- Writer: Cary Bates
- Co-Plotter: Greg Weisman
- Pencils/Inks: Will Conrad
- Colors: Ivan Nunes
- Letters: Saida Temofonte
- Cover Artist: Jason Badower
- Variant Cover Artists: Gabriel Hardman & Jordan Boyd
- Editor: Kristy Quinn
- Group Editor: Jim Chadwick
This issue opens at the Continuum, beneath Kansas City, on December 19, 2012 at 8:38 central time. The New 52 Captain Atom is seated on a chair inside a dome, demanding that Dr. Megala tell him how many people he killed today. Megala, speaking via intercom from a control room, tells Nathaniel that they don’t yet know how many casualties there were. The destructive power of Atom’s quantum flare-ups exceeded Megala’s projections. Even the intervention of the Justice League couldn’t control the damage. General Eiling, standing in the control room with Megala, says that he can spin the story so the Justice League takes part of the blame.
Captain Atom is being held in what Eiling refers to as a subterranean suppression dome, which Megala says should be equipped to handle whatever comes next. Nate worries what will happen to the world around him when he can no longer control the power him. Eiling tells Cap to stow the stinkin-thinkin and pull himself together. Atom doesn’t pay Eiling any mind as he goes on to say that he knows he cannot hold on to his last shreds of humanity. He says his good-byes to Megala, saying he’ll miss the doctor. But Eiling? Not so much.
Captain Atom begins to surge with energy. He tells Megala he’ll see him on the other side, and he explodes with energy.
Wow. Right out of the gate some powerful stuff. Something has obviously gone down and Nathaniel Adam has lost all hope. He has basically committed suicide in front of Megala and Eiling. And although this is clearly the New 52 Captain Atom, these aren’t the New 52 Megala and Eiling. Megala is in a wheelchair, but his body isn’t bent and he doesn’t have the Popeye look. It is unclear if this is supposed to be the Megala who went crazy and took over Firestorm’s body but he doesn’t look like him. Nor does he look like the post-Crisis Megala either. That Megala could not use his arms or legs and his chair served as a life-support system, kind of like Davros from Doctor Who.
This could possibly be the New 52 Eiling, though. He is an African-American again, but seems much younger. And slightly less douchey. The post-Crisis Eiling raised Nate’s kids as his own, but it seems as if this Cap has no kids. If he did, he probably wouldn’t have killed himself.
Twenty three minutes prior to Nate’s meltdown, Captain Atom is flying over the Pacific Ocean, heading back to the Continuum. He is speaking to Megala via an internal nano-com array that has been injected into Nate’s body. Megala tells him he’s detected a minor glitch in the last nano-diagnostic. The rate at which Cap’s atoms are splitting and reforming has elevated slightly. Megala tells him to hurry back so they can assess this new development, but Atom refuses. He’s spotted a cruise ship that’s about to be capsized by a mega wave. Megala sends for Eiling as Cap attempts to change the water around the ship into a jello-like mass. However, Captain Atom’s powers appear to be fizzling out. Cap compensates by pouring on more power.
His efforts pay off and as soon as the gelatinous mass steadies the ship Atom flies away quickly. As Eiling bitches about Nate’s inability to follow orders, there is a spike in Cap’s “quantum fever.” There is a flare-up, similar to the one he killed himself with a few pages back, and Eiling tells Nate to get back to the Continuum as quickly as possible. He wants Captain Atom contained in the suppression dome. Nate tries to make it back, but the increasing flare-ups slow him down.
Just then, three Justice Leaguers show up on the scene, drawn to Cap’s flare-ups that they detected from their Watchtower. Cap explains to Superman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Cyborg that he urgently needs to get to Kansas, but the Leaguers won’t let him fly over populated areas. Megala taps into Cyborg’s tech and transmits a hologram of himself explaining the situation.
Captain Atom tells Superman he can get him to the Continuum quickly and Green Lantern and Cyborg say they can help contain Cap in the meantime. Just as Nate begins to flare up again, Superman grabs him and heads for Kansas. Green Lantern encloses Atom in a protective bubble while Cyborg just says encouraging things like, “Your ring’s kicking quantum ass!”
Just as they are over Kansas, Hal apologizes as he loses control of his construct. Captain Atom flares again, and the Leaguers do what they can to protect the innocent lives down below. However, as we see the scale of the destruction, it seems unlikely that many lives were saved.
Captain Atom staggers into the dome, crawls to the chair, and demands that Megala tell him how many people he killed. This is where we came in.
Nate appears to be dead. His chair was melted and there is no sign of him. Megala says that even though he isn’t a religious man, he hopes Nathaniel Adam will find peace in the afterlife. Eiling can’t get past the loss of a military asset long enough to consider the passing of the human inside. But, as we see up on the surface in the ruins of Kansas City, our hero may not be dead after all.
A naked man lies in the rubble with no blue skin. A newspaper nearby indicates the current year is 1994. To be continued…
This was awesome. Will Conrad’s art is beautiful. Of course I’m going to love Bates and Weisman, and I’m super excited about what comes next. If it goes the way I think it is going to go, I’m going to be a very happy Nathaniel Adam fan. This is the best Captain Atom I’ve seen in recent memory. A for story and A for art. I’m hoping this is the beginning of something big and long-lasting for Captain Atom.