Captain Atom was Nathaniel Christopher Adam, a United States Air Force officer of the Vietnam War era. Adam had been framed for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to death under the watch of Col. Wade Eiling in 1968. As an alternative to execution, he was invited to participate in a military experiment with little chance of survival, in exchange for a presidential pardon. The experiment involved testing the hull of a crashed alien ship's durability by exploding a super nuclear bomb under it. Adam survived as the metal melted into his body and the excess energy threw him forward in time nearly twenty years (not incidentally, this coating with alien metal gave the revised character a full-body silvered metal look distinctly different from his previous incarnations).
Regaining coherence in 1986, Adam found himself a man out of his time and in the hands of Eiling, now a general and the second husband of Adam's now-deceased wife. Everyone had assumed that Nathaniel Adam had died on the day of the experiment, so his presidential pardon was never issued and the current government refused to acknowledge the previous administration's promised pardon. Seizing the opportunity at hand, the government used the outstanding murder/treason charges against Adam to blackmail him into being a government-controlled superhero (codenamed Captain Atom). And in keeping Adam's true origin a secret, the government gave him a origin and he was assigned the alias of Cameron Scott, an Air Force intelligence operative. It was during this time he met the superpowered terrorist, Plastique, who would become a recurring part of Nathaniel's life.
Upon his initial return from the Quantum Field, Nathaniel Adam was the classic "man out of his time". Early conflicts involved him coming to terms with his lost time with his children (who were now close to his current age as a result of the time jump), the death of his wife (who had married his nemesis Eiling prior to dying), and the overall ramifications of his newly acquired powers.
Atom/Adam served under Eiling reluctantly, while succeeding in clearing his name. Eventually, Atom rebelled against Eiling, resigned from the Air Force and found some fulfillment as an actual superhero. Captain Atom joined the Justice League at the request of the U.S. government, eventually serving as leader of Justice League Europe. During his career, he had a brief romance with Catherine Cobert, developed a friendly "rivalry" with Firestorm, become involved with and eventually married to Plastique (ironically, a one-time Firestorm foe), battled Major Force (his would-be successor), learned basic heroics from Batman when he briefly lost access to the Quantum Field, and commanded the metahuman forces during the alien invasion of the Alliance.
Armageddon 2001 and Beyond
Atom encountered Matthew Ryder (Waverider), who was trying to foresee which hero who will become the Monarch, in which Ryder accidentally comes into physical contact with Captain Atom, unleashing a storm of temporal energy that opens a gate to the future through which Monarch emerges. After Monarch was killed by Henry Hall (Hawk), and was revealed to be the Monarch of the future, Atom battled Hall. However, the battle causes Atom's energy and Monarch's suit to clash, creating a portal that sends them both back in time to the age of the dinosaurs.
After being thrown back to the middle of the Triassic Era, Atom and Monarch continued battling through time and encountering hostile aliens who attempt to enlist each one separately and without the other's knowledge, to assist them in destroying the Milky Way Galaxy for their own ends. The two defeated the aliens' plans, and Captain Atom eventually returns to the present, while Monarch's fate is unknown. Captain Atom then returned to the League, founding an offshoot team, Extreme Justice in 1995. Whilst leading Extreme Justice, Captain Atom came across another version of Monarch, this one claiming to be the real Nathaniel Adam. Though it is later revealed that this "Nathaniel Adam" is a copy of Adam created by Hank Hall as a side-effect of the process that trapped him in the timestream after his and Atom's adventures in the past. The real Captain Atom meets Hank Hall and trains him to manipulate the quantum field, enough to allow Hall to gain powers of time travel and escape back into the timestream. In return for helping him escape, Hall sends the Monarch armor back to Nathaniel Adam in the Quantum Field. Later in 1999, Atom was a member of the group L.A.W. In 2003, he again teamed up with several former members of the Justice League as the "Super Buddies". Around this time, various adventures reintroduced Atom's conflict between his role in the superhero community and his responsibilities as a government agent.
