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The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) and the 1990s JLA (header version)


(Ray Palmer) (Part #2)

Power Level:
Game System:


This is the second half of this article. It’s a small thing, but we’d rather not have slower readers shrink away from long-looking reads.

The scientific consensus is that you should read first.


History (part 3)

Exploring a number of sub-atomic worlds, Ray eventually discovered the Multiverse. He travelled to alternate worlds similar to his own.

Most seemed even worse than his. But he eventually arrived on Earth-51, which was nicer. Though it was still a decade or two behind his, time moved faster on 51.

Locating his counterpart in that dimension, he arrived just in time to see himself die in a lab accident.

Ray learned that his Earth-51 counterpart had built a machine to travel to other Earths. Ray-51’s goal had been to inoculate them against a dangerous, and sentient, virus which threatened the Multiverse.


Earth-1’s Ray Palmer decided to replace his counterpart, carrying on his mission.

He also built a new life for himself. He had arrived just before Ray-51’s first blind date with Jean Loring, and ended up marrying her.

He also became part of the Justice League of America. The League of Earth-51 was extraordinarily successful. Within five years they disbanded, having created a peaceful world.

(There’s some confusion in Countdown over whether Ray adopted the Atom identity as part of that world’s JLA, or whether he just served as the team’s scientist/mascot. It’s possible he did both, starting as mascot then pretending to discover his powers and joining as a full member.)

The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) leaping into action


His peaceful world was shattered when the Challengers from Beyond (Jason Todd, Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, and “Bob” the Monitor) arrived searching for him. He revealed his history to Jean, Barry and Iris, and Ralph and Sue.

Before the shock could clear, however, “Bob” turned on his team mates. The purpose of his search had been to kill Palmer, whose actions threatened the plans of a sect among the Monitors.

He failed, but killed Jean before Ray’s eyes.

Earth-51 was soon destroyed during an invasion by Monarch’s forces.

Ray fled with the Challengers. He helped them prevent the Great Disaster, but not before seeing yet another world depopulated – this time by the virus.

Back home

Returning to his home Earth, Ray learned that Jean had become Eclipso and recently died.

He also discovered that his Atom identity had been assumed by Ryan Choi.

Mr. Choi believed he’d been corresponding with Ray for years. It turned out to be a ploy by Chronos and Lady Chronos, which the Atoms took care of. Ray gave Ryan his blessing to continue with the identity.

Palmer then joined Donna, Kyle and Forager as border guards of the Multiverse, keeping an eye on the Monitors.

The Atom returned to Earth during the Final Crisis. He worked alongside Choi to access the other Earths to help save them.

The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) during the 1980s

Blackest Night

When the dead were animated by Nekron (no relation), Atom arrived at Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s place just after they’ve been killed and revived. He only survived by hiding in the Black Lantern Ring his friend now wore.

Leaping out of it when the Black Lanterns attacked Flash (the recently returned Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (the less-recently returned Hal Jordan), Dr. Palmer helped them fight off the undead. Ray thus faced the reanimated Ralph and Sue Dibny.

Shoring up Earth’s defenders, Ray and Mera went to the aid of the JSA. There Ray helped Damage against his reanimated father (the original Atom), only to see Damage killed by the reanimated Jean.

With the vast army of Black Lanterns threatening to overwhelm their forces, Ganthet forced the Power Rings of the gathered representatives of each corps to produce temporary duplicates. These scattered in search of appropriate hosts.

Mood indigo

The Indigo Ring selected Ray because of his compassion.

Protecting Indigo-1, leader of the Indigo Tribe, while she called the rest of the tribe to Earth, Ray again faced Jean. She took him inside Indigo-1’s Power Ring, where he had to again face the losses he’d suffered in recent years.

Dr. Palmer made peace with what had happened, accepting Jean’s death and moving on. Ray then destroyed her Black Lantern form.

The allied Lantern forces defeated the Black Lanterns, and the temporary Ring that Ray wore disappeared. With the revelation of the White Lanterns, Hawkman and Hawkwoman were resurrected.


Usually even-tempered and curious, Ray was always one of the more approachable members of the League.

However events in the last few years have made him more reserved and pessimistic. And even before that, he developed a hard edge while in the jungle.

He nevertheless retains a compassion for everyone, which drew the Indigo Ring to him.

From a young age he had an interest in understanding how things worked. This developed as he became a scientist. Thus, Ray is highly dedicated to whatever scientific investigation he is currently occupied with. He focuses all his energies on finding the answers.

