A Tribute to the of





Welcome to the latest edition of the Silver Age Sage: #474. If you're looking for a previous interview, please scroll down to the bottom of this page to the Special Features header. There you will find a list of links to all the creators who have been interviewed in the past.

I recently had a wonderful chat with the great Joe Giella and we got to talking about comics, if you can imagine, and somehow, we got onto the Atom and he mentioned that was one of his favorite characters. It reminded me that I’d not settled on the topic of this feature yet and hadn’t actually reviewed an Atom story in a while, so why not? This one’s for you, Joe.

I’ve elected to shine the spotlight on The Atom #10 from December 1963/January 1964 with an on-sale date of October 17, 1963. Cover credits go to Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, who also happened to do the interior art with cover lettering by Ira Schnapp and interior lettering by Gaspar Saladino, all under the watchful editorial eye of Julie Schwartz. “Ride a Deadly Grenade!” was written by the immortal Gardner Fox.

The setting, interestingly enough, is in Vienna, Austria, where the American Consul is meeting with Ferdinand Alt, a physicist who also happens to run a toy shop on the side. Herr Alt has created an anti-gravity metal and made a mock-up of a toy-sized flying saucer with the metal. Additionally, he’s stashed microfilms within the saucer describing how to use the stuff on a larger scale. The whole thing is powered by a small battery’s electrical charge, which must be constantly renewed to make the anti-gravity properties work.

Alt has dubbed the anti-gravity metal “Cavorite” from H.G. Wells’First Men on the Moon” novel. (Good ol’ Gardner Fox or perhaps Julius Schwartz inserting some science-fiction homages into the story). Alt has summoned the Consul as he is fearful his discovery will fall into the wrong hands. He camouflages the “toy” as a wrapped gift and asks the Consul to take it back to America.

Just then, a pair of armed men arrive and demand that Herr Alt come with them. The Austrian turns to flee and is shot. The Consul quietly conceals the wrapped package behind a large dollhouse before we shift scenes to Ivy Town, U.S.A., home of Ray Palmer, research scientist, who moonlights as the Atom. His love interest, attorney Jean Loring, is closing up her office for the day when she’s approached by a man asking to see her. Ray lingers for her in the waiting room, noting that he recognizes the man as a CIA agent they’d encountered previously in Showcase #36’s “Prisoner in a Test Tube!” He decides to investigate as the Atom and is soon concealed in a vent in Jean Loring’s office wall to eavesdrop.

The agent is telling the lawyer that they’ve received a coded message from the American Consul in Vienna asking them to send an agent to pick up the gift in the toy shop. Time is of the essence and the agent is asking her to again contact the Atom to aid them. As Jean heads for a prearranged radio broadcast booth to send the Atom a message, the Mighty Mite stows away on her “far-out” hat and then in his virtually invisible state, transfers to the microphone, then appearing on it in answer to her summons.

After a briefing session by the CIA man, the Atom uses his standard method of long-distance travel, entering the telephone as the agent calls Vienna and traveling via the transatlantic cable on the electrical impulses in the telephone line. (I’m guessing today’s cell phones would thwart the Atom’s travel plans.)

Unfortunately, our hero ends up on an unexpected detour as he emerges in another place. The two men in attendance explain that they’d turned off the power to the Consul’s phone and tapped the line to divert the Atom to their headquarters. They remember only too well how he defeated them in the other story/adventure referenced earlier and they’re looking for some payback.

One of the thugs swings a sledgehammer at the Tiny Titan, but he’s quick with those size and weight controls and quickly shrinks to subatomic size to avoid the blow. Back at his fighting height of 6”, the Atom increases his weight to his standard 180 pounds and lands on one of the men’s feet and then topples him as he hops around in pain. His cohort, however, springs into action and restrains the Atom in his fist, closing out Part I.

Part II opens with the criminals attaching our hero to a magnetic hand grenade, where he’s held fast by metal clamps. Then, high atop Rathausplatz Square, they throw the “pineapple” down to the square below, where it detonates but what of our hero? Moments before, Ray Palmer had cleverly made use of the magnetism by turning his body so that it would affect his belt controller, beginning the shrinking process and freeing him from his bonds. The concussion from the grenade then sent him tumbling away without harm in his feather-like state. Catching a handy breeze, he maneuvers to the American Consulate, floating right through a handy window screen.

The two Americans consult for a while and then the Atom is on his way to retrieve the Cavorite. Unfortunately, he discovers the villains at the toy shop and uses his size and weight controls to go into evasive action. Various toys are brought into play, to include a Jack-in-the-box as a launch pad so that our hero can slug one gunman and a toy Ferris wheel and train to trip up others. Finally, he reaches his objective and tears open the wrapping on the flying saucer, that he swiftly enters and pilots across the Atlantic and back to Ivy Town in New England.

Back with Jean Loring and the CIA agent, the Atom insists the plan to have NASA work on the anti-gravity metal be aborted and proceeds to explain that he’s certain the enemy fully intended for him to bring the saucer stateside and it’s all an elaborate ruse with Herr Ferdinand Alt, who had not actually been murdered, involved in the plot. Our hero believes further that on a larger scale, the electrical charge required would actually create a powerful bomb of the Cavorite. The agent says they’d better get their best scientists on it and Jean suggests that Ray Palmer would be ideal for the job.

