Friday, 26 September 2014

Captain Atom

Here's a classic character I first came across in the pages of Alan Class' b/w summer holiday series of reprint comics, from the days when Steve Ditko was at the peak of his powers.

Captain Atom, the superhero with the most transparent secret identity ever, ( Just where IS Captain Adam whenever Captain Atom's around? ) was, of course, retconned / re-jigged in Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan, but who cares about that? This is the real deal, right here.
The first of the Atomic Age heroes, predating even The Hulk and Gold Key's Dr. Solar, Captain Atom has the interesting twang to modern eyes of being a massively pro-military strip, almost an advert for the american industrial military complex. Which makes sense, what with the space race then just beginning.
The origin story here isn't helped by Charlton's patented machine lettering, and the fact that the good Captain doesn't appear in that great costume until the last two pages ( said costume being an obvious influence on Gil Kane when he redesigned Captain Marvel's outfit ), but this is Ditko at the height of his powers, pre-Spidey even. And wow, is it jingoistic:

After a while, Captain Atom got a makeover ( maybe the book wasn't selling, I don't know ) The stories were still fun and lighthearted, with Cap zipping round, saving the universe with that sparkly trail behind him, but they unfortunately gave him one of the worst costume's ever.

Yecch. Well, maybe it inspired Joe Staton to do it better with E-Man.
Anyway, here's probably the best Captain Atom story, a wonderful little fairy tale that, these days, would be a 24 issue maxi series, that still wouldn't contain an ounce of the magic this little 5 page masterpiece does.

Apparently in semi-recent times, Captain Atom was brought back somehow. Even from this one panel, I can tell he was now angry and twisted and dark yadda yadda. I'll stick with 'my' Captain Atom thanks. Still at least they gave him back his proper costume...


  1. "You more than any other weapon, will serve as a deterrent..." Hey - the ticking clock on page three is at five minutes to midnight....:)


  2. Yep, the whole of Watchmen comes from that one panel...