This page is for the fourth Atom, Ryan Choi.
For the original Atom, see Al Pratt
For the third Atom, see Adam Cray
For the current (and second) Atom, Ray Palmer, see the Atom page
Young Ryan Choi was a prodigy of his nation of Hong Kong. Choi was always advanced for his age, and while still relatively young, Choi received his doctorate. An expert in physics, Choi became a colleague of Dr. Ray Palmer, and the two frequently communicated their newest theories, with Palmer become somewhat of a mentor for Choi. After the death of his mother, Choi traveled from his homeland to the United States when he was accepted into the prestigious Ivy University for his post-Doc work. A longtime devotee of the sciences, Choi had always looked forward to working with Palmer.
However, Dr. Palmer, also known as the shrinking superhero called the Atom, had disappeared. His identity revealed to the world, Choi’s respect for his mentor increased. Still, even with Palmer gone, Ivy University boasted great physicists Dr. “Panda” Potter and Dr. Helmond Kettering, who welcomed Choi with open arms. Choi insisted that he be housed in Palmer’s old house. While living there, Choi made the discovery of a lifetime: Palmer had hid a duplicate of his belt that allowed him to change size. Choi deduced how to use the belt, which he called a “Bio-Belt,” and decided to follow in Palmer’s footsteps as the Atom.
Ryan Choi debuted in a preview of his ongoing series in the pages of DC Comics’ Brave New World #1 (August 2006). Choi, the “All-New Atom,” was created by writer Gail Simone, with input from Grant Morrison. Morrison originally wrote a 12-page outline on a redesigned Atom, but his commitments to the ongoing weekly series 52 prevented him from having an active hand in their realization. Gail Simone fleshed out Morrison’s proposal, which in turn became an ongoing series. The new design of Choi was sketched out by Morrison, but fleshed out by longtime DC penciller John Byrne and inker Trevor Scott.
After the preview in Brave New World, and a cameo in Infinite Crisis #7, Choi would fulfill the Atom’s shoes permanently in the pages of The All-New Atom, which debuted in September of 2006. Simone, Bryne, and Scott would launch the series as the creative team. The series lasted for 25 issues, though not without creative changes: Keith Champagne would take over for Gail Simone as writer with issue #19, and Byrne would leave the series after issue #3. In issue #21, a new creative team was introduced: writer Rick Remender, penciller Pat Olliffe, and inker John Stanisci. The All-New Atom would be cancelled with issue #25.
After his cancellation, Ryan Choi would appear in a few guest star spots over the next few years, though those appearances would decrease significantly with the return of Ray Palmer to the DC Universe. Ryan Choi was killed in the pages of the Titans: Villains For Hire special, written by Eric Wallace, in July of 2010. Choi’s death was controversial, with some citing racist reasons for killing off a prominent Asian super-hero. Character creator Gail Simone took to the message boards, expressing her disappointment in the death of Ryan Choi, but refuting claims that it was done with a racist motivation.
Key Story Arcs
Learning the Ropes
Ryan Choi settled into his new live at Ivy University, with his new colleagues: Dr. “Panda” Potter, Dr. Helmond Kettering, Dr. Thomas Dinawa, and Dr. Martin Campbell, who referred to themselves as the “ Lighter Than Air Society.” On his first day, Choi caught the eye of student Amanda Turner, who found Choi attractive. Choi joined the professors’ ritual poker night, and found a new friend in “Panda” Potter.
During his first outing as the Atom, Choi discovered a secret microscopic alien society living underneath Ivy Town. Called the Waiting, this alien race immediately set itself after Choi. While fleeing from the Waiting, Choi encountered the amorphous M’Nagalah, the self-styled “Cancer God.” M’Nagalah told Atom that a war was coming, one between Order and Chaos and between Faith and Reason, and that the Atom should side with M’Nagalah. Choi refused, which set M’Nagalah after him.
