""The Return of Dr. Spectro"": Mabel Ryan, a writer, reads a Captain Atom biography to her editor in which it concerns of Captain Atom's battle with a super-villain called Dr. Spectro, who operated in secret before he disappeared from the Captain's life years ago. Mabel is certain that Dr. Spect

Quote1 This sort of hell is worse, if you ask me. How do real super-heroes endure this sort of crappola day in and day out? Quote2
Captain Atom

Captain Atom (Volume 2) #5 is an issue of the series Captain Atom (Volume 2) with a cover date of July, 1987.

Appearing in "The Return of Dr. Spectro"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:

  • Mabel Ryan (Only appearance; dies)




  • Vanquisher

Synopsis for "The Return of Dr. Spectro"

Mabel Ryan, a writer, reads a Captain Atom biography to her editor in which it concerns of Captain Atom's battle with a super-villain called Dr. Spectro, who operated in secret before he disappeared from the Captain's life years ago. Mabel is certain that Dr. Spectro is alive and she is interested in finding him to tell his side of his story.

Meanwhile, Dr. Megala discusses with Nathaniel Adam what transpired regarding his "disappearance." What Nathaniel did from absorbing the nuclear radiation from the submarine allowed him to travel forward six days into the future. The original Captain Atom Project had sent Nathaniel 18-years into the future by the energy of a 50-megaton nuclear bomb that he absorbed after bonding with the alien metal, while the radiation from the submarine was minuscule by comparison. Megala dubbed Captain Atom's ability a "quantum step." Though this would mean that there are no limits to the amount of radiation Nathaniel's metal shell can return to the quantum flow, Megala heavily advises Nathaniel take some caution to how much energy he can absorb. After Nathaniel heeds his warnings, Babylon informs him that he is scheduled for an official demonstration tomorrow. Much to Nathaniel's disappointment because he is currently spending his three-day leave with his daughter.

Nathaniel takes Peggy and Goslin to a carnival. Peggy has a moment with Goslin and shares her thoughts that while she is happy to be with her father, she is wary of him treating her as the same little girl he left behind and not a grown woman. Goslin assures Peggy that Nathaniel still needs time to adjust. Goslin then notices one of General Eiling's aides. After confronting the man, who is delivering Eiling's orders to Nathaniel, Goslin convinces him to give him the orders. Instead, Goslin discreetly photographs the orders before giving them to Nathaniel.

Later, Nathaniel and Peggy visit Angela's grave. Goslin looks over Eiling's orders in which it is an outdated code that has been out of circulation since the pre-Vietnam War era. Suspicious, Goslin plans on deciphering the code.

Meanwhile, Mabel uses her connections with a government official, Nestor, to help in her lead. Eventually she tracks down her quarry to a small mid-western town and interview with a man named Thomas Emery. She had studied the villain Roy G. Bivolo, aka the Rainbow Raider, who used his father's color and light technology in his criminal activities in which the said technology is similar to what Dr. Spectro has, and he was imprisoned at the same time when Spectro was supposed to be waging his clandestine war with Captain Atom. Furthermore, Bivolo Sr. had a lab assistant who had suddenly come into money a few years back and was able to pay off his debts. The kind of money Spectro could have stolen. Emery is really agitated by Mabel's assumptions that he could be Dr. Spectro and orders her to leave. But Mabel makes him reconsider with promises of her editor paying him in $100,000 for the interview.

The next day, Captain Atom attends the demonstration at Wright-Peterson Air Force Base, where he is there (reluctantly) to promote the Vanquisher, a unmanned VTOL aircraft. Among the audience is Ronnie Raymond, who doesn't have a good impression of Captain Atom. When the Vanquisher makes its flight, a heat-seeking missile suddenly makes a beeline for the VTOL. Captain Atom appears to be uninterested in it, making Ronnie turn into Firestorm and flying after the missile. This forces Nathaniel to fly after Firestorm and tries to order him to stop what he is doing. But Firestorm refuses and leads to a fight between him and Nathaniel. Ultimately Captain Atom's quantum powers triumph over Firestorm. Captain Atom then scolds Firestorm and explains to him that the "missile" was all part of the demonstration to show the Vanquisher's capabilities to perform evasive combat maneuvers. Firestorm is sore over the fact that he made himself look like a fool in public, but Nathaniel advises him that everything will be forgotten on the next day and that he should lighten up while taking seriously as a superhero. Ronnie stews in his thoughts while rejecting Martin Stein's sympathies.

Emery takes Mabel to his laboratory and reveals his activities as Dr. Spectro after he was inspired by the Rainbow Raider. Unlike Bivolo, Emery is smarter to realize that it was pragmatic to operate in secret without attracting too much attention in a world that is brimming with superheroes and villains...until his encounter with Captain Atom and eventually his retirement. After Mabel finishes the interview, she makes a phone call to check in with her editor to make the transaction. But her associate frantically tells her that his research into Captain Atom uncovers the real truth. Mabel then realizes Emery was lying to her the whole time. Emery admits that he was never Dr. Spectro before he incinerates Mabel with Bivolo's technology. However, Emery is now interested in becoming Dr. Spectro.


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