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“Prey for the Dead”

Written by Cary Bates & Greg Weisman

Pencils by Pat Broderick

Inks by Romeo Tanghal

Colors by Shelley Eiber

Letters by Carrie Spiegle

Assistant Editor: Dan Raspler

Editor: Denny O’Neil

This issue begins with the murder of millionaire aircraft industrialist Martin Lockleed. He received a message, supposedly from Captain Atom, to meet him at one of his hangars at midnight. What actually met him there were uniformed mercenaries who surround him before identifying themselves as servants of the Faceless One. They use their shock batons and electrocute the wealthy man.

Later, at the Damon Clinic, Dr. Megala and Babylon approach Martin’s son, Homer, to give him the bad news. Megala gives Homer a copy of his father’s will, which hands the company over to Homer. Megala himself has been appointed Executive Officer of the Lockleed Corporation, until such time as Homer is deemed competent by his doctors. Homer was initially locked up because he stalked and kidnapped Peggy Eiling, pretending to be her believed-to-be-long-dead father Nathaniel Adam. Homer promptly eats the will.

Megala and Babylon take their leave of Homer, saddened by his mental state and sure he’ll never be able to run his father’s company.

Meanwhile, at a nice outdoor restaurant, Nate and Starshine are having lunch with Peggy and Goz when Peggy finally drops the bombshell that she and Goz are engaged. Nate is, of course, shocked by this news. She really wants her father’s blessing, but Nate is not yet ready to give it. He starts to voice his objection but a quick under-the-table kick from Starshine shuts him up. He says he needs time to let it sink in. When Peggy and Goz leave, Nate and Goz share a tense handshake.

After they are gone, Nate confides in his girlfriend that he’s uneasy about this union. He’s worried because Goz is twice his daughter’s age and black. I remember when I first read this back in the 80s and wishing Nate hadn’t mentioned the race thing. I can get onboard with him having a problem about the age difference (it is his only daughter, after all). But to bring race into it left a bad taste in my mouth even then. I suppose it was a different time and Nate himself was a product of 1950s America, but I just wish they had left that aspect of the relationship alone. And if I recall correctly, DC got hate mail for hooking Peggy up with a black man. So it was an issue for some reason back then and in some places still an issue today. Perhaps Bates and Weisman were being bold. I don’t know. I just feel it never should have been brought up.

Apparently, Peggy let her stepfather know about the engagement via a note taped to the refrigerator. That’s cold, Peggy. This man loved and raised you after your father died. He may be an evil sadistic control freak, but he was still your daddy. Eiling takes his aggression out on Allard.

At Lockleed Labs, Megala and Babylon are looking over the Stealthray prototype. It was a teleporter developed by Alec Rois. Rois, of course, is the Ghost (a.k.a the Faceless One), who faced off with Captain Atom and Nightshade. He is also a holdover from the 1960s Charlton Captain Atom series, where he butted heads with Captain Atom and Nightshade. Rois was supposedly killed in that skirmish and his stealthray teleporter was destroyed. We readers know better, of course.

A quick cut to an unknown airport shows some Hare Krishnas being accosted by followers of the Faceless One. It is a cute scene that does not progress the plot at all.

Nate goes to visit his wife Angela’s grave. He confides in her that he knows that Goz and Peggy’s union is a mistake. But he decides that it is time for him to step aside and let Peggy be a grown-up. He later confides in Dr. Megala, who tells him that their relationship may be difficult, but not insurmountable. If they truly love each other, they’ll be fine. I honestly didn’t realize Nate and Heinrich were this close. The reason for Nate’s visit to Megala is so he can use his quantum powers to help work on the stealthray prototype.

Meanwhile, the Faceless One’s followers are paying a visit to Megala’s home. They are turned away by Babylon, but the cultists are persistent. They push past him and use their shock batons on him. Since these batons killed Martin Lockleed, things aren’t looking too good for old Babylon.

Back at the lab, Megala has Eiling over for some reason. I would think the Air Force wouldn’t be overseeing this private-sector project, but Lockleed probably has a government contract. Megala tries to explain what he is doing, but Wade is just too distracted by the Peggy/Goz situation. Seems to me he and Nate should have a sit-down.

Just after Wade leaves, a figure appears from within the stasis pool Megala has been working on. It appears to be Alec Rois. Also as he appears, Megala is approached by someone off-panel who appear to be the followers of the Faceless One.

Back at the Damon Clinic, Peggy and Goz are visiting with Homer. He is far more animated with her than he was with Megala. And, considering that Homer tried to kidnap her, Peggy is a saint for visiting the man in the hospital. No wonder Goz is so enamored with her. Homer is led away by a nurse, prompting Peggy to say she feels sorry for him. His father never had time for him when he was alive and now Martin is gone forever.

Back at the lab, the Faceless One Cult are demanding that Megala continue his work and allow the Ghost to push through. Megala admits that it may be possible to save Rois from the quantum field some day but it would require more research. The cultists tell him to do it now or they will kill Babylon. I suppose he survived the shock that killed Martin because he is younger and stronger. Megala agrees, but needs to call in Captain Atom for assistance.

Nate says he can come help tomorrow but Megala freaks out and says it has to be now. The cultists say they’ll be in the next room with Babylon and if Heinrich makes one wrong move, his friend is dead. Captain Atom arrives and they get right to work. Megala tells him to increase the intensity of his quantum blasts, which Nate does. He doesn’t suspect anything is amiss. The increase in energy allows the Ghost to emerge from the quantum field.

Megala takes advantage of the distraction by attacking the cultists with a fire extinguisher. Cap blasts at the Ghost but his quantum powers appear to have no effect. Megala manages to untie Babylon and they retreat to the lab. Captain Atom and the Ghost continue to blast at each other but before things go critical and the lab is destroyed, Nate scoops up Babylon and Megala and flies them to safety. Rois did vanish before the explosion, but it is unclear if he was sucked back into the quantum field or he teleported out. The end.

Not bad for a little filler story. I like anything that connects DC’s Captain Atom to his Charlton roots. Plus, Pat once again brought his A-game. Tanghal really compliments his work. Although the cover is misleading, I give this book an A. I like this modern, more-powerful version of the Ghost. Now, if only we could get some more Nightshade guest appearances…

In the next issue, Captain Atom goes to war with the aliens in an Invasion crossover.