Captain Atom #24 (January 1989)


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Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman
Pencils by Pat Broderick
Inks by Romeo Tanghal
Colors by Shelley Eiber
Letters by Carrie Spiegle
Edited by Dan Raspler & Denny O’Neil

This story is an Invasion: First Strike! crossover. Invasion! was a three issue limited series published in late 1988-early 1989 by DC Comics. It was plotted by Keith Giffen, and ties up a great many plot lines from various Giffen-created DC series, including Omega MenJustice League International, and Legion of Super-Heroes.  In this crossover event, the Dominators have put together an alliance to invade Earth and eliminate the threat posed by their unpredictable “metahumans” (secretly, the Dominators wish to harness this and breed their own army of metahumans, but this goal is kept from the rest of the Alliance, and from some of their own race). After assassinating many former members of the disbanded Green Lantern Corps, and attacking the Omega Men, the Alliance launches a massive attack on Earth, overrunning Australia and establishing there a base from which to conquer the rest of the planet.

This tale begins with Maxwell Lord being piggy-backed by Captain Atom to the super-hero HQ. Nate isn’t sure he’s the man for the job, but he’s been unanimously chosen as the Commander in Chief of all Earth’s super-heroes. The aliens are spying on him and will be able to hear and see everything that goes on in the command center. Nate learns from Max that Amanda Waller (of the Suicide Squad) will be in charge of Earth’s super-villains and is dismayed to find out the military will be overseen by General Wade Eiling.

Nate and Wade immediately lock horns when they are in the room together. Eiling does not like Captain Atom’s choice for a pilot on a covert mission they are cooking up. Apparently he had planned to be the pilot himself. He is overruled by Waller and Eiling and has to choose a suitable replacement. They want to present him with a list of candidates but Nate says if it can’t be him, it has to be Steve Trevor, who has re-enlisted in this time of war.

Colonel Trevor arrives at the HQ. Atom takes him straight to the briefing room. He learns that there is a New Genesis satellite in orbit around Earth with immense firepower and destructive capability that the Alien Alliance has overlooked. Steve is to pilot a special shuttle to the satellite and realign it so it is facing the enemy fleet in space rather than Earth itself. Steve’s only question is, “Where’s the shuttle?”

At a briefing the next morning, it is revealed that the alien forces are spread out on the surface of the planet and unprepared for a space-bound attack on their fleet. Max is surprised by how well Nate and Wade are actually getting along. The next day, the two men meet in the coffee room and Eiling tells Nate they need to do something to prevent Peggy and Goz from getting married. Wade wants to transfer Gunner and get him away from her, but Nate reminds him how stubborn his daughter is. That has to be put on a back burner, though, as there is trouble with Colonel Trevor.

steve was found that morning, unconscious and surrounded by a mysterious energy. They don’t know what the energy field is and cannot punch through it without endangering the Colonel’s life. Eiling wants to scrub the op, but Captain Atom insists he be the pilot. Odds are whatever the aliens did to Trevor won’t work on him. Of course, Eiling objects, but is overruled by Waller. The mission must go on.

Eiling has to get a last word in with Nate, giving him no-brainer instructions on how to do his job. After Captain Atom takes off in the shuttle (why he needs a shuttle is a mystery), Eiling is talking to an ensign in the control room who reveals that Trevor and Atom took the shuttle out the night before. Wade was unaware of this.

As Captain Atom progresses out of Earth’s upper atmosphere, he and his team on the surface are still totally unaware that their every move is being monitored by the aliens. They don’t know exactly what the humans are up to, but they know it is something. Apparently, the Durlans have a man on the inside down on the surface. Their secret objective is to capture Captain Atom.

Back on Earth, the energy aura around Trevor vanishes and he wakes up. However, back in the shuttle, Nate’s helmet fills with knockout gas. I made this observation in my coverage of the second Captain Atom annual, but I will point it out again. Captain Atom has super-breath-holding. He doesn’t even need a space-suit. Every time he is taken out by “knockout gas,” it is utterly ridiculous. And I will never not point it out.

Back at HQ, Eiling approaches Trevor with his gun drawn. However, it isn’t Steve on the table but his doctor. Colonel Trevor, it turns out, is a shape-shifting Durlan. It was his unauthorized visit to the hangar the night before that gave the spy away. Trevor didn’t have the necessary key-card to get in, but a Durlan could mimic one. The enemy alien flips off the lights and Wade opens fire in the dark.

Back in the shuttle, Nate blasts his helmet visor with his angry eyes and ignites the knockout gas. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Captain Atom floating in space.

