Captain Atom goes back to the future (for him) with a new color scheme and a longing for the life he left behind. How will his shift in time, powers and color scheme affect the Air Force’s dirty little secret?
The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #3 (DC Comics)
After spending five years in the past, building a life with a new wife and new job, Captain Atom’s powers resurfaced and caused an explosion that rocketed him back into the present day. As we rejoin the story, the now red Cap’n reconnects with his handler, Dr. Megala, as well as General Eiling to catch up on all he’s missed in his absence. It turns out that two years have passed since that first explosion sent Adam back in time, and since then his superhero persona has become something of a pariah–justifiably blackballed as a dangerous loose cannon whose presumed “death” lead to civilian casualties.
The good news? His powers have increased and stabilized to the point that he can now transform from his radiation absorbing red-oscar statuette look back into human form at will. In a training sequence he also shows enhanced speed, senses and spatial understanding. Boss.
The bad news? His wife is dead and he evidently has a 17-year old son that he’s never met. What’s worse is that, because of where and how his powers resurfaced, there is no evidence of what happened to him–meaning his wife died thinking he had abandoned her and her infant child.
While this issue is light on action, I rather enjoyed the more character-centric story telling we got this month. Captain Atom, as a character, has always been rather stiff and uninteresting, so humanizing him with the traditional “tragic backstory” without having to retcon his past is a good touch. Cary Bates has a good voice for the character of Adam, and particularly General Eiling who has an interesting, if telegraphed, character moment toward the end of the issue. There are some flaws admittedly–Adam sort of just glossing over the fact that Megala was able to record most of his intimate moments with his wife felt out of place–but overall it was a satisfying read.
The art was also pretty strong, though I do question the new color scheme of Captain Atom. The red and black/brown reminded me quite a bit of traditional Captain Atom foe Major Force, which would have been a very interesting development to have him become his own major villain. Alas, I’m not in the business of fantasy booking these stories, so I can’t be upset about that.
Overall, this is a solid mid-point for the character. Unlike many of the other Rebirth titles coming out recently, The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom seems a lot more character driven, which is a welcome change and sheds light on the book’s historically bland protagonist. Check it out if you have any interest in fleshing out your opinions of the Captain.