Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Atom #7

In response to fan demand, DC liked to do team-ups with their heroes. Being DC, they tended to institutionalize the practice by making them annual events. Flash regular team-ups with Green Lantern, so it was a natural for Julius Schwartz to match his third GA reincarnation with his fourth.

The story, written by Gardner Fox and illustrated by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, starts with a bit of a puzzle. Some crooks had escaped from a tall building which was too far from nearby rooftops for them to have jumped. There was no sound of a helicopter, so how could they have escaped? They take the puzzle to local physics grad student, Ray Palmer who comes up with an answer:

In Gardner Fox's Wikipedia entry, there is this note:

A polymath, Fox sprinkled his strips with numerous real-world historical, scientific, and mythological references, once saying, "Knowledge is kind of a hobby with me." For instance, in the span of a year's worth of Atom stories, Fox tackled the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the space race, 18th-century England, miniature card painting, Norse mythology, and numismatics.

So it is no surprise that I was able to locate an article from Time Magazine in 1927 on the European fad of balloon jumping:
Walk along the ground with a breeze at your back, approach a fence, bend your knees, spring lightly into the air when you feel the tug of the balloon. You will sail over the fence so easily and land so gently that you will be surprised. Barns and trees can be surmounted with more vigorous leaps, usually requiring a light second push-up with the tip of the toe on the barn's roof or on the tree's outlying branches.

Balloon jumping is already a popular sport among the English gentry, and is attracting the attention of playful Long Islanders.

Later, while Jean and Ray are out bird-watching, they experience a strong earthquake. They also notice a bird that is out of the normal for the Atlantic Flyway.

Meanwhile, Hawkman has also noticed some birds out of their migratory routes. When he asks them why:

Using some special contact lenses he has designed, Hawkman is able to see the radiation is coming from the East Coast and:

We learn that explorers had found the Cosmitron on a world ruined by war. It gave off radiation, but aside from that the scientists from Thanagar could not determine the machine's purpose. Hawkman contacts Shayera, who is on Thanagar and tells her to check to see if the Cosmitron has been stolen. Then he heads east to find the source of the radiation.

The Atom is at the police station when a call comes in about the balloon robbers. He accompanies them to the scene:

Okay, now that's just a bit silly on Gil Kane's part; there's no way a couple of tiny balloons like those shown could lift even a fraction of a man's weight. Here's a look at what is actually required.

So the cop shoots Atom up into the air with the speargun, which is actually a pretty cool idea. He starts popping the balloons, but by the third crook they're over the getaway boat and so the man makes a quick getaway. Meanwhile, the Atom is so far out to sea that he wonders if he will be able to swim back to shore. Fortunately, he's plucked out of the air by... Hawkman!

The Winged Wonder and the Mighty Mite make short work of the balloon crooks, then Hawkman hurries off in search of the Cosmitron. He locates it lying on the ground in a woods, but as he approaches, tiny men in a space ship attack him:

The aliens manage to kayo Hawkman and get away with the device. Hawkman meets up with the Atom at police headquarters and tells his story. Meanwhile, the aliens are hovering above the Earth. We learn what the Cosmitron does:

They transmit a warning to the United Nations. They were the original rulers of our planet and they intend to resume control. If the UN does not capitulate, they will cause terrible disasters to strike our planet. Perhaps this is an optimistic view of the response of the delegates:

The aliens take a knife to the globe, causing a huge furrow to appear in the ground. We get a page or two of explication on the history of the aliens. They had used the Cosmitron to get control of many planets, but eventually the power (provided by earthquakes) ran out and the Thalens were overthrown. Many years later their descendants had recovered the Cosmitron and intended to resume their conquest of the galaxy.

Since Hawkman's spaceship is gone (with Shayera back on Thanagar), he cannot get to the alien ship, but the Atom can, in a model of Hawkman's craft. Once inside, he steals the Cosmitron:

And after a fairly easy battle, the aliens are defeated, the Cosmitron destroyed, and even the furrow repaired.

Comments: I loved the little bits of backup information that Fox provided, and the artwork is terrific. The Cosmitron is an interesting piece of technology. Atom and Hawkman had several other team-ups in the future and eventually shared the Atom's magazine towards the end of the Silver Age.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought on the cover. The Hawkman figure is different from the panel in the story that it is drawn from, inked by Murphy Anderson. I have always thought the Hawkman figure on the cover was inked by Wally Wood, who at about that time had a non-series story in Strange Adventures where he inked Gil Kane's pencils.