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26 of 52: Captain Atom #1

by on September 28, 2011

Wow, I’m actually starting to feel melancholy about getting close to the end of the 26 of 52 series. Yes, others have been reviewing all of the titles, and maybe only 14 people have been reading me consistently, but still it’s getting to the end of September, and the new DC 52 series will soon be over.

Anyway, this is the last title I selected for Week 3, Captain Atom. Captain Atom has never really been handled properly in the DC Universe. I mean basically, you had two visions of Captain Atom. One, he could be in a team book where he could fly, absorb energy, and have energy blasts come from his hands. Two, he had his own solo title, where his connection to the military could be exploited along with quantum physics. The best Captain Atom stories I ever read were in the 1990s Justice League Europe series where he was able to have a sense of humor but also be a bad-ass leader of a superhero team.

So, let’s see what the new DC Universe has in store for him.

Captain Atom #1: Evolution of the Species
Writer: JT Krul | Artist: Freddie Williams II

The basic of Captain Atom are pretty simple. In the pre-Crisis universe, Nathan Adam is a Captain in the Air Force who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Instead of dying he chose to be involved in an experiment that tested an alien metal with a nuclear blast. During the experiment, he was propelled into the modern future, where the alien metal was fused to his body, and the nuclear powers were somehow contained within him, giving him powers, such as energy blasts and flight.

This new Captain Atom has a completely different look, so we shall see if his origin has been severely altered.

Synopsis

  • Captain Atom is fighting a man in a giant robot suit of some kind, but during the battle Captain Atom sees some way to dissolve the atoms of the robot, but he starts to lose control and the atoms in his hand start to dissipate.
  • He returns to The Continuum in Kansas, where he consults a scientist, Megala, about his powers. Megala says that manipulating atoms caused his own hand to dissipate. If it was his head, then his entire consciousness would lose cohesion, and he would cease to exists.
  • Reports come in of a volcano erupting near New York City causing the Indian Point nuclear facility to start to breach.
  • Captain Atom is able to absorb the nuclear energy from Indian Point, and he changes the Volcano lava to snow with his new found powers of molecular manipulation.
  • In San Francisco, a homeless man tries to kill a rat (with glowing eyes) that transforms into a rat-like creature and attacks him.
  • He starts to try to neutralize the volcanoes energy, but starts to feel himself slip away, his essence being removed.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is this Captain Atom always an energy being, or can he transform and become a normal looking human being?
  2. Did Megala cause the creation of Captain Atom? Captain Atom suggests it was an accident.
  3. It seems that Captain Atom was an pilot prior to the ‘incident’ that gave him his powers.

Analysis

This is an interesting new costume for Captain Atom. The basics are there, but his suit looks more like an energy field, rather than metal. He has almost a Mohawk of energy hair. And the red symbol on his chest glows and crackles with energy. It’s a good look, but it looks very similar to Firestorm.

The book is trying to establish a dichotomy between the rat which operates just on survival (a very low-level of species behavior) versus man who created amazing things like nuclear power and self-awareness. Yet, it is Captain Atom using those powers that can cause him to lose his self-awareness.

The evil scientist looking Megala is cliché, but still interesting. Closer to a modern version of Doom Patrol’s Chief. One who does not feel pity for the mistakes that occur in the name of scientific progress. Whether it will turn out that he is just neutrally sociopathic regarding the consequences, or actively causing these events, that remains to be seen.

It is obvious that they are tapping into a Doctor Manhattan/Doctor Solar vibe with Captain Atom. Captain Atom was the inspiration for Doctor Manhattan who is the most recognizable form of the character to non and casual comic book fans. Whether that works for a military man and a modern hero who is 25 years removed from The Watchmen’s publication, I’m not really sure.

Basics, the character doesn’t draw me in too much, and neither does the supporting characters. The evil threat to the character is very unknown at the moment. Yes I’m sure something is causing the volcano to erupt, and most likely that same thing is causing the Rat to have glowing eyes, just do to Comic Book Villain Economy. So to keep reading this book you have to find Captain Atom’s powers to be interesting. For me, they do, but I can’t say that it is enough.

Verdict

I enjoyed the book, and it was a good read. I am curious to see what happens next, but I can’t really say that I am invested in anything other than the resolution of the cliffhanger.

C-

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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