The War between Faith and Science
As Choi continued to be the protector of Ivy Town, he learned that Ivy Town had more than one dark secret. Ivy University Dean Mayland believed that, due to the earlier physics and time experiments of Ray Palmer and Dr. Alpheus Hyatt, the nexus of reality of Ivy Town became warped. Because of the temporal and reality distortions, various creatures have flocked to Ivy Town, where they are engaged in a secret war. In addition, many of the people of the town have been affected; believing themselves to be in other time periods or speaking in tongues.
As the secret war continued, M’Nagalah continued after Palmer. The Cancer God infected the villainess/professor Giganta, who captured Choi. However, Dean Mayland helped Choi escape. Dean Mayland invited Choi’s father from Hong Kong to retrieve him, in order for Choi to remain safe. Unbeknownst to Choi, though, Mayland had also given one of Palmer’s “Bio-Belts” to a serial killer called Dwarfstar, who hunted Choi and Choi’s friends. Choi convinced his father of the importance of remaining in America, just as the war that M’Nagalah had predicted had begun.
M’Nagalah’s emissaries and the legions of the Waiting began their war on the streets of Ivy Town. Choi, learning from the Waiting’s Praetor that the White House was under threat, thwarted the Waiting’s plan to take control of the president. Atom returned to an open war on the streets of Ivy Town. While outmaneuvering the serial killer Dwarfstar, Choi negotiated a truce between both sides, sparing Ivy Town’s destruction.
Ivy Town and Abroad
With Ivy Town returned to a semblance of normal, Choi continued to watch over his new hometown. Choi met someone who claimed to be the son of Professor Alpheus Hyatt, Teddy Hyatt, who was being hunted by Ryak, a chronal bounty-hunter. However, Choi soon learned that Teddy was actually the real Alpheus Hyatt, who had not only used his invention, the Time Pool, to de-age himself, but inadvertently split himself in two. Choi eventually worked a deal with Ryak, who fixed Hyatt and returned him to normal. Choi became the overseer of the Time Pool from then on.
When Choi’s high school crush Jia called him for help, the Atom rushed back to Hong Kong, where he confronted the ghosts of his old high-school bullies to save Jia. The undead ex-husband of Jia revealed that she had killed him. Choi saved both Jia and his own father, whom the ghosts had held hostage. Jia revealed to Choi that she actually had another lover, and the two awkwardly parted ways.
The Search for Ray Palmer
After an encounter with Ray Palmer’s various rogues pulled from time, Choi met Chronos the Time Thief. Chronos revealed that he was after the location of Ray Palmer. Choi teamed with Chronos, and the two had set out to find Palmer. Their first search took them to the microscopic world of Morlaidn. Choi found that, since Palmer’s last visit, Morlaidn had been taken over by the priest Arlat from a neighboring tribe. Choi teamed with Palmer’s friend Yawen to defend the refuges who still worshipped Palmer from Arlat’s men. Choi, convinced Palmer was not in Morlaidn, left to find the Challengers from Beyond waiting for him: Donna Troy, Jason Todd, and a Monitor nicknamed “ Bob.”
The Challengers bring Choi back to Ivy Town, then shrink down to the Nanoverse, or what the Challengers call the “Palmerverse.” Their first visit was to the world of the Waiting, who informed the heroes that Palmer was not dead. After a visit to a jungle world, the Challengers discovered a world that emulated “heaven,” complete with constructs of Choi’s mother and the second Blue Beetle. Once there, the Challengers and the heroes of “heaven” faced an onslaught of villains. Choi destabilized all the constructs, and the Challengers found their first hint: a warning to Choi from Ray Palmer written in his own blood. Then, the Challengers discovered a world of insects and magicians called the Sorcerer’s World. The Challengers were captured by the world’s ruler Belthera, who took control of Bob the Watcher. The Challengers were saved by Kyle Rayner, who joined them in their search. However, before they could get started again, Choi was plucked from the microverse by Dean Mayland.
