Ryan Choi is a character DC fans will be aware of, thanks to his appearance in Injustice 2. But who is this version of the Atom? More importantly, why is his story in the recent anthology Death Metal The Last 52: War of the Multiverses his defining story? That has to do with who The Atom is and his optimism.
Who Is Ryan Choi?
Ryan Choi was created by Gail Simone to replace Ray Palmer as the Atom. Unlike Palmer, who embraces the absurd adventures of being a superhero through his shrinking suit, Ryan prefers to devote himself to science. The funny thing about Ryan is how he takes the absurd in strides. He always tries to find rationality in things that don’t make sense. It’s not even out of scientific fanaticism, but out of optimistically treating every moment as a learning experience. Fans like Ryan so much he makes several appearances in other media including the infamous Justice League: Zack Snyder Cut. The problem is, fans don’t get enough time to enjoy Ryan as a character. He’s a secondary character, and most of his appearances are plot-driven.
Enter Dark Nights Death Metal The Last 52 War of the Multiverses, an anthology piece where creators get a chance to show off in a crossover event. Writer Kyle Higgins decides to delve into a conflict that strikes at Ryan Choi spiritually. In the story of Unstable Atoms, Ryan is working with some of DC’s lesser-known geniuses, like Mister Terrific and Dr. Magnus, on a plan that might turn things around in the battle against the Nightmares: dark counterparts of DC heroes. But in a reality where the laws of physics and nature twist on a dark god’s whim, Ryan feels helpless. Unlike magic, where things at least have some rules, science doesn’t exist in the Dark Multiverse. Ironically, anxiety in the face of overwhelming absurdity makes Ryan a better character.
Because if he wasn’t anxious he would’ve become his Nightmare, Ra. This radioactive version of the Atom lacks fears and curiosity. All that matters to Ra are results. This warps him into an unstable psychopath. This is in stark comparison to Ryan who, in their fight, utilizes Ra’s powers to turn the tide and enhance his own. Because what better way to show you’re literally the bigger man? What sets Ryan Choi apart is how even in the most absurd of circumstances, he never wastes the opportunity to learn. His optimistic outlook juxtaposes perfectly against the bleak conflict of Death Metal. It’s the perfect place to cultivate Ryan.
Ryan Choi: The Atom
Since the beginning, with Ray Palmer, the Atom mantle has been defined by optimism. Look no further in Palmer’s case than when he becomes an Indigo Lantern, even after some hardships. When things get dark, it helps to find the bright side. For Ryan Choi, that means rolling with the punches that come with absurdity and using these moments to grow.
What do you all think? Is the optimistic spirit of the Atom ready for more appearances? Or is DC trying too hard to get Ryan’s presence out? Leave your thoughts in the comments.