Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Green Lantern vs. Captain Atom

Way back in the late 1980s, there was actually a confrontation -- nay, an all-out BATTLE -- between comic book super-heroes Captain Atom and Hal (Green Lantern) Jordan. At the time, Hal was one of only a handful of Green Lanterns in the universe with working power rings, and Captain Atom was a government spy ordered to keep an eye on Justice League International (JLI).

Now, without a doubt, Hal and Captain Atom are both very powerful, very brave heroes. However, neither of them has a reputation for being the sharpest Crayon in the box. That was never more evident than when they went head-to-head in Action Comics Weekly #626-#631 (1988). The battle occurred in essentially a one-issue story chopped up and spread out across six issues. Here's a condensed version:

The tale opens peacefully enough. Hal is in space, returning to Earth from a mission. Suddenly a wormhole opens up and a ship comes hurtling from it -- a ship that looks like it's made of ... wood?

Hal uses his ring to keep the vessel from crashing on the moon. Because his ring is unable to determine the nature of the ship (due to the fact that the central power battery on Oa has been blown up), Hal enters the ship to figure out what it is and who owns it. He encounters the sole occupant -- an alien life form that insists it needs to repair its ship with its own hands.

Ever the helpful hero, Hal tows the alien's ship to Earth and leaves it in a California redwood forest, so the alien can rebuild.

Hal then flies off, convinced that the alien is peaceful and harmless -- and, besides, he's gotta go to work.

Left alone, the alien decides it needs to adopt the appearance of a local life form to fit in with its surroundings. So ...

Alien Hal then goes wandering off to look for repair materials. It comes across a truck stop with a lumber truck loaded with logs parked outside -- logs that the alien thinks would be very useful. Curious, Alien Hal then enters the diner. The rednecks in the diner are VERY surprised to see a guy in tights wander into their midst.

"Yo, TIGHTS!" yells one redneck.

"Nice outfit, sailor," says another redneck.

Alien Hal ignores them and walks to a TV in the corner. The TV is showing an extremely violent movie called "Much Blood Part II," starring an actor called Randy Violent. The alien watches the movie for a minute and starts to think that, hey, this MUST represent normal behavior for the inhabitants of Earth.

Oh, the Earthman wants to be friends, huh? Well, okay -- gotta do things his way!

Then, to show how REALLY friendly it is, the alien blows up the gas station ...

... and runs off with the lumber truck to start repairing its ship.

Ah, but the alien's actions haven't gone unnoticed. The JLI detects "a power source of unknown origin" and sends Captain Atom to investigate. The first thing Captain Atom finds is the annihilated truck stop ("Looks like someone NUKED it!"). Then he flies a bit further into the woods and discovers the alien -- which now has the form of movie actor Randy Violent.

Cap walks up to the alien: "Maybe this guy knows something about the explosion." He taps the alien on the shoulder: "'Scuse me, pal--"

Meanwhile, completely unaware that the alien he tried to help is much more dangerous than he thought, Hal is out driving with his friend Chip, a fellow employee with Elite Design Consultants ("The Gremlins"), Hal's current employer. Chip knows that Hal is Green Lantern, and Hal is telling him about the alien in the wooden ship. Suddenly, Hal is signaled by the alien, and he leaves Chip to answer the call.

Hal flies to where he originally left the alien, and he's surprised to see that the surrounding forest has been totalled -- downed trees everywhere. Just as Hal is wondering what could have caused all the destruction, Captain Atom comes hurtling out of nowhere and smacks right into a tree ("BOOM!").

"I think I got him on the ropes ..." Cap mutters as he groggily picks himself up.

"WHO?" asks Hal.

"HIM!!" says Cap, pointing through the trees toward "Randy Violent."

Hal tells Cap to "sit tight," and then he goes to greet the alien.

At first, Captain Atom is very confused by Hal's actions. THEN he convinces himself that Hal is merely distracting the alien so Cap can take out the alien's ship! Yeah, THAT's it!

The smoke clears, the alien and its ship are gone, and Hal is angry.

