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A CharltonComics superhero who got incorporated into {{the DCU}} following ''CrisisOnInfiniteEarths''.

The original Charlton Captain Atom was '''Allen Adam''', created by writer JoeGill and artist SteveDitko. He first appeared in ''"Space Adventures''" #33 (March, 1960). Allen was a scientist in the United States Air Force who was working on an experimental rocket when it was accidentally launched. The rocket exploded in midair, taking Allen with it - but he reformed again on the ground, having somehow acquired superpowers in the explosion. Naturally, he put those powers to use as a superhero. The character regularly appeared in ''"Space Adventures''" until its issue #42 (October, 1961). Then held his own magazine from December, 1965 to December, 1967. A small number of new Captain Atom stories appeared in anthology titles of [[TheSeventies 1970s]] and [[TheEighties the early 1980s]].

When DCComics bought the Charlton characters, and brought them into the DCU, they gave Captain Atom his own ongoing, written by pre-''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' Cary Bates and GregWeisman. Starting on March, 1987. This series rebooted Captain Atom from the ground up - a new character with a new origin and new powers. The PostCrisis Captain Atom was '''Nathaniel Adam''', a captain in the USAF, court-martialled for a crime he didn't commit. He was given a choice: a death sentence, or participation in a potentially fatal experiment -- sitting at ground zero of a nuclear explosion encased in an alien metal, in the hope of testing the metal's properties. Survival would mean freedom. Nathaniel chose the experiment. The explosion didn't kill him; what it ''did'' do was bond the alien metal to his flesh, giving him superpowers, and throwing him twenty-odd years forward into the present day. He found himself able to access the 'quantum field' that underpins reality to produce a variety of effects.

So far, so expected. Where ''Captain Atom'' diverged was that Nathaniel had been a member of military intelligence, and was pressed once more into service for them as a deep-cover agent, as the new government refused to fulfill the promise of the previous government. His cover identity was that of a superhero, the Charlton adventures presented as his fake backstory, but in reality, he was working for the government. The course of the ongoing saw Nathaniel try to discover the truth behind his original frame-up, attempt to establish his freedom from his superiors, and slowly become the hero he pretended to be. He also joined up with JusticeLeagueInternational, initially as an agent, but going on to serve as a hero.

Then ExecutiveMeddling intervened. Captain Atom was intended to become Monarch, villain of CrisisCrossover ''{{Armageddon 2001}}''; as a result the ongoing was canceled in September, 1991, after a five year run. News of Monarch's secret identity leaked out, and in order to ensure that it remained a secret, C-list hero Hawk was chosen to become the villain instead.

It was some while before Captain Atom returned to the spotlight in ''Captain Atom: Armageddon'' (2005-2006), a nine-issue miniseries that saw Nathaniel trapped in the Wildstorm universe, trying to find his way back to the DCU. He finally made it... but unfortunately, he was just in time for a FaceHeelTurn, becoming Monarch for real in the run-up to ''CountdownToFinalCrisis''. Monarch was eventually defeated in the course of ''Countdown'', disappearing from sight.

Captain Atom resurfaced in a backup feature in ''Action Comics'', making a HeelFaceTurn back to heroism, and slowly regaining his true identity and memories. He then went on to appear alongside his former JLI colleagues in ''[[BrightestDay Justice League: Generation Lost]]'', as they attempted to track down a resurrected Max Lord. He also showed up in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' as a background member of the Justice League in the first season, becoming its leader in the second season while most of the team is in space.

A new Captain Atom ongoing is one of the titles in DC's {{New 52}} relaunch.

Cap's most famous {{Expy}} is Doctor Manhattan of ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}''.
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'''Allen Adam tropes:'''
* BattleCouple: He had a little bit of this going on with Nightshade (AKA: Eve Eden).
* ChestInsignia: Typically some variant of an atomic diagram.
* DeathByOriginStory: He becomes Captain Atom when his body his vaporized by an atomic explosion.
* FlyingBrick:
** {{Flight}}
** NighInvulnerability
** SuperStrength
** Energy Blasts
** IntangibleMan: the at-will kind.
* MeaningfulName: The true civilian names of Captain Atom and Nightshade - Allen '''Adam''' and '''Eve''' '''Eden'''. Could it have been any more obvious that they were meant to be a couple? ([[spoiler:There's even the fact that as time went by Eve was shown to be more than just human, much as Allen became more than human]]).
* TwoFirstNames

