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“A Piece of the Lie”

  • Writer: Cary Bates
  • Pencils: Pat Broderick
  • Inks: Bob Smith
  • Colors: Carl Gafford
  • Letters: Duncan Andrews

The story opens with a man wearing a heavy raincoat, ridiculously large red sunglasses, and a fedora with the brim pulled down over his face walking down the street in Tampa, Florida with his hands in his pockets.  A passer-by thinks he must be a flasher, as it is too warm on a cloudless day to warrant such a getup.  A homeless man in the gutter asks the raincoated man if he can spare some change.  The fedora man removes his coat and hands it to the homeless man.  And so we get our first look at the new Doctor Spectro.

His costume is vastly different from the Silver Age Dr. Spectro.  It appears to be a black leotard with a pattern of red, yellow, and blue circles all over it.  Spectro appears to transform into a giant, red, three-headed demon.  The homeless man runs.  Two security guards who are making a payroll delivery see not a demon but a grey muscle-bound monster that bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain incredible Marvel character.  The monster snatches the bags of cash the two men were carrying.

A cab driver who is relating this story to the police (along with the homeless man and the two security guys) says he saw a giant green snake carrying the two bags of cash.  He fled, and the snake stole his cab.  A school bus narrowly misses hitting the cab, ending up on its side in the street.  All of the witnesses claim that Doctor Spectro said he was back in business.  But the police have no files on Spectro because he didn’t exist.  He was part of Captain Atom’s fake backstory.  One of the cops holds out an issue of National Penetrator (ew) with Captain Atom on the cover.

Cut to General Eiling briefing Theresa Delgado.  He reminds her (and us) of the intricacies of “The Lie” (The Captain Atom Project), which is good because this is the sixth issue and we may have forgotten all about it.  They know Dr. Spectro was made up by them, and Delgado vows to get to the bottom of who this clown is.  She thinks the appearance of Dr. Spectro lends credibility to Cap’s back story.  Eiling sees him as a potential threat – that Spectro must know Cap’s story is made up.

As Delgado leaves, Allard calls Eiling and says he has a call from someone who “claims to know the truth about Dr. Spectro.”

Meanwhile, Captain Atom is meeting sick kids in a hospital, explaining how his powers work.
It turns out these kids were on the school bus that Spectro caused to wreck.  Captain Atom clearly feels guilty, saying to a doctor that he is responsible for what happened to those kids “in more ways than you can imagine.”

Two days later, Eiling shows up in an isolated section of forest in northeast Colorado.  Alone in a Jeep, he is meeting with the mysterious caller.  He is soon joined by a holographic projection of Dr. Spectro.  He wants money from Eiling and says he’ll stop with the Spectro nonsense if the government pays up.  Besides, he says, he really doesn’t want to face Captain Atom for real.  Eiling drops the “first payment” and drives away, leaving the hologram behind.

As he is driving away, Eiling’s Jeep is picked up by Captain Atom and deposited on a mountain peak.  Cap demands answers regarding Spectro.  Eiling lies and says the whole thing was staged, and that the kids on the bus was a stupid mistake.  Cap isn’t buying it and says as much.  As he drops Eiling’s Jeep back on the road, the General is warning Captain Atom not to investigate the matter further.

Captain Atom shows up at a Florida police impound where Spectro’s getaway cab is being searched.  The car has been cleaned but the investigator found a trace of mud on the fender that has been sent to the lab for analysis.  They are able to narrow down the location of the mud to a place in north Florida called Breezy Point.

We cut to Tom Emory, laying in a bed full of cash and dreaming of beautiful women.  He is awakened by an angry, shouting Captain Atom outside of his house.  Atom warns Spectro if he doesn’t give up, their first fight will be Spectro’s last.  Spectro suits up and flies away on a flying motorbike contraption (the Rainbow Raider’s flyer).  Captain Atom chases him, and they are filmed by two documentary filmmakers who happen to be in the area.

Cap quickly realizes he’s been duped and has been chasing a hologram.  When the real Spectro emerges from the house, Atom gives chase.  Spectro tries to scare Cap with images of aliens but Captain Atom us undeterred.

The ensuing fight takes place off-panel.  Back in his office, reading the newspaper article about Spectro’s capture, Eiling is on the phone with Delgado.  He tells her that despite Cap going against orders and taking down Spectro, it has been a p.r. win for the Captain Atom Project.

In prison, various inmates begin attacking Tom Emory.  They appear to have been hired by Eiling to do so.  Tom thinks they’re the Rainbow Raider’s loyal flunkies and asks Captain Atom to help him.  As a result, Cap addresses the prisoners in the yard.  He turns up the heat, and has the whole pissed-off-eye-flare thing going on.  He tells those gathered that Emory is under his protection and hopes the inmates don’t give him a reason to come back.  Emory walks away with a smug expression and Captain Atom flies home, pissed off that he has been drawn further into “the lie.”

Nothing too special about this issue.  I liked Captain Atom visiting sick kids in the hospital.  Dr. Spectro with his illusions is a lot less threatening than the original Charlton Dr. Spectro.  I like how, despite his best efforts, Cap gets pulled further and further into the lie.  I particularly like the way Pat Broderick worked in the Incredible Hulk!  Overall a B+ book.