"You're a real piece of work, Atom!" Hal yells. "You've ruined everything!"

"You're welcome," says Captain Atom. "Open your eyes, Lantern -- your little space buddy was a menace!"

"He was leaving," Hal snarls. "Now you've destroyed his shrine. Now you've given him a reason to STAY."

So, where's the alien? Did Captain Atom succeed in blowing him up? Well, not really. It's not a coincidence that miles away in downtown Los Angeles, an office building has suddenly sunk fifteen feet into the ground. Hal and Captain Atom aren't aware of this, though. They're still bickering.

Captain Atom is convinced that he destroyed the alien, but Hal isn't so sure. A visit to a local branch of the Military Intelligence Agency (MIA) confirms that the original energy signature detected by the JLI is now present in downtown Los Angeles -- right at the site of the sunken building. Hal and Cap both head for it, each wondering why he's being so hard on the other.

Well, could it be due to the fact that both of you guys are arrogant, stubborn boneheads? Naaaaaaah ...

Anyway, the boys spot the sunken building. Cap is convinced that it's merely the result of an earthquake and that they should leave it to the cops, but Hal is determined to help. He summons his power battery to charge his ring, then leaves it on a rooftop before flying to the sunken building to help support it while it's being evacuated.

Despite his earlier opinion about leaving the problem for the cops to handle, Captain Atom also pitches in and helps people to evacuate.

Captain Atom is then signaled by the MIA and told he's definitely right on top of the energy signature. At the same time, a guy standing outside the building yells that he saw actor Randy Violent in the basement of the building, "tearing chunks out of the foundation!" AND, Hal is starting to get VERY tired. He hasn't had any sleep in two days, and keeping the building from collapsing is sapping all of his energy and willpower.

Knowing full well that Hal is too occupied to stop him, Captain Atom flies into the building to find the alien. Sure enough, Cap finds the alien in the building's basement, where it's still trying to repair its ship. The alien now talks like Randy Violent, and promptly attacks Captain Atom ("I SAID BEAT IT!"). Of course, Cap fights back ...

... and the shockwaves are felt outdoors.

Finally, the local cops and firemen yell that the building has been cleared, and Hal lets the building fall ("Kerr--UNNCH!") -- right on top of Captain Atom.

When Captain Atom comes to, he has a VERY angry Green Lantern standing over him.

FINALLY, the fight is on! Captain Atom thinks Hal is going to be a real pushover ... until Hal throws him through a wall.

Captain Atom recovers and comes back full force.

So, what about the alien? Well, while Hal and Cap fly out over the desert and continue blasting the bejeezus out of each other, the alien is still under the building rubble, trying to recover.

Finally, Hal's had enough of Captain Atom:

Ouch, that hurt!

"I mean," Captain Atom thinks to himself, "All I've had to go on was Guy Gardner ... and Batman took him in one punch!"

(Poor Guy. He's NEVER going to live down that punch from Batman, is he?)

Captain Atom whips up a sandstorm to blind Hal. Then he manages to blast Hal, but Hal quickly recovers and blasts him back.

Captain Atom finally gets desperate: "That LOOK in GL's eye ... I'm about to get beat up ... REAL BAD ..."

Hal is DOWN!

Captain Atom leaves Hal lying in the desert and flies back to the collapsed building to confront the alien. Cap is VERY proud of himself: "I'm BAD. I'm real BAAAD. I cleaned GL's clock. Lights out. I'm on a roll."

Then he runs into the alien:

Captain Atom is down!

The alien is gone when Captain Atom regains consciousness. Feeling kind of sheepish, and grudgingly admitting that he needs help against the alien, Cap flies back to the desert to find Hal. Yeah, he finds him, all right.

Wow, Hal looks a bit cold. Oh, geez, Hal -- It's not like you haven't survived being stranded at the North Pole before, or anything. Anyway ...