'''Nathaniel Adam tropes:'''
* AbsurdlySharpBlade: The X-Ionizer device featured in a number of comics can turn anything into one of these blades. The Cambodian uses one to great effect in v1 issue #7.
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: DependingOnTheWriter. Captain Atom sometimes plays this role (most recently in ''CaptainAtom: Armageddon'' to ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'', and, indeed, the entire {{Wildstorm}} Universe), but at other times he falls prey to TheWorfEffect, as pointed out below.
* ArchEnemy: [[TheGeneral Wade]] [[TheChessmaster Eiling]] and, in ''[[JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League Europe]]'', the Queen Bee. Also, the Ghost.
* BadassNormal: Cap was this before he got superpowers, since he was, after all, a special operations officer who had served multiple tours of duty in [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar Vietnam]]. When he temporarily lost his powers, he was still a match for Batman in hand-to-hand combat.
* BattleInTheCenterOfTheMind: The "Quantum Quest" arc.
* BecomingTheMask: Pretty much the point of his first DC ongoing. He was a government agent pretending to be a superhero, but became a hero for real.
** This happens to Doctor Spectro too. At first he was just an ordinary scientist who posed as a villain from Captain Atom's fictional backstory in order to get an interview with the press. Soon, however, he becomes a real supervillain.
* CaptainSuperhero
* ChestInsignia: Again, variants on an atomic diagram.
* ChromeChampion: Of both the 'flying brick' and 'cosmic' varieties.
* [[DatingCatwoman Marrying Catwoman]]: Unusually, he actually married (reformed) terrorist Bette Sans Souci, a.k.a. Plastique.
* DeathByOriginStory: The experiment that turned Nathaniel Adam in Captain Atom also hurled him eighteen years into the future, where he discovered that his wife, Angela had, in the intervening years, died of cancer. Coming to terms with her loss was a big part of Cap's character arc.
** Cap himself was also an example, of course, since the experiment that made him Captain Atom also atomized his body (he got better, obviously). This was true in the Charlton version as well.
* DeconstructorFleet: The Bates/Weisman ongoing deconstructed or subverted a host of classic superhero tropes, including [[SecretIdentity secret identities]], [[SuperHeroOrigin origin stories]], and [[RetCon retconning]].
* DependingOnTheArtist: His color scheme goes back and forth between whitish-blue, grayish blue, light blue, silvery-gray, silver-blue, etc.
* DistaffCounterpart: Bombshell of the Comicbook/TeenTitans.
* DontSplitUsUp: The reason Nate's sister didn't want anyone finding out that their mother was an abusive, neglectful drunk.
* EvilCounterpart: Alec Rois, a.k.a. the Ghost.
* FanOfThePast: Nathaniel explains his occasional lapses into the slang of TheSixties by claiming he loves that decade. Sally is a legitimate one of these.
* FishOutOfTemporalWater: Nathaniel handled the initial culture shock of finding himself in the present day reasonably well; it was finding out what had happened to his wife and kids that really got to him.
* FishOutOfWater: This seems to be Cap's thing, whether getting thrown through time or into [[AlternateReality alternate realities]].
* FlyingBrick:
** {{Flight}}: Via redirection of gravitational force.
** NighInvulnerability: The metal of his exo-shell is impervious to almost anything. On top of that, he can manipulate energy to create forcefields.
** SuperStrength: Boosted by the quantum field.
** EnergyAbsorption: Able to absorb most any form of energy, redirecting it into the quantum field. Absorbing too much at once [[TimeTravel throws him through time]].
** IntangibleMan: He is only shown using this power once or twice, however.
* FlyingFirepower: KiAttacks[=/=]Energy Blasts: PureEnergy variant, drawn from the quantum field.
* TheGoodCaptain: Played with, since, although he kept the moniker "Captain Atom," he was actually promoted to major in the USAF after the Invasion storyline. Also unusual in that he is one of the few superhero captains to actually have received that rank in the military. Finally, he's sometimes a little more morally ambiguous than most "Captain" characters.
* HerosFirstRescue: The critical moment when Cap decided truly to be a SuperHero for real.
* HeroesWantRedheads: He eventually married reformed terrorist Plastique, AKA: Bette Sans Souci (see above). His first wife, Angela, was also a redhead.
* HerrDoktor: Heinrich Megala
* IncestSubtext: The experiment that transformed Nathaniel Adam into Captain Atom also catapulted him eighteen years forward in time, by which time his infant daughter had grown to young adulthood, whereas he was still physically and emotionally twenty-six. Of course, she did not remember him or recognize him and thought of her stepfather as her father, and did not know Nathaniel had returned. So when he went to meet her and try to get to know her, without revealing who he really was, she thought he was trying to pick her up, and clearly was attracted to him, even though she turned him down. Later, after she found out the whole story, she started to have dreams in which he was a knight in shining armor rescuing her. Sometime after that, she got romantically involved with his best friend, who was also her godfather. All things considered, there was pretty clear subtext that her feelings for him were not altogether daughterly.