Back on the surface, Eiling gets the lights back on but the Durlan has shifted into a research skeleton. It gets Eiling from behind and begins to choke him but Captain Atom bursts in and blows the skeleton apart. He chases the skull down the hallway, but it makes it to the hangar where they lose track of it.

Noticing an extra fuel tank on a chopper that is lifting off, Atom grabs the tank and flings it into the helicopter blades, slicing the Durlan into several pieces. Ew.

General Eiling is a little chagrined as this is the second time Captain Atom has saved his life. Waller and Max enter the hangar just n time to see the two shaking hands, much to their shock.

Later, as Earth’s super-heroes begin to converge on the command center, Eiling is dismayed to learn their commander isn’t even there. He’s on his way to Metropolis to personally recruit Superman. So that cover image, cool as it is, never happened.

Story-wise, I give this issue a B. I’m never super crazy about the crossover issues. They rarely advance the ongoing plot of the hero we’ve been following. I like that Captain Atom is in charge of Earth’s heroes, but I honestly feel there were better choices. Just because he has a military background he was chosen? Wasn’t Hal Jordan once in the Air Force, too? And a space-cop? For that matter, isn’t this version of Hawkman a space-cop?

The artwork is good but nothing jumps out at me. That panel with the Durlan getting sliced is memorable, though. I give it a B for art as well. Overall, not too shabby.


Captain Atom #23 (December 1988)


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“Prey for the Dead”

Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman

Pencils by Pat Broderick

Inks by Romeo Tanghal

Colors by Shelley Eiber

Letters by Carrie Spiegle

Assistant Editor: Dan Raspler

Editor: Denny O’Neil

This issue begins with the murder of millionaire aircraft industrialist Martin Lockleed. He received a message, supposedly from Captain Atom, to meet him at one of his hangars at midnight. What actually met him there were uniformed mercenaries who surround him before identifying themselves as servants of the Faceless One. They use their shock batons and electrocute the wealthy man.

Later, at the Damon Clinic, Dr. Megala and Babylon approach Martin’s son, Homer, to give him the bad news. Megala gives Homer a copy of his father’s will, which hands the company over to Homer. Megala himself has been appointed Executive Officer of the Lockleed Corporation, until such time as Homer is deemed competent by his doctors. Homer was initially locked up because he stalked and kidnapped Peggy Eiling, pretending to be her believed-to-be-long-dead father Nathaniel Adam. Homer promptly eats the will.

Megala and Babylon take their leave of Homer, saddened by his mental state and sure he’ll never be able to run his father’s company.

Meanwhile, at a nice outdoor restaurant, Nate and Starshine are having lunch with Peggy and Goz when Peggy finally drops the bombshell that she and Goz are engaged. Nate is, of course, shocked by this news. She really wants her father’s blessing, but Nate is not yet ready to give it. He starts to voice his objection but a quick under-the-table kick from Starshine shuts him up. He says he needs time to let it sink in. When Peggy and Goz leave, Nate and Goz share a tense handshake.

After they are gone, Nate confides in his girlfriend that he’s uneasy about this union. He’s worried because Goz is twice his daughter’s age and black. I remember when I first read this back in the 80s and wishing Nate hadn’t mentioned the race thing. I can get onboard with him having a problem about the age difference (it is his only daughter, after all). But to bring race into it left a bad taste in my mouth even then. I suppose it was a different time and Nate himself was a product of 1950s America, but I just wish they had left that aspect of the relationship alone. And if I recall correctly, DC got hate mail for hooking Peggy up with a black man. So it was an issue for some reason back then and in some places still an issue today. Perhaps Bates and Weisman were being bold. I don’t know. I just feel it never should have been brought up.

Apparently, Peggy let her stepfather know about the engagement via a note taped to the refrigerator. That’s cold, Peggy. This man loved and raised you after your father died. He may be an evil sadistic control freak, but he was still your daddy. Eiling takes his aggression out on Allard.

At Lockleed Labs, Megala and Babylon are looking over the Stealthray prototype. It was a teleporter developed by Alec Rois. Rois, of course, is the Ghost (a.k.a the Faceless One), who faced off with Captain Atom and Nightshade. He is also a holdover from the 1960s Charlton Captain Atom series, where he butted heads with Captain Atom and Nightshade. Rois was supposedly killed in that skirmish and his stealthray teleporter was destroyed. We readers know better, of course.

A quick cut to an unknown airport shows some Hare Krishnas being accosted by followers of the Faceless One. It is a cute scene that does not progress the plot at all.