Several days later, we see Ray and Jean out on a date and Palmer reports that they’d discovered that the Cavorite, under electrical charge would have actually become radioactive and would have ultimately exploded so spectacularly that the U.S. would have been destroyed. This wraps up the opening 13-page story of this issue of the Atom.

In 2004 this story (+ splash page) was re-imagined as part of an eight issue celebration of Julie's 60 year tenure with All-American/DC Comics. Unfortunately, they had to serve as a loving memorial tribute as Julius Schwartz passed away on February 8, 2004.

A second 12-pager, also from the fertile brain of Gardner Fox accompanies this lead story, but we’ll leave that for another time.

These old Silver Age adventures may be a bit dated and this one is obviously inspired by the great fears of the Cold War back in the day, but they’re fun, well-drawn and well-written and can even be entertaining when not facing a supervillain. It’s always interesting to see what can be done with a 6-inch superhero and I’ve rarely been disappointed in the exploits of the Atom. I’ll give this one a 6 on the 10-point scale.

If there’s a story or series you’re interested in, you know what to do. Just fire off an e-mail to professor_the@hotmail.com and I’ll gladly look into it. The same address can be used for any questions or other feedback, so do not be bashful. There is still much to explore in the greatest age of DC Comics.

See you in February and…

Long live the Silver Age!



© 2000-2020 by Bryan D. Stroud


This feature was created on 05/01/00 and is maintained by

Bryan D. Stroud

 

Special Features

Gaspar Saladino Interview

Arnold Drake Tribute

Joe Kubert Interview

Joe Giella Interview

Carmine Infantino Interview

Sheldon Moldoff Interview

Neal Adams Interview (Pt. 1)

Neal Adams Interview (Pt. 2)

Ramona Fradon Interview

Bob Rozakis Interview

Dick Giordano Interview

Denny O'Neil Interview (Pt. 1)

Denny O'Neil Interview (Pt. 2)

Irwin Hasen Interview

Lew Sayre Schwartz Interview

Al Plastino Interview (Pt. 1)

Al Plastino Interview (Pt. 2)

Jim Mooney Interview

Russ Heath Interview (Pt. 1)

Russ Heath Interview (Pt. 2)

Frank Springer Interview (Pt. 1)

Frank Springer Interview (Pt. 2)

Jerry Robinson Interview (Pt. 1)

Jerry Robinson Interview (Pt. 2)

Jerry Robinson Interview (Pt. 3)

Joe Simon & Creig Flessel Interviews

Jim Shooter Interview (Pt. 1)

Jim Shooter Interview (Pt. 2)

Len Wein Interview #1

Len Wein Interview #2

Tony DeZuniga Interview

Jerry Grandenetti Interview

Murphy Anderson Interview

Mike Esposito Interview (Pt. 1)

Mike Esposito Interview (Pt. 2)

Stan Goldberg Interview

Marv Wolfman Interview

Bernie Wrightson Interview

Clem Robins Interview (Pt. 1)

Clem Robins Interview (Pt. 2)

Joe Rubinstein Interview (Pt. 1)

Joe Rubinstein Interview (Pt. 2)

Jack Adler Interview (Pt. 1)

Jack Adler Interview (Pt. 2)

Elliot S! Maggin Interview

Mike Grell Interview

Joe Kubert School Interviews

Anthony Tollin Interview

Sam Glanzman Interview

Ernie Chan Interview

Steve Skeates Interview (Pt. 1)

Steve Skeates Interview (Pt. 2)

Mike Friedrich Interview

Tom Orzechowski Interview (Pt. 1)

Tom Orzechowski Interview (Pt. 2)

Walt Simonson Interview

Gene Colan Interview

Gerry Conway Interview

Guy H. Lillian III Interview

Frank McLaughlin Interview

Al Milgrom Interview (Pt. 1)

Al Milgrom Interview (Pt. 2)

Irene Vartanoff Interview


Don Perlin Interview


John Workman Interview (Pt. 1)


John Workman Interview (Pt. 2)


Tom Palmer Interview

Paul Levitz Interview

Jay Scott Pike Interview

Jack C. Harris Interview (Pt. 1)

Jack C. Harris Interview (Pt. 2)

Carl Potts Interview

Larry Hama Interview

Joe Kubert School Interviews 2

Greg Theakston Interview (Pt. 1)

Greg Theakston Interview (Pt. 2)

Michael Netzer Interview (Pt. 1)

Michael Netzer Interview (Pt. 2)

Alan Kupperberg Interview

Joe D'esposito Interview

Steve Mitchell Interview (Pt. 1)

Steve Mitchell Interview (Pt. 2)

Ralph Reese Interview

Bob McLeod Interview

Bob Smith Interview

Jose Delbo Interview

Joe Staton Interview (Pt. 1)

Joe Staton Interview (Pt. 2)

Frank Thorne Interview

Bob Wiacek Interview

Nick Cardy Interview (Pt. 1)

Nick Cardy Interview (Pt. 2)

John Calnan Interview

Sy Barry Interview

Cary Bates Interview

John Severin Interview

Liz Berube Interview

Thom Zahler Interview

Paul Kirchner Interview

Sheldon Moldoff Interview #2

Mike Royer Interview (Pt. 1)

Mike Royer Interview (Pt. 2)

Joe Barney Interview (Pt. 1)

Joe Barney Interview (Pt. 2)

Ken Bald Interview

Sal Buscema Interview

Angelo Torres Interview

Alex Ross Interview

Howard Chaykin Interview



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