At some point, Atom's marriage to Plastique ended in separation/divorce, as the couple's marriage has been relatively short due from the unreconciliable differences, mostly about political views, between them. Plastique has reappeared as a villainess again, undoing her reformation into a heroine.
Captain Atom returned to his roots as he went back to work for the government, this time for President Lex Luthor. Atom seemingly sacrificed his life to save Superman and Earth by piloting a starship to destroy a kryptonite meteor, but as it had previously been established that this type of accident could not kill him, he soon returned to life. Captain Atom survived the collision with the kryptonite meteor, but after absorbing massive amounts of radiation and becoming a supervillain described as a "Kryptonite Man", the radiation was siphoned out of Captain Atom by a device made by Hiro Okamura (the new Toyman) which returned Captain Atom to his usual self (if somewhat confused).
Armageddon and WorldStorm
However, prior to his return to Earth, Captain Atom's sacrifice in space sent him to the Wildstorm Universe.
At the moment of his apparent death, Captain Atom experienced a time-shift, resulting in his arrival in the Wildstorm Universe. Upon crashing into a Manhattan apartment building he met a dying elderly man, who had an association with the Void and remarked to Atom that he "got it too", and find himself in an alter golden colored state (unknown to him that he possessed the fragment of the Void entity that caused his appearance and the chain of events that are about to happen). He quickly gets into a fight with an overzealous Mister Majestic and the fight ended with Majestic soundly defeated. Seeing the frightened reactions of onlookers, and puzzling over his own altered appearance, he realizes that he has somehow become trapped on an alternate Earth, one where superheroes are feared by the general populace. After learning much about this Earth, Captain Atom was approached again by Majestic, who offered to help him instead in finding his way back to his reality. At Majestic's headquarters in Mount Rushmore, Atom was surprise in learning that Majestic has before traveled to his reality by switching places with Superman. After utilizing his Kheran computer technology, Majestic discovered that he can't find a way to transport Atom back to his universe. Atom decided to see if he could get help from other heroes, but Majestic warned him against the idea. He told Nathaniel that some of the other heroes (implicitly The Authority) were not to be trusted, but Atom decided to take the chance and traveled to Washington D.C. in contacting with the United States government for help.
However, after preventing a nuclear missile from being detonated upon him and the White House, Captain Atom found that the American government is less potentially limited in helping him, but also learned from the president the reason why every normal human being living in absolute fear of their heroes is due to their unethical self-judgment upon the world. When Majestic tracked Captain Atom to the White House, Atom angrily attacked Majestic for "heroes" like him to dictate their world. Majestic quickly took Captain Atom into submission by throwing him into the Washington Monument, and then fully explained to him that he was destined to destroy the WildStorm universe if he isn't returned to his world. He also told Atom that if he sacrificed himself, he could save everyone. Captain Atom was stunned of this, but was unsure if Majestic's theory is true and decided to prove it with other sources, specifically using the Pentagon's supercomputers. Captain Atom used his powers to access the Pentagon's computers and dismayed in learning that Majestic was telling the truth, and even worse, learning that even if he sacrifices himself, he will still destroy the universe. After returning to the Washington Monument, he was approached by the Wildcats, who had learned from Grifter that Atom possessed half of the energy of the Void entity, decided to kill him in order to save their reality's existence. Captain Atom successfully defeated each member of the Wildcats one by one and was then approached by Grifter and Nikola Hanssen, the next (reluctant) host of the Void. As Grifter was about to battle him, Captain Atom was taken to the moon through a shift-door, and was met by Authority member the Engineer, who wanted to help him, as her team had been monitoring his actions.
After being taken aboard to the Carrier and introducing to some members of the Authority, Jack Hawksmoor and the Engineer tried to use The Bleed to get Captain Atom back home, including venturing into a Nazi Germany-ruled world and utilizing its door technology to other uncharted dimensions, but to no success. At Captain Atom's behest, he is later teleported to a snowy isolated mountain range to think. He then again met up with the Engineer, who sympathized with Atom's situation and decided to tour the world with him, including stopping a dictator from launching several nuclear missiles. After the Engineer killed the dictator, she explained to Captain Atom that she and Hawksmoor had a solution to preventing his eventual destruction of the universe by having herself to do some subatomic changes to Captain Atom by inserting her nanomachines into his body, which she did and seemed to have worked. After this, Captain Atom and the Engineer fell into a brief romantic relationship. Captain Atom later came into contact with Nikola Hanssen, inadvertently causing her to react violently, turning her into the new Void.
