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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Default How many subatomic cultures have we seen?

    I was searching for something else in Dark Mark's Index of the Earth-One Wonder Woman's stories when I stumbled across a summary of a 10-page story in "Wonder Woman #211" (in 1974). Dark Mark notes that it was basically an Earth-One retelling of an earlier story from the Earth-Two Wonder Woman's Golden Age continuity. Here's the plot summary:

    Synopsis: Wonder Woman discovers a miniature sun in the crater of an atomic bomb test and recovers it for study in Paradise Island. The Amazons discover that an atom of uranium from the sun is really a miniature planet, controlled by female “protons” led by Queen Atomia, who have enslaved the male “neutrons”. Atomia directs the atom-world into a beaker of water in the Amazons’ laboratory, creating a vapor that kayoes the Amazons and shrinks them into “protons”. She binds the Amazons and has them taken prisoners, telling Wonder Woman she intends to enslave her and use her to master the Earth. Wonder Woman uses a telepathic command to have the “neutrons” free her, after which she frees the other Amazons, enlarges them and herself, and returns with them to Paradise Island.

    I don't remember ever reading this story (nor the Golden Age predecessor of which it was a shameless knockoff), but this triggered a new train of thought. How many other times have DC characters encountered "subatomic" civilizations -- meaning that individual members of the local sentient species were even smaller than the typical atom? Their "local planet" might be one big atom, or might itself be smaller than an atom; I'm flexible on that point.

    I'm not just talking about characters who were born at approximately "normal size" -- but got shrunk down later, voluntarily or otherwise (and sometimes on a very temporary basis). Ray Palmer and other users of "The Atom" spring to mind.

    Although Ray is associated with at least one other example of what I'm looking for!

    Back in the early 1980s Gerry Conway wrote a JLA story arc ("Into the Microcosmos," appearing in "Justice League of America, #'s 213-216") in which Ray Palmer, The Atom, had gotten himself trapped on a previously unknown subatomic world and a bunch of his JLA buddies had to shrink themselves down to rescue him. (From the standpoint of local citizens, this "scary giant" had been trapped down there for about a hundred years, although he hadn't aged visibly in that time.) The most interesting character introduced in the arc was Krystal Kaa, a beautiful princess -- her royal ancestors had been overthrown by a tyrant who could control the "giant" form of Ray Palmer.

    Naturally, she's never been heard from again!

    So aside from the homeworld of Queen Atomia (in two different versions), and the homeworld of Krystal Kaa (in the Pre-COIE JLA continuity), how many other worlds/civilizations/etc. have we run across which had residents of subatomic size? In what stories did they debut?

    Note: I'll be glad to take anything that was originally published by another company, provided those characters and stories later ended up under the umbrella of DC -- such as material from Quality, Fawcett, ABC/Wildstorm, etc.
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 05-10-2012 at 10:25 AM.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    I was searching for something else in Dark Mark's Index of the Earth-One Wonder Woman's stories when I stumbled across a summary of a 10-page story in "Wonder Woman #211" (in 1974). Dark Mark notes that it was basically an Earth-One retelling of an earlier story from the Earth-Two Wonder Woman's Golden Age continuity. Here's the plot summary:

    Synopsis: Wonder Woman discovers a miniature sun in the crater of an atomic bomb test and recovers it for study in Paradise Island. The Amazons discover that an atom of uranium from the sun is really a miniature planet, controlled by female “protons” led by Queen Atomia, who have enslaved the male “neutrons”. Atomia directs the atom-world into a beaker of water in the Amazons’ laboratory, creating a vapor that kayoes the Amazons and shrinks them into “protons”. She binds the Amazons and has them taken prisoners, telling Wonder Woman she intends to enslave her and use her to master the Earth. Wonder Woman uses a telepathic command to have the “neutrons” free her, after which she frees the other Amazons, enlarges them and herself, and returns with them to Paradise Island.

    I don't remember ever reading this story (nor the Golden Age predecessor of which it was a shameless knockoff), but this triggered a new train of thought. How many other times have DC characters encountered "subatomic" civilizations -- meaning that individual members of the local sentient species were even smaller than the typical atom? Their "local planet" might be one big atom, or might itself be smaller than an atom; I'm flexible on that point.

    I'm not just talking about characters who were born at approximately "normal size" -- but got shrunk down later, voluntarily or otherwise (and sometimes on a very temporary basis). Ray Palmer and other users of "The Atom" spring to mind.

    Although Ray is associated with at least one other example of what I'm looking for!

    Back in the early 1980s Gerry Conway wrote a JLA story arc ("Into the Microcosmos," appearing in "Justice League of America, #'s 213-216") in which Ray Palmer, The Atom, had gotten himself trapped on a previously unknown subatomic world and a bunch of his JLA buddies had to shrink themselves down to rescue him. (From the standpoint of local citizens, this "scary giant" had been trapped down there for about a hundred years, although he hadn't aged visibly in that time.) The most interesting character introduced in the arc was Krystal Kaa, a beautiful princess -- her royal ancestors had been overthrown by a tyrant who could control the "giant" form of Ray Palmer.