This drive carried over to his costumed activities. He embraced the challenges it provided with as much determination as his research. But that was to the eventual detriment of his first marriage.

The Jean genie

It seems that after he married Jean (the first time) the challenge (which had primarily been in getting her to accept a proposal) was no longer there. So he spent too much time on other challenges.

When he met the Jean Loring of Earth-51 he consciously made an effort to counter this side of his personality.

When he does suffer trouble with personal relationships, though, his tendency is to run away.

The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) B&W portrait


“People talk about the horrors of war. The misery and fear and loss… and they’re right. But there is also a fierce joy to it. There’s a terrible exhilaration to killing the other man, before he kills you. Nobody talks about it, but it’s there. That’s what hooks you. I told myself I was the most civilized man there, that I was a man of peace trapped in a state of war. That was almost true. But a part of me thrilled to it. And I know, given the chance, I’d go back to those battles in a second.”

“Relax. Figuring things out is what I do for a living.”

Jay Garrick: “Your wife Jean, Sue Dibny not to mention that girl you loved and lost in the Amazon. Now your friend’s murder. It’s too much. Take it from an old man and stop blaming yourself.”
Ray: “I tried. I found another world. I even found another Jean Loring.”
Jay Garrick: “And what happened ?”
Ray: “Fate reminded me that I’m Ray Palmer.”

DC Heroes RPG


A 5637 point character.

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 04
Int: 09 Wil: 07 Min: 07
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 06
Init: 022 HP: 075


Claws: 01, Density Increase: 10, Dimensional Travel: 08, Dispersal: 08, Gliding: 02, Jumping: 00, Microscopic Vision: 38, Power Reserve (STR): 04, Sharpness (Claws): 10, Shrinking: 38, Teleportation: 22

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws can only be used when more than 20 AP of Shrinking is active.
  • Claws can only be used when attacking a target from inside (-1).
  • AP of Density Increase engaged Add to STR (+3), do not add to his RV (-2), and do not subtract from DEX (+2).
  • The Atom can only use as many APs of Density Increase as his active level of Shrinking so as to offset the STR/Weight loss (-1).
  • Dimensional Travel allows only Travel (-2), is Contingent Upon Shrinking (-1), and can only reach sub-atomic dimensions or other Earths (which have a Travel Value of 10) (-1).
  • Dispersal only works when more than 20 AP of Shrinking is active (-1), and only allows passing through objects (-3).
  • Gliding is Contingent Upon Shrinking (-1), and cannot be used while Density Increase is active (-1).
  • Jumping is reduced by the active APs of Shrinking as long as his STR remains at 4 AP (+1).
  • Microscopic Vision is Always On at the active APs of Shrinking (-1).
  • Power Reserve is Minor Marginal (-1), can only be used for one action per payment (-1), is Contingent on Density Increase (-1), and cannot be used while Shrinking is active (-1).
  • Shrinking reduces STR and Weight by the currently active APs (-2).
  • Shrinking has a Range of Touch which allows him to shrink voluntary targets (+3), but those targets may suffer an explosive attack (-1, see Atom Bombs below).
  • Teleportation is Contingent Upon Shrinking (-1).
  • Teleportation only allows travel via communication signals (-1).


Acrobatics: 05, Detective (Clue Analysis): 07, Gadgetry: 12, Martial Artist: 05, Power Ring (Indigo): 05, Scientist: 12, Thief (Stealth): 04, Vehicles (Land, Air): 05, Weaponry (Melee): 06


Special Credentials (JLA), Genius, Insta-Change, Languages (some Arabic, French, Katarthan), Life Support (No Need to Breathe when more than 15 APs of Shrinking in use, 100 pts).


Justice League (High), Hawkman & Hawkwoman (High), Ivy University (High), Ivy PD (Low), Indigo Tribe (Low), Teen Titans (Low).


Public Identity.


Upholding the Good.


Nuclear Physicist.




  • COSTUME [BODY 06, Invulnerability (Only protects against Chronos’ aging touch): 08].
  • He has built size changing devices other than his belt, such as the original (bulky) machine with which he first experimented on the white dwarf star matter, and a handheld device which shrunk the CIA agents. Both had Diminution, the handheld version having 6 APs.
    If the device is destroyed before the duration of the Diminution is up, the target remains shrunken, otherwise they suffer the risk of exploding when returning to their normal size (see Atom Bombs below).
The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) during the Sword of the Atom era

Atomic War

The array of Powers and varying AP levels at different sizes can be complicated to keep track of. So here are some of the general benchmark heights he most commonly uses.

