The Second Man in Space Arrives!
Before Mr. A, before The Hawk & the Dove, even before Spider-Man — the first series character Steve Ditko was ever involved in the creation of, was Captain Atom
It's hard to believe that Charlton Comics' Captain Atom began in 1960! The superhero began in Space Adventures #33 and continued in two other series before getting his own comic book. It was written by Joe Gill and drawn by Steve Ditko and Rocco Mastroserio. Cover images were taken from interior stories.
The Charlton Comics version of Captain Atom was Allen Adam. The character's origin had Adam working as a technician in a special experimental rocket when it accidentally launched with him trapped inside. Adam was atomized when the rocket exploded while entering the upper atmosphere. However, he somehow gained superpowers that included the ability to reform his body safely on the ground.
Captain Atom was indestructible, doesn't need to breath and capable of surviving unaided in space, able to move at supersonic speeds, able to fly interstellar distances and able to strike with an "atomic punch". He was originally outfitted in a red and yellow costume that was designed to shield people from the radiation of his nuclear powers. When he powered up, his hair changed to silver-white.
Later, in his own title, it was exciting to have Captain Atom (#84) replace his original red and gold costume with a liquid-metal outfit that was under his skin and which transformed when he powered up.
When the rights to the Charlton characters went to DC, Captain Atom served as the basis for Alan Moore's Doctor Manhattan in The Watchmen.
Space Adventures #33
"In This Issue Introducing Captain Atom"
When Captain Allen Adam is trapped in an atomic rocket, Captain Atom is born and goes on to stop some enemy agents who had sabatoged a Jupiter Rocket.
Captain Atom's uniform is blue in the story.
Space Adventures #34
"The 2nd Man in Space"
Captain Atom goes into space to check on the first Russian cosmonaut and finds himself helping save the Russian.
Captain Atom's uniform is yellow in the series for first time.
(Don't Miss Captain Atom in) Space Adventures #35
"The Little Wanderer"
Captain Atom must return little Billy Goslin from Outer Space.
(Fast Moving Episodes of) Space Adventures #36
"The Wreck of X-44"
The rocket-ship that Captain Atom is testing has been sabotaged.
"Captain Atom on Planet X"
Captain Atom guards a new orbital satellite from enemy missiles.
(More of Captain Atom) Space Adventures #37
"The Space Prowlers"
Captain Atom stops an alien invasion.
"A Victory for Venus"
Captain Atom travels to Venus to see who destroyed an American satellite.
(Fast Moving Episodes of) Space Adventures #38
"One Second of War"
Captain Atom must stop Dr. Claudius Jaynes from firing nuclear missiles at all the big cities on Earth.
"Backfire"Captain Atom must stop the missiles launched at the U.S. by Gustav Borlin and Dr. Skafic.
"The Force Beyond"
Captain Atom must stop an alien warship trying to start a nuclear war on Earth.
"Test Pilot's Nightmare"
Captain Atom must save a test pilot when his experimental rocket-plane has problem.
Captain Atom must stop an alien invasion.
"An Ageless Weapon"
Captain Atom is captured by some East German agents while taking important papers to the West Berlin embassy.
Five years later, Strange Suspense Stories #75-#77 reprinted some of the Space Adventures stories by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko with freshly designed Ditko covers.
Eighteen years later, Space Adventures was revived (#9-#12) and reprinted the earlier Captain Atom stories by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko with newly mastered Ditko covers.
Ultimately, these Space Adventures were reprinted in The Action Heroes Archives Vol. 1 from DC Comics. It's a highly recommended hardback edition covering Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and The Question.
Steve Ditko was the man to me in the sixties, when I first got into comics. Not only did he draw Spider-Man #38, my first comic book, he had already illustrated Captain Atom!
These were exciting time for the newly comic book initiated!
Live Large My Friends!
|Jim Starlin & Al Milgrom Captain Atom pin-up!|