Thursday, December 31, 2015
We mentioned this one last month: it's a War of the Gods crossover! An Armageddon 2001 crossover! The conclusion of the four-part "The Quantum Quest" and the title's last issue! And a complete mess! From 1991, Captain Atom #57, "Elsewhere (Quantum Quest, part 4)" Written by John Ostrander, pencils by Mike Gustovich, inks by Romeo Tanghal. And it's got "The End?" right on the cover!
Captain Atom has been defeated by Shadowstorm, an evil version of Firestorm. (Who was in no way as cool as the Blackest Night version, Deathstorm.) Meanwhile--or "Elsewhere," which is used like 21 times this issue--the War of the Gods raged on, as Waverider searched the possible future timelines of earth's heroes, trying to find and stop the one that would become the tyrant Monarch. And, for some reason, an entire page of Captain Atom's last issue is devoted to the Captain Marvel vs. Lobo brawl from L.E.G.I.O.N. '91 #31!
Shadowstorm unleashes the darkness in normal people, turning them into his dark army. But Captain Atom isn't quite beat yet: he had withdrawn into the quantum field that gave him his powers, and created an entire universe (!) to live the life he might have had if he hadn't receved his powers. But, playing God to change the outcome weakened the reality, until Atom destroys it and faces a dark version of himself. (All of which seems a lot more like Solar, Man of the Atom or Dr. Manhattan than Captain Atom.)
After defeating his evil self, Atom confronts Shadowstorm and lures him into attacking with his army, which Atom destroys. (Rather casually, rather than trying to save the people transformed?) Atom has Shadowstorm's number, as they wreck up an Eastern European city, and Shadowstorm turns into another evil version of the Captain! Unknown to them, Dr. Fate and earth's mystic heroes are simultaneously trying to "stabilize a planet made mad by the War of the Gods," while the witch Circe tries to tap into their spell: unknown to any of them, it weakens Shadowstorm through his connection to earth, and Captain Atom destroys him. The Captain then flies away, again somewhat coldly, leaving the damaged city and injured citizens behind, heading for Armageddon 2001...
Somewhat famously, Captain Atom was intended to become the evil Monarch...until a leak forced DC to try and change Monarch's secret identity to Hawk, of Hawk and Dove. This was pretty obviously setting up CA as the baddie--and he didn't have an annual contradicting that, like Hawk and Dove had, either. Still, the Captain had almost five years worth of development, that was virtually ignored ever since; since he's almost always portrayed as the soldier, obeying the orders of his superiors. Even though that doesn't make a lot of sense, considering his origin, either.