain is serious and b) to show that the issue is a “game changer” for the DCU.

I think that part of the reason I didn’t have that much of a problem with the issue is because, for the most part I liked the characters in it. I thought that Ryan Choi was totally in character throughout the issue. I had no objection to how Cheshire, Slade, Osiris or Tattooed Man behaved. And it even followed up on recent events in the DCU.

But on another level, I also wasn’t surprised that Ryan Choi was killed. The current regime at DC has a major crush on the Silver Age concepts and characters. It’s why Hal Jordan is the Green Lantern in the JLA and has the highest profile in the DCU. It’s the reason why Barry Allen is once again The Flash and the Cosmic Treadmill is on the cusp of being used.

It’s also the reason why Ryan Choi was never going to the Atom or even a “co-Atom.” Ryan didn’t have the tenure as a hero that Wally West or Kyle Rayner had to keep him off the chopping block. Nor did he have the fan base or uniqueness that Jaime Reyes has as a means to stay his execution.

There was very little to differentiate Ryan Choi from Ray Palmer. And with Ray back as a major player in the DCU, Ryan’s days were numbered. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who thought that he’d meet his end on the pages of Justice League: Cry for Justice, once he popped up in that mini. I was wrong, but just barely.

Ryan’s days were numbered from the moment that Ray Palmer returned to the DCU. And once Ray’s role as a member of the Indigo Tribe in Blackest Night it really should have sent up signals that Ryan was doomed. At least he went out fighting and wasn’t relegated to a death off panel or worse; a one-panel death as cannon fodder.

Do I wish that Ryan Choi had the opportunity to ride off into the sunset? Sure, I wish he’d given up the hero gig and continued teaching in Ivy Town. I wish he’d become a supporting character in some other title or a team player in the JLA. But that’s not how his story played out. Instead he became another notch on Slade Wilson’s belt and another legacy character whose career ended before he got the time to shine.

I’ll miss Ryan Choi as a character. But I’ve still got twenty issues of awesome Ryan Choi adventures that I can go back and enjoy whenever I want. While I’m less than happy that DC decided to off a character who still had plenty of potential, I’m glad that I was one of the few people who enjoyed his adventures while they were being published.

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