Captain Atom & Plastique

Captain Atom created by Joe Gill & Steve Ditko
Plastique created by Garry Conway and Pat Broderick

CAPTAIN ATOM

NAME + ALIASES:
Nathaniel C. Adam II, Cameron Scott, Monarch III

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Angela (wife, deceased), Randall (son), Margaret (daughter), Bette San Souci (Plastique, wife), Nathaniel C. Adam (Monarch II, quantum duplicate)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice League International, The League Busters, The L.A.W., "Extreme Justice," The "Superbuddies"

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Captain Atom #1. Historical: Space Adventures #33

Plastique

NAME + ALIASES:
Bette Sans Souci

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Cameron Scott (Captain Atom, husband)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Suicide Squad

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Fury of Firestorm #7 (December 1982)

+ History

In 1968, Captain Nathaniel Adam, USAF, was tried and convicted of treason, despite his protests that he had been framed. The sentence for his supposed crime was death, but the Air Force offered Adam a full pardon if he would take part in a top secret research project. For the project, Adam had to allow himself to be wrapped up in a cocoon composed of an alien alloy captured from a crash-landed spacecraft. The entire cocoon was then placed on top of a Hydrogen bomb, which was promptly detonated. Apparently, the scientists were hoping to learn about the properties and resilience of the alloy.

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The quantum space metal copies Nathaniel Adam
From Extreme Justice #13 (1996). Art by Tom Morgan

This experiment ended with Nathaniel Adam being utterly vaporized, and the alien alloy along with him. Or so it seemed at the time. The bomb really created two entities, both of which identified themselves as Nathaniel Adam. The new entity was composed entirely of the alien alloy; he was blown through the "quantum field" and rematerialized nearly twenty years into the future. This "Adam" emerged endowed with great atomic super-powers derived from the alloy itself. The original Adam became stranded in a void, where over decades, he slowly regained control of himself and tapped his own considerable super-powers.

Upon this startling reappearance, Adam was reunited with General Wade Eiling, the man who had presided over his original court martial board. Eiling offered Adam a deal: if he would work as a super-powered operative for the US Government, he would receive a full pardon for all of his earlier offenses; if not, he would be executed. The government then invented an elaborate background and history for Captain Atom that omitted all of his military connections and presented him to the unsuspecting public as the newest superhero sensation.

From this point on, the Captain began using the name Cameron Scott in private, an identity that is part of the government's cover-up. (Captain Atom #1) Shortly after the latest incarnation of the Justice League went international, Uncle Sam decided that it wanted to have a man on the inside who could secretly keep the military posted on JLI activities. The ideal man for this job, of course, was Captain Atom, who was accepted into the League after some US Government bigwigs pulled a few strings. (Justice League International #7) Atom's brief career in the Justice League has been so distinguished that he was selected to command the army of Earth's heroes that repelled the Dominator's recent invasion. (Invasion! #2) Captain Atom currently heads up the European branch of the JLI. (Justice League International #24, Justice League Europe #1)

Captain Atom finally left the government's service, having come to a shaky agreement with General Eiling. In public, Captain Atom clung to the government's invented cover history in order to avoid embarrassment. (Captain Atom Annual #1) Originally, he kept many of his personal secrets from the Justice League. He never confided that his public origin was false, and even lied to the Blue Beetle to secure his help, telling the Beetle that he'd worked with the original Blue Beetle. With the help of Beetle, Booster Gold and Mister Miracle, Captain Atom managed to solve the twenty-year-old mystery of his frame-up, clearing his name once and for all. (Captain Atom #27-29) Eventually, after having broken his ties to the Air Force, Atom revealed his true background to the League. (JLI Annual #3) In particular, Blue Beetle's respect for the Captain was diminshed following this revelation.

For his superior performance leading the Earth's superhero forces against the Dominator invasion, Captain Atom was reinstated in the military and promoted to major. (Invasion! #2) Captain Atom's military background came in handy as the leader of Justice League Europe. Though he never really managed to endeared himself to his JLE subordinates, many in the Justice League still looked to him for decisive direction. He stayed with the JLE until the Armageddon event, in which he was believed to have been killed by Monarch's bomb. However, the two were blown into the past. Cap returned in the midst of the Overmaster's arrival and he was asked to lead a group called the League Busters against the JLI. (JLE #65)

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Captain Atom comes face to face with his origins
From Extreme Justice #7 (1995). Art by Al Rio