Nate goes to visit his wife Angela’s grave. He confides in her that he knows that Goz and Peggy’s union is a mistake. But he decides that it is time for him to step aside and let Peggy be a grown-up. He later confides in Dr. Megala, who tells him that their relationship may be difficult, but not insurmountable. If they truly love each other, they’ll be fine. I honestly didn’t realize Nate and Heinrich were this close. The reason for Nate’s visit to Megala is so he can use his quantum powers to help work on the stealthray prototype.

Meanwhile, the Faceless One’s followers are paying a visit to Megala’s home. They are turned away by Babylon, but the cultists are persistent. They push past him and use their shock batons on him. Since these batons killed Martin Lockleed, things aren’t looking too good for old Babylon.

Back at the lab, Megala has Eiling over for some reason. I would think the Air Force wouldn’t be overseeing this private-sector project, but Lockleed probably has a government contract. Megala tries to explain what he is doing, but Wade is just too distracted by the Peggy/Goz situation. Seems to me he and Nate should have a sit-down.

Just after Wade leaves, a figure appears from within the stasis pool Megala has been working on. It appears to be Alec Rois. Also as he appears, Megala is approached by someone off-panel who appear to be the followers of the Faceless One.

Back at the Damon Clinic, Peggy and Goz are visiting with Homer. He is far more animated with her than he was with Megala. And, considering that Homer tried to kidnap her, Peggy is a saint for visiting the man in the hospital. No wonder Goz is so enamored with her. Homer is led away by a nurse, prompting Peggy to say she feels sorry for him. His father never had time for him when he was alive and now Martin is gone forever.

Back at the lab, the Faceless One Cult are demanding that Megala continue his work and allow the Ghost to push through. Megala admits that it may be possible to save Rois from the quantum field some day but it would require more research. The cultists tell him to do it now or they will kill Babylon. I suppose he survived the shock that killed Martin because he is younger and stronger. Megala agrees, but needs to call in Captain Atom for assistance.

Nate says he can come help tomorrow but Megala freaks out and says it has to be now. The cultists say they’ll be in the next room with Babylon and if Heinrich makes one wrong move, his friend is dead. Captain Atom arrives and they get right to work. Megala tells him to increase the intensity of his quantum blasts, which Nate does. He doesn’t suspect anything is amiss. The increase in energy allows the Ghost to emerge from the quantum field.

Megala takes advantage of the distraction by attacking the cultists with a fire extinguisher. Cap blasts at the Ghost but his quantum powers appear to have no effect. Megala manages to untie Babylon and they retreat to the lab. Captain Atom and the Ghost continue to blast at each other but before things go critical and the lab is destroyed, Nate scoops up Babylon and Megala and flies them to safety. Rois did vanish before the explosion, but it is unclear if he was sucked back into the quantum field or he teleported out. The end.

Not bad for a little filler story. I like anything that connects DC’s Captain Atom to his Charlton roots. Plus, Pat once again brought his A-game. Tanghal really compliments his work. Although the cover is misleading, I give this book an A. I like this modern, more-powerful version of the Ghost. Now, if only we could get some more Nightshade guest appearances…

In the next issue, Captain Atom goes to war with the aliens in an Invasion crossover.

Captain Atom Annual #2 (1988/1989)


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“Bialya Bound”

Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman
Pencilled by Paris Cullins
Inks by Bob Smith
Colors by Shelley Eiber
Letters by Carrie Spiegle
Edited by Denny O’Neil & Dan Raspler

It seems kind of a shame that the main story in a Captain Atom annual wasn’t drawn by Pat Broderick. But at least he shows up in the backup story. It has a beautiful cover by Paris Cullins who also did the interiors. He is one of my favorite artists so I’m relatively pleased with this so far.

The issue opens with a bunch of tourists swamping a travel agency and going on about how great Bialya is now. “Once an arid third world country,” it seems to have become some sort of vague paradise under the leadership of Queen Bee. This all happened following a media blackout and the world at large can only speculate about what transformed the little country.

Two tourists arrive in Bialya, Cameron Scott and Sarge Steel. Sarge Steel was a detective/spy character published by Charlton Comics during the 1960s. As he was published during the time of Charlton’s Action Heroes line of superheroes, and had loose ties to some, he is sometimes included with that group. He was purchased by DC Comics along with the other action heroes. Also arriving is Dmitri Pushkin, also known as Rocket Red #4, member of Justice League International.

Dmitri is visiting the country as a semi-diplomat while Nate and Sarge Steel are being a bit more covert. Rocket Red isn’t hiding his identity at all but the other two are trying to blend in.

The first thing Nate takes notice of in the country is the abundance of video cameras. They are literally everywhere, with Queen Bee having eyes in all corners of her country. There are also posters everywhere stating “your Queen loves you,” and the people seem genuinely happy and not at all subjugated. Later, he interrogates a native who tells him how devoted to her country and her people Queen Bee really is. Why, she gave him a ride to town once when his car broke down and she fed his baby.