His RV is unaffected by the changes, as his lighter body absorbs more of the impacts.

Changes caused per AP of shrinking are:

  1. STR reduced by 1 AP.
  2. Gains 1 AP to his OV against Physical Attacks.
  3. 1 AP is subtracted from his movement speed.
  4. APs of Shrinking are used as OV/RV against Perception checks (which could substitute for his Stealth Subskill).
  5. 1 AP is subtracted from his weight.

Normal Size

At normal height Ray can engage in bursts of super strength by adding extra-dimensionalComing from another reality mass to his body, allowing him to use Power Reserve for one action.

He can also reduce his weight by shifting it to the extra-dimensional location his mass goes when he shrinks, so as to allow him to use his Gliding while still at full size.

Six Inches High

His normal Atom height is 6 inches (6 APs), the optimum height below which his perception shift slightly. At this height some of his abilities depend on whether he retains his full weight (reducing his weight while shrinking requires an additional action).

Regardless of which is true, he gains 6 APs to his OV (making it 12 APs), his movement speed is reduced to -2 AP (0.25 mph), he has 6 APs of Microscopic Vision, and he has 6 APs of Stealth.

If maintaining his full weight (full Density Increase is active) his STR is still 4, his weight is still 2 APs, and he has Jumping.

If reducing his weight in line with his size (Density Increase not active) his STR is -2, and he has Gliding (at -4 APs).

At this size his main combat manoeuvre is to use his full weight to jump about, reduce it and let his momentum glide him to where he wants to go, and increase his weight just in time to hit his target.

He also frequently switches his weight on while standing on enemies or their weapons, throwing them off balance.

Intruder Size

At around 20 APs of Shrinking, Ray is small enough to slip inside a human body. At this size (assuming he isn’t using Density Increase), he has an OV of 26, 20 APs of Microscopic Vision, 20 APs of Stealth, has Dispersal, Life Support protect him from gas attacks, and his STR is minus 16.

If he enters a target, though, he can use Claws to attack them from within, such as by jumping about in their ears, or messing in their brain. (Of late, when he’s been particularly depressed and cynical, he’s used this as a method of questioning super-villains.)

Atom Size

38 AP is the maximum level of Shrinking he can achieve before he shifts into sub-atomic worlds (Dimensional Travel). At this point he can’t really interact with the normal world. His STR is minus 34, his OV is 44, he has Microscopic Vision at 38 APs, and Stealth at 38 APs.


Size Shifting Miscellany

If Atom has the Initiative, he may decide to use his size changing to dodge an attack, so can instantly shrink and use the OV of his new size against the attack.

At more than 6 AP of Shrinking his visual perceptions start to go, and by 10 APs his visual perception begins to go by 1 AP per extra AP of Shrinking. Beyond 25 APs he’s unable to see anything through the air molecules.

His hearing also starts to go at around 10 APs. Anything shouted at that point is indistinguishable (which does make him immune to verbal attacks, such as verbally delivered Hypnotism commands). Beyond 20 AP he’s unable to hear regular speech.

He reaches a point in Shrinking (15 APs) where oxygen molecules become too big for him to breathe. While it’s unclear how, he can survive beyond this point, either breathing some kind of a substitute, or not breathing at all. This also makes him immune to gas attacks.

Atom Bombs

The initial reason Atom couldn’t use the shrinking technology for the scientific advances he’d have liked was that anything shrunk for more than two minutes would explode when returned to its normal size. Apart from Ray himself, who had a natural immunity.

The time limit has been increased over the years to around an hour.

Over time, though, there have been stories where others have used his belt (even without the costume) and changed size for long periods with no apparent harmful effects. He’s also managed to take passengers along when transporting along phone lines.

Equally, there have been a number of occasions where the danger of others changing size with his technology has been a plot point. So this seems more a continuity issue rather than a change over time.

(It should be noted that no person shrunk by his devices has ever actually suffered this effect as far as I’ve been able to find.)

If you decide to use this rule, then as soon as the Shrinking (or Diminution) effect wears off or is cancelled, the character suffers a Killing Attack with the AV/EV equal to the maximum APs of Shrinking (or Diminution) to which they were subjected.