* KnightInShiningArmor: Played with. In-universe, [[IncestSubtext his daughter dreams about him as this]], and genuinely sees him this way. The Captain Atom Project, meanwhile, plays him to the public as this, planting stories in the press describing him as the "Silver Savior." Of course, he eventually [[BecomingTheMask becomes the mask]].
* LifeEnergy: This is, to all intents and purposes, the source of Nathaniel's power; he's plugged into the quantum field, the life energy of the universe, allowing him to manipulate all forms of energy. (This is why Nathaniel ended up [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu fighting Nekron]] in ''ComicBook/BlackestNight'' -- because he's integrated with the quantum field, Nekron could use him to drag the quantum field into his realm, and every living creature in the universe with it. Nathaniel's shown no actual ability with life energy, however.)
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: During the first arc in SupermanBatman Nathaniel is willing to work for Lex Luthor because Luthor is President of the United States. [[spoiler:To be fair, he was depressed and lost due to his failed 2nd marriage and mostly went back to work for the government because he was trying to start over.]]
* [[OutsideContextVillain Outside Context Hero]]: In ''Captain Atom: Armageddon'', Cap himself is this for the WildStorm Universe. The WildStorm [[{{Antihero}} heroes]], especially the more powerful ones like Mr. Majestic and the Authority, thought that they had their world pretty much in hand, and that they could handle just about anything that came their way. When Captain Atom showed up and, through no fault of his own, contracted a condition that was going to cause him to destroy the universe, they figured that they could cure him. When that failed, they figured that they could kill him. Cue a very satisfying series of {{CurbStompBattle}}s.
* PersonOfMassDestruction: When under MindControl, Nathaniel's able to destroy entire armies singlehandedly. He can also [[ApocalypseHow destroy whole universes]].
** Then there's ''ComicBook/KingdomCome'', where a breach in his containment suit renders the Midwestern US into a radioactive wasteland which eventually triggers a civil war.
** In ''Captain Atom: Armageddon,'' he's a ticking time bomb set to destroy the entire universe.
* PhysicalGod: It is not clear that there are any real limits to Cap's powers. He can create and manipulate matter and energy. In one story arc, he created and then destroyed his own universe in the quantum field.
* PietaPlagiarism: Twice: first on the cover of issue #8, with Plastique cradling a wounded Cap, who, for bonus points had a wound on his side, and then, on the cover of issue #44, with Cap cradling an unconscious Plastique.
* TheProfessor: Dr. Megala
* PromotionToParent: It was revealed late in the series that Nate's father walked out when he was very young, and that his mother was a neglectful drunk, so Nate's nine-year-old sister got the promotion.
* {{Radiation Immune Mutant|s}}: Or in his case, Radiation Immune EnergyBeing.
* UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan: Involved in the events of Nate's first ongoing.
* SecretKeeper: After BlueBeetle, BoosterGold, and [[NewGods Mister Miracle]] discover that Captain Atom's origin is faked they decide not to reveal that to the public.
* StevenUlyssesPerhero: Played with, since after he becomes Captain Atom, the government gives Capt. Nathaniel Adam the new secret identity of Capt. Cameron Scott.
* SuperPowerLottery: Cap is at least on the same level as Superman and Martian Manhunter. In addition to {{Flight}}, SuperStrength, and NighInvulnerability, he can project any kind of energy (including light on the same wavelength as that of a red sun... or radiation identical to that of kryptonite), he's close to immune to energy-based attacks, and he can become intangible at will.
* ThouShaltNotKill: In the IntercontinuityCrossover ''Captain Atom: Armageddon,'' he refuses to kill ''Hitler.''
* TwoFirstNames: In Nathaniel's case, it's actually Three First Names, as his full name is Nathaniel Christopher Adam; also his alias, Cameron Scott.
* UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar: Cap was the leader of a special ops unit in the Vietnam War before the experiment that gave him his powers.
* VitriolicBestBuds: Cap and PowerGirl in ''[[JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Justice League Europe]]''.
* TheWorfEffect: Utterly averted in ''Captain Atom: Armageddon'', where he basically beats the crap out of everybody in the Wildstorm Universe. His ''casual'' dismissal of [[{{Jerkass}} Midnighter's]] abilities ("Care to try that with me?") and his [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomping]] of Apollo were particularly entertaining.
** But played appallingly straight in ''ComicBook/KingdomCome'', ''[[JusticeLeagueOfAmerica Formerly Known As The Justice League]]'' and ''[[JusticeLeague Justice League Unlimited]]''.

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