Captain Atom managed to calm her down, causing her to revert back to her human self. While comforting a unconscious Nikola, he is then encountered by a shocked Engineer who mistakes him for "cheating on her". She coldly informed him that he still posed a threat to her universe and that the Authority's calculation and efforts were proven wrong. Captain Atom doesn't believed her words and decided to prove it by sending himself to the future one week ahead to see if the universe remains intact. In the future, the WildStorm universe remains intact and met by a surprised Nikola. When he asked her if the universe remains safe in the long run, Nikola replied to him that it did, but before she could fully explain to him, Captain Atom quickly took her newspaper as evidence and went back to the present. He then showed Nikola's newspaper to the Engineer, assuring that the universe remains intact. But, she wasn't sure if the Carrier's computer were wrong and attacked him, stating to Atom that by killing him, the universe will be saved. Fortunately, Captain Atom was saved by Grifter by (non-fatally) shooting the Engineer with a experimental sniper rifle, sending her into unconsciousness. Upon meeting with Grifter and Nikola, Captain Atom reverted the Engineer back to her normal self. Both Captain Atom and Grifter were then attacked by Apollo and Midnighter on the order of Jack Hawksmoor. After Grifter was killed by Apollo, Captain Atom was taken back to the Carrier by Apollo and Midnighter.
Atom then tried again to explain to the Authority that killing him wouldn't solve anything and would only destroy their universe, but is ignored. Apollo then blasted Atom, inadvertently causing him to transform into a menacing and glowing form, becoming the very being to destroy the Wildstorm Universe. Both Apollo and Midnighter were killed when they touched Captain Atom, forcing the Authority to find another way to stop this and released Majestic, who tried to stop the Authority from attacking Atom and was frozen by the Doctor for help. However, when Jenny Quantum attempted to solve the situation by touching Captain Atom for a "happy ending", she too is killed, harking an end to the universe as stated by the Doctor. Fortunately, Captain Atom and the group are then founded by Nikola Hanssen (now fully accepting herself as the Void), who easily and safely removed a part of her essence from Atom (clearly nullifying his threat to the universe), reverting him back to his normal appearance and was sent back to his home universe as he thanked her. After Nathaniel was returned to his universe, it is ultimately revealed that Nikola Hanssen was destined to destroy and recreate the Wildstorm universe (the WorldStorm event) without a "twisted image", including having many of Earth's deceased heroes, including Grifter, live once again. Eventually, the Wildstorm Universe became a part of the restored Multiverse under the designation of Earth-50.
Infinite Crisis and One Year Later
Captain Atom was returned to his universe during the Infinite Crisis when Superboy-Prime punctured Breach. Following after the Infinite Crisis, Captain Atom was severely attacked by an unknown assailant and imprisoned by the United States military to be contained inside Blüdhaven and used to administer radiation treatments to metahumans. The multiple damages on his radiation-shielding skin had left him comatose and unable to keep his radiation to safe levels, forcing the Atomic Knights to keep him constantly contained.
After being fitted with an updated version of the Monarch armor to contain his radiation, Nathaniel awakens. Seeming to be mentally unstable, he breaks free, apparently kills the rampaging Major Force, and then releases a vast amount of energy, obliterating what was left of Blüdhaven. He remains missing until Kyle Rayner, known as Ion, discovered him in The Bleed. The Captain indicated that he is traveling through The Bleed in order to operate outside the gaze of the Monitors. He discussed his time in the Wildstorm Universe, and his desire to visit other alternate worlds.
