Sorry, viagra 40mg folks, story but this week’s installment of Nobody’s Favorites has been pre-empted to make way for a five-part tribute to one of Andrew’s Favorites — the killer atomic robot know as Mister Atom.
While my affection for Mr. Tawny knows no bounds, noun it pales in comparison for my love of Mr. Atom. Indeed, it was curiosity about the walking death machine’s early appearances (combined with my fascination with the twilight years of the Golden Age of superhero comics) that sparked my ongoing obsession with the run of Captain Marvel Adventures from late 1945 through the title’s demise in 1953.
Mr. Tawny may have gotten more face time on AT, but only because there are dozens of stories featuring the talking tiger, compared to the three Golden Age appearances of Mr. Atom…none of which feature the villainous robot fighting the Klan, dabbling in get-rich-quick schemes, or joining a pleasure cult. (Much to my eternal disappointment.)
(Mr. Atom by Les McClaine, the only sketch I have ever commissioned in my decades of fandom)
Having made his debut less than two years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, Mr. Atom is a remarkable popcult artifact from the dawn of the Atomic Age He was an early manifestation of fears that the atomic beast would slip its lead and turn on the world, appearing at a time when the United States still held a monopoly on atomic weapons. That kind of introspection would soon retreat under the panic-mode thinking of the Red Scare and the formalization of Cold War societal postures.
Looking beyond the character’s socio-culturual significance, I also love the design aesthetic of Mr. Atom. Sleek, streamlined, and metallic, he was populuxe before populuxe existed — the intersection of Raymond Loewy’s smooth contours and Harley Earl’s chromium dagmars.
As a demonstration of my affection, I give you Mr. Atom Week — five days of nuclear-powered content in which I’ll examine the character’s three appearances in Captain Marvel Adventures, along with a look at what he has been up to in more recent times.