Captain Atom: Armageddon

Captain Atom is one of the misused characters in the DC Universe. He’s the freaking nuclear man. Captain Atom: Armageddon is his time to shine, as he gets sucked into the Wildstorm Universe. It’s actually one of the best universe/crossover mega series I’ve ever read.

Captain Atom gets sucked into the Wildstorm-verse, which is a whole lot darker than the good old DCU. Super heroes aren’t that well liked in these parts. To make matters worse, the longer he stays the more likely he is to destroy their universe. Eep. The Wildstorm heroes really aren’t sure what to do with him, other than kill him. The plot is simple; Captain Atom has to figure out how to get home, all the while running from the WildC.A.T.s, the Authority and Mr. Majestic, who are all willing to kill him if it means the universe will be safe.

The only person who trusts Captain Atom is a paramedic named Nikola Hanssen, who seems to have an important destiny of her own.

Armageddon is the perfect title for this. Will Pfeifer’s writing makes this really suspenseful, with Captain Atom being hunted as well as the looming apocalypse. The Nikola subplot is very interesting, as well as the subtle love story between the Captain and the Engineer,the  nanotech woman from the Authority. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli deserves a lot of credit as well, as his art looks awesome.

Since Captain Atom got sucked into a new reality, he gets a new look. Camuncoli modified his appearance from the Kingdom Come mini series, adding some design elements from the Steve Ditko/Charlton costume. I really like it a lot. It combines the same basic designs of his proper silver costume, but a color scheme and pattern that just pop out. Now he doesn’t look like a naked silver guy like in the old JLI books. This look got immortalized in one of the DC Universe figures that was a must buy for me. Maybe I should take some pictures to share in the next week.

Happy Birthday Steve Ditko

Today we celebrate the 84th birthday of one of comics legend Steve Ditko! The ever-elusive creator of Spider-Man enjoys his privacy and probably wouldn’t want us to acknowledge his birth, but that won’t stop us from talking about some of his best contributions to comics!

Let’s look at some of Ditko’s better known creations.

You can’t argue that Spider-Man isn’t Ditko’s most successful project. Here’s a clip from an interview with Stan Lee where he talks about what he feels was Ditko’s best work from their run on Amazing Spider-Man.

Ditko’s run on Spidey was semi autobiographical

Over at DC, Ditko created the super hero brother duo Hawk and Dove. One peace-loving, the other war mongering, the Hall brothers made their first appearance in June 1968’s Showcase #75. Dial B for Blog has a great account of their creation.

Ditko also created the Creeper, an outspoken talk show host who moonlights as a psychotic super hero. Simply put, the Creeper is insane. HyperDave at Data Junkie put together a great retrospective of Ditko’s run.

Also during this run at DC, Ditko created Shade the Changing Man, a new Starman and the Stalker. I’m not going to go too much into them, as I really haven’t been exposed to them enough.

During this time, Ditko did some phenomenal stuff over at Charlton, creating the original Captain Atom and the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle, both of which became key staples in DC’s Justice League International books. He also created reporter turned faceless vigilante the Question. Eric Newsom runs an invaluable resource on the character, filled with analysis, interviews and commentary about the faceless hero.

Ditko went on to create a more hardline, Ayn Rand influenced version of the Question called Mr. A. The great people at Dial B for Blog have a much better description of the character.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; there’s much more non-super hero work in his bibliography. Keep in mind, Ditko’s career began in 1953, and he’s still creating stuff to this day. He remains super elusive and doesn’t give interviews. If you would like more information about Ditko’s career, there was a great book Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko that chronicles his career, as well as the BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko. You can find clips on YouTube.

On a final Ditko note, when you research his works and his life its hard to miss mentions of the influence of philosopher Ayn Rand. At one point, he even pitched adapting her novel Atlas Shrugged to Marvel. So in a bit of Ditko magic, my work day began with me taking a pile of Rand’s books–including Atlas Shrugged–from the free book pile in the staff room. I think its fitting; if Ditko had a birthday party, I’m sure that would be his party favor of choice.