Following after the battle between Donna Troy and Jason Todd in Washington D.C., Forerunner was observed by Atom, having taken his identity as Monarch. Monarch manages to sway Forerunner to his side, turning her against the Monitors. Monarch argues that the Monitors are genocidal overlords who must be defeated; however, the Monitors assert that Monarch is a supervillain whose plan is to cause a Multiversal war which will leave him the ruler of the unified Earth remaining in its wake. Later the Monarch captured alternate versions of heroes and villains throughout the Multiverse to compile the strike team for his new Multiverse army, specifically one Superman, one Batman, a Wonder Woman, a Green Lantern, a Flash, a Blue Beetle, a Nightshade, a Starman, and a Ray. Monarch creates an army of footsoldiers, including the Extremists of Earth-8, the JL-Axis of Earth-10 and the Crime Society of Earth-3, and disposes of Forerunner in a part of space for without further use when he reveals his plans for a multiversal arena tournament.
In his Arena tournament, Monarch told the captured heroes and villains of his conquest and his search for a strike team. Furthermore, he informed them of the consequence of escaping from their predicament, in which he shows his ruthlessness by destroying Eve of Shadows' America in Earth-13 when she traveled back to her reality. During the Arena battles, Monarch was paranoid, and unwilling to share details of his past to his "subordinates". The Superman of Earth-30 and The Bat of Earth-40 are able to discern that under the Monarch armor lies another Captain Atom, and The Bat employs Monarch's other counterpart Breach to assemble an army of Captain Atoms from the different dimensions to fight back. However, Monarch reveals to The Bat, Quantum-Storm and Captain Atom of Earth-38 that Breach was his brainwashed accomplice; Monarch deliberately lured his fifty-one counterparts into his presence in order to murder them and absorb their power. Monarch then kills The Bat and absorbs the Captain Atoms. He later fought the Supermen, in which Christopher Kent was killed, and was confronted by the multidimensional army of Captain Atoms. Monarch slaughtered many of his counterparts including Breach, and fully succeeds in having the last Superman to his strike team, the Earth-30 Superman; he then absorbed the powers of his dead counterparts and the Arena. Though losing his "reserve" inter-dimensional prisoners to Superman of Earth-31, but with his team of Eve of Shadows (Earth-13), Vampire Batman, Ray "the Ray" Palmer (Earth-6), the monstrous Scarab (Earth-26), Hal Jordan Jr. (Earth-12), Starwoman (Earth-7), Johnny Quick (Earth-3), Wonder Woman (Earth-34), Superman (Earth-30) and himself - the sum power of 52 Captain Atoms - Monarch believed he is ready to confront the Monitors, and does so, finally launching his war on Earth-51 against the exposed Monitors.
In his war on Earth-51, Monarch almost had the winning advantage in succeeding his victory over the Monitors, having his opponents completely in disunity and his army lay out total war in this reality, killing many of its retired superheroes. However, Monarch is suddenly confronted by Superman-Prime, who was tricked by Monitor Solomon into attacking Monarch. In a protracted fight against Superman-Prime, Monarch's suit was damaged, releasing a chain reaction that destroys the entire universe of Earth-51 aside from its Monitor, Nix Uotan.
It was later revealed that Monitor Solomon was solely responsible for Captain Atom's madness as he was his assailant who attacked him in Blüdhaven, rupturing his skin and setting into motion his transformation into Monarch.
Captain Atom was somehow discovered by General Lane and his black-ops organization Project 7734, and was brainwashed into a weapon or Planet Breaker under "Project Breach" (with Lane wanting to stress the similarities between Adam and Timothy Zanetti). General Lane used Captain Atom as a bargaining chip with the sorceress Mirabai, the Forlorn in order to have her as a magical component in 7734, in which Captain Atom was made as a "champion" (the "Arrow of The Forlorn") to her in subduing her enemies in Sorcerers' World. Captain Atom was proven very useful as his Dilustel skin was invulnerable to magic, thus easily eliminating mages that are powerful on Mirabai's level.
