After a few issues of Ryan Choi tackling sub-atomic monsters from his own blood, the focus shifts here to Silver Age Atom villain Chronos. He's appeared a few times in this run, variously as an ally and antagonist. Here, though, he's all-bad, as he claims that the longterm correspondence between SA Atom Ray Palmer and successor Ryan was a sham, orchestrated by him with the aid of . . . Lady Chronos. Her identity is a mystery, but it's pretty likely that she's Ryan's old bad girl crush, Jia, on the basis that she had the same hair.
OK, Sherlock Holmes this deduction isn't, but heck, these are comic books and the woman who knows Ryan from some other time and place, has similar hair, dresses Asian and has Asian skin tones - it's Jia.
On the way back to Ivy Town from the sub-atomic world, Ryan winds up in the time-lost lair of Chronos and Lady Chronos. Chronos is no threat, being frozen due to the power of irony - nope, I've no idea what this means, but it has something to do with a deal he made with nether-region demon guy Neron, and I like the sound of it - but Lady Chronos is blasting Ryan left, right and centre. Ryan's more fearsome than usual though, having developed growing powers (as did Ray Palmer at one point), and a temper. There's also a monster named Worm, who has some beef with our boy, and a guest appearance from Booster Gold which results in Ryan's return to Ivy Town where anti-Atom Dwarfstar is blackening Ryan's good name with Lady Cop. Still, Ryan sorts him out nicely and returns to his lab, where a last page guest star shows up to offer a hand.
Who? Well, this is the penultimate issue, so who's more appropriate than good old Ray Palmer himself. Excellent stuff, with the prospect of my two favourite Atoms together next issue.
This is another thoroughly entertaining read from writer Rick Remender and artists Pat Olliffe and John Stanisci, with the surprises and action never letting up. There's even a great cover from Ladronn, whose work I've previously found too murky for this series. My only problem is, appropriately, a tiny one, but it irks, nonetheless - a couple of typos. Still, I can't recommend this enough as a fast-paced, smart superhero book with unusual intensity. Get it while it's there.