Nate thinks that so far this assignment is as exciting as watching paint dry. I’m right there with you, Adam.

Things start to come to a head that night. A team of high-tech mercenaries is attacking the palace at the same time Sarge Steel is breaking in and Rocket Red is paying a visit. Dmitri leaps into action against the mercs as Nate ducks into a phone booth to turn into Captain Atom (not realizing a camera is trained on him. Steel decks one of the mercs just before the Captain arrives on the scene. Just as he is about to mop these terrorists up, who should appear on the scene but good old Major Force?

I say that sarcastically, of course, as Major Force is my least favorite supporting character. We don’t actually see him take anyone out, as he is off-panel, but we do see his powers and we know he’s in this issue because it was announced on the opening splash page.

The people of Bialya are none-too-pleased to see Captain Atom, as the last time he was in the country (in Justice League International #17), he killed their resident super-hero “the Thunderer.” He flies off and Dmitri tries to exchange pleasantries with Steel (who ain’t having it). This is the 80s and nothing is more offensive to a red-blooded patriot like Sarge Steel than a dirty commie super-hero. Cheer up, Rocket Red. You don’t know it yet, but the Cold War is almost over.

Back at their top-secret lair, the six mercenary/terrorists are meeting with their boss, the former super-hero turned super-villain Jack O’ Lantern. He tells them Queen Bee is proud or them. So the whole thing was a set-up just to flush out what super-heroes may be in Bialya. After dismissing his men, he gleefully thinks to himself that Captain Atom is the “prime candidate” for the “next phase of the experiment.”

Queen Bee contacts Jack and is none-too-happy that he staged the fake raid. Had any Bialyan citizens been harmed, he would have been in for a world of hurt. She also informs him of her choice of subject for her experiment. She has chosen Cameron Scott, who she knows is Captain Atom. So she and Jack arrived at Nate as a test subject independent of each other.

Jack sends some sort of signal or energy wave or something to Nate’s room, and it hits just as Major Force creeps in through the window. But Captain Atom has been expecting his old frienemy and he throws the Major across the room. But it looks like Force hasn’t come to fight. Force makes himself comfortable on the bed and reveals he’s been in Bialya for weeks. It turns out the microwave surveillance system in the country blocks the Air Force’s monitoring equipment so he’s been off Eiling’s radar.

Major Force says he’s been having a semi-romantic relationship with Queen Bee, which makes Nate decide he’s had enough. He packs his bag, makes a rude hand gesture to the Major, and exits the hotel room. As his plane flies back to the states, he notices Rocket Red flying away from the country as well.

Nate isn’t home for long before an overwhelming urge to return to Bialya overcomes him. He cannot fight the urge and transforms into Captain Atom. As soon as he is over Bialyan airspace, their military fires on him (at Jack’s order). The Captain makes short work of the anti-aircraft guns and crashes into Queen Bee’s palace.

In the Queen’s bedroom, he is greeted by Jack on a video monitor, who seems to know an awful lot about Cap’s urge to return to the country. What I don’t get is if he wanted Captain Atom to return and drugged him so he would, why did he fire on him when he did? Anyway, he hits Nate with some knockout gas and it’s night-night Captain Atom.

This has always bugged me too. Captain Atom can survive in the vacuum of space for an undetermined length of time. How can simple knock out gas work for him? He clearly has super breath holding just like Superman. I guess I can chalk it up to him being out of his mind from whatever it was Jack did to him, but this plot device has never sit right with me.

When he awakens, Captain Atom is strapped into a high-tech dentists’ chair in Jack’s secret underground lair. Of course, Nate recognizes Jack as a member of the defunct Global Guardians, a one-time hero turned Queen Bee flunky. Jack reveals that because of his tampering with Nate’s brain, the hero had the un-fightable urge to return to Bialya (which is kind of obvious) and this mind control is also keeping him from ripping apart the chair he’s strapped to. Maybe that’s also why he couldn’t hold his breath. He also tells Nate that as long as he stays in Bialya, he’ll feel fine, but once he’s out of range of the mind-control technology, Nate will go through withdrawal pain so horrible he’ll be compelled to return.

Because of his unprovoked attack on the country, the citizens hate Captain Atom and want him out of the country. Jack reveals that the Queen will most likely banish him. This still doesn’t make sense. Nate would have been much more useful as a pawn who was loyal to the Queen. Jack ordering the military to attack him still doesn’t add up. Jack does reveal that he wants information from Atom, and if the Captain cooperates he may be able to stay. But it seems like once the mind control set in, Cap would have played ball anyway. It just doesn’t add up.