After committed great devastation upon Mirabai's enemies, Captain Atom managed to overcome his brainwash and amnesia at the castle of Lord Gadrey and was subdued by 7734's task force. Fortunately, Captain Atom was saved by a resistance group against Mirabai, helped by Natasha Irons, who had been spying on 7734 and having learned of Captain Atom's condition. Captain Atom was later confronted by Major Force, who has also been working for 7734, and the two fought until Major Force transported themselves to Metropolis. Mon-El appears and helps Captain Atom escape, taking him to the Justice League's Watchtower, where the League members immediately attacked him in order to bring to justice for his actions as Monarch. After a struggle and reconciliation with the League, Captain Atom told them what he can remember. The League reminds him he was a hero who once saved Earth. He feels he has changed from the man he once was, and that he needs to go back to Sorcerers' World to make right what he has done. The Shadowpact were called on to help him on his quest and provide a way for him to reach Sorcerers' World. On advice from Detective Chimp, Captain Atom managed to reach Sorcerers' World by utilizing the underground domain of Skartaris, where he then reunited with the resistance group and helped in defeating Mirabai. One of the leading resistance members, Aggaro, revealed himself to Captain Atom as the sorcerer Modru, who congratulated him for freeing his world from Mirabai, allowing him to rule in her place instead. Despite being seen as another tyrant by Captain Atom, Mordru explained to him that he promised in ruling Sorcerers' World benignly and sworn that despite being seen as a villain on Earth, he would be considered a friend to Captain Atom in his world. Captain Atom was then magically returned to Earth.
After a week from returning from Sorcerers' World, Captain Atom was clear of his past crimes thanked to the effort of Mon-El, who convinced the Daily Planet in publishing a positive front-page article on Captain Atom which went worldwide. Due to his experiences in Sorcerers' World, Captain Atom resolved himself and returned to his life as a superhero.
Justice League: Generation Lost
Captain Atom was among the many heroes and law enforcements on the international manhunt of Maxwell Lord. He and along with former members of the Justice League International Fire and Ice found a wounded Booster Gold at the JLI embassy in New York, and soon learned that Lord amplified his powers in making every person and being on Earth forgot about him and even his existence. Captain Atom and his allies, who still known Lord, tried to convince some of Earth's heroes about Lord, but with very low success. In which Captain Atom was tricked by Lord into attacking a general and having to fight his way out of an Air Force base.
Dilustel Armor: Captain Atom's metallic shell, or "skin", is composed of a portion of the alien being known as Silver Shield, and is called Dilustel. Pieces of the alien's metal body were used in the Captain Atom Project, Project Major Force and similar projects thereafter. Nathaniel is able to coat himself with the metal, either partially or totally. Atom's symbiosis with the metal is such that even partially armored, he is able to access the Quantum Field.
- Quantum Field Manipulation: Captain Atom's metal skin is tied into the Quantum Field, which enables him to absorb and manipulate infinite amounts of energy, for an infinite amount of purposes the amount of which he can do is, limited solely by his will power and imagination. He truly reinforces this fact when he realized that the Quantum Field is completely under his control and he can do anything he wishes. With this realization he tests his powers, and by simply thinking of it, and he is able to instantly create a replica of our Earth from nothing, complete with life. His power was such that he was able to easily create his own replicas of Superman, Flash, Firestorm and even his own Spectre. His power is such, that he went even further, and by simply thinking of it, he was able to instantaneously create an entire universe out of nothing, and just as easily destroyed an entire universe, but he has never used this level of power again as a result of him mentally limiting himself. Captain Atom's energy absorption power is second to none in the DCU, as he is able to absorb any form of energy and store it in his person. Captain Atom can fire and control energy of any form. He commonly manipulates his energy into force field bubbles, or explosive 'bombs', but the most common form is a simple blast. Over the years, Captain Atom has become an expert at his energy manipulation and he can fire from any point on his body, although he usually uses his hands for ease of aiming. He can fire in multiple directions at once or from every point of his body at once. Several times he has "detonated", releasing a massive amount of energy at once, destroying objects within an certain radius. On more than one occasion, he has used his ability to manipulate all forms of energy to prevent a foe using their own powers, such as the Ray and Firestorm.
