Captain Atom, Gunner, Rocke Mastroserio, Silver Age Captain Atom, Silver Lady from Venus, Steve Ditko
“The Saucer Scare”
- Writer: ??? (possibly Joe Gill)
- Artist: Rocke Mastroserio
As with Captain Atom’s appearance in Peter Cannon… Thunderbolt #53, I could not find who the author of any of the stories was. Most likely it was Joe Gill, but I couldn’t find them credited to him anywhere. Help me out, internet.
Okay, so let’s start the nitpicking with the cover. Cap’s cowl and boots are colored blue here but in the book itself they are orange. Orange and yellow are Captain Atom’s colors except for his very first appearance when the costume was blue. Ah, well. Mistakes happen.
This story opens with a flying saucer opening fire on an unmanned bomber over Pennsyvania. “Whipboy,” who is tailing the bomber in his jet, radioes his base requesting orders. At Cape Canaveral, Captain Adam requests permission to take the X-44 up into space to investigate. He has a hunch the saucer opened fire without orders.
This is weird. We all know Captain Adam is Captain Atom. The general he’s speaking to has to know, right? So why does Captain Atom need a spacecraft?
Defying reason, Captain Adam takes off in the X-44 and sweeps across the U.S. from coast to coast. Adam discovers a cloud mass over Minnesota that looks weird. There are several flying saucers hidden within, one of which breaks off from the others and chases the X-44. Captain Adam declares, “They took the bait!” He was hoping to lure one of them out.
Adam jumps out of the plane (now on autopilot) and switches to Captain Atom just as the saucer powers up its primary weapon. Cap takes some shots at the ship and chases it as it flees. He blasts the saucer and quips, “Let’s see how you like juice, weirdo!”
The saucers all bombard Cap with death rays but to no avail. Captain Atom blasts them and sends the others fleeing into space. Back at the base, the General is marveling at how well the X-44 did against the aliens. So I guess he doesn’t know about Adam’s secret powers.
This story was kind of dumb. The art is pretty good, a B, but the story just isn’t that good or interesting. I give it a D.
“The Man in Saturn’s Moon”
- Writer: ???
- Artist: Rocke Mastroserio
Statesman Andrei Rotov addresses the Dirty Commies on television, vowing to end the secret police and slavery in his country (Russia, I suppose). In the States, Captain Adams (Make up your minds, Charlton. Adam or Adams?) watches the address with a buddy who believes Rotov will end the Cold War.
The Dirty Commies who are actually in charge of Rotov’s country come up with a “brilliant” scheme to silence the politician. Reminiscent of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, “his bosses didn’t like him so they shot him into space.” Yup, rather than exiling Rotov to Siberia or just shooting him in the head (like they did with Andrei Chikatilo in Citizen X… wait a sec… ANDREI Chikatilo, the Butcher of ROSTOV… I think I just blew my mind), they spend (waste) thousands of rubles or whatever to put Rotov in orbit around Saturn. Yeah, seems legit…
Captain Adam(s) has a hunch that the Dirty Commies have sent Rotov into orbit. He seeks permission to investigate from the U.S. President (who now looks a little more like Kennedy but still clearly isn’t Kennedy).
Captain Atom flies to Saturn, then uses a compact transmitter to broadcast a message to Rotov. He asks the statesman to hammer on the shell of his vehicle so Cap can find it among Saturn’s moons. Yeah, Captain Atom can hear sounds in the silent vacuum of space (new power!). He finds Rotov’s prison and enters it through the walls. Cap asks if he returns Rotov to Earth, will those in power have him killed? Rotov says, “I abhor violence! I would not do them harm but would let the people decide.” That really didn’t answer Cap’s question though.
Captain Atom guides Rotov’s satellite to Earth, taking out some missiles that the Dirty Commies launch at it. Upon touching down, the Dirty Commies flee and Rotov seizes control. Atom looks at the reader and says Rotov will form a new government with “freedom for this great people.” Cap then flies back to the U.S., worried he’ll get in trouble for being AWOL. But he was on a mission approved by the Commander-in-Chief. Clearly not AWOL.
Once again, I am pleased with Rocke Mastroserio’s take on Captain Atom and give him an A for art. Unfortunately, the story is stupid and totally unbelievable and I give it a D. It would be an F but I kind of like the panel where Cap breaks the fourth wall and addresses the readers. Also, the panel to the right sort of sheds some light on why Firestorm instantly hates Captain Atom. There can only be ONE “Nuclear Man!”
“The Silver Lady from Venus”
- Writer: ???
- Artist: Steve Ditko
Once again drawn by Ditko in a story that sounds like one Joe Gill probably wrote, Captain ADAM (yes, he is Adams and Adam in the same book) begins the story by changing to Captain Atom and deflecting three nuclear missiles that had failed and launched by accident. He destroys the missiles, but not before discovering that they failed because of faulty liquid oxygen expansion tubes designed by physicist James Matson.
Upon Cap’s landing, Gunner asks if he knows what caused the failure, then quickly excuses himself to see the “silver lady from Venus” on television. Adam calls on Matson, who is transfixed by the silver lady on the TV as well. She promises to some day take all her fans to Venus with her. Adam marvels at her silver skin and metallic hair (get used to it Cap, cause that’s your future).
The silver lady discusses the failed launch, basically exonerating Matson from any blame. Matson is overjoyed but Adam tries to get him to get in touch with reality. Matson says he knew the tubes would fail but as he was working on them all he could see was the silver lady. Adam realizes that Matson (as well as countless other men at Cape Canaveral) has been hypnotized. When Adam says he’s going to call on her, Matson freaks out and shoots him. Of course, Cap isn’t harmed and he locks Matson up “for his own good.”
Before he takes off after the silver lady, he tells Gunner that the woman really is from Venus. Gunner thinks Cap has lost his mind. Captain Atom follows a light beam from Venus and finds the silver lady communicating with her “Venutian master.”
Captain Atom picks her up and flies off. She asks if he is taking her to Venus and Cap says no. He deposits her in Russia, where she can “work her mischief… as much as she wants!”
After the prior meeting with the women from Venus in Space Adventures #37, I expected a better story. Like so many of these early Captain Atom comics, the premise is good but the execution is not. It reads like a Joe Gill story in that respect. C for story but A for Ditko’s art. I really love Steve Ditko.
This “universe” was absorbed into DC Comics’ Multiverse when the Charlton characters were purchased by DC. This universe became Earth-4.
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