Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pappy’s Sunday Supplement #2: Ditko’s Captain Atom #1

Here is my second Sunday Supplement. As I mentioned before, I will try to get at least one Sunday posting each month, but don’t hold me to it.

A few days ago I showed the origin story of Captain Atom, published by Charlton in 1960. It took over five years for the character to finally earn his own book. Captain Atom is actually Captain Adam, “a liaison between NASA and other government agencies.” In real time, then, Captain Atom was participating in the United States space program from the Mercury program to the Gemini program. Despite being a comic book fan, I recall those early days of space flight as being much more exciting than a superhero comic. In real life if astronauts got into trouble they didn’t have a superhero to rescue them.

The Marvel Comics house style had affected other comic book companies at the time, and the whimsical caption block at the bottom of page one of “The Gremlins from Planet Blue” reflects that. The story was written by longtime Charlton scripter Joe Gill, pencilled by Ditko, inked by Rocke Mastroserio, and lettered by Jon D’Agostino. But that is where the whimsy ends, and the rest of the story is straightforward science fiction superhero derring-do.

The three-page filler in the back of the book is by Ernie Bache, who was Dick Ayers’ assistant a decade earlier.

Captain Atom #78 is a continuation of Strange Suspense Stories, so it is really issue #1, from 1965.


Daniel [] said...

So … I guess that somewhere along the line, it was decided that Captain Adam weren't reported as dead, and were to be more of an ostensibly hapless field agent than a respected scientist, with his superiors oblivious to his being Captain Atom. Oookay then.

Not a great story in “The Gremlins from Planet Blue”, especially with Captain Atom just figuring that the aliens had had enough, and didn't need to pay for the eleventy zillion dollars worth of damage that they'd caused. (And that's eleventy zillion dollars in 1965 dollars!)

I guess that the assumption were that nobody but perhaps a USPS employee would bother reading “The Sun God”. (I don't recall reading the center text pieces when I was a kid, yet I recognized them later, so I infer that I must actually have read them.)

I had to laugh when seeing again, for the first time in decades, the graphic for onion gum. I don't know how many times I saw that as a kid, but it would have been in the hundreds.

Alicia American said...

OMG Pappy tha Green Gobalin turnt Blue & Orange yo OMG

Pappy said...

Daniel, I don't remember a time that anyone tried to pull the old onion gum (or gum that turned the mouth black) trick. Maybe someone at some time used that joke, but not on me. Thank goodness. I was obsessive about breath that was kissing fresh, for all the good it did me.

You notice that in this issue Honor House has a full-page "Monster S-I-Z-E Monsters" ad, and a postage-stamp sized ad for the same product in their practical jokes and novelties ad featuring the onion gum. I'll bet the Frankenstein poster sold better than the gum, although there is no way now to know. After a couple times of being burned by ads in comic books I never bought anything from a comic book ad again.

It seems weird that for a long time in American history the Post Office was able to determine if something was obscene or not, and also what constituted a magazine (couldn't use a second class mailing permit for comic books unless they had that text page). Anthony Comstock was responsible for getting them the power for the former, and their somewhat arcane rules allowed them to determine the latter.

Pappy said...

Hello, Alicia. Nice to hear from you.