Back at the Queen’s bedchamber, Major Force is demanding to know where his “buddy” is being held. The palace security won’t tell him, so he starts matter-blasting folks. But Queen Bee calms him and tells him whatever he wants to know.

Back in the underground base, Nate is filling Jack’s head with lies. He’s passing off the Big Lie as his actual backstory, so maybe the mind-control technology isn’t really working so well after all. When the Queen shows up, he proudly reveals his progress, but Queen Bee knows the story Nate is spinning is a fabrication.

Captain Atom bursts out of the restraint chair and reveals that it was him focusing on his fake backstory that allowed him to beat the mind-control. How convenient. What if they had used it on Superman?

Jack goes for his magic lantern, but Nate blasts him out cold with quantum energy. He then burns Queen Bee’s copy of the Captain Atom Project files. The Queen then reveals her ace in the hole. When she quietly exclaims that Captain Atom is attempting to kidnap her, Major Force bursts through a wall and threatens to pound on him. And Major Force can take out Captain Atom. He is stronger and has comparable powers. We’ve seen Atom take a beating from Force before.

However, when Captain Atom says that he will fight Major Force until the country is nothing but rubble, Queen Bee jumps in and stops her lover. She can’t have the citizens of her beloved country caught in the crossfire of a quantum pissing match between the two. She allows Nate to walk free.

On his way out of the country, Captain Atom spots Sarge Steel and gives him a ride back to the U.S. And the story is over. Talk about an anti-climax. I’d forgive it if we’d gotten some pages of Cap and Force slugging it out, but space had to be left for the “Private Lives” story I guess. Also, what happens when Nate returns home? He’ll just have the urge to return again, right? Or can he get it out of his system like heroin?

This story wasn’t worthy of being an annual. I hate to say it about my beloved Captain Atom title, but it was really stupid. Cary and Greg phoned this one in. Paris Cullins and Bob Smith were the book’s saving grace. The art was a solid B but the story was an F. Overall, Captain Atom Annual #2 earned a D from me. The main story did, at least. I haven’t even touched the B-story yet.

“Reckoning Day” was by Cary Bates and Greg Weisman again. The art was by Pat Broderick and Michael Bair with colors by Shelley Eiber. Letterer was Carrie Spiegle and the story was editied by Dan Rasplar and Denny O’Neil.

The story opens with Nate’s friend “Gunner” Goslin getting ready for a date with Peggy Eiling. Peggy, of course, is General Wade Eiling’s stepdaughter and the biological daughter of Gunner’s best friend Nathaniel Adam. The two have kept their relationship a secret from Nate so far, as Gunner has known Peggy since she was in diapers and Gunner is afraid of how his old friend would react.

Just then, Captain Atom bursts though the wall of Gunner’s apartment with his angry eyes flaring. He has found out about Goz and Peggy, and he is not happy at all. Gunner tries to explain that neither he nor Peggy meant for this to happen, but Nate doesn’t care. He powers up to take Goz out with a quantum blast just as the phone starts ringing and wakes Goz up.

Ah yes, the old it-was-just-a-dream trope. We know it well. It is 11:30 am and Peggy is calling to find out where Goz is. The old codger has overslept. As he showers and dresses, Gunner cannot get dream-Nate’s words out of his head. The old coot is overcome with guilt.

He meets up with Peggy outside the nostalgia shop where Nate works. They go inside and introduce themselves to Starshine as “friends” of Cameron Scott. Since Peggy and Nate are roughly the same age, no one would buy them as a father and daughter, despite Nate’s white hair. Starshine reveals that Cameron never showed up for work, which is a thing he does often apparently.

Gunner is upset that they missed Nate because this was going to be the day they revealed their relationship to him. If I were Goz, I’d be relieved that I dodged that bullet for at least another 24 hours. But he’s worried because he has to sweat over it even longer. Peggy says her dad will take the news in stride. Goz has been in their “family” for years, and Nate can’t say anything about the age difference because Starshine is at least ten years his senior. Ah, poor stupid Peggy.

We are then dropped into what is obviously another dream. Nate, as Captain Atom, is flying his blindfolded best friend and daughter to an undisclosed location. This is obviously a dream because A) Peggy does not know that her father is Captain Atom, and B) Nate does not know that Goz knows he’s Captain Atom.

Dream Nate flies Dream Goz and Dream Peggy to the White House, where they meet the Reagans. Because it is 1988, Ronald Reagan is the president of the U.S. In both the real world and the DC universe. Ron and Nancy want to host Goz and Peggy’s wedding on the White House lawn. Goz responds to Reagan in the positive, but does so out loud.

