Bronze Age Captain Atom, Captain Atom, David Kaler, E-Man, Joe Staton, John Byrne, Nightshade, Roger Stern, Steve Ditko, Sunurians, The Ghost
“Two Against Sunuria”
- Writer: Roger Stern (also credited as “Guiding Light” is Dave Kaler)
- Pencils: Steve Ditko
- Inks: John Byrne
- Letters: John Byrne
- Cover Artist: Joe Staton
I did a minimal amount of research and learned (thanks to Mike’s Amazing World of Comics) that – although Charlton Bullseye #1 and #2 both carry the vague cover date of “1975,” the first issue was on sale December 1, 1974. The second issue – which included the conclusion of the previous issue’s Captain Atom story – went on sale May 1, 1975, two months after Captain Atom’s 15th birthday. This is the last Steve Ditko Captain Atom work that I am aware of.
Picking up right where Charlton Bullseye #1 left off, Nightshade has just awoken to find herself and Captain Atom in unfamiliar surroundings. Cap explains that they were teleported to Sunuria when Nightshade was unconscious. The Ghost, leader of the Sunurians and so-called “Faceless One,” is attacking Cap and Nightshade while this explanation is going on. The Sunurian High Priestess is watching the battle, wary of the Ghost’s motives and methods. The Sunurians halt the attack and declare that the Ghost is to fight Cap one-on-one.
Captain Atom and the Ghost agree to this, and face off against each other on a raised platform armed only with swords. Both of their powers have been negated to ensure a fair fight. The gravity is also disabled as the combat commences. Cap thinks he and the Ghost are evenly matched, and refers to the Ghost as “Rois.” We were never treated with a scene in which Captain Atom learns the Ghost is actually his friend Alec Rois. As a matter of fact, in the Ghost’s last appearance, neither Allen Adam nor Eve Eden had any idea the Ghost was their friend Alec. The revelation must have happened in the eight years that lapsed from when the Sunurians sent the Ghost to fetch Captain Atom to the time when he actually teleported Cap to Sunuria. Or it was a mistake on the writers’ part.
The Ghost disarms Captain Atom, sending his sword flying. From his shoulder, Cap whips off the Sunurian electro-thread they are both also armed with. He isn’t clear on how to use it, but did see the weapon used by Punch in Captain Atom #85, and did wield them briefly against Punch and Jewelee. Cap disarms the Ghost with the thread, and the Ghost whips out his own electro-thread. Watching below, the High Priestess whispers to Nightshade that she wants to help the heroes. She leads Nightshade away, and the darling of darkness easily dispatches the guard blocking their path.
Captain Atom disarms the Ghost again and throws his own electro-thread away. He begins to pummel the Ghost. The Ghost kicks Captain Atom into a nuclear furnace, which should kill the powerless hero. But the High Priestess and Nightshade have made into the control center and deactivated the dampening field around Cap. Nightshade hurries back to the arena as Captain Atom goes critical.
The Ghost has vanished, most likely buried under the rubble that was the arena. Nightshade leads Captain Atom back to the control center, where the High Priestess warns them never to return before teleporting them home. After they are gone, she destroys everything around her, saying that she and the Sunurians are “going to meet the Faceless One.” Back on Earth, Captain Atom carries Nightshade off into the night.
And so ends this story. The Ghost appears to be dead (but he isn’t; he returns to fight Nightshade in Charlton Bullseye #7). The Sunurian civilization is destroyed, and Captain Atom has a date with Nightshade. Overall, a pretty good issue. Again, I give the Ditko/Byrne art team an A+ and Roger Stern’s writing an A. There is also a Steve Ditko E-Man story entitled “Moonshift” in this issue, as evidenced on the cover. Sadly, it would be seven more years before we see Captain Atom again.
This “universe” was absorbed into DC Comics’ Multiverse when the Charlton characters were purchased by DC. This universe became Earth-4.