Charlton published a vast array of titles from the 1940s to the 1980s, but the imprint is best remembered today for its short-lived “Action Hero” line that brought the world Steve Ditko’s Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and The Question as well as such stalwarts as Peacemaker, Sarge Steel, Judomaster and Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt.
Although DC eventually purchased and published their own versions of the Action Heroes to varying degrees of success, the characters achieved their greatest fame serving as templates for the quasi-heroes that populated Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal Watchmen.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s recent The Multiversity: Pax Americana brought the Action Heroes and Watchmen back to the forefront in a masterfully complex, beautifully illustrated story that examined super-heroism in the 21st century, the intersection of fiction and reality and the United States’ role in a post-terrorism world, among other equally challenging topics too numerous – and too far beyond my reach – to summarize in a single paragraph.
Heck, Morrison and Quitely even resurrected this guy from the first comic ever published by Charlton (or “E. Levy/Frank Comunale” as it was referred to in the indicia) back in 1944.
For all the ways the Action Heroes have been deployed, however, I don’t know if many people have read the original stories published during the Silver Age. The Time Bullet has already posted classic adventures of the Blue Beetle and The Question, so it’s time for Captain Atom to get his due in a fun super-hero romp that also introduces the judo-flipping heroine Nightshade.
From Captain Atom #82 (Charlton, September 1966), here’s “How Do You Catch A Ghost?” by David Kaler (script), Steve Ditko (pencils) and Rocco Mastroserio (inks).