In his previous incarnation Captain Atom was one of the real heavy hitters among DC superheroes, able to go head to head with the biggest beasts, but with a tragic backstory and having to be careful with what are essentially atomic energy based powers.

J. T. Krul keeps that as the basis for the revised ‘New 52’ version of the character, beginning not with his origin, but with a hero struggling to understand and control phenomenal abilities supplied via Nathaniel Adam volunteering for the experiment that transformed him. The scientist who developed that experiment, Dr Megala, is on hand to advise, guide and drop the occasional bombshell such as Captain Atom’s powers gradually killing him.

There are some interesting ideas at the heart of Krul’s tinkering with Captain Atom, such as his ability to experience a greater portion of the electro-magnetic spectrum than humans, but Krul has difficulty transferring this to any practical value. Freddie Williams II shows Captain Atom achieving the impossible as per the scripts, but these are delivered with ponderous captions and scientific research at a level beyond what’s appropriate for a superhero comic. Then there are the characters constantly explaining themselves, in particular Ranita in the Continuum Scientific Research Facility. Captain Atom also has a lot of explaining to do, as he’s consistently believed to be the cause of disasters that he’s actually prevented from spreading further. However, among all the self-pity, as written by Krul he’s not the brightest spark. Early on he cures a brain tumour, yet fails to see how essentially replicating the process will help someone he cares for until the end of this book.

Because so much of Krul’s script is abstract, Williams II keeps repeating illustrations of Captain Atom surrounded by a corona of light or fighting gloopy masses. When he has the opportunity to draw things away from Captain Atom, Williams II has a nice style. The way he poses people around the labs has an elegance, and his characters designs are good, with single-minded military bulldog General Eiling standing out.

For what’s supposed to be a bright, state of the art superhero, much of Evolution is frankly dull, as if the story is sucking the life from readers to power Captain Atom. The ideas are there, but not focussed. Perhaps things will improve with Genesis.