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Quote1.png Sir, you speak like a mortal... Have you not exchanged the futility of life-death for the immortality of half-life?! Then allow me to show you the way! Quote2.png
Atomic Skull src

The Atomic Skull was a super-criminal with the power to release bioelectric blasts through seizures. As the leader of SKULL, he was an enemy of Superman.

Albert Michaels acquired the position as Chief Administrator of S.T.A.R. Labs Metropolis, although he was also a secret agent of the hi-tech criminal organization SKULL. Michaels allied with SKULL because he suffered from seizure disorder and would most assuredly die from convulsive episodes of greater frequency and intensity unless a medical intervention were staged. Although modern medicine had no answer for Michaels's condition, SKULL innovated an experimental neurotherapy in the form of a radium-powered brain implant which was designed to control the rate of seizures. In order to save his life, Michaels smuggled technology from S.T.A.R. Labs to SKULL for their own usage in advancing the scale of their operations and also acted to malign Superman for damages incurred to S.T.A.R. in the wake of his clashes with super-villains.[1][2] When S.T.A.R. researcher Jenet Klyburn saw fit to give Superman an unauthorized tour of the lab premises, Michaels fired her on the spot.[3] SKULL stole an alien matter-transporter ray from the Kobra Cult[4] and left it in Michaels's care to protect under the cover of working on a secret project for S.T.A.R.[5]

Michaels then collaborated with SKULL in staging an attack on S.T.A.R. to acquire samples of rare man-made elements for usage in the synthesis of artificial Kryptonite. SKULL and Michaels also arranged for one of their own, SKULL agent Roger Corben, to be mortally injured by a deflected laser-blast in the inevitable encounter with Superman, in order so that SKULL could reconstruct Corben into the new Metallo, complete with Kryptonite heart.[6] Metallo eventually learned that SKULL conspired to make him into the inhuman cyborg he became and turned against his former masters, stealing the matter-transporter ray from Michaels's possession and using it to orchestrate ghastly spree-killings of SKULL members by exchanging their hearts for phosphorescent green fake-Kryptonite stones. Metallo's threat sent Michaels on the run into hiding, and the unexplained abandonment of his post at S.T.A.R. caused Jenet Klyburn to be rehired to replace him as Chief Administrator.[5] Superman chased after Metallo with the mission to take him down before his murder campaign could continue. Along the way, he learned about Michaels's true nature as a SKULL industrial espionage agent from Metallo himself. Ultimately, Superman sprung upon Metallo when the K-powered killer attacked a SKULL hideout, the location of which was leaked to Superman by Lois Lane. The police were summoned to surround the area, and while Superman dealt with Metallo, Michaels grabbed Lois and held her hostage to force Superman to permit his escape by matter-transporter ray. As he departed, Michaels swore vengeance on Superman and vowed to rebuild SKULL.[7]

Michaels underwent the surgery that would implant the radium-powered device in his brain, but shortly afterwards, the implant stopped working, instead giving Michaels the ability to project the bioelectricity of his epileptic brain externally. The seizure disorder resumed its deadly course, but in the meantime, Superman had captured the few scientists in SKULL's employ who could have repaired the implant. Michaels took the identity of the Atomic Skull and overthrew the SKULL leadership hierarchy, appointing himself as the syndicate's new boss. The Skull then directed the kidnapping of Jenet Klyburn with a skull-shaped airship and lured Superman to his lair, where he systematically manipulated the Man of Tomorrow into setting various elements of a system in motion to pack a warhead with Kryptonite samples, which had been retrieved by SKULL via an operation to collect K-rocks newly fallen to Earth which was codenamed the "Kryptonite pipeline." The detonation of the warhead in the ionosphere was projected to generate a ring of K-radiations around the Earth reminiscent of the Van Allen radiation belt and strip Superman of his powers. The Atomic Skull also arranged to capture Titano, the Super-Ape, and planted a receiver in the overgrown chimp's brain to receive his own telepathic signals, commanding Titano to kill Superman. Superman worked quickly to knock the Skull unconscious and pack a second warhead with lead filaments to explode in the ionosphere, mitigating the effect of the K-radiation belt to merely weaken, as opposed to eliminate, his powers. Superman then pacified Titano and sent him to another world where he could make no more trouble before eradicating the Kryptonite and lead contaminants from the ionosphere with the new super-breath attachment of his Supermobile.[1][8]

