Penned by J.T. Krul, who also wrote the new Green Arrow book that I didn’t care for much. Here Krul impresses me more, maybe because because, unlike Oliver Queen, I had no real feelings on who Captain Atom should be. His role has always been to be the U.S. Government’s official superhero. The title of Captain has not been an honorific, he is an actual Captain in the United States Air Force and his powers come from having taken part in a government experiment with alien technology in the late 1960’s. The experiment thrust Adam into the future and granted him the power to access the quantum field, giving him a whole range of atomic related abilities.
At least that’s what his origin was, this is the New 52, so things may have changed. Krul and Williams do not bother to spend any time in this first issue to tell us how Captain Atom gained his powers. Here, he already has his superpowers, and is established as a hero, but he doesn’t have full control. So he can’t have had them too long. He is still discovering what he can do, and just how dangerous he is, to the world, and to himself.
So what do we know about the new Captain? Well we know he was pilot, and that there was some sort of accident that gave him his powers. He has a connection with a scientific facility known as the Continuum, which is somewhere in Kansas. There a Steven Hawking type there, a Dr. Megala who, despite being a real ass, is studying Captain Atom learn about his powers, and he has been for at least year. Atom has become friendly with the latest of Megala’s Doctoral candidates, Dr. Ranita Parker, a driver woman, who, like her mentor, is all business, rarely leaving the Continuum in the 6 months that Atom has known her. Atom however, is a little less of the “stick up the tight ass” military type he has been in previous continuity. He is smoother, more cocksure, (in fact I could mistake him for Hal Jordan) but still heroic and duty driven.
We also never see Captain Atom power down. Could his energy state be a permanent condition? How will that play out? And could that have anything to do with the series of numbers that appear. Are they timecodes? Energy measurements? We will have to wait at least one more month before we find out, since no answer was given.
Krul has created a interesting world, and creates challenges both physical and psychological for Captain Atom to battle. Freddie Williams II, always been a favorite mine, continues to satisfy. The palette of Captain Atom and his powers make him pop in any panel his is in. The light that he gives off fills the space around him with shadows. The play of light and dark, cool and hot have given this book a distinct look and feel. Kudos to colorist Jose Villarrubia for his fine work here too.
Captain Atom was originally a Charlton Comics Action Hero in the 1960’s and 70’s. Like Blue Beetle, and the rest of the Action Heroes, Captain Atom was acquired by DC in 1983, with the intention of using the characters in Alan Moore’s Watchmen series. DC decided to keep the Charlton characters from being used in Moore’s opus, and in 1985 introduced the characters as part of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Interestingly enough, Cap here resembles Dr. Manhattan, his replacement in Watchmen. He also has gained some abilities similar to Firestorm. (as well as that flaming mohawk.) Is there room for two (three?) nuclear heroes? Well there are 4 superman family books and like 20 Bat-related titles, so I think there is room. It’s not like nuclear power is like being a scarlet speedster.
Check out my review for fellow Charlton Action Hero, Blue Beetle’s new series.
a $2.99 comic, 32 pgs
(w) J.T. Krul (a) Freddie Williams II