He has fallen asleep in Peggy’s car as they are leaving Starshine’s shop. Man, Goz is old. The two kiss and drive away, ending the little story.

Yeah, I’m so glad we got those seven pages of nonsense instead of a more fleshed-out ending to the Bialya story. I don’t feel robbed at all. I remember the year of the “Private Lives” stories. Most of them seemed pretty boring but it was nice to see the other side of super-hero life. I appreciate the story, but at the point that the B-story so obviously takes something from the A-story, I get a little ticked off.

The art was beautiful. Really, no one has ever done Captain Atom justice like Pat Broderick. Definitely an A+. And the story, while short and unnecessary, was at least kind of compelling. A B+ that was well-earned. Overall, I give this little bonus an A, but still would have preferred it was just left in the pages of the regular series.

Captain Atom #22 (December 1988)


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“Captain Atom Goes to War”

Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman ° Pencils by Pat Broderick ° Inks by Bob Smith ° Letterer: Carrie Spiegle ° Colors by Shelley Eiber ° Editors: Denny O’Neil & Dan Raspler

Well, Nate has gone off the rails in some Central American country (we never learned where he actually was last issue). He has taken the law into his own hands in an attempt to stop a civil war and created an embarrassment for his own country. Meanwhile, Wade Eiling pays a visit to Amanda Waller to find out who authorized her to send Nightshade out after Captain Atom. Waller politely shows the General the door.

Down south, Nate is melting choppers left and right but sparing the operators. He’s only after the weapons. It seems a military man like him would realize there’s always more weapons. Burn them all and people will just use their hands, Nate.

En route, Nightshade (Eve) is being briefed by Waller and thinking to herself she would have jumped at this opportunity regardless. Seems Eve is still carrying a torch for Adam. Back in New York, a frustrated Maxwell Lord fields multiple calls about his rogue Justice Leaguer. Nate, meanwhile, continues to melt tanks and piss everybody off.

Back at the base camp, Nate tries to convince his fellow soldiers that maybe what Captain Atom is doing is right but they won’t hear it. How have they not out two and two together? This white haired pinko shows up in X country the same time Captain Atom shows up and starts melting helicopters and they can’t see they are the same guy? While sitting watch for the night, Cap is knocked out and dragged off by Plastique. The next morning his fellow soldiers are none too concerned as they break camp and move on.

When he wakes up, Nate finds Bette has fitted him with a special collar. If he tries to change into Captain Atom, the explosive will take his head off. She’s also unbuttoned his shirt, but that was really just for her.

In an effort to try and convince Plastique they can make a difference, Nate leads her to a pit where he has melted the government’s and the rebel’s stolen arsenals. Bette did not realize he had been disarming both sides. Back home, Eiling and Allard have realized the same thing. Wade says Nate is in for a rude awakening.

Back down south, Nate asks Bette if she’ll give him give days to sort this war out. But whatever will they do for those give days?

Sly old Nate seduced Bette in an attempt to lift the key to the collar off of her. But she’s too quick for him and ends up pinning him down. Just then darkness falls, but it isn’t a natural darkness. Nightshade has arrived. Realizing there is no way to fight her in the dark (Eve’s turf), Plastique unlocks the collar and Captain Atom brings in the light.

The women begin to scrap, but Nate interferes. He says he’s out to stop all conflict in the country, not just the war but also between Eve and Bette. But before anyone can do any real damage, the trip smells something burning and discover a nearby village in flames. Without their weapons, the soldiers have resorted to using torches. As Adam and Eve watch the locals have at each other with whatever they can get their hands on, Bette slips away.

Nate finally realizes there is no way he can stop this war. He gathers up Nightshade and they fly home.

Overall, I liked this little two-parter. This is the kind of stuff Captain Atom was getting into in his Charlton days, so it was only fitting Nightshade was along for the ride. Only, in those days, he would have solved the problem and not accepted defeat. But this ain’t your grandpa’s Captain Atom. A well-crafted story and great art. Broderick and Smith are a dream team. A.

The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #6 (August 2017)


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“Mission Creep”The_Fall_and_Rise_of_Captain_Atom_Vol_1_6

  • Writers: Cary Bates, Greg Weisman
  • Pencils & Inks: Will Conrad
  • Colors: Ivan Nunes
  • Letters: Saida Temofonte
  • Editors: Jim Chadwick, Kristy Quinn
  • Cover Artist: Anna Dittmann

Time to rip off the band-aid and dive into the last issue of this mini-series. At first I put off covering this one because I wanted to see where Captain Atom went next (nowhere as it turned out). Then I just kind of forgot about it. For about four years. If you want to hear my initial thoughts on the issue, listen to this episode of my podcast. For the purposes of this blog, I will not relisten to the episode and do this fresh. Is that cool with all my reader?