The Secrets of Ivy Town
Dean Mayland, revealing more power than he originally let on, plucked the Atom from the microverse to return to Ivy Town. Back in Ivy Town, Atom defeated ravaging monsters, rescuing his friend Panda who had tried to stop them pretending to be the Atom. The atom stopped a time-traveling Xotar the Weapons Master, whom he handed over to Ryak. While handling trouble in Ivy Town, Dean Mayland continued to manipulate the Atom, while Giganta continued to make advances on Choi in her identity of Ivy University professor Doris Zuel.
Choi’s continued interest in Giganga brought him to the attention of Wonder Woman. Choi tried to defend Giganta against Wonder Woman, until the entire town was mentally controlled to kill the Atom. The Lighter Than Air Society almost killed Choi, until Wonder Woman saved him. Wonder Woman offered Choi membership in the Justice League. While pondering League membership, Choi discovered an underground alien Amish society, and met Hawkman when the two went up against the Warlock of Ys.
After being taken by the Black Death, Choi discovered that the entire town was a manipulation by Chronos for revenge of Ray Palmer. Chronos installed Dean Mayland, actually an alien from the future; Chronos brought people displaced from time to live in Ivy Town; Chronos fabricated the story about Palmer accidentally creating the time distortions around Ivy Town; Chronos drew the attention of people like Xotar and Ryak. The Lighter Than Air Society freed Choi from the Black Death, and with the help of the Waiting, M’Nagalah, and the Department of Metahuman Affairs, they defeated Dean Mayland.
The Two Chronoses and the Two Atoms
Choi stayed in Ivy Town, researching Palmer’s Bio-Belt. He discovered that the size-changing was not due to dwarf star material, but rather to creatures that had the belt had somehow infested his bloodstream with. Choi enlarged one to dissect it, but it escaped. It went on a rampage across Ivy Town. It attacked Panda Potter, Amanda Turner, and other inhabitants, seemingly disintegrating them. Choi, after being attacked by the creature, was shrunk down to the microverse, where he discovered Panda, Amanda, and the others that disappeared. In this microverse, time passed quicker than the normal world, and some of the Ivy Town inhabitants had been there for months instead of hours. Unfortunately, Choi’s Bio-Belt had been destroyed.
As Choi was developing a plan to rescue the shrunken inhabitants of Ivy Town, Choi was plucked from time into the future by Lady Chronos. Lady Chronos revealed herself to be the wife of Chronos, they had both been behind everything from the beginning. Just as Lady Chronos was going to kill “the Choi anomaly,” Choi was rescued by a time-travelling Booster Gold, who was trying to stop Lady Chronos. Booster returned Choi to Ivy Town, where Choi found the serial killer Dwarfstar waiting for him. Choi defeated Dwarfstar, and set about a way to rescue the trapped Ivy Town inhabitants.
Meanwhile, even without Choi, the Challengers from Beyond found Ray Palmer, and convinced him to return to Earth. Palmer learned of Choi as the new Atom, and traveled to Ivy Town. There, he aided Atom in rescuing the trapped civilians, but Choi’s best friend Panda Potter died in the process. Both Chronos and Lady Chronos appeared, and revealed that Lady Chronos was Choi’s old lover Jia, and that Dwarfstar was her future son. The two Chronoses retrieved Dwarfstar and disappeared into the timestream.
With Ray Palmer returned to super-heroics, both Palmer and Choi continued to use the Atom name. After a fight against Killer Moth, Palmer gave Choi his blessings to continue using the name Atom. During the Final Crisis, Checkmate: Omega recruited both Atoms in a plan to save as many humans they could from Darkseid’s reign of Earth. Checkmate had developed what it called the Black Gambit: a graviton superhighway to a parallel Earth labeled Earth-0. Unfortunately, as Darkseid’s troops assaulted Checkmate: Omega, the tunnel collapsed. Luckily, the Atoms were able to be retrieved, and the heroes of multiple worlds defeated Darkseid.
