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“Power Play”

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

This issue was published in May of 1988.  It opens with General Eiling paying a visit Dr. Megala.  He demands that Megala quit “playing sick” and gets back to the base.  Eiling wants Megala on hand for the launch of something called the Force-One.  Megala points out he is convalescing and that he is no longer needed for the Force-One project anyway.  Eiling tries to convince him that he needs to come because the Force-One is a vital key to keeping Major Force in check.  The General leaves, meeting Allard outside with a chopper.  Allard asks if there is any improvement in Megala’s condition.  Eiling says Megala feels guilt over unleashing Major Force on the world.  More likely, he feels guilt over the government’s treatment of Nate and could care less about Clifford Zmeck.

Later, as Nate tries to wrap a gift, he receives a call for help from a Colonel Uber.  It seems that Eiling’s helicopter never made it back to base.  Uber, fully aware of Nate’s secret identity, is asking for Captain Atom’s help finding the General.  Nate is not amused.

Back at the base, it seems Megala decided to come in after all. He says it was the General’s “pep talk” that brought him in.  Noticing a glitch, he goes up into the gantry to repair the faulty Force-One.

Later, Nate presents Peggy with the birthday gift he bought her: a bracelet she’s had her eye on for a while.  Peggy begins to cry because this is the first birthday Eiling hasn’t called her since he became her stepfather.  Not expecting this guilt trip, Nate drops in on his ex-wife Angela after dropping Peggy off.  Of course, Angela has been dead for a few years so he visits her at the cemetary.  He still doesn’t understand why she married Eiling after his own “death,” but concedes that he was a good father and must have been a good husband.  He drops flowers on her grave and tells her he knows what she’d want him to do.

Cut to some place completely dark where Eiling and Allard are being held.  Allard lights a match, but visibility is near zero.  We get a rare glimpse of Eiling’s human side when allard apologizes for passing out and the General says there no shame in it; he passed out himself.

Back at the base, Captain Atom shows up with Eiling’s crashed helicopter.  He found in on the north face of Wiley’s Peak.  Colonel uber appreciates Cap’s help but when pressed, Nate refuses to tell him why he changed his mind.  Uber theorizes that the General was kidnapped by Major Force, who has been AWOL for ten days.  The Major has strayed 200 miles outside of their sensor range.  Uber explains that Megala’s Satellite (set to launch that night), the Force One, will fix that glitch and give the military constant tabs on Force.

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All the while Cap and Uber are talking we see Megala hard at work on his rocket.  Atom flies off to continue his search for General Eiling.

Eiling and Allard manage to burst out of their dark cell.  Allard is convinced that Major Force is their captor, but the General is not so sure. Allard recall nozzles coming out of the helicopter’s control panel and shooting nerve gas at them.  Eiling says the gas only could have been put in at Megala’s retreat.  The evidence doesn’t add up to Major Force.  Eiling can recall seeing someone beat their downed helicopter with an iron mallet before passing out.

Just then, a television mounted on the ceiling outside their cell comes to life and General Eiling meets his kidnapper.

captain.atom.18.06 “Master Militarius,” according to Allard, was one of the villains Captain Atom fought while he was working in secret (the “Big Lie” – Nate’s cover story).  Whomever this is, they most likely know Cap’s cover is a lie.  Allard and Eiling don’t have a chance to work this out.  A cannon emerges from the walls and begin to shoot bouncy black balls around the room.  The two captors use the wooden door of their cell as a shield, but the balls begin to smash it to bits.  Clearly Master Militarius means to kill them or do serious bodily harm to them.  The two prisoners use the door to jam the cannon, which destroys it.  They go into the next room, the room that housed the cannon, only to find another monitor.  Master Militarius tells them that the entire house was recently renovated with booby traps.  Allard hears rushing water.  The room begins to fill with water while back at the base Uber continues with the countdown for Megala’s rocket.

General Eiling and Allard duck under the water.  Eiling finds a weak spot in the wall where the wood had been rotting and shoves his weight into it.  The two captors burst out of the room, and completely out of the house onto a tranquil hillside.  Eiling thinks their escape was too easy.  He finds Militarius’ costume in some nearby bushes along with a note warning him that he’s in danger of being listed as AWOL.  Allard points out the launch of Megala’s rocket in the distance.

As the two hike back to base, we see Babylon hiding in the bushes wearing Militarius’ coat.

Later, back at the base, Eiling confronts Megala.  He has figured out that it was Babylon that kidnapped him on orders from the doctor.  Megala explained that he needed Eiling out of the way while he added something special to the satellite’s payload.  There is a monitor connected to a device in the rocket. At the point of Megala’s death, a message will be broadcast to the world by the satellite.  The message will expose the truth about Captain Atom and expose Eiling’s involvement.  It is Megala’s insurance policy (Eiling has tried to have the doctor killed at least once before).

Captain Atom appears, with a very drunk Major Force in tow.  He found the Major stinking drunk in the Swiss Alps, and returned him to Eiling as a favor to the Swiss people.

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The issue charmingly ends with Major Force puking on General Eiling’s shoes.

This was not my favorite issue of Captain Atom.  There was not a lot of super-heroing going on.  While I do like to see Nate’s human life, I’m not overly fond of Eiling-heavy stories.  And Allard is such a dork, I wonder how he ever rose so high.  Also, Babylon’s deathtraps really could have killed Eiling and Allard.  Like dead for realsies.  Is that really the kind of guys Babylon and Megala are?  The art was great, though.  Pat Broderick was doing great.  I give this issue an A for art and a C+ for story.

(All characters and images belong to DC Comics and I am not making any profit off this blog.)

 

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