This story opens with Mr. Thrane approaching an abandoned car in a desolate valley in 2008. There he finds a dossier and a video message from Eiling. Thrane’s target is Flip Kovic, a terrorist-for-hire that the US government hasn’t had any luck taking down. Eiling reports Kovic is somewhere in the United States before doing a quick and awkward Liam Neeson impression.

Eiling gives Thrane the number of a third party who is brokering a deal with Kovic and informs him half his fee has been transferred to his Cayman Island account. As Thrane strolls away from the vehicle it explodes.

In present day (2017), Captain Atom is at Eiling’s house warning him that Thrane now has a kill list and Eiling is on it. When they were fighting in the quantum field, Atom and Thrane merged minds and Nate saw Eiling hiring the killer in 2008. He tells the General to cut the crap and be straight. Eiling finally comes clean and says he hired Max Thrane to take out Kovic, which he did by feeding the man to alligators in the Everglades. He says he is the one who flipped on Thrane. Atom pulls a Batman and leaves the General in mid-sentence while his back is turned.

The next morning, Nate is at his wife’s grave. He tells her he has met his son Genji and understands why he hates his deadbeat disappearing dad. We then cut to a news report where the broadcaster states that if he really wants the public to accept him, Captain Atom needs to bring in Ultramax.

Ultramax has sent Captain Atom and General Eiling an ultimatum. Present themselves to him or he kills Genji, whom he has kidnapped. Turns out Max learned some secrets himself when he and Nate merged minds. He wants Nate and Eiling alone at dawn in the same valley from 2008. If anyone else shows up, Max will kill Genji.

Megala and Eiling think they might have a chance against Ultramax with the special ammo they’ve developed, lead-lined explosive uranium bullets. Apparently they were created to take down Nate in his previously unstable form.

The next morning, Cap and Eiling arrive at the meeting point. Max releases Genji as Atom releases Eiling. As they pass each other, Eiling whispers to the kid to watch for his signal. He whips out his gun and tires as Captain Atom swoops in and flies his son to safety. Of course the special ammo doesn’t work. It just pisses Max off.

Captain Atom flies in and deflects Ultramax’s attack. Max says after he killed the General he was going to come after Atom and Genji anyway. Nate unleashes quantum hell on Max while protecting Eiling from Max’s attack.

Eiking tells Nate to leave him and save his son. Nate wasn’t born yesterday though. He has figured out what Project Resurgence is and why the military was keeping close tabs on Genji and keeping Nate away from his son.

Reflecting Ultramax’s power back at him knocks the psycho out. Genji comes out of hiding and joins Eiling and Nate. Genji shakes Captain Atom’s hand before Nate gathers up Max and flies him to seek medical attention.

Very early the next morning, Megala meets with Eiling back at the base. According to their surveillance, Genji actually absorbed a bit of Max’s power, which should have killed him. It looks like Genji just might actually be a Captain Atom Junior.

Back at his wife’s grave, Nate gets a final message from his whistle blower. It is, of course, Dr. Megala. He doesn’t tip Nate off about Genji’s possible powers though. The issue and mini-series ends with the Justice League in the Watchtower viewing a news report stating that the public now has trust in Captain Atom.

As of this writing, it has been about four years since this book was published. The next time we saw a Captain Atom, he was back in his old silver skin with boots and gloves. His old ’80s look. He did not join the Justice League, and we never learned what became of his son. If we ever get another series written by this team, I’m sure all these questions will be answered.

I absolutely love this book. I think the writing was excellent, and it was some of the best art in a Captain Atom series I have ever seen. No offense intended to the legendary Pat Broderick. I give this book and the series a solid A.

Edit: After I wrote this, I listened to the episode of my podcast where I discussed this issue. Apparently at the time I was not impressed at all with this one. I have no idea why my opinion changed over the course of the last four years.

Captain Atom #21 (November 1988)


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Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman ° Pencils by Pat Broderick ° Inks by Steve Mitchell ° Colors by Shelley Eiber ° Letterer: Carrie Spiegle ° Editors: Denny O’Neil & Dan Raspler

“The Captain’s Word is Law!”

On the opening splash page, someone is using their super powers to cut out ads seeking mercenaries from Soldier For Hire. Mostly likely our sad sack Nate Adam who only has one skill – killing for the government. And since he quit that gig, business has been bad. There is a nice shout-out to Sergeant Rock on his table, though. Who knew Captain Atom liked comics?

