Can we talk about Captain Atom today?
I'm no longtime Captain Atom fan. I mean, really; are there any? Captain Atom, like the most of his Charlton Comics brethren, is a one of the DCU's red-headed stepchildren. For writers as well as readers, it's been hard to figure out what he's like, let alone where belongs in the DCU.
If you want a sense of how far DC was from knowing who these characters were and who they wanted them to be, (re-)read Crisis on Infinite Earths. Could Ted Kord have been a less pleasant hero? "Can the telethon, pal; you got our donation. I'll join your gabfest." Could this person be less like the Ted Kord of the Blue Beetle series, let alone of the one of the JLI?
Captain Atom, on the other hand, was simply damned by faint attention. I read his own series for a while, but still never got a sense of his personality. As far as I could tell he was a Air Force officer but dumber than a grunt and the only sparkle he had was from his skin. He was Hal Jordan without the charm. Or the ceiling tiles.
But I learned to adore him when they sent him on his Grand Tour of the Wildstorm Universe. Out of the shadow of the DCU's mainstay icons, he truly shone (and not just because of his skin) like a beacon in the dark world of Wildstorm. He became more than a superhero for me; he became a hero. He was powerful, righteous, intelligent, resourceful, passionate, and reasonable. Most important, he was a tower of morality.
Someone remembered that he was supposed to be the bad guy in Zero Hour, before that surprise was spoiled by leaks and then abandoned (for a replacement patsy too ridiculous to be named). And so it was decided that he was to become Monarch (as he was supposed to have been the first time).
I was disappointed by the decision, but resigned to it. Because it they went to the trouble of shining up Captain Atom to new heights of herodom, the tale of his fall into universe-threatening villainy would surely be Shakespearean in its pathos.
Or, it could be COMPLETELY FRIGGIN' IGNORED.
Captain Atom goes from being the shining example of heroism in the Wildstorm Universe to a masticator of scenery and master organizer of a multiversal army of worldkillers? Because of....what exactly? Some trouble in Bludhaven? No; no I don't think so.
I want a better explanation, DC.
I demand one.