Friday, July 30, 2010

The Top 20 Captain Atom Covers

20) Strange Suspense Stories #77 (October, 1965)

19) Captain Atom #82(September, 1966)

18) Captain Atom #84(January, 1967)

17) Captain Atom #32(August, 1989)

16) Captain Atom #83(November, 1966)

15) Captain Atom #3(May, 1987)

14) Captain Atom: Armageddon #4 (March, 2006)

13) Invasion! Book 2: Battleground Earth (February, 1989)

12) Americomics Special #1 (August, 1983)

11) Captain Atom: Armageddon #1 (December, 2005)

10) Captain Atom #14(April, 1988)

9) Captain Atom #1 (March, 1987)

8) Space Adventures #36 (October, 1960)

7) Captain Atom #8(October, 1987)

6) Space Adventures #40 (June, 1961)

5) Captain Atom #25(January, 1989)

4) Captain Atom #9(November, 1987)

3) Strange Suspense Stories #75 (June, 1965)

2) Captain Atom #12 (February, 1988)

1) Justice League: Generation Lost #6 (Variant Cover, September, 2010)

Honorable Mention:
Charlton Bullseye #7
Firestorm the Nuclear Man #63
Wonder Woman #26 (1987)
Justice League Europe #19 (1989)
Justice League Quarterly #13
Kingdom Come #1 (1996)
Justice League America #86
The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #6

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Space Adventures #34 (June, 1960)

Every nation wanted to be first to send a “man-carrying rocket” into outer space, but the U.S. was months away when “the announcement came from behind the Iron Curtain… mission accomplished!” However, while the never-actually-named Soviets had managed to get their cosmonaut up, there was no word as he “hurtled around Earth at 23,000 M.P.H.!” The Reds didn’t know what the score was, but faked a response from the satellite to con the globe into thinking the mission was “an unqualified success!” Physicists at Cape Canaveral puzzled over the information they had, while Captain Allen Adam, U.S.A.F., asked if an impossible to collect “detailed picture of the missile” might help. After a very positive response, Adam rushed to meet his confidant Sergeant Gunner Goslin at an unused launching pad before heading up into space under his own power. “It’s important to our scientists and generals… and it’s important to the man up in the satellite!”

One lovely silent panel later, and “the man designated by the president as Captain Atom” was in the heavens, “past Explorer I… past the Sputniks…” The hero finally located the “man-carrying satellite,” and could detect the pilot was alive from outside because “I’m super-sensitive to heat… I can feel the heat rays from his body inside the capsule!” Okaaay… mmm… awkward…

The “first man thought to have entered space,” (because Allen Adam had secretly already gone up like a good American, y’see) was unconscious, and his life signs fading fast. The radio barked, “Comrade, this is your commissar! I order you to answer at once! The world awaits your answer!” Why the commander-who-isn’t-identified-as-Russian was speaking mostly in English, I can’t say, but Captain Atom was more concerned by the injuries the not-cosmonaut(?) had suffered internally during acceleration. The hero was compelled to help the foreign pilot, but inconspicuously, or “it could mean war!” Captain Atom disintegrated and reintegrated within the capsule, as he had done in his origin story, and determined the pilot needed a Yankee drug designed for just this problem to save his life.

Captain Atom flew back to Earth, past the Statue of Liberty in a silent panel, through a window at New York’s Medical Center. A shocked physician questioned “Who are you?” The harried hero dismissed, “Never mind that, doctor! Give me 1000 units of space vaccine at once!” The “brilliant” doctor wasted no time in giving the unidentified super-being a whole bunch of comic book medicine, because “it can only be used to help people…”

Captain Atom moved so fast he flew through the hospital establishing shot through to the next wordless panel and on into space. By the time Captain Atom returned to the manned capsule, the radio was declaring Igor a traitor for his silence. The pilot received an injection, and three mute panels later, he was revived. Igor confirmed that, “dah,” he was okay, and asked “You speak English? I am in space, no?”…How come you here? You speak like Americans I have known!”

