Series writer/artist Dan Jurgens joined us again this month to provide commentary on the issue.
As always, this is a spoiler-filled conversation. So buy a copy of the issue and follow along with us!
ComicBook.com: This Captain Atom story reminds me a bit of the Helspont story in Superman--the power scale is epic and the fight scene is huge, but at the end of the day it's pretty short. What do you think is the advantage to telling one-and-done or two-and-done stories?
Dan Jurgens: Over the last few years, I think readers have tired a bit of expanded storytelling. Whenever you have that, it feels like there simply isn't as much happening in a book. Lots of dialogue, much of repetitive, and a lack of action.
We want this book to move. For a character like Firestorm, that's a natural.
ComicBook.com: Is Firestorm's appearance a choice, then? Or at least a subconscious one? Megala's appearance throws that into question, whereas up until now I've assumed there was an element of the random, I guess.
DJ: We'll touch on this a bit as the series develops. Exactly why does Firestorm look the way he does? It it a subconscious thing that's a byproduct of a dominant personality? That happens to be my general thought here.
But I want to play around more with the idea that Ronnie and Jason really don't understand the full nature of what Firestorm is and what their powers are. It should be somewhat mysterious for them. Exactly what can they stand up to? What can they survive?
DJ: I do sneak people in every now and then, but that wasn't the case for that particular scene.
ComicBook.com: Obviously you've done your share of stories that deal with superheroes as political figures (Superman, King of the World is arguably the most obvious but certainly not the only one)--do you think it's important for heroes to stay out of politics even if it's a nominally evil opponent like Qurac?
DJ: That depends on the nature of the character and nature of the series.
Ultimately, when you go down that particular road, it's going to take you to a couple of conclusions that are tough to deal with.
Plus, as soon as you involve a hero in politics, you run the risk of real life intruding on the nature of the story. For example, if you had a character fighting extremists in the Middle East prior to 9/11, he'd suddenly appear ineffective.
ComicBook.com: So by the end of this issue, nobody had fixed Mount Rushmore. Is it just going to look like that for a while in the DC Universe?
DJ: Stay tuned for the tremendous, stupendous return of Mt. Rushmore in issue #17!
ComicBook.com: That first Captain Atom page--was there a reason for the white space at the top and on the right?
DJ: Yes-- page design! I wanted a long, vertical panel on the right side of the page showing the missile launch. Had I pushed that panel up, all the way to the top, readers would have read the panels out of order.
ComicBook.com: The way everyone talks to Captain Atom is interesting--they're certainly more scared of him than Superman. Do you think that's because his powers are so much harder to understand?
DJ: Yes. Superman is more bound by the laws of physics. Captain Atom is capable of far more, all with the blink of an eye.
ComicBook.com: Who is Eiling on the phone with? Is that Captain Atom or will we be seeing another threat to Firestorm coming along via the U.S. government soon?
DJ: Eiling was not on the phone with Captain Atom. That person's identity-- and it's important-- will be revealed a couple of issues down the road.
ComicBook.com: "A transfer of consciousness"? Geez, what kind of nefarious plan is that?! How could someone as smart as Slott--err, I mean Megala--expect that to last?
DJ: Ours, apparently, does not last as long. Not that I know what you're referring to, of course!
ComicBook.com: Setting relative power levels is interesting here; while Firestorm is formidable, he doesn't seem as dangerous as Captain Atom. Is part of that just the difference of being Superman versus Superboy? An age/development thing?
DJ: In part, yes.
I also think Captain Atom has spent more time contemplating his abilities and exploring them. JT Krul and Freddie Williams did a nice job of portraying a rather introspective character trying to come to grips with what he was and wasn't. Jason, and more particularly Ronnie, tend to be more like teen boys. Less introspective and more taken with the simple idea that they can fly.
ComicBook.com: Certainly damaged, memory-addled Captain Atom+timestream=Monarch is an equation many fans might have questions about.
DJ: Right! That's the idea... some great story fodder there for sure.
ComicBook.com: Honestly, I kinda missed the supporting cast this month. Will we get to see a little bit of that next month or is it the all-superhero-action stuff that everyone but me likes so much?
DJ: I probably missed them more than you.
I really like the supporting cast and the interplay between them all.
So, next issue, you'll definitely get some. If Ronnie and Jason survive, of course!