    Naturally, she's never been heard from again!

    So aside from the homeworld of Queen Atomia (in two different versions), and the homeworld of Krystal Kaa (in the Pre-COIE JLA continuity), how many other worlds/civilizations/etc. have we run across which had residents of subatomic size? In what stories did they debut?

    Note: I'll be glad to take anything that was originally published by another company, provided those characters and stories later ended up under the umbrella of DC -- such as material from Quality, Fawcett, ABC/Wildstorm, etc.

    I only recall so many details off the top of my head, but SF Grandmaster Harlan Ellison's HULK fill-in from the 70's introduced the subatonmic planet of Kai, where Hulk meets and falls in love with "The Girl in the Green Atom" after being shrunk by Psyklop - when he goes back to normal, his brutish mind quickly forgets his time with her as the narrative box explains the atom Kai circles is part of a tiny speck on the Hulk's pants - he visits several more times.

    Fantastic Four Annual #5 (Nov. 1967) introduced Psycho-Man, who appears normal-sized but is really a mad genius from the subatomic "Microverse" wearing a truly colossal-sized (relatively speaking) robotic suit.

    And in the licensed comic MICRONAUTS, based on the toy line of the same name, Marvel established another "Microverse".
    Last edited by Robert L. Washington III; 05-10-2012 at 12:36 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jody Garland's Avatar
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    the Faceless Hunter from Saturn, who was in a few stories from Strange Adventures back in the 1960s, was sub-atomic.

  4. #4
    Come and See... 4thHorseman's Avatar
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    Okay...maybe I'm remembering wrong (It's from Countdown to Final Crisis....do you blame me?), but didn't Ray Palmer shrink as far down as possible and end up in the Bleed as a way to travel the multiverse?

  5. #5
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    JUSTICE LEAGUE #18 (from the 60s) has the Leaguers journey to subatomic Starzl, which took its name from some old SF pulp-writer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Toreador's Avatar
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    I think there was an old GL story where he gets kidnapped into the future and brainwashed into thinking he came from there to help the people there from an invasion of a microscopic world (this was the second time that the future society had 'time-napped' GL).

    Another GL story had Hal shrink down into his ring where he had trapped an evil wizard. There was an miniature world inside the ring and the wizard and become dictator of that world. Hal was drawn into the ring to fight the wizard and free the people.

    I'm sure the Atom has had a few adventure of that type but the only one I can recall right now was early in his career where he encountered miniature people living in a cave that was being controlled by a crook to steal from him.
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  7. #7
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    There was a Justice League fill in during the Morrison/Waid era in which they find an advanced civilization living inside a terminally ill boy.
    Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dupersuper View Post
    There was a Justice League fill in during the Morrison/Waid era in which they find an advanced civilization living inside a terminally ill boy.
    I actually remembered that one as I was posing the original question -- but offhand, I wasn't sure those entities qualified as "subatomic" in size. "Microscopic," yes; but that's not the same thing. (I haven't dug out the relevant material from my collection to refresh my memory, though.)

    Come to think of it, I do remember that toward the end, as that microscopic culture was about to die, we had a riff on the Superman origin story. A brilliant scientist placed his offspring in a prototype ship and assured his mate that, in the iron-rich environment of the human liver, their little pride and joy might grow up to have powers vastly beyond those of members of their species in their native environment (whichever part of the human anatomy that was -- I can't remember). I think this implies that the typical member of the species was significantly larger than the typical iron molecule, and could in fact ingest such molecules when they came along, and gain additional strength or other powers thereby . . .

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    I actually remembered that one as I was posing the original question -- but offhand, I wasn't sure those entities qualified as "subatomic" in size. "Microscopic," yes; but that's not the same thing. (I haven't dug out the relevant material from my collection to refresh my memory, though.)

    Come to think of it, I do remember that toward the end, as that microscopic culture was about to die, we had a riff on the Superman origin story. A brilliant scientist placed his offspring in a prototype ship and assured his mate that, in the iron-rich environment of the human liver, their little pride and joy might grow up to have powers vastly beyond those of members of their species in their native environment (whichever part of the human anatomy that was -- I can't remember). I think this implies that the typical member of the species was significantly larger than the typical iron molecule, and could in fact ingest such molecules when they came along, and gain additional strength or other powers thereby . . .
    As a divergent note, the excellent riff on Superman's origin story is a good example of why that run of Justice League is one of the best ever.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ray II View Post
    As a divergent note, the excellent riff on Superman's origin story is a good example of why that run of Justice League is one of the best ever.

    Well, that wasn't the only time I've seen an interesting riff on one of the "classic origin stories."

    Heck, I have a soft spot in my heart for an old "Hero Alliance Quarterly" story, published many years ago, in which three superpowered woman were going out for a night on the town. They weren't in costume that night, but still managed to accomplish a few nice things alone the way.

    For instance:

    They prevented a cute black-haired newsboy in red sweater and blue slacks from being lured down into a dark, abandoned subway station by some creep in a trenchcoat (probably a perverted child molester, right?).

    They prevented a wealthy married couple from being shot dead by a mugger right in front of their horrified little boy.