“That’s right, chum! I’m Captain Atom U.S.A.!” Igor continued “But I am first in space! They told me that you Americans are a backward people, a pack of fools! Yet, you are here… in my satellite!” Captain Atom replied, “We get around, comrade!” Igor was also told his superiors would explain how to get down once he managed to reach orbit, “but I think they lied!” Captain Atom was kind enough to exit the capsule and act as rocket propulsion to return it to Earth. America's atomic hero deposited the capsule in a “great city” near “the arctic wastes.” Igor’s superiors were pleased at this “propaganda victory,” which allowed “once more we have shamed the West with our fantastic deeds!” Invisibly listening to the unconfirmed-commies gloating, Captain Atom smarted. “Looks like I helped a little too much! This is tough on the United States!”

Although Igor Kriss was proclaimed a national hero, he insisted that he was not first in space-- that he had been saved by an American who had won that race, and “The American’s accomplishment was far greater than my own!” Back at Cape Canaveral, Capt. Adam and Sgt. Goslin grinned and winked as their scientists wondered where in the U.S. there was a base better than their own that successfully launched an American into space first. “We kept that secret well!”

"The 2nd Man in Space" was by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko. This second Captain Atom story saw his costume colors reflect the cover of his debut-- golden armor with orange highlights and white hair. Captain Adam's first name was given as Allen, and his hair color switched from blond to brown. I don't recall his buddy Sgt. Gunner having a surname before Goslin, either. With the hilariously ludicrous jingoism jangling in this tale, I assumed it was an audacious reaction to Yuri Gagarin's trip aboard Vostok 1... which turned out to be almost a year away?!? I guess Gill was responding to projections that the U.S.S.R. would beat us into space, and launched a preemptive strike!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Justice #3 (February, 2006)

The entirety of the Justice League Satellite’s surveillance technology was unable to locate Aquaman. Red Tornado, as part of his duty as monitor, deployed the Manhunter from Mars to investigate. In the course of his search, the Sleuth from Outer Space also vanished, prompting the Tornado to rise to his artificial feet. “J’Onn? J’ONN? First Aquaman, now Martian Manhunter. Not a… Computer? Enhance southern South America.” Red Tornado followed up on reports from marine ships of unusual sea life migration patterns. Off the coast of Argentina, a pattern emerged—crosshairs that pinpointed the Sea King’s location. “You’re a clever man, Arthur.”

A figure had arrived through the teleportation tubes while this was going on, and made its way to Red Tornado, who anticipated the arrival. “I’m glad you’re here. I found Aquaman. He’s trapped in Argentina. Must be nice to have a psychic rapport with two-thirds of all life on Earth. I didn’t expect to be relieved for another two hours. What’s…?”

Suddenly, Red Tornado rose up from his seat and wrapped his own fingers around his neck. “What’s happening? Help me! I don’t know what’s… you need to shut me down!” The Tornado ripped his own head off, then continued tearing his body apart with his mechanical hands. “Someone’s controlling my motor functions! HELP ME! Why won’t you help me?!” Red Tornado’s bits and pieces lay on the monitor room floor, sitting in his internal fluids.

From his home in Ivy Town, Ray Palmer watched conservative commentator Jack Ryder on television, discussing “more reports of acts of miraculous and surprising philanthropy” from the world’s super-villain community…

"Chapter Three" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Top Ten All New Atom (Ryan Choi) Covers

If nothing else, The All New Atom had eye-popping covers that set it apart from the rest of the marketplace. His guest appearances in other books fared much worse...

10) The All New Atom #3 (November, 2006)

Injury to the eye is nothing new, but the detail here is fantastic.

9) The All New Atom #24 (August, 2008)

Way to say my Chronos through the power of sex change.

8) The All New Atom #15 (November, 2007)

An awful lot more existentially imperiled than the far more literal Real Old Atom.

7) The Brave and the Bold #9 (February, 2008)

The Sword of the Atom could get medieval on ass, but actually riding on Hawkman's spiked mace? Ryan Choi was mighty brave and/or stupid crazy.

6) The All New Atom #10 (June, 2007)

Usually, this shot is of an entering full size hero into a giant's maw, which Ryan had previously done, unnecessarily. Boxing your way out of the rotting jaw of a human-sized zombie is certainly different.

