Wow. This comic just took a crazy right turn. Maybe I should have expected it, it's kind of inevitable when dealing with time traveling paradoxes. The crazy thing, it makes more sense then it actually should. But enough spoiling, let's review:
If you remember from the last comic, Nate was tossed back in time to 1994. The Internet just went public, Kurt Cobain was still alive, and superheroes have yet to make a main stage appearance on Earth (in the New 52 timeline that is). Central City (Kansas City) is more than a decade away from having the Flash show up, Superman maybe just a super toddler, and Batman is more rumor than reality. It's a simpler time.
It's odd for Nate to find himself in this situation. He has already lived through this period of time. He knows things about the future he shouldn't. In order to function in the past without actually harming the future he seeks some expert advice from your friendly neighborhood Harvard Professor.
So Nate, under a new identity begins a new life, only using his knowledge of future events to effect small changes and windfalls in fortune. He falls in love and marries the doctor who saved his life. The 21st century dawns with Nate the happiest he has ever been. His secret past a memory. However, he begins to see some changes take place to his own personal physiology. He even has some low energy outbursts. He decides to visit his professor friend one last time during his wife's day off... whom has something to tell him when he returns.
The visit with the good doctor doesn't go as planned. Nate inadvertently blows up an MRI machine and the professor feels as though Nate might be starting a transformation. He tells him to head home and tell his wife everything. It will be a crazy story, and she might not forgive him, but she needs to know the truth. But of course Nate can't get back home.
Nate is car jacked along the road when he tries to help a woman who appears injured. Despite him offering the criminals a ride instead of committing grand theft auto, they shoot him in the chest. This sparks a transformation. Captain Atom is being reborn. Gunfire has no effect on him as he becomes the super powered being he once was... or will be... or... it's complicated. This transformation causes one of the major paradoxes that the universe just can't abide by, so Nate is flung by powers unknown back into the future... this time into 2017: five years after he originally left.
So... Wow. Nate is going to have a kid in the past who will be 17 upon his return to the future. I'm sure that will be an interesting conversation.
While I love Bates and Weisman's understanding of time travel (predestination in a singular time-line as means to prevent paradox), my understanding of Nate's character didn't make it believable. Captain Atom, to me at least, was always the guy the plunged head first into things without much forethought. He would try to prevent major disasters like the Oklahoma City bombing or even September 11th. Instead, he has the foresight that his actions could have disastrous unintended consequences for the future, so he just makes what he feels are "small changes" to the timeline; not knowing if it would actually be to different or part of the past continuity. It's genius within the constraints of DC comics time stream (See Rip Hunter and Booster Gold for reference)... and that's the problem.
Nate is not a genius. Now, I know Bates and Weisman had a Harvard Professor act as his guide as Nate made small gains in sports betting and stock picks, but it still seems out of character. In the previous comic they did show Nate grappling with metaphysical questions, and maybe a sudden trip through time would give you more caution, but it still doesn't rub me the right way.
But hell, it's not my character, it's their character and they can write him anyway they want. I don't have to fully like it, I just have to accept it... and I do accept it. Maybe even someone like Captain Atom can mature.
The art is still amazing. Seriously. Look at it. ALL OF IT! Not a bad panel, not a muddy scene. Nothing felt superfluous. Everything felt tidy. Will Conrad is simply the giving us some of the best art in the business today.
This might be the most interesting, and honestly unexpected, stories coming out of DC right now; and that is saying allot. So buy this book, or continue to buy it. It's that good.
Rating: 9.5/10 Perry White Camoes