- Flight: This energy can be used for flight at faster than light speeds.
- Superhuman Strength: As Captain Atom his strength was such that he was able to go toe to toe with beings such as Superman, Majestic etc. and hold his own (he can augment his strength with his energy). After absorbing the powers of the 51 versions of himself, Monarch's strength level makes him one of the physically strongest beings in existence, as he was shown to be capable of easily fighting Superman-Prime who had Oan-cosmic powers originating from his involvement in the Sinestro Corps War.
- Self-Sustenance: Has no need for food, water or air.
- Matter Generation: Captain Atom can also create matter in the same manner he creates energy. In the same way, he learned to access weak force energy.
- Enhance Abilities: Captain Atom can increase any of his abilities to the match the amount of willpower he uses to gain it.
- Atomic Transmutation: Captain Atom has demonstrated atomic transmutation powers, as he was able to turn both Maul and Engineer back to their human forms. This power can be used instinctively or through concentration.
- Techno Interface: He has also shown the ability to telepathically interface with computer networks in addition to those listed above.
- Time Travel: Captain Atom has shown time-traveling capabilities without quantum jumping. Captain Atom through concentration, he can travel ahead in time. The process is exhausting and the period he can interact in the future appears to be limited to a few minutes before he returns to the present.
- Invulnerability: His Monarch armor is virtually invulnerable to all forms of damage to the point even energy capable of wiping out the entire universe cannot penetrate it (the only exception was to the blows of Superman-Prime, one of the physically strongest beings in existence and even then, the only reason he was harmed was because he had damaged his armor with his own strength). Recent events have also shown that Atom's Dilustel coating renders him invulnerable to some if not all forms of arcane magic.
Involuntary Quantum Jumping: If Atom absorbs too much energy at once, he is sent hurling through time. Depending on the type of energy absorbed, he either goes forward or backward in time.
- Monarch Armor: The updated Monarch armor currently worn by Captain Atom, contains a "nanoweave" designed to contain radiation leaking from a breach in his chest. It also contained instruments for monitoring his vital signs, through a direct neural interface.
- In 1991, Captain Atom was canceled with #57, as Atom was slated to become the hero-turned-villain Monarch in DC's Armageddon 2001 crossover event; however, when word of this leaked out, DC changed the ending at the last minute. Atom and the Monarch character continued battling through time in Armageddon: The Alien Agenda limited series, until he was returned to his own time at the conclusion.
- In Justice League: Generation Lost #6, Captain Atom states that he weighs "Three quarters of a ton."
- The government used a modified version of the pre-Crisis Captain Atom's origin as the "official origin" of the post-Crisis Captain Atom to cover up his real origin.
- Armageddon 2001
- Armageddon: The Alien Agenda
- Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven
- Captain Atom (Volume 1)
- Captain Atom: Armageddon
- Countdown to Final Crisis
- Countdown: Arena
- Justice League Europe
- Living Assault Weapons
- 438 Appearances of Nathaniel Adam (New Earth)
- 111 Images featuring Nathaniel Adam (New Earth)
- 31 Quotations by or about Nathaniel Adam (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Nathaniel Adam (New Earth)
- ↑ Superman/Batman #6
- ↑ Superman/Batman #20
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #1
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #2
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #3
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #4
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #6
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #7
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #8
- ↑ Captain Atom: Armageddon #9
- ↑ Infinite Crisis #7
- ↑ Battle for Blüdhaven #6
- ↑ Ion #10
- ↑ Countdown #45
- ↑ Countdown to Adventure #4
- ↑ Countdown Arena #1
- ↑ Countdown: Arena #4
- ↑ Countdown to Final Crisis #17
- ↑ Countdown to Final Crisis #8
- ↑ Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen Special #2
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 Action Comics #882
- ↑ Action Comics #881
- ↑ Action Comics #884
- ↑ Action Comics #885
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Action Comics #889
- ↑ Justice League: Generation Lost #1
- ↑ Justice League: Generation Lost #2