The Death of Ryan Choi
After defeating a demented Floronic Man, Choi returned home to find Deathstroke waiting for him. Choi became Deathstroke’s first target for his new mercenary team he called the Titans: himself, Cheshire, Cinder, Osiris, and Tattooed Man. Choi tried to reach his Justice League communicator in his basement, but the communicator had already been disabled. While the new Titans allowed the fight to pause when Amanda Turner came visiting, the fight quickly resumed. In the end, Deathstroke proved too quick for Choi, and Choi was impaled by Deathstroke’s blade. Deathstroke delivered Choi’s shrunken dead body to the person who hired Deathstroke, the killer Dwarfstar, in an empty matchbox.
Choi’s death has had huge repercussions for Dwarfstar, Deathstroke, and the Titans. Amanda Waller revealed to Giganta (now a member of her Suicide Squad) that Dwarfstar was the person behind the death of Ryan Choi. Giganta hunted down Dwarfstar, ambushing him and stealing his Bio-Belt. Powerless, Dwarfstar was beaten by Giganta, who wanted to take her time to torture him. Meanwhile, when Ray Palmer discovered that Choi was missing, his search led him to Amanda Turner. Turner, in turn, informed Palmer about Dwarfstar, which sent Palmer hunting for the serial killer.
Ryan Choi faked his death my shrinking down to a sub-atomic level. Ray Palmer continued to hear Choi's voice in his head. Choi needed to gain corporeal form so Palmer chopped his hand off and Choi used the severed hand and split the atoms into a new body.
Ryan Choi is assisting Ray Palmer as the Atom. When the Atom is lost in the microverse, Ryan is given an alternate suit to use as the Atom and to rescue Ray Palmer from the microverse.
Powers and Abilities
Ryan Choi received his doctorate in Nuclear Physics from Hong Kong University. Even at a young age, Choi was a world leader in the field. In addition, while growing up in Hong Kong, Choi received some rudimentary martial arts training which he never truly embraced, preferring to focus more on scientific research.
While originally Ryan Choi needed the Bio-Belt to shrink to subatomic size (see below), Choi eventually developed the means to shrink without using the belt, because of the microscopic creatures that inhabited his bloodstream.
Weapons and Equipment
While at Ivy University, Ryan Choi had discovered what he thought was Ray Palmer’s white dwarf star belt, which he called a “Bio-Belt.” This belt allowed the wearer to shrink in size, down to microscopic levels, while allowing its user to variable control his or her mass. Unknown to Choi at the time, the Bio-Belt was actually supplied by Lady Chronos, who also possessed a second belt that he gave to the serial killer Dwarfstar. These Bio-Belts, unlike Palmer’s belt, enabled its shape changing by infesting its wearer with matter-devouring microscopic creatures. After Choi’s death, his Bio-Belt fell into the hands of Deathstroke, who dismantled it. Dwarfstar’s belt passed from Dwarfstar to Choi, but Dwarfstar stole it back again. It is presumably currently in the hands of Giganta
During his escape from M’Nagalah, Ryan Choi discovered a particle drive. Bringing the drive back to his colleagues at Ivy University, the Lighter Than Air Society retooled the drive into a device Choi called his “ Bangstick.” The Bangstick is a central shaft with two spheres at either end. The Bangstick has the ability to allow the Atom to travel at great speeds through subatomic environments that may take him years to traverse. The Bangstick could shrink with Palmer, and generate concussive blasts of force as an offensive weapon.
In addition, the Lighter Than Air Society developed for Choi a singularity field generator. When attached to his Bio-Belt and strapped to his back, the generator provided a usable atmosphere around the Atom. In addition, it helped stabilize anything shrink by the belt, to prevent explosion.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Ryan Choi version of the Atom has been featured in the Batman: the Brave and the Bold television series. He is voiced by James Sie. He has appeared in the season one episodes “Evil Under the Sea!” where he and Batman fight Felix Faust in the teaser, and in “Journey to the Center of the Bat!” where he teams up with Batman and Aquaman versus Chemo. A mind-controlled Atom makes a cameo in "The Siege of Starro! Part One", demonstrating the ability to grow to giant sizes, which he uses to prevent Batman from destroying a signal leading Starro to Earth. He also appears in the teaser for "The Criss Cross Conspiracy!", where he, Batman, and Aquaman battle the Bug-Eyed Bandit.