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“Wish You Were Here…”

  • Writers:  Cary Bates & Greg Weisman
  • Pencils:  Pat Broderick
  • Inks:  Bob Smith
  • Colors:  Carl Gafford
  • Letters:  Duncan Andrews

Okay, it is right there on the cover.  This may be an issue of Captain Atom but Captain Atom isn’t in this issue.  It is an indirect tie-in with the Millennium crossover event and Bates & Weisman used the absence of the main character to flesh out some of the subplots.

This issue came out September 29, 1987, which was the same week as Millennium #3 but the action takes place prior to (or during) Millennium #1.

It begins in a spa or gym.  Babylon is working out while Dr. Megala chills out in the hot tub.  Babylon is telling Megala an off-color joke that he attributes to Nathaniel Adam, (who really really isn’t in this book).  He says Nate has a new joke for him every time they meet up and he suggests that Captain Atom host Saturday Night Live.  Megala advises Babylon not to mention that in front of Nate, as he just might be interested in doing it.

As Megala and Babylon chat about Nate, two assistants come in and hoist Megala out of the hot tub.  Babylon, unaware of this, is left in the spa alone, talking to himself.

Back in his lab, Dr. Megala is recording some data, getting ready to run some experiments on Captain Atom.  Babylon enters, still sweaty from his workout, and tells Megala that Captain Atom won’t be available.  Megala delivers a weak pun.

What Megala is unaware of is that Captain Atom has been holed up in the New York embassy of Justice League International with the rest of the team.  Although it has been in all the papers, Megala is completely oblivious.

Elsewhere, journalist Sissy Housten is thinking of her friend and fellow journalist Mabel Ryan, who has been missing for five months.  The last person to see her alive was Tom Emory (aka Dr. Spectro) and swears she was alive and well (in truth, Emory killed Mabel).  Sissy’s “Deep Throat” contact at the Pentagon calls her up and says she has info on Mabel and it isn’t good news.  They agree to meet at a parking garage.

Later, Babylon is driving Megala to visit his friend Anton Sarrock.  He is trying to cheer Megala up, but the doctor’s mind is on Captain Atom and the Justice League.  They arrive at the Damon Clinic where Megala is greeted by Dr. Mortimer as a former patient.  Babylon has to surrender his revolver.  Mortimer tells them Sarrock is catatonic, and has been for a year… since Nate emerged from his quantum time-travel trip.

Another patient, Homer Lockleed, is mopping the hallway as Mortimer, Babylon, and Megala pass through.  I’d wondered what happened to him since he tried to kidnap Nate’s daughter Peggy.  Using the pretense of asking for some magazines, Homer approaches a security guard and clocks him in the face with the icky end of his mop.

In Sarrock’s room, Babylon and Megala discuss their friend as he stares at cartoons on his TV.  He was once one of the most brilliant astrophysicists in the country before suffering a nervous breakdown.  Dr. Megala believes that Sarrock’s relapse is a result of Megala not being around all the time.  This is a great failing of Heinrich Megala.  He seems blind to the fact that Sarrock’s mental problems are tied in with the alien metal that coats Nathaniel Adam.  It doesn’t all click into place for him until Silver Shield shows up, in Captain Atom #35.  But that’s two years away.

Homer enters the room and shoots out the TV with Babylon’s gun.  An orderly jumps at Homer and the gun goes off again.

At the Pentagon, Martin Allard and Harry Hadley show up for the unveiling of a Justice League “strategy room.”  There are images of JLI members on the wall with “risk codes.”  Blue Beetle and Black Canary are green, Batman is orange, and Rocket Red #7 and Guy Gardner are red.  Hadley mentions that he was the one who subdued Captain Atom with a gas that he synthesized (and will be used to subdue Atom’s “successor”).  The man in charge of this room, Lieutenant Eliot, reveals that Captain Atom was placed with the JLI as a spy.  Allard says the collected data will be extremely valuable to the U.S. government (“Among other organizations,” thinks Hadley.).  Hadley excuses himself for another appointment.

Back at the Damon Clinic, Homer banishes Babylon and an orderly from the ward.  Babylon is carrying another orderly; the man Homer shot.  Babylon warns Homer that if he hurts anyone else, he’ll come down on him so hard it will kill his family.  This causes Homer to rant about his “wife/daughter” Peggy.  Police and paramedics show up and Babylon loads the wounded orderly into an ambulance.  Hearing the police argue, Babylon realizes it will be up to him to save Megala.

The police call Homer (this is a full-blown hostage situation now).  Homer demands that he be allowed to speak to his father.  He also wants to see his “wife,” Margaret Eiling-Lockleed, and his “daughter,” Peggy.  Homer is seriously unhinged.  In the hospital, Megala thinks of Homer as “another Damon Clinic failure,” like Sarrock or himself.  He clings to the vain hope that Nathaniel will sweep in and rescue him.

I didn’t see this before, but I think it is possible that Heinrich Megala is in love with Nathaniel Adam.

Sissy meets with her shadowy “deep throat” contact.  He hands her a package, and she takes it and gets in her car.  She opens the package, which turns out to be a bomb.  Her contact turns out to be none other than Harry Hadley.

Hadley is a Manhunter.  They are the primary villains in the Millennium crossover event.  He’s been spying on Captain Atom all this time on behalf of his masters.

Back at the Damon Clinic, Babylon uses a grapple to get to the roof.  The police see what he’s up to but don’t know who he is.  Inside, another inmate tells Megala he wishes Anton were there mentally instead of just physically.  Megala recounts a time when Anton helped another inmate; himself.  Megala talks and talks, but (as another inmate points out) it makes no difference.  Anton Sarrock is totally checked out. Down on the ground, the police realize Babylon is on the roof.  The officer in charge, Francis Travis, radios his man on the roof.  But it is too late.  Babylon clocks the roof cop from behind.

Homer tells Travis (via phone) that if his demands aren’t met, he’s going to start killing people, starting with the cripple in the wheelchair (Megala).  Megala rushes Homer, who shoots him.  Homer barks into the phone, “You see?  You made me kill the cripple!”  Babylon hears this and freaks out.

Travis says that Margaret Eiling is willing to come down and talk to Homer but they couldn’t find his daughter Peggy.  Homer says if Peggy isn’t there in two minutes he will kill everyone.  He begins counting down from 120.  The other inmates right Megala’s chair (Megala is fine).  A voice calls out to Homer, telling him to stop counting.  Homer ignores this.  Then the voice says it more forcefully.  It is Anton Sarrock.

Homer stops counting.  Sarrock tells his fellow inmates that they must help Homer.  He slows Homer down, but the crazed fellow still says he’s going to kill everyone; that it is too late.  That is when Babylon crashes in through the window armed with a machine gun and disarms Homer, saying it is never too late.

Babylon and Megala welcome Sarrock back to reality.  In the background, a TV plays a news report about the JLI emerging from their embassy.  The reporter goes to interview Captain Atom just when a hospital staff member turns the TV off.

This was good.  By no means my favorite issue of the series, but I like that they let the subplots breathe.  We learn a little sliver more about Megala.  Not a lot, but more will trickle out over the next few years.  The art is good, but nothing spectacular.  Pat Broderick at his worst is still better than some.  I’d say overall this issue of Captain Atom is a B.

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