"Meet Captain Adam... the Air Force career man who knew more about rocketry, missiles, and the universe than any man alive... A specialist of the missile age, a trained, dedicated soldier who was a physics prodigy at eight, a chemist, a ballistics genius! In short, Captain Adam was an invaluable space-age soldier even before that memorable day at Cape Canaveral, Florida, when an Atlas missile was being readied for blast-off... with an atomic warhead inside... and Captain Adam making the final last-second adjustments!"
At the three minute warning, Adam dropped his screwdriver in the cramped space of
"At the instant of fission, Captain Adam was not flesh, bone and blood at all... The dessicated molecular skeleton was intact but a change, never known to man, had taken place! Nothing... absolutely nothing... was left to mark the existence of what had once been a huge missile! Nor was there a trace of the man inside!"
General Eining's shoulders slumped at the loss of "a good airman, a fine man," leaving an inconsolable Sgt. Gunner leaning against a wall in silence. Suddenly, a disembodied voice commanded Gunner to come to the launching pad. General Eining was still in earshot, and ordered the area evacuated. Three minutes later, Captain Adam appeared, his clothes in tatters, energy emanating from his body. "...Don't come too close! I'm as radioactive as pure U-235! Right now, you're getting a dose of radiation so you can't stay near me long! Look-- I disintegrated up there-- I integrated here again! I can't explain... but it will be possible for me to do the same at any time from now on! There's a special lightweight metal, diulustel, developed to shield radiation! I'll need plenty of that! We've got to make a flexible shield I can wear to protect those near me from death by radiation! Will you get it for me, General?"
Eining did his best, while unbeknownst to him, a newspaper reporter had learned of Captain Adam's death and filed the story. Once it hit the papers, Eining decided Adam's continued existence "will be the nation's most closely guarded secret!" Thanks to the diulustel shielding, the rads coming off Adam's body were converted to a light spectrum frequency, so the captain could fraternize without worry. Adam also began developing control of his energy powers, which he displayed for a tiny group of the president's most trusted advisers. Adam could burn off any normal clothes he wore with a thought, propel himself at speeds over 20,000 miles per hour, and decelerate instantly. Captain Adam used his ability to fly to the White House and meet with the unnamed President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who believed "You, more than any other weapon, will serve as a deterrent of war! They must not learn about you!" Ike had a costume made up especially for Adam, and assigned him the code name of "Captain Atom!" Adam saluted Eisenhower before the stars and stripes. "Very well, Mr. President!"
Meanwhile, thinly veiled Soviet saboteurs programed a missile launching from Cape Canaveral to "land on our own huge industrial complex," providing an excuse to "begin a total war" with the United States. The nogoodniks were caught, but only Captain Atom could stop the Jupiter missile in flight. The Captain flew out into space, and detonated the warhead with one irradiated punch. Minutes later, he was back in the Oval Office, continuing to be liked by Ike. In a final panel soliciting comment on the new super-hero from the publisher, Captain Atom appeared before Old Glory once more.
In his forward to The Action Heroes Archives Volume One, Blake Bell claimed Captain Atom's stories were entirely redeemed their shoddy scripts by the magnificence of Steve Ditko's art. It's true that Ditko's storytelling was amazing, and the use of four silent panels in a nine page story (never mind the ten with minimal dialogue or accompanied by detached text) was groundbreaking. Still, from their insane Fletcher Hanks' type illogical leaps to their red baiting jingoism, Gill's scripts are a delightfully gonzo time capsule from deep in the heart of the Cold War. It's also interesting to see how different this Captain Atom was from the better remembered later versions. Garbed in a silvery blue metallic costume with gray-brown trim and yellow accents, Captain Atom vaguely recalls his '80s revival, aside from his strawberry blond hair. The strip is extremely patriotic, with a supporting cast made up almost entirely of sympathetic enlisted men, and the American flag appearing in six panels. The emphasis on scheming commies and the endorsement of a republican president should clear up any question as to the strip's political leanings. Note too how similar Captain Atom's reconstitution and reappearance scenes, surrounded by a symbolic atomic icon, are to Gil Kane's "Birth of the Atom!" a year and a half later (coinciding with the Captain's final appearance for four years.)
"Introducing Captain Atom" was by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko