Previously on Captain Atom: Covering Issues #1 - 10
Atom fights a man in a heavy-duty suit that fires energy as a weapon, but he easily dispatches the situation by dissolving the suit; however, at the same time, the molecules in Atom’s hands start to dissolve around him and nearly dissipate into nothingness before he gets them back under control. He returns to the Continuum Research Center in Kansas to get some answers from Dr. Megala and discovers that he might disappear completely if he keeps using his powers. At that moment a volcano erupts in Manhattan and Atom goes to save the day, but he begins to dissipate until he gets it under control. Now, he’s being accosted by transmissions in the air and limps back to the Continuum for recovery and runs afoul of Scott Alexander, another scientist and someone very distrustful of Atom—particularly when it comes to the closeness the hero seems to have with Ranita, whom Scott favors.
While resting he sees a video of a young cancer-ridden boy asking for Atom’s help. Feeling helpless everywhere else, Atom goes and removes the cancer completely from the boy. Not long after, Atom tries to stop a bloody fight in Libya but runs into the Flash, who says that the rebels need to stand up for themselves if they’re going to earn their freedom. Flash at first doesn’t like Atom, but they seem to get along while working together, until Atom tries to stop a nuclear explosion that Flash mistakenly blames him for. Atom returns to the Continuum but is warned off by Ranita—but not soon enough, as Air Force personnel move in against him. General Eiling “invites” Atom to come to the nearby Air Force Base to discuss his future. When Atom refuses to work as a living weapon for the government, Eiling and Scott try to contain him. Atom breaks free and returns to the Continuum again and displays his fondness for Ranita . . . and then watches as the hand she touches him with starts to rot away from radiation poisoning.
Atom wants to help Ranita, who is now in a coma due to the trauma on her system, but Scott doesn’t want him around. Megala informs Atom that there’s an energy signature in a small town that matches Atom, and that Eiling is there trying to find Atom. The nuclear hero takes off to investigate and discovers that the energy source is an absorbing organism much like himself, that it was a test subject rat used by Dr. Megala before the experiment progressed to human testing (one Nathanial Adam). He convinces Eiling to let him stop the organism and easily does so, and then returns to the Continuum to repair Ranita’s hand. And then, we see a brief glimpse of the future, in which the world has been destroyed and floating amongst the wreckage is Captain Atom.
Atom suggest to Megala that he can repair the scientist’s broken body much like he did to Ranita’s hand, but Megala likes his body the way it is. Meanwhile, Ranita and a small cadre of trusted personnel are working with Atom to chart his newfound powers, but Atom gets distracted by thinking of his past and Ranita. He really starts to care for her, but before he can act on anything, his future self pulls him into the Timestream to talk about the future. The Timestream Council shows Atom how the world is due to end in 20 years, and he is thrust into the future to find out the reasons why it happened—and to stop it from occurring.
In this future he is revered as a god among humanity, and even Ranita has powers of her own, working in concert with Atom’s will. Atom discovers that his religious “followers,” led by the grown-up version of the boy he saved earlier, are responsible for the destruction of the Earth by placing an energy bomb into the Earth’s core. Atom attempts to stop the bomb but is somehow thrust back in time to his present and creates a volcano in Manhattan. It is then discovered by the Timestream Council that the entity that gave Atom’s followers the idea was, indeed, Atom: a future Atom made of pure energy calling himself the Chrono Mota. While the rest of the Council fights his pure energy form, present-day Atom journeys back to his time to put an end to the god complex before it begins, but still can’t seem to completely pull it off.
Powers: They’re not fancy like heat vision or ice breath, but having the ability to change the atomic structure of anything around him . . . well, he certainly would be handy not only in a fight against Darkseid, but also in relief operations. There’s a flood coming right at us? No problem, he’ll change it to solid ice and save everyone.
Timestream Council: I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of characters to interact with themselves in different timelines, but to have an entire council built on all of the various different forms that Atom can, and will, take really grabbed my attention. It proves that he can live a very long time, and that he won’t always stay the same as he currently is. Plus, it’s just really awesome to see him trying to interact with himself.
God Complex: The biggest letdown of this series was when Atom journeys into the future, and he comes face-to-face with the fact that he’s been regarded as a god. Present Atom doesn’t seem to feel that way about him—and rightly so—but it really bothers me that he would let himself be worshiped in the future, to the point where he has apostles and even anoints Ranita as The Hand (of God, I’m assuming).
Ranita (and Scott): It’s obvious that there is a lot of emotional tension between Ranita and Atom, but the incident with her hand certainly proved that it is difficult for them to ever be together physically. And now, she’s with Scott, who doesn’t particularly like Atom to begin with, so just what is going to occur?
Chrono Mota: Now that we know the Big Bad is Atom himself, what exactly is going to happen? How can he and the rest of the Timestream Council stop their ultimate form from the future, since the battle doesn’t seem to go well?
The Future: What does the future hold for Atom, and can it be changed if he somehow manipulates events in the present further? Sure, there’s no war, or hunger, and strife seems to be at a bare minimum, but it still isn’t the ideal situation that Atom had hoped for. Will he be able to change it the way he wants to, or is he going to spend the next 20 years knowing that his future is inevitable?