5) The All New Atom #17 (January, 2008)

I love the thought put into finding new visual hooks specific to the All New Atom. Bouncing off Wonder Woman's bracelets like a bullet meets that criteria. Heck, just associating with Wonder Woman gets Choi halfway there.

4) The All New Atom #4 (December, 2006)

A defining aspect of Ryan Choi's adventures was wry humor, and no other cover demonstrated it as well as this.

3) The All New Atom #6 (February, 2007)

The lighting sells the hell out of this piece. It feels very cyberpunk, a Blade Runner to Ray Palmer's The Incredible Shrinking Man. There's no element that would be out of place on a Ray cover-- the lab rats, the armed combat, the comparable foe-- but the presentation is totally alien to Palmer's Silver Age/Gil Kane aesthetic. Weird horror, especially body horror, was Ryan's thing.

2) The All New Atom #8 (April, 2007)

If there's one indelible image to define the series, it's Ryan Choi with his bangstick leading a bisected and de-aged Professor Hyatt to safety.

1) The All New Atom #21 (May, 2008)

The cover to The All New Atom #1 was both a hideous racial caricature and a boring, perfunctory piece. Jose Ladrönn proved a far superior cover artist to Ariel Olivetti, and by rights his effort to launch the book's final creative team would have been on the debut issue of the series. It's rather subdued by comparison to other Ryan Choi Atom covers, but it's also respectful and heroic.

Check out more spotlight countdowns of great art from the past 75 years of DC Comics Covers at DC75: Top Character Covers of the Dodranscentennial

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Justice #2 (December, 2005)

From the Justice League Satellite, Red Tornado monitored the Earth. The android was alerted that his teammate Aquaman had gone missing, and passed the word along to Batman. The Dark Knight was occupied by a case involving the Riddler, who had stolen sensitive League data from the Batcomputer. Batman suggested Red Tornado contact the Martian Manhunter to investigate the Sea King’s disappearance until his own time freed up. The Tornado complied, returning to watching news reports of known super-villains turned humanitarian benefactors, offering extraordinary breakthroughs to the citizens of the world…

"Chapter Two" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Atomic acCount for October, 2010

Written by PAUL LEVITZ
Co-feature written by JEFF LEMIRE
Co-feature art by MAHMUD ASRAR & JOHN DELL
In the latest “Superboy and the Legion: The Early Years,” the Legion travels to the 20th century to visit Smallville rather than have Superboy head into the future. But what they find on the Kent farm is something that will haunt not only their own lives, but that of Superboy!
And in the second feature, the Colony’s attacks on the Atom get even more personal!
On sale OCTOBER 13 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US
Tossed through the first few books, but haven't read it yet. Did they really retcon some Ant-Man into Atom's backstory?

#12 cover by DAVID FINCH
1:10 Variant covers by IVAN REIS
Don’t miss the hottest event in comics as the biweekly BRIGHTEST DAY continues with the return of the Black Lanterns! Has time run out for our resurrected heroes? Plus, you must not miss the stunning origin of the new Aqualad, the battle between Aquaman and Black Manta, and the bizarre journey of Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond as they delve into the inner workings of the Firestorm matrix and uncover its secret!
Retailers please note: These issues ship with two covers each. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Issue #11 on sale OCTOBER 6
Issue #12 on sale OCTOBER 20
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
I was going to stop listing this title, but there's no telling if we'll see a return visit from the Sword of the Indigo Tribe under the circumstances.

Written by GAIL SIMONE
It’s Scandal’s Secret Six vs. Bane’s Secret Six in the savage secret world of Skartaris! Who is manipulating the two teams, and who has vowed to track them both down?
On sale OCTOBER 6 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Dwarfstar and Giganta representing for the Choi fans.

Don’t miss this hardcover collection of BRIGHTEST DAY #0-7, the follow-up to the best-selling comics event BLACKEST NIGHT, written by Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi with interior art by today’s hottest artists including Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Ardian Syaf and more!
Once dead, twelve heroes and villains have been resurrected by a white light expelled from deep within the center of the Earth. Called a miracle by many and a sign of the apocalypse by others, the reasons behind the group’s rebirth remain a mystery.
Now, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Deadman, Jade, Osiris, Hawk, Captain Boomerang and Zoom must discover the mysterious reason behind their return and uncover the secret that binds them all in this first volume!
On sale DECEMBER 1 • 256 pg, FC, $29.99 US
There really isn't enough Atom in here to warrant a recommendation. He's just a more dynamic talking head in a few scenes than Martin Stein.

