Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Classics - Space Adventures #33

   Artist Steve Ditko had an extensive career before his most famous work at Marvel, where he co-created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange with Stan Lee.

   Most of that work was in a variety of genres, but he actually did some super-hero work for Charlton Comics, most specifically co-creating the character Captain Atom with writer Joe Gill early in 1960.

   It's unfair to compare this effort to Ditko's Marvel work. Charlton was infamous for paying minimum rates, so the key to making a living was doing the work as quickly and efficiently as possible.

   But Ditko's work was always a cut above most, and that's in evidence here, even if the story itself is slim stuff - even by Silver Age standards.

   Here we have Captain Adam (get it?) being accidentally trapped in a missile that carries an atomic warhead. It launches into space and detonates - but somehow Adam survives and reforms himself - but he's glowing with radioactivity.

   With the help of a suit made of an impervious substance, he's able to control his radiation - and he finds he has incredible powers, including super-speed and (apparently) an atomic punch.

   The other thing that's impressive - this all happens in just nine pages.

   Ditko's art shows many of the touches that would mark his unique style - the creative layouts, the ability to capture emotional turmoil, the dynamic action sequences, and the amazing physicality of each character.

   Ditko would create (or reboot) other characters for Charlton, including the Question and the Blue Beetle - and he would return to those characters after his successes at Marvel, too.

   It's unfortunate that most of those characters have largely gone unused by DC (which now holds the rights). As fans of those early stories can testify, the characters have great potential - in the right hands.

Grade: B+




Billy Hogan said...
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Billy Hogan said...

I remember having Captain Atom's origin issue, although my copy had a yellow cover. The thing about the original Captain Atom I remember is that his yellow costume was made of asbestos. By now, in real life, he'd be shut down by a multitude of lawsuits over asbestos exposure.

Chuck said...

Ha! Yeah, they made some adjustments to his origin after the original appearance in 1960, where his costume was made of some imaginary substance (and it was apparently blue - by the second issue it was gold). That was easy to accept after you get past the fact that he survived an A-bomb blast in space. ;-)