Hot on the heels of Captain Atom’s adventures in The Action Heroes Archives Vol. 1, Max takes a running jump into reading Volume 2 of The Action Heroes Archives! More Captain Atom! Also covered is the first appearance of Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle.
Super-Fly Comics & Games’ plucky sidekick Max Lake has embarked on a journey to read his collection of DC & other comics! Join Max each week every Friday as he takes on his Library! Titles reviewed by this blog do not necessarily reflect what the store has in stock, but you can always email the store to special order something that you’ve seen here at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Super-Fly at (937) 767-1445 or just ask someone at the store next time you’re there for special orders. You can read past entries of the blog here. Any questions or comments for Max should be sent to email@example.com or feel free to comment in the comments section below. Check out @maxdlake to follow Max on Twitter. The things Max writes do not necessarily reflect the views of Super-Fly Comics & Games, and Super-Fly Comics & Games is not responsible for what Max says—especially anything that bugs you.
Entry written 1/2/2012
Today was a pretty lazy day. My wife was feeling a little down, so we ended up watching a marathon of A&E’s Hoarders that was on to take our mind off things. It’s a pretty horrifying show, but a guilty pleasure of ours and serves as examples of collections gone horribly wrong. I don’t think that’s me… yet, anyways. Not to mention despite all my collecting, I do keep up with the cleaning around the house—most of the time.
What reading I did get done was a bit of The Action Heroes Archives Volume 2 featuring not only the ongoing adventures of Captain Atom, a character co-created by writer Joe Gill and artist Steve Ditko, but the very first appearances and adventures of the Ted Kord Blue Beetle and the original Question character—both Ditko creations; also two of my favorite characters.
The now late Dick Giordano wrote the introduction, and discussed how he became the executive editor of Charlton’s comics division in 1965 with the intention of making the line better. The “Action Heroes” line came about due to his strong dislike of super heroes. Giordano admired Batman, a normal human at peak physical and mental condition and set out to make heroes just like that. At the time, Steve Ditko was working on Amazing Spider-Man with Stan Lee, but claimed he, and not Lee, was scripting the book. This led to Ditko ultimately leaving Marvel and returning to Charlton. Giordano tasked Ditko with creating new action, not super heroes—with the exception of Charlton’s first hero, Captain Atom—and Ditko did just that. The results have been collected into one handy (and hefty!) volume with all of Ditko’s work on the characters he created with a little bonus stuff.
The first story in a Captain Atom story and sees Captain Atom fighting saboteurs. His suit gets ripped mid-fight, and as crowds gather to get his autograph, Captain Atom leaks deadly radiation. The area is cleared by Captain Atom’s Air Force buddy Gunner, but when the media gets wind of the incident, Atom is declared a menace. Ultimately, Captain Atom must absorb a nuclear reactor’s energy as it overloads and threatens to blow up the state. Doing so, Atom loses his powers almost completely, and it’s of course at that time when the bad guys come to strike. They beat the bejeezus out of Captain Atom, and leave him unconscious in a cliffhanger.
The next part of the issue is the first Ted Kord Blue Beetle story! Unlike the first Blue Beetle, Dan Garret who had a secret vitamin (and later) a Beetle scarab as the source of his powers, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle used his brains to develop crime fighting equipment such as his flying Bug ship. Other useful gizmos include the Bug ship’s remote control which is embedded in Beetle’s glove; his trick mask strap to prevent his identity from being discovered when he’s out cold; and the “control point” microchip activator in his fingertip that activates both of these devices.
Seeing Ted Kord in action for the first time while he operates his Bug ship and talks to himself going over how his gear works is Silver Age magic. However, BB doesn’t reveal his identity as Ted Kord in this first story, nor explain his ties to the previous Blue Beetle. In fact, the criminals are quite confused as to why this new guy is calling himself Blue Beetle when he looks nothing like the original!
Although I followed Ted for years when he was part of the DCU in Justice League International in the mid-to-late 80s, this was my first time reading this material and I loved it. The Ditko drawn Blue Beetle is absolutely fantastic and the story is really imaginative. It makes me miss Beetle a bit, since Ted was killed off in the DCU a few years back. Hopefully, he’ll come back someday, though I do like DC’s current Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes.
Anyway, by the time I read just a bit and wrote it all down, it’s about 3 am. Need to sleep. Hopefully I can tackle more Action Heroes Archives Volume 2 tomorrow. I want to get to the Question stuff!