Batman battles evil in these adventures from BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #7-12, with the help of heroes including Green Arrow, Catman, the Doom Patrol, The Atom, Adam Strange and more, along with apprances by Two-Face, The Joker and more!
On sale NOVEMBER 17 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US
Animated Choi team-up.

Written by JUDD WINICK
Issue #11 art by AARON LOPRESTI
Issue #12 art by FERNANDO DAGNINO
1:10 Variant covers by KEVIN MAGUIRE
DC’s biweekly JUSTICE LEAGUE event continues! In issue #11, Max Lord’s trail has gone cold, forcing the JLI to split up and follow new leads. While Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom stumble across a secret cell of OMAC experiments, Fire, Ice and Rocket Red are forced into battle against the Metal Men. But what happens when Ice is pushed too far?
In issue #12, Ice has had enough and unleashes all of her inner fury, not only against the Metal Men, but against her teammates, as well! It’s Fire versus Ice in the ultimate elemental showdown!
Retailers please note: These issues will ship with two covers each. Please see the Previews Order Form for more information.
Issue #11 on sale OCTOBER 13
Issue #12 on sale OCTOBER 27
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Wait-- is Keith Giffen no longer plotting this book? Ruht-roh!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Space Adventures #33 (March, 1960)

"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 1" x 1 ½" panels the missile, and had yet to retrieve it at the one minute mark. As the seconds ticked and sweat dripped from his brow, Adam knew there was no time to exit. "It looks as though I'm going for a long, fast ride!" The missile launched as a horrified control center watched. Adam's pal Sergeant Gunner mourned, "The best officer in the air force is in there!" Three panels showed Adam struggling to remain conscious from the tremendous heat in the nose cone. Adam slumped lifeless with a question mark hanging over his fate. A second silent panel followed the missile's flight. Gunner and General Eining considered Adam's fate-- the sweat and other moisture drying out of his body-- the explosion to come 300 miles above the Earth. The clock counting down the seconds to doom ticked incessantly-- until precisely on schedule, Adam's end could only be verified by telescope.

"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


Monday, July 12, 2010

Justice #1 (October, 2005)

Hawkman and Hawkgirl fell blazing from the sky, wings afire like Icarus...

Alex Ross may be able to paint some pretty pictures, but he's also a manchild stuck in the Bronze Age, constantly re-staging the same apocalyptic fantasy fictions. In the Justice maxi-series, where he dolled up Dougie Braithwaite's pencils and had his indentured scripter Jim Krueger on bass, the world once again went kablooey because of super-heroes with feet of clay. Of course, it's only a prophetic dream, just like in Kingdom Come, but at least the (unseen) Ray Palmer got a nice nod within...

"The Atom survives the day, I think. He becomes smaller than the flame, seeking an infinity of possibility between the molecules of the material world. Perhaps in him, perhaps in the Atom, humanity will live on. But that may give him too much credit. To survive, he must become next to nothing."

Yeah yeah, but don't forget the part where every other hero for sure bites it! Well, except Superman, but I guess that's a hell of a lot better than Ray's usual ranking in the super-hero hierarchy! Anywho, there's a surprisingly untiny Tiny Titan appearance in a double page spread group shot from the issue, courtesy of forced perspective. It looks like the Mighty Mite is evading Plastic Man's oncoming cranium...

"Chapter One" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sword of the Atom #4 (November, 1983)

I’d like to take this opportunity to declare my independence from Ray Palmer. SOTA was a swell mini-series, but my synopsis of it has been plagued with de-motivational elements. From here, there were only one-shot specials published irregularly, the first being a total recappalooza, so I’m going to take an indefinite break to shake out the sillies. I promise to get to them sooner than Damian, who stated his intention to get around to it in January of 2008 in his take on Sword of the Atom - Book 4: Look Homeward, Atom In the meantime, we’ll look at some other atomic characters for a little while.