The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) with 1960s atomic visuals

Mote Indigo

During the Blackest Night, Ray was selected to wear a temporary Indigo Power Ring due to his compassion. The Ring allowed him to:

  1. Fly.
  2. Project energy.
  3. Heal others by touch.
  4. Gave him a protective field (Skin Armor).
  5. Allowed him to force others to empathise with the pain they’d caused.
  6. Created a lantern-like staff with which he could duplicate the abilities of other Power Rings in his vicinity.

He had previously used Hal Jordan’s Ring back in Justice League of America #14, when he first joined up. It was still on Hal’s finger, but Ray used it for telekinesis and reversing a mindwipe.

The stats for these rings are now explained in a full article on Indigo power rings. On Ray’s finger, the ring has 6 APs of Damage Transference and 11 APs of Phobia.

Major Mynah

During an archaeological dig he supervised in Cambodia, Ray was helped against some Việt Minh looters by a local mynah bird  whose wings were broken in the fight.

Returning to the US with it, he took it to Hawkman. Hawkman was unable to help heal its wings. But he gave it a new artificial pair, powered by a cosmic ray motor, which allowed it to fly at up to 120mph.

Training the bird, with help from Hawkman, Ray named it Major Mynah. He used it as a mount while he was the Atom. He used a device capable of distorting the reflected light to make Major appear to have golden feathers, to hide their secret identities.

As well as acting as a mount, it also provided a distraction for his enemies, while repeating what it’d heard, frequently phrases from TV.

During this period Atom had the Pet Advantage.

Major Mynah

Dex: 04 Str: 00 Bod: 01
Int: 02 Wil: 01 Min: 02
Inf: 01 Aur: 01 Spi: 02
Init: 007


Claws: 01, Flight: 07, Shrinking: 05, Telescopic Vision: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

Shrinking is always on and is already factored in (-1).


Thief (Pickpocket, Stealth): 04

The Atom (Ray Palmer) (DC Comics) as an Indigo Lantern

Previous Stats

Initially, Dr. Palmer’s shrinking was controlled by a mechanism on his belt buckle. He had to manually operate it, so if his arms were restrained he’d be unable to change size.

He soon created a remote control for it in his gloves. It allowed him to control the size change even if he wasn’t wearing his belt.

Following his Sword of the Atom period he became mentally able to control the changes. It was at this point he became able to control whether his costume appeared, whereas before it always appeared when he shrank.

So initially the Powers were from his Gadget (Belt), although Ray himself had immunity to the explosive effect of Shrinking (a Miscellaneous Advantage). At least one of these belts survived until recently, and was used by Jean when she murdered Sue Dibny.

Other evolutions

During his early adventures he showed familiarity with a number of fields including ornithology, numismatics (coin collecting), and archaeology. Basically whatever was needed to get him into the story. So he may well have had Omni-Scholar.

Prior to the Sword of the Atom period, Jean was a Dependant for him. He also had a Secret ID. It was after this time that he gained Public ID, with a few privacy Subplots during the Power of the Atom period.

Initially his Motivation seemed to be Thrill of Adventure. But this began to change around the time of Power of the Atom, and certainly during the Identity Crisis it was closer to Upholding the Good.

Just prior to the Blackest Night he began veering towards Seeking Justice. But that appears to have been a brief thing (primarily during Cry for Justice).

More recent evolutions

During the period he was reverted to a teenager, Ray lost a lot of his scientific knowledge. His memories also became slightly hazy.

Following the Genesis event, he also developed the power to grow larger than his regular height, to around 50‘.

In DCH terms he lost his Gadgetry and Scientist Skills, gained the Age (Young) Drawback, had a High Connection to the Teen Titans of the time, and gained Growth: 09.

Prior to the Blackest Night, Teleporting others along with him was Minor Marginal.

Design Notes

His powers seem to come from his equipment, although this has become vague since he developed the ability to mentally operate them. But they appear to have switched from his belt to his costume.

Since he always wears his costume, which simply disappears when not needed, and given the number of Boni/Limitations, it seemed easier to handle the Powers as innate. That’s how they basically operate unless the story requires otherwise.

By Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: DC Comics.

Helper(s): Peter Piispanen, Darci, interrobang75, Mike Winkler, The Ghost Rider (movie version) WU on WORG for part of the Penance stare mechanics copied for the Indigo Ring.

Writeup completed on the 27th of January, 2011.