We cut to Nate and Sally leaving a Grateful Dead concert. Nate is schooling her on the hip new lingo the kids are using these days. Who knew Nate was a Deadhead? No surprise that his new sugar mama is, though. Sally is stressed that Nate is taking a mysterious sudden vacation, not telling him where he’s going, and leaving her to run the store herself. Nate, or “Cameron” as she knows him, won’t say a thing about the trip.

Later, Nate meets up with a shady character on a boat calling himself the “ancient mariner.” He presents his team with a slide show of a third-world country in peril. The rebels have tanks and heavy firepower. One of the satellite images reveal a young soldier in peril to be the son of the Mariner. The mission is to find the son, Billy, dead or alive.

The three men he’s hired for this job are Witman Halsy, Dwight Crane, and of course Cameron Scott. They have all been researched by the Mariner and are considered experts. No one is aware that Scott is a super-hero.

Later, suited up and flying over an unnamed Communist country, they are informed that they are just above the spot where the boy was last seen. His name is now Dwayne and not Billy. The three men parachute into the jungle. By dawn, they are on patrol and Nate already doesn’t like Halsy (now spelled Halsey). They find the kid’s jeep, which looks like it was flipped by a landmine. Nate thinks it is eerily familiar…

They gather the body and go back to camp. While waiting the four days for their pickup, they get to know the rebels. They help to train them. They get word of an enemy tank in the area and decide to go on the offensive. Halsey is in command. They take the tank and one prisoner.

Halsey proceeds to torture the prisoner for information. This does not sit well with Nate. He washes off his face but he cannot wash off his guilt. He tries to console himself by thinking that both sides resort to torture to get what they want. And Halsey is successful, but the prisoner is killed in the process.

With Halsey in command, they attack the enemy base at an old abandoned gas station. They end up pinned down behind a truck. They fight back, and Nate is hit by a stray bullet. His wound is pronounced as just a graze, but he is out cold when the gas station goes up and a lone rebel walks out.

When Nate comes to, he discovers that he has been captured by Russian speaking militants who appear to be in cahoots with none other than his old “friend” Plastique.

Nate is disgusted that she is still selling her powers to the highest bidder, but recognizes that he is doing the same thing. However, he assures her that he is Cameron Scott on this mission and not Captain Atom. Bette ain’t buying it. They have a heart-to-heart. in spite of the fact that he is a hero and she is a villain, the last time they met she saved Captain Atom’s life. So there is a small amount of trust between them. Also she knows who he really is.

The two of them activate their power and begin to scrap Nate says he will do whatever he’s in his power to help these people, and Bette says she has a job to do and she wants to get paid. Nate has had it with both sides and decides it is time for him to take charge.

One thing Nate does not know is that there are witnesses to this altercation. a helicopter crew is filming the whole thing. He takes out Plastique, but when he goes after the military equipment it is witnessed by General Eiling. Megala is worried about what this will do to his super secret government project and insists that the military sends someone down to subdue Captain Atom. The General asks who he had in mind. Cut to Amanda Waller (of the Suicide Squad), demanding that Nightshade be sent after Cap.

This was a fine issue. It’s setting up quite the throwdown between Nate’s former girlfriend and his jungle hookup. I like to see where this is going. The artwork is capable, not Pat at his finest but certainly not Pat at his worst. Also I like to see Nate doing military stuff sometimes and not always super-heroing. I give the issue an A.

Steel #11 – 13 (January-March 1995)


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So, Steel has an adventure in space! And the newly-formed EXTREME Justice team is on hand. Again, it’s just a little cameo for Captain Atom. He really needed his own solo title again at this point.

Now, I like Steel as a character. There still aren’t enough heroes of color in comics. But, can we all agree as a society that comics in the mid 1990s kind of really sucked?

Some Justice League Cameo Appearances (1988-2006)

Back when these would crop up, I used to wonder why they ever put Captain Atom on the team if they just didn’t know what to do with him.

Justice League International #20-21 (Dec 1988-Jan 1989)

Justice League International #24 (February 1989)

Justice League America #32 (November 1989)

Justice League America #53 (August 1991)

Justice League America #54 (September 1991)

Justice League Unlimited #7 (May 2005)

Justice League Unlimited #8 (June 2005)

Justice League Unlimited #9 (July 2005)

Justice League Unlimited #13 (November 2005)

Justice League Unlimited #20 (June 2006)

Justice League Unlimited #21 (July 2006)

Justice League Unlimited #22 (August 2006)

Justice League International Annual #3 (1989)

“Around the World With the Justice League”

Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis

Pencils: Mike McKone

Inks: Pablo Marcos

This really just amounts to a cameo appearance. Captain Atom appears on just two pages, looking like a metallic Roger Daltrey and being all angsty.