black adam currently introduces audiences to the Justice Society of America, which has a long history in the DC Comics universe. One of the film’s crew members is Atom Smasher, aka Albert Rothstein. A gigantic, albeit inexperienced, powerhouse, Atom Smasher acts as the film’s main source of comic relief.
The movie alludes to Atom Smasher’s legacy, but in the comics it’s even bigger. From the family of the Golden Age Atom Smasher to its more popular Silver Age replacement, the Atom Family is one of DC’s most interesting superhero lineups, perfectly encapsulating the connections between various JSA and JLA properties. . For those who have seen black adamhere is why Atom Smasher is an essential character in the comics.
Black Adam’s Atom Smasher is just one of Al Pratt’s proteges
The original Atom was Al Pratt (briefly played by Henry Winkler in black adam), created by Bill O’Connor and Ben Flinton. A little man who was made fun of in his youth, Pratt undergoes intensive training to acquire an optimal physical condition. Beyond those gifted fists, however, he had no superpowers, the name Atom merely reflecting his small size. Later stories would give him powers through exposure to a radioactive enemy, with similar radiation affecting his offspring.
Albert Rothstein was Al Pratt’s godson in the comics (although the DC Extended Universe made him his nephew) and grandson of the villainous Cyclotron. Inheriting a version of his grandfather’s powers gave Rothstein the power to change his size and increase his strength to superhuman levels. His original superhero name was Nuklon, and the costume bore little resemblance to Pratt’s. Upon officially joining the Justice Society of America, however, Rothstein would take on the name Atom Smasher. It was in honor of his godfather.
Grant Emerson, aka Damage, also played Atom Smasher for a while. The son of Al Pratt who was injected with the DNA of several JSA and JLA members, Emerson had powers that enhanced his strength and faculties while allowing him to create concussive blasts. Ironically, although he doesn’t have the name Atom in his superhero identity, his costume is the one that most closely resembles the Pratt version. Since the start of the New 52 continuity, however, he has yet to be seen again, with another unrelated hero named Damage being introduced in his place.
The Shrinking Atom Has Its Own DC Comics Legacy
The Silver Age was very different from the Golden Age of comics in terms of storytelling, with some of the older fantasy elements giving way to science fiction concepts. One of the oldest characters given a new incarnation was the Atom, who was now a scientist named Ray Palmer. This atom, in a concept more true to its name, could shrink in size, becoming small enough to interact with insects and even bacteria. His blue and red suit is the one most associated with the character, though his legacy isn’t a family affair like Pratt’s. The first of Ray Palmer’s true successors was Adam Cray, the son of a deceased senator. After stealing a size-change belt given to a man by Palmer himself, Cray would be recruited by Palmer to uncover secrets within the government. Ray Palmer’s next replacement was Ryan Choi, another scientist who also shrunk to protect Ivy Town. Other successors and variants include future timeline inhabitant Atom One Million and the evil Crime Syndicate equivalent Atomica.
Those connected to the Atom legacy have served in the Justice Society of America, the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans, Infinity, Inc., and even the Suicide Squad. This is especially the case with characters related to Al Pratt. One of the central motifs of the JSA deals with family and inheritance. Beyond Al Pratt and Al Rothstein, the fathers of Ryan Choi and Adam Cray are known to exist in the DC Extended Universe. This could see Atom’s full legacy finally released from the comics and onto the big screen.