You would think hitting up the princess before Taren’s body had even been digested would have been enough for the Atom, but he had to get Morlaidh post-haste. Ray wasn’t sure he had the manpower to take the city, but he explained to Laethwen he knew he had to try. “The funny thing is, I feel at home here, at this size… as if Ivy Town were just a place in some book… a book I read a long, long time ago. This life suits me. I never had to be a hero—I could’ve just been a… a crazy professor who shrank things! But that’s never been good enough! I can’t go back to that life. I won’t go back! This is my life now… you’re my life! Ray Palmer is dead! I’m Atom! I was born to be… Atom!” Cue suckface.

That about sums up why Ray kicks the hell out of anyone in his proximity who steps on his act, not to mention why he could never have been as nerdy as Hank Pym. It may also offer insight as to why he pursued Jean Loring so fervently in the beginning, only to drop her at the first sign of trouble. He was validated by winning her at a time when he was just Ray Palmer, but once he became the Atom, he no longer needed her. Especially once he got a handle on wielding his sword in the wild, amongst the little yellow people. Dude-- a young Bill O'Reilly totally had wet dreams just like that!

Voss discovered the true spy in their ranks-- Biikus! Wait-- who? And he's a what now? And Peter Gabriel wrote a song about that? Or wait, maybe he's just a totally invented throwaway character whose arrow-messages to Deraegis qualified him to provide all the necessary subplot exposition to get all of our characters on the same page? Thank you, Bi-Curio! Now please willingly stab your palm with a poison tipped arrow as punishment for now being extraneous to the resolution of the plot. Just be glad we didn't make you eat it in the face. That happens a lot in SOTA.

With the cunning of Rommel, the Atom led his troops with such brilliant maneuvers as "watch each other's backs" and "We can't turn back now," forcing their way through Morlaidh's defenses through the raw power of their toad steeds. Admittedly, this is perhaps not the finest depiction of the complexities of tribal warfare, but Gil Kane drew jaundiced but athletic Smurfs stabbing each other en masse, and you'll damned well like it! Anyway, Deraegis was the mastermind, as he had already laid the groundwork for King Caellich’s troops to turn on their lord and join the rebels.

King Caellich, master of the obvious, finally confronted the conniving Deraegis at the last light of their lives, political and otherwise. Caellich pointed out that whatever the outcome, the citizens of Morlaidh were sharpening their blades for Deraegis as well as himself. Caellich had located and questioned Pohrager, then freed the arena trainer to spread the word of Deraegis' plots. Deraegis buried a tangible dagger in Caellich's back to go with all the proverbial ones, then hauled his tubby ass to the star drive. Princess Laethwen and company found the king in time for him to alert them of Deraegis' final gambit, but nowhere near enough time to designate a surrogate father for Laethwen to bond with right in front of her real dad as he drew closer to the grave. Instead, she just sobbed on Caellich's chest, and maybe mentally penciled in grief sex with the Atom after the siege.

The Atom and company reached the star drive housing just as Deraegis was exiting, demanding he was the king as his crimson eyes and radioactive aura betrayed his menace. After killing an onlooker with only a touch, Deraegis had his purple blood spilled by an arrow through the brainpan, compliments of Voss. "I should've done that years ago." Ray never even saw the dude draw his bow.

The Atom ran into the housing and tried to shut down the star drive, but failed. Further, its white dwarf radiation caused Ray to begin to grow. To save the people of Morlaidh, the Atom began stomping around town, driving out the terrified citizens of Tokyo. The radiation exposure drove Ray a bit mad, but he continued acting to save lives, until his own sense of self-preservation saw him abandon the city before it was destroyed in an explosion. In a daze, the denuded and human-sized Ray Palmer made his way to a riverbank. Found by locals, the amnesiac professor was taken to hospital.

Two days later, a Sgt. Luiz notified Jean Loring that a man matching her estranged husband's description had been found. However, the gringo was less than cooperative, referring to himself only as "Atom." Before long, Ray had recovered his mind, while radiation burns simulated the patterns of his costume in his reddened skin. Eventually Jean showed, though Ray hoped otherwise, wanting only to return to his barbarian lifestyle. Still, Ray met with Jean, as they had business to attend to before the Sword of the Atom could again be unsheathed...

Conceived by Gil Kane & Jan Strnad.