Captain Atom (Atlas Publications)

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Captain Atom
Captain Atom, Atlas Publications, Issue 1, 1948.jpg
Cover of Captain Atom 1 (1948 Atlas Publications)
Art by Arthur Mather
Publication information
PublisherOriginal:
Atlas Publications
Current:
Meteor Comics
First appearanceCaptain Atom
#1 (January 1948)
Created byJack Bellew (writer)
Arthur Mather (artist)
In-story information
PartnershipsDr Bikini Rador (aka Larry Lockhart)
Notable aliasesThe Atomic Warrior, the Atom Man, Atoman
Abilities
  • Superhuman strength
  • Superhuman speed
  • Flight
  • Emit atomic heat/fusion blasts (hands)
  • Focused air blasts (breath)
  • Near invulnerability
Captain Atom
Series publication information
PublisherCaptain Atom
Atlas Publications
Vixen
Meteor Comics
ScheduleMonthly
FormatOngoing series
Genre
Publication date(Captain Atom No. 1)
January 1948 – May 1954
(Vixen No. 1)
May 1995
Number of issues64

Captain Atom is an Australian comic book series created and written by Jack Bellew with illustrations by Arthur Mather.[1] It was published from 1948 to 1954, with 64 issues[2] and it also appeared as strips in a number of Australian newspapers. The protagonist, the first to use the name, has no relation to the later American superhero Captain Atom,[3] published by Charlton Comics in 1965[4] and subsequently by DC Comics in 1987.[5]

Background[edit]

The fledgling publishing company Atlas Publications achieved its first major success with its Captain Atom. It was drawn by Arthur Mather,[6] who like Yaroslav Horak and Andrea Bresciani, became a regular artist for Atlas. The character was co-created and written by Jack Bellew under the pen name "John Welles". The character is based on a combination of Fawcett Publications' Captain Marvel and Quality Comics' Captain Triumph (first published in 1941 and 1943 respectively).[7][8]

The character's origin had identical twin brothers being caught in an atomic bomb blast and becoming fused into one, with Dr. Bikini Rador (a nuclear physicist) being the dominant persona. By shouting the magic word, Exenor!, Rador transforms into his now atomic-powered twin. Rador takes on the identity of Larry Lockhart, an FBI agent, to fight crime, switching places with his brother when situations call for a superhero.[3][9]

The comic was originally published entirely in colour, but Atlas followed its chief rival, K.G. Murray, and switched to black and white two years later when the cost of colour printing became prohibitive. Despite the switch to black and white, the Captain Atom series remained successful, running to 64 issues over the next six years.[10][11][12][13] The first issue of Captain Atom, which was released in January 1948[14] sold approximately 100,000 copies[15] and at its peak was selling 180,000 copies.[3][16] Early issues featured backup stories provided by Mather (Dopey Dan), Stan Pitt (Jim Atlas, Dr Peril of Igogo) and Michael Trueman (Crackajack – Daredevil Trapeze Star).[7]

Captain Atom was one of the few original Australian comic heroes to have his own merchandising and fan club. In the 1950s the fan club boasted that it had "over 75,000 members".[3][7]

The character was revived in 1985 and again in 2016 by Gerald Carr, appearing in Meteor Comics' Vixen.[17] Captain Atom, renamed as the Atomic Warrior, featured alongside another 1950s Australian comic book hero, The Panther (created by Paul Wheelahan), and Carr's Vixen and Brainmaster.

There is a visual reference to Captain Atom in the Watchmen comic book. In the origin story of Dr Manhattan (who is based on the Charlton Comics Captain Atom), the character is shown rejecting a helmet which is part of his US Government-supplied costume. The helmet design and the overall costume, although a different colour, somewhat resemble that of the Atlas Comics Captain Atom. The British artist, Dave Gibbons, may have been familiar with the Australian character.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arnold, John and Hay, John A. (2001). "Mather, Arthur". The Bibliography of Australian Literature, Vol. 3, pp. 332–333. University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0702235989
  2. ^ "Captain Atom (Atlas)". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Kistler, Alan (29 May 2014). "Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. – Captain Atom's Atomic Ensemble!". The Mary Sue. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Captain Atom (Charlton)". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Captain Atom (DC)". Grand Comics Database. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Arthur Mather". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 18 May 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Ryan, John (1979). Panel by Panel – An Illustrated history of Australian Comics. Cassell Australia. p. 190. ISBN 0-7269-7376-9.
  8. ^ "Who were the Australian superheroes and where have they gone?". Network Creative Services Pty Ltd. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Captain Atom". International Catalogue of Superheroes. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  10. ^ Burrows, Toby and Stone, Grant (1994). Comics in Australia and New Zealand: The Collections, the Collectors, the Creators, p. 32. Psychology Press. ISBN 1560246642
  11. ^ National Library of Australia. Record 38427324. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
  12. ^ Sullivan, Jane (18 November 2006). "When Captain Atom fought for innocence". The Age, A2, p. 28
  13. ^ Patrick, Kevin (November 2012). "'Phans', not Fans”: The Phantom and Australian comic-book fandom". Participations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 133–158
  14. ^ "Captain Atom (1948) – #1". The Comicbook database. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  15. ^ "Heroes and villains : Australian comics and their creators". State Library. Archived from the original on 7 September 2004. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  16. ^ Maynard, Amy (10 July 2012). "The Weird and Wonderful World of Australian Comics". PopMatters. PopMatters Media Inc. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  17. ^ Vixen Magazine. Great Australian Comic Book Creations: "Captain Atom"

External links[edit]

  • Patrick, Kevin (2004). "Arthur Mather: Man of the Atom" (archived copy of a lengthy interview with Mather, originally published on Pulp Faction)
  • Bellew, Jack, (author); Mather, Arthur, (artist) (1948), Captain Atom, Melbourne Atlas Publications, retrieved 30 September 2016CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)