Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. - CAPTAIN ATOM's Explosive Looks
Some people believe that Superman is the most powerful superhero out there. Well, that's debatable. There are cosmic powered folks like the Silver Surfer. Near-immortal warriors such as Thor. The entire Green Lantern Corps wield some of the most powerful weapons in the universe. And there's also a guy who's been around DC Comics for quite some time and whose powers make some of Superman's abilities pale in comparison.We're talking about Captain Atom. He's been interpreted a few different ways over the years and he is perhaps better known through the character Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen, whose existence he inspired. So join us as we check out this strange hero who walks the line between a human and a god.
THE CHARLTON VERSION
The original version of Captain Atom was introduced in Space Adventures #33, published by Charlton Comics in 1960. This was a character born very much out of the Cold War that existed between the USA and the USSR. Allen Adam was a technician who accidentally got locked inside an experimental missile that shot into space and then blew up. Though he was atomized, Allen somehow reformed his body. Now alive and tangible again, the experience had left him with atomic abilities. Whenever he "powered up" those abilities, he gave off radiation so he needed something to protect others from being poisoned by his presence.
Later on, things changed. Captain Atom's design became less of a disguise. We got a blue costume with exposed silver arms. The atomic symbol is still there and prominent, but now Captain Atom seems more a classic superhero in the vein of Superman. The sense of patriotism has also been enhanced since the silver arms and hair bring in a sense of white, making our hero red, white and blue.
I don't think the shorts outside the trousers really works and I think the chest symbol could do with a little more design work. An old style atom symbol with a nimbus of yellow is a little on the nose.
The Charlton characters were later reintroduced into the mainstream DC Universe after DC Comics bought the rights. Before the new version of Captain Atom was introduced, the character was retooled to become "Dr. Manhattan" in the limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. There, the scientist who is atomized and then rebuilds himself is left as a blue-skinned humanoid who then marks his head with the symbol of a hydrogen atom.
DC Comics Version 1
This was an interesting look, giving a nod to Dr. Manhattan but also remaining faithful to the basic design elements of the Charlton Captain Atom wth the exposed hair and classic atom symbol on the chest. It definitely made him stand out in a crowd even when he was amongst other superheroes.
At the beginning of the story, Captain Atom was rocking a new blue and silver look, which was pretty sleek and definitely nice, although it also runs the risk of seeming pretty generic. At the end of the mini-series, Captain Atom had to reform his body after a serious trauma and, as a strange side-effect, he now had the Alex Ross design.
DC RELAUNCH: THE NEW CAPTAIN ATOM
In the new monthly Captain Atom series, the hero is one again USAF pilot Nathaniel Adam. This time, the experiment he participates in is an attempt to journey through other dimensions. In attempting his journey, Nathaniel Adam was turned into an atomic being, with the atoms of his body constantly splitting and reforming, giving him incredible amounts of energy that fuel his many abilities. Along with this, he has enhanced senses and can manipulate matter. Rather than being a straight superhero story, this series is more of a science fiction drama focusing on how an ordinary man deals with suddenly being blessed with god-like power that he can't turn off.
Be sure to check out Captain Atom every month. It's only a few issues in, so it isn't a big deal to catch up. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off!
Alan Sizzler Kistler is an actor and freelance writer living in New York City. His work can be found on various websites and he has been recognized by publishers and news media outlets as a comic book historian and Doctor Who historian. He is the author of the Unofficial Game of Thrones Cook Book (coming out in May) and a contributor to the book Star Trek and History, coming soon. He knows entirely too much about superheroes, time travel stories, Muppets, and vampires that don't sparkle. His website is AlanKistler.com and his twitter feed is @SizzlerKistler.