After this, he returned to Justice League service, but because of clashing ideologies with Wonder Woman, he split from the JLI to form his own branch, known for its brand of "Extreme Justice." In the course of their adventures Cap discovered the true nature of his origins, that he was in fact a quantum duplicate of Nathaniel Adam. (Extreme Justice #13) The original Adam resurfaced as a vengeful adversary, Monarch II. (EJ #0, 6) After learning about this, Cap confidently adopted the name of Cameron Scott permanently. Extreme Justice disbanded shortly thereafter; this was in direct response to Cap's invasion of the nation of Bialya. The U.N. responded to this by asking all Leagues to disband. (JLA: Incarnations #6)

Plastique was a member of a band of extremist French Canadian separatists who engaged in terrorist against both Canada and the U.S. They believed that U.S. capitalists were exploiting French Canadian resources. Her first known mission was to coerce the New York News Express into abandoning its paper mills in Quebec. When confronted by Firestorm, she decided to become a martyr and set off the explosives in her costume. Firestorm made short work of Plastique and sent her to prison. (Fury of Firestorm #7)

Firestorm later foiled a plot by her fellow terrorist Le Flambeau to blackmail New York City into freeing her. But Plastique’s lawyer brought her an experimental serum developed by a man known only as “The Doctor” for the terrorists’ Project Bomb-Blast. She gained volatile powers and escaped from prison, later joining up with Killer Frost II. They attempted to blow up the Niagara Falls power plant, but were thwarted by Firestorm and Firehawk. (??)

From prison, Plastique was recruited by the Suicide Squad's Amanda Waller. In exchange for participating in a pre-emptive attack on Quarac’s super-powered terrorists the Jihad, her sentence would be commuted. Once the Squad broke into Jihad headquarters, Plastique betrayed the Squad at the first opportunity, offering her services to the Jihad’s security advisor, Mushtaq. She never guessed that Mushtaq was actually the undercover Squad member, Nemesis. He knocked her out and turned her over to the Squad for punishment. Plastique was returned to Belle Reve prison, where Amanda Waller had Dr. Moon brainwashed her to forget any memories of the Suicide Squad. (Suicide Squad v.1 #1-3)

When next she was free, San Souci clashed with Captain Atom. Though they met as adversaries (Captain Atom #2), they were eventually attracted to each others' capacity for self-sacrifice (#8), and began to grow closer. Plastique repented her life of crime and accepted Cap's offer of marriage. (#50) he married Bette San Souci, the former super-villain called Plastique. Though their wedding was never shown, he did refer to Bette as his wife (The L.A.W. #1), and even talked some of his JLA friends into holding a bachelorette party for her. (Extreme Justice #10)

Captain Atom maintains an active career, serving on many fronts. He maintains JLA reserve status and has ties to the loose-knit organization called the L.A.W. From time to time, he is also called upon directly by the U.S. government. (Superman/Batman #1-4) Most recently he has accepted Maxwell Lord's offer to regroup with his original Justice League comrades in the Superbuddies. Almost immediately, the team was abducted by Roulette, and under the villain's control, Captain Marvel II pummeled Cap nearly to death. He was taken to S.T.A.R. Labs, under whose care he presumably recovered. (Formerly...)

Captain Atom made the ultimate sacrifice, however, in defiance of his country and President (Luthor). Knowing that Superman would not be able to stop an oncoming kryptonite meteor, Atom manned the ship that would decimate the fragment. In doing so, he apparently perished. (Superman/Batman #6) True to his nature, this was not the end of Captain Atom. He soon returned under mysterious circumstances as part of a "Kryptonite Man," in Tokyo. Thirteen-year-old Hiro Okamura (Toyman II) discovered that this being was made of two lifeforms, and divided them. Once split from the Kryptonite Man, Captain Atom, could remember nothing of where he'd been. (#20)

Notes

Captain Atom was originally published by Charlton Comics, which was later bought by DC Comics. None of those adventures remain in current DCU continuity. These stories do however constitute Cap's bogus history, put forth by the U.S. military. (Captain Atom #2)

Cap appears at Sue Dibny's funeral in Identity Crisis #1 which actually takes place after Superman/Batman #6 because the LexCore is shown in a crate.

+ Powers

Originally Plastique wore a costume covered with plastic explosives, which she could trigger and detonate manually. She later abandoned the suit after gaining the power to project explosive force at will by touching an object with her fingertips.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Captain Atom:

  • Superman/Batman #1-4, 6, 20
  • JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice

Plastique:

  • Captain Atom #2, 7, 8, 21, 22, 44, 49, 50
  • Extreme Justice #6-12, 16
  • Fury of Firestorm #7, 33-36
  • Suicide Squad vol. 1 #1-3

» SERIES:

  • Captain Atom, 57 issues (1987-91)
  • Extreme Justice, 18 issues (1995-96)
  • The L.A.W, 6-issue limited series (1999-2000)
  • Formerly Known as the Justice League, 6-issue limited series (2003)