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“One Second of War”

  • Writer: Joe Gill
  • Artist: Steve Ditko

This story opens with Captain Adam meeting with the President of the United States.  At this point in American history, the president is John F. Kennedy.  Now, I’ve seen pictures of Jack Kennedy.  I’ve seen film of Jack Kennedy.  This man is no Jack Kennedy.  What was the deal with comics in the old days not showing the president?  Was it something dictated by the Comics Code Authority?  The 1954 code criteria did state “Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”   Perhaps Ditko and Gill were just playing it safe.

Anyway, President No Name tells Cap about a uranium mine operating in an African jungle.  Of course, there’s no way we could stand to have another country with access to this.  So Captain Atom flies off to deal with this threat personally.  He flies faster than the speed of light (new power!) to Somaliland, near a mysterious structure with armed guards.

Evil Dr. Claudius Jaynes is overseeing the construction of missiles in this facility.  From outside the facility, Captain Atom can hear machinery inside.  A guard fires at Cap, who zaps his gun.  When the other men and Dr. Jaynes swarm the area, Cap has become invisible.  Jaynes offers a $10,000 reward for whomever brings in the man “Roberto” fired at.

Jaynes readies his missiles and orders them all launched.  He intends to destroy “half the world,” so the other half will be his.  Rockets are fired at Washington, Tokyo, New York and London.  Cap follows them, thinking “If they were destroyed even one hundred miles up… they would kill millions!  They must leave the universe!”

Um, Captain Atom, do you have any concept of how impossible that is?  Leave the universe?  The infinite universe?  Were you planning on sending them to an alternate universe?

Each of the rockets is labeled (in English) with their destination.  Cap moves among the rockets, directing them out into infinity.  But one rocket didn’t launch.  Apparently, it detonated in Somaliland.  Cap goes back, only to find, “Nothing there!  Not a blade of grass for a hundred miles! Jaynes’ nightmare died with him! Now, to report to Washington… mission completed… danger past!”  Again with the exclamation points!

I love it when Cap turns invisible.  I wonder how Joe Gill’s stories would be if he had more than just a few pages?  Like if Captain Atom had his own full-length comic series.  Ditko’s art is as great as ever.  I really liked seeing Cap straddling a rocket. C for story, A for art. A “B” story.


  • Writer: Joe Gill
  • Artist: Steve Ditko

Captain Adam arrives at the White House, where President No Name warns him, “Gustav Borlin is mad, and Dr. Skafic, his chief scientist, is equally insane!  They have the power, between them, to destroy the world!”  With that very limited intel, Captain Adam becomes Caption Atom and flies off to Europe to deal with the menace.

Atom speaks to himself en route, explaining that Borlin is a dictator in his country and CIA reports state he is crazy.  Dr. Skafic has a grudge against America and is one of the best missile experts in the world.

Cap lands and changes into his Air Force uniform.  He gets a ride to the U.S. embassy, passing Borlin’s missile pads on the way.  At the embassy (who have gotten notice he was coming to deal with Borlin),  Adam admits he has no plan, but must see the demonstration Borlin is staging for that morning.  An Air Force General  takes Adam to Borlin’s compound (the General was invited and Borlin allows the General’s “underling” [Adam] to tag along).  Big words from the General as he threatens the dictator not to do anything stupid like piss off the U.S.

Dr. Skafic has a bone to pick with the U.S. and says he will launch the missiles.  Adam runs out onto the launchpad, taking off his clothes as he runs.  He changes to Captain Atom just as the countdown reaches zero.  Atom nudges each of the twenty missiles off-course, diverting them to “waste places on the Earth.”  So… landfills?  Garbage dumps?  What are “waste places?”

Cap disables the firing mechanisms so they won’t poison the planet with their nuclear crap.  As a result of the failed attempt, Borlin’s people revolt.  Captain Adam earns a handshake from the President.

I expected more from these Cold War era stories.  I guess to kids in the Sixties, this kind of stuff was really scary.  Now it just seems ridiculous.  C for story, B for art.  Let’s see some real super-heroics from Captain Atom!

“The Force Beyond”

  • Writer: Joe Gill
  • Artist: Steve Ditko

Our story opens with Captain Atom out in space doing God Knows What (looks like he is stopping some missiles that must have been fired at the U.S.) when he is “attacked” by meteors and knocked out.  Cape Canaveral tries to reach him on the radio, saying they will arm the satellite weapons in five seconds.  Cap comes to just in  time.  Apparently, “arming the satellite weapons” mean a nuclear first strike (probably against Russia), which will result in instant retaliation and nuclear war.

Cap orders them to stop the launch, then hurries to deal with the rockets he was after in the beginning of the story.  He takes out all the missiles and Russian satellites and potential Russian spy gear, then goes home and meets up with Gunner.  Gunner had been worried Cap had gotten blasted for good when he didn’t respond.  Cap tells him the meteor strike was a deliberate attack by an intelligent force.

Captain Atom briefs the Generals and the President, then addresses all the nations’ leaders.  An unidentified hostile force had caused the missiles to launch and tried to take Cap out.  He says he is going to go out and try to find their enemy, and begs the world leaders that if he fails, please don’t make war with each other.

I like that.  Captain Atom is treating world leaders like children.  Cause he can crush them all so he’s the only thing keeping us from the brink of war.  And he knows if he dies, nothing with stop World War III.  I remember the Cold War.  We really did feel like WW3 was right around the corner.


Captain Atom flies up into space and sees a ghostly spaceship.  Rather than investigate, Captain Atom disintegrates the thing.

This is the problem.  This story had great potential, then falls apart at the end.  Was Joe Gill overworked?  Was he told to keep the stories short?  I just don’t get it.  Instead of adding a third mediocre story, they could have fleshed out one of the other two.

C for Joe, A for Steve.  This is a “B” at best.

This “universe” was absorbed into DC Comics’ Multiverse when the Charlton characters were purchased by DC.  This universe became Earth-4.