Showcase 34, September-October 1961, pages 6 and 7
© National Periodical Publications (DC Comics)
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Penciler: Gil Kane
"Birth of the Atom" and "Battle of the Tiny Titans"
Script: Gardner Fox
Showcase 34 marks the first appearance of the Silver Age Atom. Story 1, "Birth of the Atom," introduces scientist Ray Palmer. Palmer discovers a fragment of a dwarf star and uses it to design a device that enables him to control his size and weight. In "Battle of the Tiny Titans," meets Kulan Dar from the distant planet Julnar. His people travel through space by teleportation, powered by large doses of the element Europium. After Kulan Dar crash-lands on Earth, he is discovered by small-time crook Carl Ballard. Ballard learns the secret of Kulan Dar's teleportation device and uses it to carry out a baffling series of crimes. Ballard is brought to justice by the Atom, and Kulan Dar returns to Julnar in the end.
The use of Europium as a plot device is typical of writer Gardner Fox, who had a background in science fiction. By picking out an obscure element like Europium he could be confident that none of his readers would argue that it couldn't be used for teleportation. After all, who had ever tried?
The issue also includes a short text article, "Inside the Atom," written by editor Julius Schwartz and featuring art by Ben Flinton and E. E. Hibbard reprinted from All-American Comics 19 and All-Star Comics 3. The article informs new readers about the original Golden Age Atom, who had no size-changing abilities but was just a very strong, short guy. Schwartz spearheaded the revival of the superhero genre at DC comics. The Silver Age Atom's first appearance was preceded by the new Flash in Showcase 4 (September – October 1956) , the new Green Lantern in Showcase 22 (October 1959), the Justice League of America – an updated Justice Society of America – in The Brave and the Bold 28 (March – April 1960), the new Aquaman in Showcase 30 (January – February 1961) and the new Hawkman in The Brave and the Bold 34 (February – March 1961). The Silver Age origins of these heroes had a stronger science-fiction slant than their Golden Age counterparts, reflecting the popularity of that genre in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The new Atom draws on numerous sources, not just the Golden Age Atoms but also the familiar 17th-century folkloric Tom Thumb, a miniature boy born to regular-sized parents, to Richard Matheson's 1956 science-fiction novel The Incredible Shrinking Man and its popular 1957 movie version directed by Jack Arnold and starring Grant Williams, and Quality Comics' Doll Man, a six-inch-tall superhero created by Will Eisner and artist Lou Fine in Feature Comics 27 (December 1939) and featured in his own book from Fall 1941 until December 1953. The name of Ray Palmer, the Atom's alter ego, is a tribute to science fiction author Raymond A. Palmer, who edited Amazing Stories beginning in 1938 and several other science fiction series, and was also famous for his P. T. Barnum-like promotional stunts.
Gil Kane's and Murphy Anderson's covers for the Atom's appearances in Showcase 34 – 36 as well as for most of the 36 issues of the Atom's own title were among the best of the Silver Age. Kane juxtaposed a tiny human on gigantic everyday objects such as a watch, a light bulb, a houseplant and an automobile tire.