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“Captain Atom Vs. the Ghost”
  • Writer: David Kaler
  • Pencils: Steve Ditko
  • Inks: Rocke Mastroserio
  • Letterer: Jon D’Agostino

The security of the whole free world was at stake!  Every agent of the United States was put on extra alert!  That’s how Captain Atom came to be allied with Nightshade, one of the most attractive spy smashers that our country has ever had!  Together this powerful pair find themselves confronting an almost impossible task of capturing a man who could disappear at will.  But how do you catch a ghost?

And so begins a new chapter in Captain Atom’s life.  He gains a new nemesis and a new friend in this issue.  Both of which would follow him into his new life at DC Comics twenty-one years down the road.

Captain Atom is called to the Pentagon, where he is briefed on the Ghost, a criminal that has been “causing havoc for private industry.”  They believe he will soon strike the government but don’t know where.  As “ghosts have no use for industrial secrets or classified information,” Cap suspects it is “an outer space being or a very clever man.”

Cap is informed he’ll be working with a female agent named Nightshade (that darling of darkness).  This will be her first mission.  She arrives, her black ponytail bouncing.  She wears a mini-skirt over black tights and a mask – clearly she is a super-hero – but her powers are not yet revealed.  She and Cap are given tickets to a party being held that night by “Alec Nois.”  The military believes a few of the Ghost’s agents will be there.

Meanwhile, “in another part of Washington,” the Ghost arrives in a darkened office and removes his mask.  Through flashbacks we learn his name is Alec and that he suffered hardships when he was growing up (girls didn’t like him because he was poor and boys didn’t like him because he was studious).  He built a teleportation device and used it to rob banks and the like.  His goal is “Operation Golden Ghost,” which he will execute once he has stolen the floor plans for Fort Knox.

Meanwhile, Allen Adam is readying himself for the party, thinking to himself that Nightshade will be more of a burden than on asset.  As Eve Eden (Nightshade) prepares herself for the party, she is thinking how great it will be to be teamed up with that hunky Captain Atom (1960s comic stories at their best here, folks).

Later, at the Alec Nois party, Adam is having trouble figuring out which of the guests could be the Ghost.  He is impressed by Nois’ wealth, though, wondering how Nois made his first million.  Then all heads turn to see Eve Eden arrive (she is a “jet-set” leader and a Senator’s daughter).

Alec flirts with Eve. Adam takes notice of how hot she is.  Cap doesn’t know Eve is Nightshade, Eve doesn’t know Adam is Captain Atom, and nobody suspects Alec is the Ghost.

Adam sees a waiter pass a message to a dude.  He follows the dude to another room, where he is on the phone arranging Ghost stuff.  Eve also saw the exchange and makes an excuse to break away from Alec, who also wanted to break away from Eve to do more Ghost stuff.

Eve follows the dude outside.  She changes into her Nightshade costume instantly (that must be her super power – super clothes changing).  She flips the guy and demands to know what the message said.  Just then, the Ghost materializes before her.  When she takes a swing at him, he vanishes and reappears a few feet away.  This is when Captain Atom joins the fight.  With the wave of his hand, the Ghost teleports Nightshade and Cap to another dimension.

Before long, the two are teleported back where they came from, but the Ghost is long gone.  Cap remembers overhearing the Ghost’s flunky mentioning “section 18.”  Nightshade tells him section 18 is a secret file and map room at the Pentagon.  Cap picks her up and they fly off.

The two heroes burst in on the Ghost in section 18 just as he has located the plans to Fort Knox.  He teleports the blueprints away, makes a stupid Beatles reference, and vanishes before Cap can get him.  He reappears before Nightshade and taunts her.  This goes on for a little bit.  The heroes can’t catch him.  Before he teleports out for good, he says, “I’m going to do what Goldfinger failed to do!  I’m going to steal the gold in Fort Knox!”  Man, this guy loves his pop culture references.

The two heroes return to the Nois house and change into their civvies.  Adam is shocked to learn Eve Eden is Nightshade.  Eve thinks Allen Adam is a hottie.  When Adam asks her why she does the super-hero thing, Eve dodges the question.  They return to the party.

The next morning, they make their report to their C.O.  The next morning?  What if the Ghost’s plan was to go straight from the Pentagon to Fort Knox?  Was it really necessary to return to that party and then report their findings the next day?  It was okay, though, because the Ghost didn’t act that night.

Back home, Alec “Ghost” Nois studies the blueprints.  He talks about getting a crew together for the job.

Adam and Eve (yes, I know) opt to drive to Fort Knox in their civvies, afraid their super-identities would draw too much attention (but Cap can turn invisible and really doesn’t even need Nightshade!).  They pass a suspicious truck on the road and think it might be tied in to the Ghost’s heist.

The Ghost receives word that everything is nearly in place for the heist.  He collects a “machine” that will help him with his heist, makes a Lincoln reference (sheesh), and teleports away.

Fort Knox is on high alert.  For some reason, Cap and Nightshade dropped their plans to approach stealthily.  They are in an Air Force helicopter in full costume when the Ghost arrives.  Cap jumps out and flies down.  Nightshade waits for the helicopter to land and then takes out four armed thugs in hand-to-hand combat.  So she’s a scrapper.

Inside, Cap uses is invisibility power to freak the Ghost out.  He snatches the Ghost’s machine out of his hands.  Still invisible, Cap socks the Ghost in the face and the Ghost goes down.  Figuring his teleportation power comes from his gloves, Cap sets out to remove them.  But the Ghost was only feigning unconsciousness.  He kicks Cap in the face.

As Cap is going down, he rips the glove he has clenched in his hand.  The exposed circuitry goes haywire and the Ghost is enveloped in a mass of orange energy.  Cap believes the Ghost is defeated for good, but Cap doesn’t realize he is in a comic book and nobody stays dead.

This issue also includes an article about Sumo wrestlers and a short two-page “educational” comic featuring Judomaster’s “favorite throws” by Frank McLaughlin.  Also a special announcement from Charlton that soon they will start printing fan letters in the pages of Captain Atom.

This one is pretty good.  I would have liked to have learned more about Nightshade.  When I was introduced to the character years later, she had the power to travel long distances quickly via black portals she generated and could cross dimensions.  Perhaps some of that will come into play here in the Charlton universe later on.  A solid effort by Ditko and Mastroserio; these guys make a great team.  I like the Ghost in spite of his weird references.  David Kaler told spun a fairly good yarn.  A well-done book but nothing too spectacular.  I give Captain Atom #82 a B+.

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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