While Hal stands there shivering, Captain Atom yells at him: "What are you doing out HERE? I mean, after you LOST our fight, I thought you'd be a SPORT about it and come help me trash that alien! I've spent HOURS looking for it--with no help from you--!" Then he accuses Hal of sulking and whining.

Hal scowls at Captain Atom and points at his power ring. "See this?" he says. "It needs recharging every 24 hours. It's dead."

In other words, the reason why Captain Atom got the drop on Hal in the first place, AND the reason why Hal is still stuck in the desert, is because he's completely out of power.

Hal and Captain Atom then stand there for a moment and give each other the stink-eye. These are two mature adults ... says the narrative.

The two then apologize to each other(!), and each admits he made a mistake. Then they agree to work together, with Cap deferring to Hal due to Hal having more experience. However ...

Captain Atom then flies Hal back to L.A., to the rooftop where Hal left his power battery. But the power battery is gone! Well, there IS a blackout downtown, after all ...

After Captain Atom flies off, Hal climbs down a fire escape to go looking for his battery. He runs across a diamond broker's office ("Broome & Fox") and is surprised to see his power battery sitting on a desk inside.

Right when he walks in the door, though, someone pulls a gun on him. The diamond broker is in the process of being robbed, and the robbers are the ones who ran off with the power battery ("Robbery by lamp light -- 'cept for that goofy green one I found on the roof!").

Meanwhile, Captain Atom has found the alien. The alien has decided that it just wants off this highly annoying planet. It's repaired its ship and is heading for space -- and WAY out of Cap's jurisdiction.

While Cap is wishing Hal was with him, Hal is getting angry about his situation, and getting tough with the bad guys: "Do you KNOW who I am? Do you know WHO you're pushing around? I can wipe the floor with the lot of you!"

Hal pulls off his ring and tosses it at the power battery (sneaky recharge!). Then he deliberately walks up to the biggest guy in the room to start a fight.

Turns out Hal's ego is "still smarting" from the fight with Captain Atom, so he's taking it out on the crooks. He DOES wipe the floor with the big guy, and then he's ready for more: "All right -- WHO's NEXT--?"

As the other bad guys pull their guns on Hal, Hal summons his now-recharged ring, which flies onto his finger.

Yep, those bad guys are toast.

When Captain Atom returns, Hal has a present for him.

So, what happens to the alien? Well ... NOTHING, really. Hal follows it into space and gets sucked into a wormhole. Hal then finds himself in an unknown sector, where he encounters Malvolio. But that's a story for another time.

Green Lantern-Captain Atom tale by James Owsley and M.D.Bright. Issues also feature Superman, Black Canary, Nightwing, Speedy, and others in separate stories.


SallyP said...

Gosh, I do miss M.D. Bright. He was a very good artist.

Yeah, Hal isn't the smartest GL around,but even HE'S smarter than Captain Atom. And...everyone conveniently forgets that Guy wasn't even WEARING his ring, when Batman punched him out.

I really can't stand Captain Atom, so I'm glad that Hal managed to beat the snot out of him.


googum said...

I can't remember: was Captain Atom a pilot in the regular continuity? If so, I'm sure they'd really hate each other once that came up.

And it was weird, but cool, to see Randy Violent: wasn't he from the Question, sort of a Rambo-analog? (I always assume Marvel's better at that kind of universe building: you never see Soder Cola outside of a Superman book, right?)

SallyP said...

Googam, the first time I saw Soder Cola was interestingly enough, in Resurrection Man! I do believe it had something to do with the plot, although it's been a while since I read those.

Gosh, I LIKED Resurrection Man. But Captain Atom is a tool.

Sea_of_Green said...

Yeah, Googum -- "Randy Violent" has long been DC's version of Rambo/Sylvester Stallone. And, yep, in this continuity, Captain Atom was a pilot (USAF) -- actually a captain in rank, just like Hal. So, yeah, you're right -- they'd probably hate each other, anyway. :-)

In Captain Atom's defense, he WAS majorly screwed by the government and was forced into doing a lot of underhanded things because of it. But he probably wouldn't have gotten screwed in the first place if he wasn't such a moron.