Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mainstream Mondays: The Cornerstones

When DC Comics acquired the properties of Charlton and later MLJ aka Mighty/Archie Comics, at first they tucked them away into their own fictional universes and repackaged them in the forms of the Watchmen and !mpact Comic, which we've previously considered.

However, there was another attempt at actually integrating the core characters into the mainstream universe at DC Comics, for the first time exposing these comic creations to a massive audience.

As with every comic book line, there are certain archetypes or niches that have to be filled to justify their existence to the public-at-large. Such was the case here.


Captain Atom was reintroduced to a new generation initially during the Crisis on Infinite Earths along with several of his Charlton Contemporaries. However, once his compartmentalized universe of Earth-Four was integrated into the main DC universe, he was reimagined in a way some considered dramatic and others considered overkill.

No longer an established hero and freelance champion whose civilian identity was attached to the military, Atom or Nathaniel Adam became a tragic figure, losing his family during a procedure which granted him powers yet causing him to lose years of his life. Now his superior General Eiling, a minor supporting character in his original Charlton series, was his boss/major antagonist as the series progressed. Additionally, his rogues gallery such as the Ghost and Doctor Spectrum were also reinvented at their core, and relationships with such characters as Nightshade were changed irreverocably.

Decades later, the Shield aka Joe Higgins was himself brought into the mainstream fold. Now an officer in the military instead of FBI agent, he was bequeathed with nanobytes that granted him his powers and he quickly gained notoreity in the superhero community, including allying himself with the Web. Like Atom, the Shield was reinvented so that only the costume, abilities and alias were the same.

What would become of other assimilated heroes from these memorable comic book companies? We'll investigate further next week.

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