The Atomic Skull was imprisoned in the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility, designed by Carl Draper. Michaels's cell, like those of other super-villains, used his own powers to contain him in some way. In the Skull's specific case, he was outfitted with a helmet that would channel the devastating bioelectric bursts of his own seizures and use them to power the security mechanisms of his own cell. Draper stole the power-pack from the Atomic Skull's cell at night and used it to replicate his powers for his own outing as the villainous Master Jailer.[9] After his own defeat by Superman, the Master Jailer was incarcerated in the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility and broke out in a matter of days, taking the Skull and Metallo with him. However, Superman vowed to return the criminals to jail within the next 48 hours, a promise that was faithfully kept.[10] By an accident of chance, the Flash shorted out the security systems in the Atomic Skull's cell by hitting Mach 1 and causing a sonic boom over Metropolis Bay, which reverberated into the upper atmosphere and damaged the Mount Olympus Correctional Facility's electronics. Flash realized the potential ramifications of his reckless action only too late and made his way up to the prison complex, where he was bombarded with a fatal dose of radiation by the Skull. The Skull then headed to the Colorado Rockies to unearth samples of uranium ore and refine radium which could be used to enhance his base power levels. After contacting Firestorm, the Nuclear Man, in New York City and convincing him to absorb the dose of radiation which was overtaking his body, the Flash tracked the Skull down. Firestorm, whose "overload" on radioactive energies simulated symptoms of excessive alcohol intake in the young hero, also had a need to expel those energies to return to normal. The Flash decided to kill the two proverbial birds with one stone by bringing Firestorm to the Atomic Skull's location and goading Firestorm into returning the excess radiations back to sender, knocking the Skull unconscious.[11]

The Atomic Skull broke out of prison again and began development of an artificial evolution ray, which he used to mutate a female panther named Felicia into a bipedal anthropoid sapient resembling an adult human woman. The Skull perversely fell in love with Felicia and began plotting to resurrect SKULL from the ashes with her by his side. As Felicia's transformation was only temporary, however, the Skull sought a means by which it could be permanently stabilized. Catching word that S.T.A.R. Labs had been experimenting in the creation of human-animal hybrids, the Skull started there. Coincidentally, Man-Bat broke into the Metropolis S.T.A.R. facility, motivated by the same information that drove the Skull, except Man-Bat's goal was to cure his daughter of an auditory hypersensitivity disorder which was disrupting her ability to sleep and threatened her very life. Superman stopped Man-Bat, but sympathizing with his objective and recalling that Batman had vouched for Man-Bat in the past, decided not to arrest him, instead bringing him to the Fortress of Solitude, where he held an alien ultrasonic device that could have been the solution to both Man-Bat's and the Skull's problems. However, the Atomic Skull chose to confront Superman and Man-Bat as an enemy, breaking into the Fortress with Felicia and stealing the device. The Skull used it on Superman, reducing his super-powers in order so the Man of Tomorrow could only access one at any given time. This forced Superman to rely on Man-Bat to circumvent his enforced handicap and breach the hull of the Skull's airship. The Atomic Skull fought Superman but inadvertently damaged the mechanisms holding his airship aloft, causing the Skull to lose his footing and plummet to an apparent death hundreds of feet to the ground. Meanwhile, Man-Bat wrestled with Felicia for the device and accidentally fired it on her, causing her reversion to a wild feline to accelerate and culminating with her death from outlasting her species' natural lifespan.[12]

The Atomic Skull survived his fall and went on a rampage to destroy S.T.A.R. Labs facilities where his alter ego once worked at prior to assignment to Metropolis. This seemed to be part of a campaign to destroy the remnants of his former life as Albert Michaels, which was opposed by Superman. At the time, Superman had been temporarily split from his Clark Kent identity into a completely separate being, due to the Miracle Machine. As this caused Superman to begin acting in ways divorced from his lifelong experience among the human race, the Man of Steel elected to ignore one of the Atomic Skull's attacks on a S.T.A.R. Labs earthquake-control center and nuclear reactor, in favor of a less immediate mission in another galaxy. It then fell to Clark Kent to neutralize the Skull, directing a S.T.A.R. technician to activate the nuclear reactor's safeguards by sending an artificial ground tremor towards it from the earthquake-control facility. The Atomic Skull was consequently smothered into unconsciousness by a barrage of foam sprays from the reactor room.[13]

After being the sole bearer of the Atomic Skull mantle for many years, Albert Michaels was sidelined and entered into a period of long absence upon the appearance of his more notorious successor, Joe Martin, who effectively took Michaels's place in Superman's rogues' gallery. The original Atomic Skull resurfaced more recently, however, as a member of the Society in the weeks leading up to Infinite Crisis. Some time after the Battle of Metropolis and the Society's breakup, the Atomic Skull attempted to manipulate a gang of teenage admirers into detonating a explosive device containing chlorine gas in downtown Metropolis in order to prove his relevance, only to be foiled by Huntress of the Birds of Prey. The Atomic Skull has not appeared since.

Powers

Abilities

Weaknesses

  • Brain Seizures


Transportation


  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
  • Michaels has no known connection to Joseph Martin, the second Atomic Skull, though his costume seems to be based on that worn by the old movie serial character after whom Martin named himself. While Michaels first appeared as the Atomic Skull in Superman #323, he first appeared as himself in Superman #303.

Related

Footnotes


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Flash Villain(s)
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Firestorm Villain(s)
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This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of Firestorm and any of his supporting cast or members of the Firestorm Matrix. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "Firestorm Villains category."

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