    They prevented a brave red-headed kid from getting exposed to radioactive waste after a truck went out of control. (I imagine it would have blinded him, at the very least.)

    They (accidentally) prevented a blond police scientist with a crew cut from being struck by lightning in his lab. (Just imagine how horrible it would have been if the lightning had not only struck him, but also caused a zillion different containers of chemicals to break open and splash all over him at once!)

    All in all, they had managed to do a good night's work to save lives and make the world a much better place . . . right?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4thHorseman View Post
    Okay...maybe I'm remembering wrong (It's from Countdown to Final Crisis....do you blame me?), but didn't Ray Palmer shrink as far down as possible and end up in the Bleed as a way to travel the multiverse?
    That may have happened, for all I know -- I've never read any of the "Countdown" year-long series.

    But I suspect that if that's what he did, it did not involve anyone saying that the worlds he visited were literally atom-sized or smaller. It sounds more like the excuse that Marvel started using around the 1980s -- the idea of "if you know what you're doing, using a great deal of energy to apparently 'expand' or 'shrink' your body can actually cause you to breach a dimensional barrier and end up in a whole different reality. Then you reverse the process to go back the other way!"

    That was a belated retcon that told us that such Marvel characters as Psycho-Man (an old FF foe) and Jarella (a green-skinned princess who was crazy about Hulk) were "not really subatomic" in size at all -- they just lived "elsewhere" in the multiverse and the high-powered shrinking/expanding thing was the method they used to travel to Earth-616 (or that Earth-616 characters used to visit the homeworlds of these "so-called subatomic" characters).

    But I still miss the days when "subatomic worlds" were real subatomic worlds! They just don't make 'em like they used to!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Default The Tentative List of DC's Subatomic Cultures

    Thanks to suggestions on this board and elsewhere, along with a little further digging of my own (into Ray Palmer's Silver Age adventures in particular), I currently have the following list (arranged in chronological order):

    Queen Atomia's homeworld. (Earth-2 version debuted in "Wonder Woman #21" in 1947; its Earth-1 analog debuted in "Wonder Woman #211" in 1974.)

    The subatomic native world of the Vrenn (a plundering species who tangled with Adam Strange). (Debuted in "Showcase #18" in 1959.)

    Another subatomic world which the Vrenn had already stripped of everything useful -- after their own homeworld had been rendered useless by the same treatment. (Debuted in "Showcase #18" in 1959.)

    Klaramar -- home of "the Faceless Hunter from Saturn." (Debuted in "Strange Adventures #124" in 1961.

    A world located within a diamond; long ago it had been colonized by refugees from the doomed continent of Atlantis. (Debuted in "The Atom #5" in 1963.)

    Starzl. (Debuted in "Justice League of America #18" in 1963.)

    An inhabited world located within Hal Jordan's power ring. (Debuted in "Green Lantern #10" in 1962.)

    Catamoore. A subatomic world located inside a book of magic. It was once ruled by The Druid (one of John Zatara's old enemies), but he was overthrown when Atom and Zatanna dropped in for a visit while searching for Zatara. (Debuted in "The Atom #19" in 1965.)

    Erewhane. (Debuted in "Hawkman #9" in 1965.)

    A subatomic world ruled by a king who fell in love with Elasti-Girl when she visited. (Debuted in "Doom Patrol #107" in 1966.)

    The world inhabited by the races known as the Palonds and the Honds (this atom was located within a hospital bed; Ray Palmer found it while he was a hospital patient). (Debuted in "The Atom #32" in 1967.)

    The subatomic world that was the current residence (but not the native habitat) of the Jimberen aliens. (Debuted in "The Atom and Hawkman #45" in 1969.)

    A world located within the ring of Aquaman's wife Mera. (Debuted in "Aquaman #50" in 1970 -- although Aquaman (and the reader) only learned for a fact that this was a "subatomic world" in #52.)

    Krann. (Debuted and was destroyed in a Superman story in "Action Comics #396" in 1970).

    Another subatomic world that was visited by Ray Palmer. (Debuted in "Action Comics #406" in 1971.)

    Yet another subatomic world discovered by Ray Palmer; Superman helped him save it. (Debuted in "World's Finest #213" in 1972.)

    Krystal Kaa's world. (Debuted in "Justice League of America #213" in 1983.)

    Note: It seems as if these things were all the rage in DC's Silver Age, particularly in titles edited by Julius Schwartz. After that era had passed, the concept went into a bit of a decline.

  13. #13
    Veteran Member Retro315's Avatar
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    I was definitely swinging by to mention the subatomic world inside Mera's ring.

    The Brave and the Bold which featured both Aquaman and The Atom didn't have a subatomic universe, but they did battle a villain who was likely from a subatomic world of some kind, and there was shrinking and a subatomic submarine lair.
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  14. #14
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    I forgot about the Superman/Batman issues in which they were shrunk down.
    Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...

  15. #15
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dupersuper View Post
    I forgot about the Superman/Batman issues in which they were shrunk down.
    I don't think I've read that one. Who wrote it? Do you remember approximately when it was first published?

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